Toyota Recalls Sequoia SUVs to Fix Stability Control

Toyota Motor Corp., which recalled Lexus GX sport-utility vehicles this month because stability controls failed to engage fast enough, is recalling Sequoia SUVs to adjust a control system that drivers say is too aggressive.

Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today 50,000 of the 2003 Sequoias are covered in the recall. The agency has been investigating the defect since 2008. About half those vehicles had the control unit adjusted after a technical service bulletin was sent to dealers, said John Hanson, a Toyota spokesman.

“We have customer complaints dating back to 2003” that vehicle stability control “kicked in at times it shouldn’t have, maybe too early,” said Hanson, based at Toyota’s U.S. sales unit in Torrance, California. Neither Toyota nor NHTSA has received reports of accidents or injuries linked to the control flaw, he said.

Toyota, based in Toyota City, Japan, has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide in the past year for defects that may cause unintended acceleration in its cars and trucks. The company on April 19 said it would recall the Lexus GX 460 SUV after Consumer Reports magazine rated it a “safety risk” because the model can roll over in certain driving conditions.

“Toyota is cooperating with NHTSA’s request to issue a safety recall of the 2003 Sequoia,” said Julia Piscitelli, an agency spokeswoman. “NHTSA has been investigating electronic stability control malfunctions which have turned up 163 safety- related failure incidents” reported to the agency or Toyota.

Customers Reimbursed

The automaker is also reimbursing customers who were charged for the adjustment when the work was performed after their warranty had expired, Hanson said.

“Toyota has consistently advised NHTSA of its position that the alleged inappropriate activation of the VSC system does not present an unreasonable risk to safety because the activations are rare,” the company told NHTSA in filing. The reported incidents occurred at low speeds and last no longer than “a few seconds,” the company said.

After initial complaints about the controls on Sequoia, Toyota modified the software in 2003, Hanson said. The repair involves replacing the Sequoia’s electronic control unit that’s intended to prevent the vehicle from skidding.

“Toyota is committed to investigating customer complaints more aggressively and to responding quickly to issues we identify in our vehicles,” Steve St. Angelo, Toyota chief quality officer for North America, said in a statement today.

Toyota’s American depositary receipts, each equal to two ordinary shares, fell 15 cents to $76.84 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

To contact the reporters on this story: Angela Greiling Keane in Washington at agreilingkea@bloomberg.net; Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

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