Toyota Says Lexus Engine Flaw May Be Due to Faulty Materials

Toyota Motor Corp. said an engine flaw in its luxury Lexus brand may have been caused by defective components.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, said today that as many as 270,000 Lexus-brand cars may have a problem that causes engines to stall. Last week the Toyota City, Japan-based company recalled hybrid Lexus HS250h sedans because of a fuel-leak risk.

The engine problem may result from “contaminated materials used in valve springs,” Mark Templin, U.S. group vice president and general manager of the Lexus brand, said today in a conference call. “We want to take care of customers better than anybody and take care of this as quickly as possible.”

Toyota is working to restore its reputation for quality after recalling about 8 million vehicles globally for defects linked to unintended acceleration. The company recalled about 13,000 Lexus GX 460 sport-utility vehicles in April after Consumer Reports labeled the model a “safety risk” because it could roll over under certain driving conditions. The designation was removed in May.

As many as seven Lexus models and the Crown, a sedan sold in the Japanese market, may be affected by the latest flaw, and the carmaker is considering its next step to address the problem, said Ririko Takeuchi, a Toyota spokeswoman in Tokyo.

The models with engines that may stall are the Lexus GS 350, GS 450h, GS 460, IS 350, LS 460, LS 600h and LS 600hL, and the Toyota Crown, the company said today. About 90,000 vehicles may be affected in Japan, Takeuchi said.

Some models with 4.6-liter and 3.5-liter engines have a problem with valve springs that may, in the worst case, cause the engine to stall, Takeuchi said. The company hasn’t yet determined if a recall will be necessary, Templin said.

Toyota said on June 25 it would stop selling the HS250h after too much gasoline spilled in U.S. government crash tests, posing a fire risk. The company, which paid a record $16.4 million U.S. fine this year for not complying with auto-safety regulations, said in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that about 17,000 of 2010 model year HS250h sedans would be recalled.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net; Takako Iwatani in Tokyo at tiwatani@bloomberg.net

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.