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Toyota Says Valve Springs May Cause Lexus Engine Flaw

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July 1 (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. said a flaw in engines used in luxury Lexus models may be caused by defective valve components and it will decide whether another recall is needed.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, said today that as many as 270,000 cars may be affected by problems ranging from “abnormal” engine noise or idling to an engine stall while the vehicle is moving, in the worst case. 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 in certain driving conditions. The designation was removed in May.

As many as seven Lexus models and the Crown, a sedan sold in Japan, 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.

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

Contaminated Parts

“Due to slight variations during the manufacturing process, some foreign material may have contaminated the valve springs, resulting in potential breakage,” Toyota said on its website. The company hasn’t yet determined if a recall is necessary, Templin said.

Toyota, which paid a record U.S. fine of $16.4 million this year for not complying with auto-safety regulations, said on June 25 it would recall the HS250h after too much gasoline spilled in U.S. government crash tests, posing a fire risk.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terje Langeland in Tokyo at tlangeland1@bloomberg.net

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