Toyota Recalls 6.5 Million Cars to Fix Power Window Switch

  • Inconsistent greasing may cause window switch to overheat
  • One U.S. customer reported hand burn from melting switch

Toyota Motor Corp. said it will recall about 6.5 million vehicles worldwide to fix power-window switches that can overheat and potentially lead to a fire.

About 2.7 million of the recalled vehicles are in North America, with 1.2 million in Europe and 600,000 in Japan, Toyota said in an e-mail Wednesday. The recalled models produced outside of Japan include the Camry sedan and RAV4 and Highlander sport utility vehicles.

The scale of the recall exceeds more than half a year of Toyota vehicle production. The company estimates that inspecting switches and applying heat-resistant grease will take dealers about 45 minutes per fix. Toyota said it’s unaware of any crashes caused by the fault, which resulted from inconsistent application of a sprayed-on grease to electrical contact points in the power switch.

Automakers are under pressure to hasten their recall processes after coming under fire for time lags between learning about potential flaws and calling back cars for fixes. The pressure has built following recalls by Toyota involving unintended acceleration and General Motors Co. for faulty ignition switches. A litany of carmakers also are repairing millions of air bags made by supplier Takata Corp. due to defective inflators.

Tokai Rika Co. supplied the components involved in Toyota’s recall, said Kayo Doi, a spokeswoman for the carmaker. Tokai Rika will book a 14.5 billion yen ($121 million) charge due to a customer recall, according to a filing with the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Shares of Tokai Rika declined 1.3 percent to 2,655 yen in Tokyo. Toyota rose 2 percent, compared with the 1.8 percent gain in the benchmark Topix index.

Toyota received one report of a hand burn incident from a U.S. customer, and said it’s aware of 11 incidents where switches and door trims burned. The internal circuit board will be replaced if the switch isn’t operating normally, the company said.

The recalled vehicles were produced between January 2005 and August 2006, and August 2008 and June 2010, in Japan, Toyota said. The cars also include those manufactured outside of Japan between August 2005 and August 2006, and January 2009 and December 2010, it said.

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