Toyota Recalls Almost 1.3 Million Vehicles on Airbags, Wipers

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest carmaker, recalled almost 1.3 million vehicles because of defects associated with airbags and window wipers.

The company recalled 901,000 Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles worldwide on concern that a malfunctioning chip could inadvertently deploy the front-seat airbags or activate the automatic seat belt restraints, Ryo Sakai, a spokesman for the Toyota City, Japan-based automaker, said by phone today. About 385,000 Lexus IS cars are also being recalled as their windshield wipers may not be adequately tightened, he said.

It’s the third time since October that Toyota, which called back more than 10 million vehicles in 2009 and 2010 for defects associated with unintended acceleration, has announced a recall involving more than 1 million vehicles. In October, Toyota announced a recall involving 7.43 million vehicles followed by one involving 2.77 million units the next month.

“With more models being shifted into carrying the same platform, I’m sure that going forward, when recalls happen, they will be massive like this one,” Yuuki Sakurai, president of Fukoku Capital Management Inc. in Tokyo, said by phone. “The costs are sure to build up too, because you need to replace the entire system, not just fix one part.”

In North America, Toyota is aware of 18 incidents involving the Corolla models where malfunctions may have caused scratches and detected defects in 46 cases, Sakai said. No accidents or injuries have been reported related to the Lexus IS recalls, while the company is aware of 25 cases of defects globally, he said.

The cars being recalled are the 2003 and 2004 models of the Corolla and Matrix variant, involving vehicles sold in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Japan, Toyota said. For the Lexus IS, the company is calling back models from 2006 through 2012 in markets including the U.S. and Europe, it said.

Toyota rose 0.9 percent to 4,365 yen at the close of trading in Tokyo, while the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average climbed 2.3 percent.