Toyota still hasn't fully recovered from the double-whammy affects of its massive 2009-2010 "unintended-acceleration" recalls and the 2012 Japanese earthquake/tsunami disasters.
Now comes another massive recall – the biggest by any automaker in more than 25 years - that could put a further crimp in the company's reputation and recovery.
Toyota's sales have rebounded dramatically this year – in Canada they're up more than 25% over last year, through the first nine months.
But they're still not back to their average level over the past five years, while most of their major competitors have moved well ahead of those historic norms.
And while Toyota's current market share of 10.5% is on the rebound, it's well short of the 12.8% share the brand commanded in 2009, before it all went wrong.
Today it announced another recall to inspect and service the driver’s side Power Window Master Switch (PWMS) on some 7.43 million vehicles worldwide – including 239,459 vehicles in Canada and approximately 2.5 million in the U.S.
Worldwide, the recall affects models built between 2005 and 2010. In Canada, the period covered is more limited and includes the following models:
2007 to 2008 Yaris (approx. 46,701)
2007 to 2009 RAV4 (approx. 36,328)
2007 to 2009 Tundra (approx. 21,156)
2007 to 2009 Camry (approx. 46,853)
2007 to 2009 Camry Hybrid (approx. 12,894)
2008 to 2009 Sequoia (approx. 963)
2008 Highlander (approx. 8,283)
2008 Highlander Hybrid (approx. 1,420)
2009 Corolla (approx. 40,646)
2009 Matrix (approx. 24,215)
According to the company, the driver-side power-window master switch may experience a "notchy" or sticky feel during operation because of a misapplication of grease to the switch during assembly.
If commercially available lubricants are applied to the switch in an attempt to address the "notchy" or sticky feel, melting of the switch assembly or smoke could occur and lead to a fire under some circumstances, Toyota says, noting that the company is not aware of any crashes relating to this defect.
The recall will involve an inspection, switch disassembly, and application of special fluorine grease and it will be performed at no charge to the vehicle owner. The repair will take approximately one hour depending on the dealer’s work schedule.
Affected owners will be notified via mail (not registered) starting in late October, 2012.
Given that the potential consequences of this window-switch malfunction are far less serious than those of the alleged "unintended acceleration" incidents that prompted Toyota's 2009-2010 recalls, the fallout is likely to be less dramatic.
But, at best, it's another blow to Toyota's vaunted quality image.