DETROIT — Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling nearly 1.6 million vehicles in the U.S. to replace potentially faulty front passenger air bag inflators made by Takata Corp. of Japan.
The action expands what was already the biggest automotive recall in U.S. history. The U.S. government announced earlier this month that 17 automakers – including Toyota – are adding 35 million to 40 million Takata inflators to the 28.8 million that have already been recalled after multiple investigations showed more vehicles could be affected.
The latest recall includes Toyota, Scion and Lexus models from the 2006-2011 model years.
The air bags can deploy with too much force, breaking apart the metal inflator and spewing shrapnel into the vehicle. They are responsible for at least 11 deaths and more than 100 injuries worldwide.
The government said the inflators must be replaced before they reach a minimum of six years old, when the risk of rupture increases.
The recall expansion will be announced in phases based on the age of vehicles and where they are registered. Takata uses ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that inflates air bags in a crash. But the chemical can degrade over time and when exposed to humidity and a large number of hot and cool temperature cycles.
The first phase of the expansion covers vehicles from the 2011 model year or older that are registered in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Toyota said it will notify customers by mail. Depending on the model, dealers will replace the front passenger air bag inflator or the front passenger air bag assembly. The repairs will be free.
Here are the latest additions to the recall:
2009 -2011 Toyota Corolla and Matrix; 2006-2011 Toyota Yaris; 2010-2011 Toyota 4Runner; 2011 Toyota Sienna; 2008-2011 Scion xB; 2007-2011 Lexus ES; 2010-2011 Lexus GX; 2006-2011 Lexus IS.
In U.S., owners of affected Subarus have been told not to drive their vehicles until inspected
Almost 3,500 new Subaru cars in Canada are being recalled over a potential steering issue that has prompted the company to tell U.S. owners not to drive the vehicles until they are inspected.
The recall affects 2016 Subaru Legacy and Outback models.
“On certain vehicles, steering column components may not have been manufactured to specification and therefore may not engage correctly, which could result in a loss of steering control and increasing the risk of a crash causing injury and/or damage to property,” Transport Canada said in a recall notice on its website.
Transport Canada said dealers will inspect, and if necessary, replace the steering column.
In the U.S., the company is recalling about 48,500 of the vehicles from the 2016 and 2017 model years, and it has told dealers to stop selling them until they are fixed. About 22,000 of the recalled U.S. vehicles have already been sold, and the rest are still on dealer lots.
Documents posted online Friday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told owners not to drive their vehicles if they are part of the recall. Owners are being told to have their cars towed to a Subaru dealership.
The U.S. documents say the problem was discovered May 3 when the owner of a 2016 Outback reported trouble. Subaru says there have been no crashes or injuries.
Health Canada and Transport Canada are recalling select infant carrier seats and stollers made by Britax Child Safety Inc. due to safety concerns.
B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35/ B-Agile Travel Systems manufactured between Oct. 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015 are being recalled due to reports of cracks that developed on the handle of the car seat.
B-Ready Stollers and the B-Ready Top Seat Accessory manufactured between April, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2012 are also a part of the recall.
Health Canada warns that foam on the arm bar of the stroller may pose a choking hazard to children.
No injuries have been reported in Canada in relation to any of the recalled products.
Certain B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seats and Travel Systems
This recall involves the carry handle on certain B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35/B-Agile Travel Systems manufactured between October 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015. The product can be used as a rear-facing only car seat or as an infant carrier. It comes with a black shell and base and a solid colored canopy. The Britax logo is printed on both sides of the seat shell and on the carry handle grip. Model numbers are printed on a date of manufacturer (DOM) label located at the back of the infant car seat shell.
In Canada, the infant car seats with the following model numbers are included in the recall:
Britax Infant Car Seats and Travel Systems
Dates of Manufacture (YYYY/MM/DD)
E9LV13F, E9LV15M, E9LV15P
October 1, 2014 (2014/10/01) through July 1, 2015 (2015/07/01)
B-Safe 35/B-Agile Travel System
S914300, S914500, S914700
The infant car seat carry handle can develop cracks and break allowing the seat to fall unexpectedly, posing a risk of injury to the infant.
Health Canada has not received any reports of consumer incidents or injuries related to the use of these products.
Britax has received 74 reports (one in Canada) of the handle developing fractures, cracks, or breaking while in use. These incidents have resulted in one injury report in the United States where the unit dropped to the ground and the infant received a bump to their head.
Approximately 3,900 seats were sold in Canada and about 71,000 were distributed in the United States.
Time period sold
The recalled seats were sold from November 1, 2014 to January 1, 2016 at various children’s stores and online.
Place of origin
Manufactured in the United States.
Britax Child Safety, Inc. Fort Mill South Carolina UNITED STATES
Britax Child Safety, Ltd Saint John New Brunswick CANADA
Images (select thumbnail to enlarge)
What you should do
Consumers should not lift or carry the car seat by the handle until the repair is installed. All consumers who have registered their product with Britax will automatically receive a free repair kit. To verify registration or to receive a repair kit, consumers can visit Britax recall page. Consumers can continue to safely use the car seat when secured in a vehicle or on a stroller.
For more information, consumers may contact Britax by telephone at 1-800-683-2045 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. ET on Friday, by emailor online at the Britax website and click on Safety Notice at the top right, or the Britax recall page.
Record civil fine of up to $105M, but no similar action in Canada so far
Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said she still doesn’t know the impact on Canada of a major recall of Fiat Chrysler vehicles in the U.S. that is resulting in a $105 million US fine for the company.
“I simply was left blindsided on this issue,” Raitt told CBC News, when asked how many vehicles in Canada might be affected by a recall of millions of vehicles in the U.S. announced Monday.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fined the Italian-American automaker a record $105 million for poorly executing 23 vehicle safety recalls covering more than 11 million defective vehicles over several years.
As part of that deal, Fiat Chrysler has been ordered to fix or buy back 500,000 Ram pickup trucks and 1.5 million Jeeps that that might be vulnerable in rear-end collisions.
In an interview, Raitt said she only became aware of the U.S. recall when she read about it in media reports Monday morning. “These are things that are important,” she said. “They are matters of public safety and it is something we are getting the information on now as we speak. We will take swift action when we know what we are dealing with.”
“I understood there were some investigations with regard to Fiat in the U.S.” Raitt said. “I didn’t have a memo as to what the ramifications or implications are for Canada, or even if there is any. That’s what the department is putting together for me now.”
A spokesman for Fiat Chrysler Canada said it is working closely with regulators on both sides of the border on the issue, but does not have a firm number of how many — if any — cars might be added to its recall list in Canada, in addition to those that were already recalled in the first place.
“We are reviewing the consent order and the potential volume equivalent for Canada,” a spokesman with the company told CBC News.
Analyst expects similar buyback in Canada
Auto analyst and consumer advocate Phil Edmonston is confident that the company will eventually make a similar recall and buyback offer in Canada.
“There’s no doubt that the buybacks will happen in Canada because Chrysler has admitted they had the problem,” he said in an interview.
Unlike the U.S., there are no laws in Canada that give the government the power to force recalls on car manufacturers. “In Canada all we can do is wait for the manufacturer to say ‘Yes, we will do something,'” Edmonston said.
The U.S. settlement is the largest such fine in American history and a sign that auto safety regulators are taking a more aggressive approach toward companies that fail to disclose defects or don’t properly conduct a recall.
The Ram pickups, which are Fiat Chrysler’s top-selling vehicle, have defective steering parts that can cause drivers to lose control. Some previous repairs have been unsuccessful, so Fiat Chrysler agreed to the buyback, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Owners also have the option of getting them repaired, the agency said in documents released Sunday.
The company will make payments to owners of 1.56 million recalled older-model Jeeps with gas tanks behind the rear axle to bring them to dealers to install trailer hitches to help protect the tanks. The tanks are vulnerable and can leak gasoline if damaged in rear collisions. The company maintains the Jeeps are as safe as comparable vehicles built at the time, and it will not buy them back.
Besides the civil penalty Fiat Chrysler agreed to an independent recall monitor and strict federal oversight.
It’s another step in NHTSA’s effort to right itself after being criticized for lapses in some highly-publicized safety recalls.
“Today’s action holds Fiat Chrysler accountable for its past failures, pushes them to get unsafe vehicles repaired or off the roads and takes concrete steps to keep Americans safer going forward,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the statement.
In a separate statement, Fiat Chrysler said it accepted the consequences of the agreement “with renewed resolve to improve our handling of recalls and re-establish the trust our customers place in us.”
NHTSA has been involved in vehicle buybacks in the past, but never one of this size. A buyback usually happens when a problem is so serious that it can’t be fixed and the vehicles need to be removed from service.
Under the agreement, Fiat Chrysler has to buy back the Ram trucks for the purchase price, minus depreciation.
It’s unclear just how many Rams the automaker will have to repurchase, but the cash outlay could be substantial. According to Kelly Blue Book, a 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 — one of the smaller, less-expensive trucks involved in the recalls — could fetch $20,000 in a dealer trade-in, assuming the truck has 60,000 miles on it and is in “good” condition. At that rate, if Chrysler had to buy back even a quarter of the trucks at issue, it could spend $2.5 billion.
Fiat Chrysler said more than 60 per cent of the trucks already have been fixed, and the company is allowed to repair and resell the trucks it buys back.
The Jeep trade-ins could add to the tab, but they also could generate more new vehicle sales by getting customers into showrooms. Still, the total could strain the parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. The company posted a first-quarter net profit of $101 million and had more than $20 billion in cash and securities on March 31.
The consent order that Fiat Chrysler agreed to requires it to notify owners who are eligible for buybacks and other incentives.
Models included in the buyback offer are certain Ram 1500s from 2009 to 2012; the Ram 1500 Mega Cab 4 by 4 from 2008; and the Ram 2500 4 by 4, 3500 4 by 4, 4500 4 by 4, and 5500 4 by 4, all from 2008 through 2012. Also part of the offer are 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango SUVs and the Dodge Dakota pickup from 2009 through 2011.
The fine against FCA beats the old record of $70 million assessed against Honda Motor Co. for lapses in recalls of air bags made by Takata Corp.
Earlier this month, the safety agency held a rare public hearing where regulators detailed a litany of shortfalls: failure to notify customers of recalls, delays in making and distributing repair parts and in some cases failing to come up with repairs that fix the problems. Some of the recalls date to 2011.