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TOKYO (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. is preparing to recall 11,500 Lexus vehicles worldwide for problems related to steering.

The company plans to recall 7,000 vehicles overseas, including 3,800 in the U.S., and 4,500 units in Japan, said Mieko Iwasaki, a spokeswoman for the carmaker.

Toyota is recalling four Lexus models, the LS 460, LS 460 L, LS 600h, and LS 600h L.

The cars were sold in the United States, Europe and China and in Japan. In Japan, customers have complained about wheels not returning to original positions fast enough after making turns, Iwasaki said. The problem is both mechanical and software- related, she said.

Separately, Toyota said last month it will recall the Lexus GX 460 sport-utility vehicle that Consumer Reports magazine rated a “safety risk” because the model can roll over in certain driving conditions.

About 13,000 GX 460s were repaired, including 9,400 in the U.S. and the rest in countries including Russia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Canada, according to the automaker.
 

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Sales Hold


Toyota has stopped selling its flagship Lexus, the plush LS sedan, while it waits for parts to reach dealers so the recalled cars can be fixed.

A recall notice was issued on the LS on Friday to fix a steering deficiency. If a driver makes a sharp turn in the LS, the steering wheel may not return to its original position.

Though the stoppage won't mean much to Toyota in terms of the number of LS cars it sells — Lexus sold only about 4,000 in the first four months of the year — the move is another blow to its pride. The LS is the pinnacle of the Lexus brand, a big car with every feature that Toyota could dream up. The current version was the first with an eight-speed transmission and was first with a feature to parallel park itself. Prices range up to $108,800 for the hybrid version.

The recall notice issued Friday covered 3,800 LS models in the U.S. and a total of about 11,500 cars worldwide. The decision to stop selling the LS "is normal procedure if a (recall) remedy is not immediately available for a recall," Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said.

Last month, Toyota halted sales of another Lexus model, the GX 460, while a recall was underway to fix a defect that made it more susceptible to rollovers. In January, Toyota stopped selling eight models while it launched a giant recall to fix sticky gas pedals.

Added to Toyota's troubles, a Los Angeles Times story Sunday alleged that Toyota balked at repairing transmissions in 2002 to 2006 Lexus ES cars, a glitch that would result in hundreds of complaints and 49 injuries.

The car, the newspaper says in an investigative report, had a tendency to jerk forward.

In a statement, Toyota dismissed the findings of the Times story. It said that the issues involved customer preferences in terms of how the car drove, or "drivability," not safety issues.

Toyota recently paid a record $16.4 million fine for not being more aggressive in initiating a recall for sticky accelerator pedals.
 

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DETROIT (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp is considering recall of one of its top-of-the-line sedans, Lexus LS460, owing to concerns that its engines may stall, the Nikkei business daily reported.

Tens of thousands of vehicles will likely be recalled worldwide, the daily said without naming sources.

The Nikkei said the 4.6-liter engine of the sedan, launched in 2006 and partly remodeled last year, is said to stall while the vehicle is in motion and may not start again.

Lexus U.S. officials said the carmaker is investigating the issue but did not say whether the luxury sedan would be recalled.

If the LS460 is recalled, it would be the latest in a string of recalls for Toyota since last fall. Since last September, Toyota has recalled more than 10 million vehicles worldwide, most for the potential of unintended acceleration.

Just last Friday, Lexus told U.S. safety regulators it was halting sales and recalling about 17,000 Lexus HS250h gasoline-electric hybrid sedans due to a potential fuel leak. Toyota acted after a U.S. government crash test that showed fuel leaking after an HS250h was struck from the rear by a car traveling about 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour).

About 13,000 model year 2010 HS250h vehicles were sold in the United States, and about 17,000 have been built to sell in the U.S. market, Toyota told its U.S. Lexus dealers in a letter last Friday.

Toyota's own crash test did not show the fuel leak problem. The automaker, in the letter to U.S. Lexus dealers, said it was trying to understand why the government tests showed the fuel leakage problem while the company's own crash tests did not.

The automaker told dealers it has not received any reports of injuries or accidents linked to the potential problem with the HS250h sedan. And Nikkei reported that Toyota said there were no reported accidents related to the 460LS issue, either.

Toyota is investigating the cause and would likely need to replace engine-related parts or upgrade control software, the daily said.

Lexus sold 4,863 of the 460LS sedans in the first five months of this year in the United States, up from 3,925 units in the same period in 2009.

Lexus through May had sold 5,889 of the HS250h in the United States. The model had yet to be introduced by May last year.

(Reporting by Koustav Samanta in Bangalore and Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Editing by Don Sebastian and Steve Orlofsky)​
 
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