Toyota’s U.S. arm announced that it will initiate a voluntary safety recall for 373,000 units of the Toyota Avalon belonging to the 2000-2004 Model Years, due to a steering issue. The reason: the Avalon’s steering lock bar could break.
Due to improper casting of the steering lock bar, which is integrated in the steering interlock system, a minute crack could develop on the surface. As the part is subjected to normal repeated use stress, the crack might expand and cause the lock bar to break. Eventually, the interlock system may become difficult to unlock while the vehicle is stationary.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end here. If the vehicle is steered to the right while being driven and the maneuvers creates a lateral acceleration that exceeds a certain value, the broken and loose lock bar might move toward the steering shaft. If the engagement hole in the shaft happens to line up at the specific time the broken lock has changed its position, this could lead to the steering lock’s bar engaging. In other words, the steering wheel could lock while you are driving.
Toyota announced that it will replace the steering column bracket, with the fixing operation taking about two hours. Owners will be notified via first class mail starting from late August, with the operations being performed free of charge.
We’re no metal specialists, but we find some sort of similarity between “improper casting” (the current issue), and the “foreign material contamination during the production process” - the cause of the recent Toyota and Lexus valve springs recall.
Now, let’s get to the Lexus’ share.
Following Toyota’s release, Lexus’s American arm announced that it will conduct a voluntary safety recall for around 39,000 2003-2007 model year LX 470 for a similar problem.
The construction of the steering shaft on the LX 470 vehicles might allow the snap ring on the shaft to disengage if the vehicle experiences a hard impact to the font wheels (like hitting a bump). If the snap ring disengages and the steering wheel is repeatedly turned to the full locked position, the steering shaft mat disengage.
The company will replace the snap ring with a redesigned one and will install a new safety component to prevent the separation of the steering shaft. Lexus too will notify owners using first class mail starting from mid-August.
Update: Toyota’s UK division announced that it will recall 348 of the Land Cruiser Amazon models built between July 2002 and September 2006 due to a similar issue. The Lexus LX sister model is not involved, as it was never marketed in the UK.