Toyota recalling Tundras for corrosion check


Toyota says it is recalling about 110,000 Tundra vehicles sold in the United States because of a corrosion issue and that it will replace gas pedals on 3.8 million previously recalled vehicles to address sudden acceleration problems.

The Japanese automaker said in a statement released from its North American headquarters in Torrance that certain 2000-2003 model year Tundra pickup trucks may exhibit excessive corrosion on the frame rear cross-member after being operated in cold climate areas with high road salt use.

“In the worst case, the spare tire stowed under the truck bed may become separated from the rear cross-member. Spare tire separation will create a road hazard for following vehicles and increase the likelihood of a crash,’’ the statement said.

Eventually, excessive rear cross-member corrosion may affect the operation of the rear brake line, possibly leading to the loss of the rear brake circuits, increasing vehicle stopping distances and the risk of a crash, it said.

Toyota said the cold-climate areas of the nation that see a high use of salt to keep roads from freezing include the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

Beginning next month and through early 2010, Tundra owners will receive a Safety Recall notification via first class mail asking them to take their vehicles to a Toyota dealer for an initial inspection. Based on the result, Toyota will apply a corrosion-resistant compound to the rear cross-member or, if corroded, replace the part, the statement said.

In Washington, D.C., the Transportation Department said in a statement that Toyota will have dealers shorten the length of the gas pedals beginning in January while the company develops replacement pedals. In some vehicles, brake override systems will be installed as a precaution.

The announcement was a follow-up to a massive recall announced in late September, when Toyota told owners of the affected vehicles to remove driver’s side floor mats to prevent the gas pedal from potentially becoming jammed.

The recall — the largest ever in the United States for the world’s biggest automaker — covers the 2007-10 model year Camry, the 2005-10 Toyota Avalon, the 2004-09 Prius, the 2005-10 Toyota Tacoma, the 2007-10 Toyota Tundra, the 2007-10 Lexus ES350 and the 2006-10 Lexus IS250/350.

It came as a result of the high-speed crash of a 2009 Lexus ES350 near San Diego in August, killing a California Highway Patrol officer and three members of his family. The car struck a sport utility vehicle while traveling at speeds of 120 miles per hour, tumbled off an embankment and burst into flames.

A family member in the Lexus called 911 before the crash, saying the accelerator was stuck and the driver couldn’t stop the car.

The government has attributed at least five deaths and two injuries to floor mat-related acceleration in Toyota vehicles, although some automotive experts say there have been hundreds of sudden-acceleration mishaps.

Reports today from Washington, D.C., quoted transportation officials as saying dealers will shorten the length of the accelerator pedal on the recalled vehicles and in some cases remove foam from beneath the carpeting near the pedal.

Owners of the ES350, Camry and Avalon will be the first to receive notification because the vehicles are believed to have the highest risk for pedal entrapment.

Toyota plans to install a brake override system on the Camry, Avalon and Lexus ES350, IS350 and IS250 models to provide an “extra measure of confidence” according to the Transportation Department.