WASHINGTON – Toyota will recall about 50,000 Sequoia SUVs from the 2003 model year to fix traction controls that unexpectedly switch on and slow them down — the automaker’s eighth recall in the U.S. this year.
The problem is not linked to reports of injuries or crashes. It does involve flaws in the sensors used by the vehicles’ electronic controls, a key point of contention in the debate over thousands of sudden acceleration cases. And as recently as February, Toyota was telling federal regulators the problem was not a safety defect.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been probing the problem since 2008, and said last year it had received 68 complaints from Sequoia owners of their cars slowing down unexpectedly, sometimes in traffic.
Toyota has told federal regulators the problem had two causes. One was a flaw in the programming for the vehicle’s skid-control system that incorrectly judged the steering wheel position at low speeds, causing the skid control to come on for a few seconds as the truck accelerated. The other was because of corrosion in the rear wheels that could cause the truck’s traction control to kick in unnecessarily, also slowing the truck.
The automaker made a production change in 2003 to address the problems, and said half of the vehicles covered had already been repaired under warranty. Toyota said the new fix would involve reprogramming the skid-control computer.
Toyota has called back about 6 million vehicles in the U.S. since last fall, most because of defects that could trigger sudden acceleration.