Toyota Motor Corp said on Tuesday it had received reports more than three years ago of faulty engine valve springs at the center of a U.S. recall of nearly 139,000 luxury Lexus vehicles it announced last week.
Toyota plans to recall 270,000 luxury Lexus and Toyota Crown vehicles across the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, Europe and other countries due to the potential defects that could lead to engine failures.
The report on the U.S. recall to U.S. safety regulators on Tuesday is the latest blow to Toyota, which has recalled more than 10 million vehicles worldwide, mostly due to the potential for unintended acceleration.
Toyota said in its notice to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it had received a report from the Japan market in March 2007 about abnormal noise and engine shaking and examined a broken engine valve spring.
The notice to regulators said there was a possibility the valve springs could degrade over time, leading to failure.
The automaker said it made improvements to its casting process after the initial report, but received more reports of broken valve springs. Toyota increased the thickness of the valve springs in August 2008 and again in September 2009.
From October 2009 onward, Toyota received an increasing number of reports that valve springs produced before August 2008 were breaking, as well as of total engine failures, though not of crashes or injuries, the automaker said.
Toyota said it would replace the engine valve springs with the new thicker version at no cost. It did not provide safety regulators with a recall schedule.
The U.S. recall covers 138,874 luxury Lexus IS 350, GS 350, GS 450h, GS 460, LS 460, LS 460 L and LS 600h L vehicles from the 2006 through 2008 model years. The cars were built between August 2005 and July 2008.
(Reporting by David Bailey, editing by Matthew Lewis)