Toyota Motor Corp officials in the United States said on Thursday that an internal investigation will be completed next week into possible stalling of Lexus engines, but they did not say whether the cars will be recalled.
Earlier, from Tokyo, Toyota said that it was considering some kind of measure that may include the recall of 270,000 vehicles worldwide.
Toyota said that decisions by government regulators would determine if a recall was necessary for seven Lexus sedan models and the Toyota Crown sedan. One of the Lexus sedan models and the Crown are not sold in the United States.
There is a remote possibility that abnormal engine noise or idling may occur, said the U.S. Lexus Division in a statement on Thursday. In extremely rare instances, the engine may stop while the vehicle is in operation.
The statement said Lexus has found faulty valve springs in the engines.
Due to slight variations during the manufacturing process, some foreign material may have contaminated the valve springs resulting in potential breakage, Lexus said.
Of the 270,000 vehicles, about 137,000 are in the United States. Canadian autos also are involved, but no figure was given for any country but the United States, Toyota's biggest market.
No accidents or injuries have been reported, Toyota said, related to the stalling issue.
Since last September, Toyota has been plagued by a safety crisis that has led to the recall of more than 10 million vehicles globally, mostly for potential unintended acceleration. About 7.3 million vehicles have been recalled in the United States, the automaker's biggest market.
Toyota U.S. brand sales chief, Bob Carter, said that Toyota dealers have repaired 4 million vehicles involved in U.S. recalls. He said 78 percent of the 2.3 million vehicles with sticky pedal problems have been fixed.
Other Lexus models in the possible stalling issue are the GS 350, the GS 450h, the GS 460, the IS 350, the LS 600h and the LS 600hl. The LS 600h is not sold in the United States, A Lexus spokesman said. The models marked by h are gasoline-electric hybrids.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had not received any communication from Toyota regarding the issue by Thursday, according to a Department of Transportation spokeswoman. The DOT is the parent agency of the NHTSA.
LEXUS RECALL LAST FRIDAY
Last Friday, Toyota told U.S. and Canadian safety regulators it was halting sales and recalling about 17,000 Lexus HS 250h gasoline-electric hybrid sedans due to a potential fuel leak.
Toyota acted following a U.S. government crash test that showed fuel leaking after an HS 250h was struck from the rear by a car traveling about 50 miles per hour.
Some 13,000 model-year 2010 HS 250h 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 HS 250h sedan.
(Additional reporting by Yumiko Nishitani in Tokyo; Editing by Maureen Bavdek, Matthew Lewis and Carol Bishopric)