Toyota has recalled 550,000 cars worldwide with more than 420,000 sent back from the United States due to a steering malfunction, the Japanese manufacturer has reported.

The announcement comes after a series of recalls that starting in 2009 due to defects with gas pedals and floor mats in some of the models. The latest recall covers the 2004 Toyota Avalon sedan and 2006 Highlander HV.

Some luxury models of the cars have also been recalled including the 2006 Lexus RX 400H SUV, he 2004 and 2005 ES330 sedan and RX330 crossover.

The recalls comes following a series of pulley failures found in the models. The failure has led to the inner and outer rings of the pulley to become misaligned, which could potentially lead to the power steering belt to slip off the crank shaft pulley making steering increasingly difficult.

Reuters has reported 283,200 Toyotas and 137,000 Lexus vehicles in the United States, bringing the total in the country to 3.3 million this year.  Toyota will replace the crankshaft pulley on all the cars recalls, the company announced on Wednesday.

Toyota is currently working on obtaining the necessary replacement parts. Once the replacement parts have been produced in sufficient quantities, Toyota will send an owner notification by first class mail advising owners to make an appointment with an authorized Toyota or Lexus dealer to have the crankshaft pulley inspected and if necessary, replaced at no charge. The owner notifications will be mailed by first class mail beginning in January, 2012, the company wrote on their Website.

In the meantime the company urges car owners to make an appointment with Toyota if they hear a strange noise coming from the engine counterpart. Customers can also check if their car models have been affected by the recall by entering their car identification number on their Website.

For more information, Toyota owners can call Toyota (800-331-4331) or Lexus (800-255-3987) or log onto the company's Website: www.toyota.com/recall