The Baez Law Firm | San Antonio Lawyers and Attorneys

The Baez Law Firm | San Antonio Lawyers and Attorneys
San Antonio Lawyers and Attorneys

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Toyota recalls 15,600 Tundras

(AP)- Toyota Motor Sales USA on Friday announced it would recall thousands of 2007 Tundras — some of them manufactured in San Antonio — because of a possible safety hazard. It is the first recall of the redesigned truck, which is also built in Princeton, Ind.

A joint in the rear propeller shaft of an estimated 15,600 four-wheel-drive Tundras may have been improperly heat-treated, Toyota said. In a worst-case scenario, the shaft could separate at the joint and the truck would coast to a stop, Toyota Motor Sales USA spokesman Bill Kwong said. So far, no one has reported such an incident or accidents or injuries related to rear propeller shaft problems.

The number of trucks being recalled — fewer than 10 percent of those sold — isn't huge, said Kevin Smith, editorial director of the consumer auto site Edmunds.com. Smith also doesn't see the recall as a sign of larger quality problems at Toyota. "Most people would be realistic and understand that a brand-new vehicle has lots of new parts. It's conceivable that one of them might have a faulty heat treatment," he said. "It doesn't feel to me like an indication that Toyota's standards have slipped, but if things keep happening, that will look different."

The parts involved in Friday's recall are supplied by the Toledo, Ohio-based Dana Corp.
Dana, which didn't return a phone call seeking comment, provides all of the propeller shafts used in the two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions of the Tundra, the company said in a February news release. One of the two propeller shafts that Dana supplies to Toyota won Toyota's Award for Technology and Development at the automaker's Global Suppliers Convention in Japan earlier this year.

No recall has been issued for the two-wheel-drive Tundra. A customer who complained of an abnormal noise coming from the drive shaft alerted Toyota to the rear propeller-shaft problems with the four-wheel-drive version, Kwong said. "In that case it didn't separate," he said.
Toyota plans to notify Tundra owners of the recall by mailing letters this month. Owners are being instructed to contact local Toyota dealers for complimentary inspections and repairs if needed.

"It should take less than an hour to repair if there's a need for a repair at all," Kwong said.
The recall is the fifth that Toyota has announced this year, affecting 588,232 vehicles.
The Tundra already has had an atypical launch for a Toyota product, failing to gain a coveted recommendation from Consumer Reports, becoming a topic of consumer complaint forums, and failing to beat domestic competitors in national safety tests.

"A lot of consumers who are used to thinking of Toyota as essentially faultless have certainly been knocked a little off-balance by recent events," Edmunds.com's Smith said.
Consumer Reports in October ranked the four-wheel-drive version of the Tundra as below average when it comes to reliability. The magazine said its readers have reported problems with trucks' drive system, suspension, brakes, power equipment, body hardware, engine and audio system.

On pickuptruck.com, a Web publication dedicated to trucks, Tundra owners have complained about shuddering sensations and cracking tailgates. In crash tests from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the Tundra did not fare as well as some competitors including the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, the Dodge Dakota and the GMC Sierra 1500.

"When a brand-new vehicle hits the market, it's not at all unheard of to have some kind of issues crop up in the first six, 12 or 18 months," Smith said. But Toyota rarely has those problems because it doesn't often redesign new models from scratch. The 2007 Tundra is unlike any other truck the company has built. Equipped with a new 5.7-liter, V-8 iForce engine capable of generating 381 horsepower and 401 pounds of torque, the truck can tow nearly 11,000 pounds. It is the first truck Toyota has released that is a direct competitor to domestic brands, which historically have dominated the large truck market.

But some problems with Toyota's Tundra started almost immediately after the truck began production. Camshafts broke in about 20 early versions of the new Tundra. Smith believes consumers will quickly forgive and forget Toyota's Tundra problems, including Friday's recall. He doesn't expect the recall to significantly hurt sales of the Tundra.

He does, however, expect some buyers may decide to wait for Toyota to get the kinks out of its new truck before making a purchase. That could make reaching the goal of selling 200,000 Tundras this year even harder for Toyota. As of November's end, the company was about 23,000 trucks short of reaching its goal. It has never sold that many Tundras in a single month.

If you or someone you know has been hurt because of a faulty vehicle, contact us: http://www.thebaezlawfirm.com We care about your legal needs!

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