Wednesday's recall of the 2003 Sequoia marks the third computer-related recall for Toyota Motor this year.
The Japanese car company announced a recall of 50,000 Sequoia 2003 model year SUVs to address problems with the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) System. If not fixed, some vehicles may not accelerate as quickly as the driver expects, Toyota said.
And earlier this month, Toyota said it would recall 9,400 Lexus GX 460 SUVs to correct a stability control system problem that could lead to a loss of control, which Consumer Reports designated as a "Don't Buy: Safety Risk."
These two recalls follow a February recall of 133,000 2010 Prius models to update software in the vehicle's antilock brake system (ABS), which could lead to inconsistent braking.
In the glitch disclosed on Wednesday, Toyota said it made a production change during the 2003 model year and published a technical service bulletin to address the issue when it was first identified in the fall 2003. "Since that time, Toyota has been responding to individual owner concerns by replacing the skid control engine control unit in Sequoias impacted by this condition," Toyota said in a statement. The engine control unit, or ECU, is an onboard computer.
There have been no reported injuries or accidents as a result of the condition, Toyota said.
The Sequoia and Lexus GX 460 recalls both involve stability control, which is one of many computer-controlled drive-by-wire technologies used in cars today. Toyota instituted the Vehicle Stability Control system in 1997 on Lexus vehicles (PDF), which it describes as "sensors, actuators, and computer electronics (that) help avoid and recover from vehicle skids and spins." Sensors detect when the vehicle's direction of travel does not correlate with "driver steering inputs." The system then uses throttle and selective brake intervention to help maintain the path of travel.
In the case of the Lexus GX 460, "it was a bad choice of (programmed) settings," said Jeff Bartlett, online deputy editor for autos at Consumer Reports, which first identified the problem. "If you were decelerating from a highway to an off-ramp--they just gave it too much latitude, really," he said in a phone interview. "It wasn't an electronic problem per se, it was more of an… Read more