Toyota recalls 1.4 million cars

Seat belt part found to be flammable in Yaris, Belta, and Ractis models, and the exhaust pipe may crack under extreme heat in some models.

Yaris seat belts may be flammable in a collision. Toyota Motor

Toyota Motor plans to recall 1.4 million cars throughout the world for minor defects.

About 830,000 cars in Europe, North America, and other regions are being recalled, and another 536,000 in Japan. The defective models include the Yaris (called the Vitz in Japan), Belta, and Ractis models built between January 2005 and April 2008.

The recall concerns the tensioner on seat belts that may melt or catch fire in some collision situations. On some models, there's also concern that the exhaust pipe will crack under extreme heat.

An official safety recall with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S. will include about 134,900 Yaris vehicles, according to Toyota.

The recall is more bad news for Toyota.

Despite surpassing General Motors as the world's top-selling automaker and winning market share in past years with its energy-saving Prius, the Japanese company has been bumping up against bad press for a series of recalls.

Earlier this month, Toyota recalled over 200,000 Lexus 2006-2008 models to replace fuel pipes that were corroding when used with certain types of ethanol fuels. In April 2008, the company recalled 540,000 Corolla and Matrix 2003-2004 models in the U.S. over concerns that power windows were separating from their door's control frames due to loosening bolts.

On Wednesday, Toyota also reported the company's first overseas production decrease in 17 years, which the company attributed to decreased production mainly in North America and Europe.

Toyota announced decreased sales and production for all its markets and sectors on Wednesday except for one. The company's Daihatsu Motor subsidiary saw its second year of production increase, which Toyota attributed to interest from the Indonesian market.

About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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