Toyota has started a global recall over engine defects in its Lexus and Crown models, moving to repair nearly 92,000 vehicles in Japan in the latest trouble to hit the car giant beset with quality problems.
Toyota said on Friday that 270,000 cars worldwide would be recalled to replace valve springs, crucial engine components that were flawed in the recalled vehicles and could make them stall while in motion.
The world's top car maker informed the Japanese government of the recall on Monday and Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said overseas recalls would follow soon.
The total includes 138,000 vehicles in the US, 91,903 in Japan, 15,000 in Europe, 10,000 in the Middle East, 6,000 in China, 4,000 in Canada, and 8,000 in other regions.
"We apologise for inconveniencing our customers. We hope to fix the problem soon," Mr Nolasco said.
Toyota has received about 200 complaints, but no accidents due to the defects have been reported. Toyota said it was replacing the valve spring in the recalled vehicles, produced between July 2005 and August 2008 - Lexus models GS350, GS450h, GS460, IS350, LS460, LS600h, LS600hL and Crown models. Vehicles from the 2009 and 2010 model years are not affected.
The quality problem affecting top-of-the-line products comes as Toyota struggles to move on from massive global recalls that started in October. More than 8.5 million vehicles already have been recalled for various problems, including sticking accelerator pedals, braking software glitches and defective floor mats.
Toyota was fined a record £11 million in the US for responding too slowly when the recall crisis erupted.
The latest woes come on top of a recall last week for 17,000 Lexus hybrids after testing showed fuel could spill during a rear-end crash. Analysts say the latest recalls do little to instill consumer confidence after Toyota president Akio Toyoda apologised to shareholders last month and vowed to improve vehicle quality inspections.
Toyota faces more than 200 lawsuits in the US tied to accidents involving defective vehicles, lower resale values, and a drop in its stock value. The company's overall sales have been hurting this year following its safety-related recalls. Toyota has been trying to boost US sales with deep promotions, including 0% financing and free servicing.