Toyota recalls 470,000 vehicles in Japan for engine, steering and motor problems

Toyota recalled 470,000 vehicles in Japan Wednesday for engine, steering and motor problems in the latest sign of growing quality problems as the automaker embarks on ambitious global growth.

None of the recalled models were exported, Toyota Motor Corp. said. There were no reports of accidents related to the defects, but more than 300 problems were reported, it said.

President Katsuaki Watanabe has repeatedly cautioned about the need for more vigilance in product quality as the Japanese manufacturer of Camry sedans and Lexus luxury models boosts production to meet demand.

Toyota was investigated last year in Japan on suspicion of negligence in a faulty part that may have caused a 2004 head-on crash. The probe has not resulted in any charges. But Watanabe has apologized for public fears about quality problems.

Toyota has faced an increasing numbers of recalls in recent years, partly due to its effort to cut costs by using the same parts across different models.

In the latest recall, an engine problem was found in the Crown sedan and several other models, sold from 1999 through 2004, which may cause fuel to leak, Toyota said.

Separately, a defect in the fuel pump of the Vitz compact and other models could cause the engine to stall and fail to restart, it said. Those recalled models were sold from 2003 through 2005.

Toyota also found that the bolt connecting the steering shaft with the gear box wasn't properly tightened in the bB vehicle, sold from January last year through March this year, which could result in uncontrollable steering.

Toyota declined to say how much the recall would cost.

Earlier this year, Toyota set a goal of selling 10.4 million vehicles globally in 2009, well above the industry's 30-year-old record held by General Motors Corp.

At that time, Watanabe said he was going after quality - not quantity.

Toyota is planning to sell 9.3 million vehicles this year, a number that could end up beating GM, the world's No. 1 automaker. GM, which sold 9.1 million vehicles worldwide last year, doesn't give a forecast for this year.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova