The recall hinted at by Toyota last week has finally come to pass, with the company announcing that 138,000 vehicles sold within American borders between 2006 and 2008 will need to be returned to dealerships in order to deal with a defective engine component. These automobiles - all of which fall under the banner of the company's Lexus luxury brand - are part of a global recall that will see 270,000 cars in total requiring engine repair.
The affected models are the 2006 to 2008 Lexus IS, Lexus GS and Lexus LS sedans. Specifically, the problem as to do with the valve springs that are part of the 3.5-liter V-6 engines found under the hoods of the Lexus IS 350, the Lexus GS 350 and the Lexus G 450h hybrid, as well as the 4.6-liter V-8 units installed in the Lexus GS 460, the Lexus LS 460, and the Lexus 600h hybrid. Several Japanese-market automobiles produced by Toyota are also affected by the recall.
The valve springs in question have shown a propensity to crack in such a way that causes excessive engine noise, in addition to idle problems that are readily apparent to drivers. The springs usually fracture so that only the top 25 percent of the spring is disconnected, which allows for enough pressure to be maintained to keep the spring in place. However, engines have been known to fail as a result of the valve springs malfunctioning, which leads to expensive warranty repairs.
The company has already stated that after investigation, it seems as though the issue with the valve springs is not the design itself but rather the materials that were used during manufacturing. General manager of the Lexus brand Mark Templin said that it would appear that 'contaminated materials' were the direct cause of the engine issues associated with the faulty valve springs. These materials would appear to have only been used to build the 2006 to 2008 models announced in the recall, with 2009 and 2010 automobiles featuring the same engines not subject to a similar valve spring issue. As a result, Toyota has not stopped production of any current Lexus vehicles.
No on-road incidents have been reported as a result of the engine failures, which is a relief for the company still mired in the unintended acceleration problem that has affected millions of its cars and been implicated in a large number of fatal accidents. The company was made aware of the issue after having received as many as 200 complaints about poor idle and engine failure from angry Japanese-market buyers. Toyota has not yet announced any schedule for the problem affecting these Lexus automobiles to be repaired, but estimates put the cost of effectuating a solution for the valve spring failure at close to $230 million.