LOS ANGELES -- Just days after U.S. auto safety regulators stepped up a probe into the risk that more than 1 million Toyota Corolla and Matrix vehicles could stall because of defective electronic engine control units the Japanese automaker announced a recall of the vehicles.
Toyota Motor said Thursday that it would recall 1.13 million 2005 to 2008 model year Toyota Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles sold in North America to address a problem with an electronic component called an engine control module that may have been improperly manufactured. No other Toyota or Lexus vehicles are involved in this recall.
This latest action brings the number of vehicles Toyota has recalled in the past year to about 10 million worldwide, a figure that is now approaching the total number of vehicles that will be sold by all manufacturers in America this year. The quality issues have affected the automaker's sales position and hurt its once-sterling reputation for reliability and dependability. Through the first seven months of this year, Toyota's U.S. market share has dropped to 15.2 percent from 16.3 percent, dropping it to third place in the U.S. auto market behind No. 1 General Motors and Ford Motor.
Separately, GM is recalling 200,000 Pontiac Vibes in North America due to the same problem, GM spokesman Alan Adler said. The Vibe is similar to the Matrix and was built under a joint venture between Toyota and GM at the now-closed NUMMI factory in Fremont.
Both automakers said they will replace the engine control modules on the recalled vehicles at no charge. The companies will begin mailing notifications to owners of the affected vehicles in mid-September.
Toyota has been plagued by a rash of quality problems involving faulty gas pedals, floor mats, brakes, electronic stability control systems, steering systems and other defects.
In the Corollas, Toyota said there is a crack that may develop either at various points on or in the component. When this happens, the check engine light may go on and the driver may experience harsh shifting. The engine might not start, and in some instances the engine can stall while the vehicle is being driven. Toyota said there are three unconfirmed accidents alleged to be related to this condition, one of which might have resulted in a minor injury.
People will be told to bring their cars to dealers as replacement parts become available. Owners who have already experienced the problem and paid for the repair will be instructed on how to collect reimbursement.
People with questions can go to www.toyota.com/recall/ and or call Toyota at 800-331-4331.
On Wednesday, safety regulators began an engineering analysis of stalling in Corolla and Matrix cars.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had received 26 complaints of vehicles stalling when it opened a preliminary evaluation in November. It reported 163 complaints when it opened the engineering analysis.
"The engine can stall at any speed without warning and not restart," NHTSA said on its website.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
What happened: Toyota Motor said Thursday it is recalling 1.13 million Corolla sedans and Matrix hatchbacks from the 2005-2008 model years because their engines may stall.
What's next: Toyota will alert owners and fix the engine problem for free starting in mid-September.