Toyota GB has sent out a recall notice on all Yaris, Auris and Corolla models, as well as the new compact SUV the RAV4, with over 138,000 of these cars currently on UK roads.
The electric window switch, which controls the windows for the driver and passengers, can become inoperable over time. There have been no reported accidents related to the issue but certain RAV4, Auris, Yaris and Corolla models built between September 2006 and December 2008 could have the problem.
Toyota made a large number of the Auris vehicles being recalled at its manufacturing plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire, but the majority were made overseas. A spokesperson admitted that this means there has been a problem with Toyota’s worldwide manufacturing process.
Located in the driver’s door, the switch may begin to feel uneven when it is operated and continued use in this condition may cause the switch to stick or become inoperable.
Toyota has warned that the switch is not designed to be lubricated with commercially available lubricants and application of these lubricants could lead to overheating and melt the switch assembly.
All affected owners will be contacted by Toyota GB within the next six weeks and asked to make an appointment to bring their car to their nearest Toyota centre. The dealer will check the operation of the window switch and it will be replaced with a new unit. Toyota says that the work should take no more than one hour and will be carried out free of charge.
Although the problem is relatively small in scale, issues of melting or erosion are categorised under ‘fire’ in the USA by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
If a vehicle is affected by this, there is a chance that windows won’t open in emergency situations when driver and passengers need to escape the car.
Toyota is recalling 7.4 million vehicles worldwide, including Yaris, Corolla and Camry models, because of faulty window switches is just the latest in an series of automotive manufacturer recalls over the past couple of years.
“This recall is the biggest since Ford’s in 1996, which involved 8 million vehicles,” said Antony Bourne, global industry director at manufacturing software firm IFS. “It will be a huge feat to execute and manage seamlessly. Toyota’s global supply chain will have never been under such pressure.”
Mr Bourne added that, with automotive manufacturers operating a lean methodology – where stock is manufactured as and when needed, there will be small quantities of spare stock and claims that Toyota will struggle to ensure millions of new window switches are quickly available.
Without having a surplus of parts to hand to replenish stock levels around the world, Toyota’s supply chain and internal distribution will be in overdrive in order to assemble and deliver the new parts across the world.
“The company will rely heavily on its traceability system to notify owners and get the cars back. More staff will need to be contracted and extensive planning will be required to coordinate suppliers, distributors, warehouses and manufacturing workshops,” said Bourne.
“Once all the orders are manufactured, Toyota will face the issue of ensuring parts are stored somewhere locally, ready for access as consumers bring their cars in for repair.”
The 7.4 million cars is the biggest automotive recall for 16-years, and shows Toyota’s “immersive” approach to risk management, according to Eversheds’ product liability specialist Richard Matthews.
Specific vehicle information is expected to be made available by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency by the end of this week. The ownership section of the Toyota website (www.toyota.co.uk) will host a registration look-up function enabling owners to check if their vehicle is within the affected range of production.
If owners require additional information they should contact Customer Relations on 01737 367600.