I think it’s safe to say, this has been a lousy year for Toyota. For a company that a year ago couldn’t make a mistake if it tried, yet another recall is not what the doctor ordered.
The image of Toyotas as virtually bulletproof has taken a few hits lately. First there were the crashes, and the rumors of some phantom glitch in the machine that sent Camry’s flying down the tarmac.
That provided fodder for late night comedians for weeks.
There was no real unintended acceleration, but the company’s reluctance to face the issue, which turned out to be a faulty gas pedal design, didn’t help, and Uncle Sam fined them for being late to the recall game on that one.
Now, a million and a half vehicles worldwide, 750,000 of them in the US are being called in for possible brake fluid leaks.
The list includes the Toyota Avalon and Lexus RX, GS and IS models from 2004-2006.
The problem stems from using the wrong brake fluid.
Brian Lyons of Toyota told us, "What we actually found out is that there's enough variance in the amount of polymers that are in brake fluid, that it can cause the seal in the piston inside the master cylinder to possibly dry out, curl over and cause a leak. The new seal compound that we use, we find that it has a much broader tolerance for the different polymer levels in the brake fluids that we are finding out in the market."
Polymers are synthetic compounds somewhat like plastics.
Owners will get letters next month telling them what to do.
The recall is not safety related, merely annoying. Honda is also issuing a smaller recall for the same problem, brake fluid leaks in the Odyssey minivan and Acura RL.