NEW YORK (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. has stopped sales of the Lexus LS sedan for about three weeks while it works to get parts to dealers to fix a problem with the vehicle's steering system, a spokesman said Monday.
Toyota on Friday recalled about 3,800 2009 and 2010 LS 460 and LS 600h sedans in the U.S. to fix a problem in which the steering wheel briefly shifts out of alignment with the wheels when it is turned to the extreme right or left and then quickly re-centered, such as in a tight U-turn. Toyota said it will remedy the problem by replacing the computer processor in the vehicle's variable gear ratio steering system.
Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said Lexus dealers will stop selling the LS until they receive the new computer chips for installation. The new parts are likely to begin arriving in mid-to-late June, he said.
Toyota has recalled about 4,500 LS sedans in Japan and 2,750 elsewhere around the world due to the same problem. The LS is Lexus's highest-end four-door sedan and is priced at $65,380 for the 460 and $108,800 for the 600h hybrid model.
Toyota has sold about 4,000 LS sedans in the U.S. so far this year, accounting for about 6 percent of all Lexus sales. Vehicles covered by the recall were built between Aug. 28 and May 18. LS models produced outside that window do not experience the problem and are available for sale, Lyons said, adding that LS models are currently coming off the production line with the fix already installed.
Lexus builds all of the LS models at its Tahara plant in central Japan.
The automaker has been working to react faster to problems after coming under government scrutiny and being slapped with a record $16.4 million U.S. fine for its slow response to accelerator pedal recalls that affected more than 8 million Toyota vehicles worldwide. The automaker is also facing hundreds of state and federal lawsuits.
Toyota's safety concerns have triggered the first major review of U.S. auto safety laws in Congress since the large tire recalls by Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. in 2000.