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Lexus confirms LS recall

Tardy steering: A steering software bug has forced a recall of the Lexus LS460 and hybrid LS600hL globally, including Australia.

Personal touch for Lexus owners as LS recalled to fix steering fault in Australia

24 May 2010

LEXUS Australia has recalled its flagship LS limousine in line with a global alert for a steering malfunction that surfaced in customer complaints in Japan.

The local importer is leaving no stone unturned to minimise the fall-out from the latest quality issue, saying it will not only advise all 14 owners of affected vehicles by phone but – if necessary – also send a Lexus representative to explain the problem and make arrangements for the fix in person.

The affected cars were sold between August 2009 and May 2010, and a further 23 vehicles are in Lexus or dealer stocks, for a total of 37 in Australia.

The recall came to light today in a formal safety recall notice lodged with Australian authorities, advising that the LS460 and LS600hL vehicles had been recalled to fix the variable gear ratio steering system that could leave the steering wheel up to 90 degrees off-centre after being turned to full lock.

Lexus says the problem can arise under “certain limited driving conditions” such as doing a U-turn or accelerating quickly after a sharp turn.

“If the driver has fully turned the steering wheel to full lock and then very quickly attempts to turn it back to the centre position, the steering wheel may temporarily become off-centred before automatically returning to the centre position within 1-5 seconds,” the Lexus notice says.

All current LS models are fitted with the variable steering ratio system.

Globally, about 11,500 LS vehicles have been recalled, with about 3800 of them in the US.

31 center imageThe variable gear ratio system adjusts the steering ratio according to speed, enabling easier steering during low-speed driving and better stability during high-speed driving.

The problem came to light in Japan when about 10 customers complained that the steering wheel was slow to return to straight-ahead from full lock.

Last month in the US, Lexus recalled its GX460 SUV to update its stability software after US publication Consumer Reports labeled the vehicle a safety risk.

In January 2009, Lexus also recalled 214,500 GS and LS vehicles in the US because of potential fuel line leaks due to corrosion from ethanol-blend fuels that are prevalent in some states.

So far, Toyota has recalled more than eight million vehicles globally for various remedies since it became ensnared in floor-mat-induced unintended acceleration claims last year.

Until now, the only recall that has extended to Australia has been for the hybrid Prius to fix an issue with braking feel caused by the vehicle’s regenerative braking system.

The Lexus LS460 went on sale in Australia in April 2007 and was updated with a mid-model facelift last December.

The hybrid version, the LS600hL, debuted in November 2007, before being given a new look in March this year.

Year to date, Lexus has sold 19 LS vehicles, with three finding homes last month.

As required by law, the LS steering recall will be advertised nationally.

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