Toyota Recalls 7.4 Million Cars Amid Fire Risk

A problem with the electric windows in some Toyota models has led the company to recall 7.4 million vehicles across the world.

Some 138,000 vehicles have been recalled in the UK, where Toyota's Yaris, RAV4, Auris and Corolla models are affected.

In total, the Japanese manufacturer will call back 1.39 million cars in Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) , 1.4 million in China and 2.47 million in the US.

Japan (EUREX: FMJP.EX - news) , Canada and Australia are among the other countries affected, as well as the Middle East.

It is the biggest single recall of vehicles since Ford (NYSE: F - news) called back 7.9 million vehicles in 1996.

Toyota said uneven application of grease during the assembly process has caused a problem with some electric window switches.

"It has come to our attention that on certain RAV4, Auris, Yaris and Corolla models built between September 2006 and December 2008 the possibility exists that the PWMS, located in the driver’s door, may over time begin to feel uneven or notchy when it is operated," the company said in a statement on its UK website.

"Continued operation in this condition may cause the switch to stick or become inoperable.

"The switch is not designed to be lubricated with commercially available lubricants - application of these lubricants could lead to overheating and/or melting of the switch assembly."

There has been one reported case of this in Britain, the company said, but added that no accidents, injuries or deaths had been reported as a result of the problem. 

A statement on Toyota's US site said if lubricants are applied to the switch, "smoke could occur and lead to a fire under some circumstances."

The development comes after a string of defects with the company's vehicles over the last few years - almost 16 million cars have been recalled by Toyota since late 2009.

The firm has been working hard to regain its reputation for safety but has been severely affected by the global economic crisis and Japan's earthquake and tsunami last year.

Japanese car brands have also suffered as a result of hostile sentiment in China in response to a territorial dispute between the two countries.

On Tuesday, Toyota reported its September sales fell over 48% year-on-year in China.

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