The recent decision of Toyota Motor Corp. to recall 7.43 million vehicles around the world to fix faulty power-window switches could be traced back to a complaint received by the carmaker in September 2008, according to Toyota documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on October 10, 2012.
The first field report about the problem mentioned an unusual smell coming from the power-window switch as well as heat damage. The damaged part was returned to Toyota’s American supplier for examination, but the cause was not determined, the carmaker said in the NHTSA filing.
Although Toyota dropped the case, it continued to monitor the situation. However, by May 2010, similar incidents occurred and this time the controls were smoking, forcing Toyota to immediately launch an internal investigation.
The probe determined that the problem had been the driver's-side switches supplied by Japan's Tokai Rika Co. and its U.S. unit, Tram Inc., Toyota said in the NHTSA filing.
Some of the parts involved were produced in the U.S. and Japan, but Toyota has said that defective components were also manufactured in Thailand and China. Toyota recalled around 2.47 million vehicles in the United States, around 1.4 million vehicles in China and 1.39 million units in Europe.
Toyota also recalled hundreds of thousands of units in other locations. In the U.S., the recall involves various 2007 through 2009 models of the Camry, Camry Hybrid, Yaris, RAV4, Tundra, Scion xD and Scion xA, as well as Sequoia, Highlander, Highlander Hybrid, Corolla and Matrix.
Toyota said the recall was its biggest ever related to a single component. Toyota also recalled 7.7 million floormats beginning in 2009 to address unintended acceleration, but it involved a range of different mats.