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Toyota recalls 1.13m Corolla vehicles in N America

* Recall is fresh blow to automaker that recalled 10m vehicles earlier this year due to a faulty acceleration system

NEW YORK: Japanese automaker Toyota has announced the recall of 1.13 million of its popular Corolla vehicles in North America due to an engine defect that could make the car stop while it is being driven.

Toyota, the world’s largest car manufacturer, said Thursday the recall was issued for Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles built between 2005 and 2008 “to address some engine control modules (ECM) that may have been improperly manufactured.”

The recall is a fresh blow to the automaker which recalled some 10 million vehicles across the world earlier this year due to a faulty acceleration system.

It said in a statement that there was a possibility that “a crack may develop at certain solder points or on the electronic component used to protect circuits against excessive voltage” on the ECM’s circuit board.

The crack can result in the engine not starting or, in some cases, stopping while the vehicle is being driven, it said.

There were three “unconfirmed” accidents allegedly linked to this condition, one of which reported a minor injury, the statement said.

Steve St Angelo, Toyota’s chief quality officer for North America, said the recall was “an example of our commitment to standing by our products and being responsive to our customers.” The affected engine control modules will be replaced for free, beginning in September, the company said.

The recall followed an investigation opened in November by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into reports of motor stalling in Toyota Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles manufactured between 2005 and 2007. The NHTSA said it had received 163 complaints on the engine suddenly stalling without any warning.

Toyota has seen its reputation badly damaged after it recalled about 10 million vehicles worldwide because of dangerous defects, many involving “sticky” gas pedal problems that could cause vehicles to speed out of control. The Japanese automaker paid a record 16.4-million-dollar fine earlier this year to settle claims it hid gas pedal defects blamed for more than 50 US deaths and faces a host of civil lawsuits over issues with “unintended acceleration.” Toyota overtook General Motors in 2008 as the world’s top automaker, but safety issues have raised questions about whether it sacrificed its legendary quality to become number one.

As recently as last month Toyota announced the recall of 270,000 vehicles worldwide because of an engine fault affecting its luxury Lexus range and Crown models and 373,000 Avalon sedans in the United States due to a steering issue that could increase the risk of a crash. afp

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