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Toyota recalls 370,000 Sienna minivans for spare-tire problem

Tue, 03 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0700

Toyota is recalling certain Sienna minivans manufactured between 2004 and 2011 and sold in 20 northern and Midwestern states and the District of Columbia. The problem is a spare-tire carrier cable that may disintegrate over time due to rust, causing the tire to fall away. A total of 370,000 Sienna models are a part of this recall.

The recall affects only the second-generation Sienna, which was manufactured between 2004 and 2010, with vehicles from the last year of manufacture being sold as 2011 models. As in the current-generation Sienna, the spare tire is located underneath the vehicle and can be lowered down to the ground by rotating a hex nut found in the floor of the minivan, under a small trap door beneath the rug. The wheel is lowered to the ground by the rotation of the nut, which unwinds the metal cable on which the spare wheel and tire are suspended. If the cable becomes corroded, it can cause the tire to fall away as the cable is the only thing keeping the spare tire attached to the undercarriage of the minivan.

This recall will include Sienna models that were originally sold in or registered in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. These states are the heaviest users of road salt, which can cause the carrier cable to rust and corrode due to the high concentrations of road salt accumulating on the spare tire carrier.

Toyota will send owners an interim notification, and the owners of affected vehicles will be able to have the spare removed at the dealership and relocated to the luggage compartment. Toyota will also notify owners when a permanent fix becomes available which will also be installed at the dealership, free of charge. The Sienna had already been recalled in 2010 for the same issue, and it appears that the prior fix did not solve the problem.

Sienna owners can contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153) or contact Toyota customer service at (800) 331-4331.

By Jay Ramey