Toyota,Nissan recalling more than 700,000 vehicles in U.S.

Toyota is recalling 615,000 Sienna minivans in the U.S. because of a problem with the shift lever that could result in unexpected rollaways.
Toyota is recalling 615,000 Sienna minivans in the U.S. because of a problem with the shift lever that could result in unexpected rollaways. John C. Hillery

Toyota is recalling 615,000 Sienna minivans in the United States due to a problem with the shift lever that could result in unexpected rollaways.

Meanwhile, Nissan is recalling about 100,000 Infiniti M luxury sedans in the U.S. because of accelerator sensor problems that could cause stalls.

The Toyota recall involves Siennas produced at the maker’s plant in Indiana from model years 2004-2005 and 2007-2009. Another 56,000 of the vehicles went to Canada, with a small number also sold in Mexico, Germany and Guatemala, bringing the recall total to 694,000.

The problem centers around the vehicle’s gearshift lever which, according to Toyota, can experience damage to the shift lock solenoid. If that occurs, a driver can inadvertently nudge the lever out of the park position without first depressing the brake, allowing the vehicle to roll away if it isn’t on a level surface. The maker emphasized that the Sienna van cannot shift out of park on its own.

Toyota acknowledges receiving reports of 21 “minor” accidents” in the U.S., with another three reported in Canada. Two of those resulted in bruises and other minor injuries.

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Nissan’s recall is due to a problem with defective accelerator sensors used in a wide range of models that could cause their engines to stall unexpectedly.

The vast majority of the 900,000 vehicles covered by the recall were produced for the Japanese export market, though some were shipped to other regions of the world. That includes the United States, where nearly 100,000 of the products are being targeted for repair, most of them sold through the Infiniti brand.

According to Nissan, the sensor used to detect the way the throttle pedal is being depressed can become unstable. That can lead the vehicle to accelerate less aggressively than a motorist might intend – and, in some circumstances, it can cause the vehicle to stop or even stall out entirely.

Though the maker has received a number of complaints, Nissan says it knows of no accidents or injuries connected to the problem.

The recall also covers models that include the Nissan Serena, X-Trail, Lafesta and Fuga. The vehicles were produced between 2004 and 2013, Nissan says.

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Toyota is one of several makers that have experienced rollaway problems in just the last year. The list also includes such brands as General Motors, Chrysler and Honda, the latter ordering a recall covering more than 800,000 vehicles last December. BMW, meanwhile, faced a class action suit alleging it dodged a recall for a similar problem. The case was tossed out by a California judge after a recall was finally ordered.

The Sienna recall is just the latest in a series of recalls involving a variety of Toyota vehicles this month. In all, nearly 2 million vehicles sold in the U.S. alone have been involved. Toyota has had more vehicles involved in safety-related recalls than any other manufacturer during four of the last five years. It is on track to be at or near the top of the list again in 2013, vying for that dubious achievement against Honda, which also recalled several million vehicles this year for a variety of problems.