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updated 8/26/2010 6:20:19 PM ET 2010-08-26T22:20:19

Toyota recalled 1.33 million Corolla sedans and Matrix hatchbacks in the U.S. and Canada Thursday because their engines may stall, the latest in a string of quality problems at the Japanese automaker.

The recall covers vehicles from the 2005-2008 model years sold in the U.S. and Canada. Three accidents and one minor injury have been reported, though Toyota said a link to the engine issue has not been confirmed.

Toyota's latest recall is one of its largest since it began recalling cars and trucks last October. The automaker has now recalled more than 10 million vehicles worldwide for problems that run from faulty gas pedals and floor mats that can trap accelerators, to problems with its Prius hybrid.

Toyota said Corollas and Matrixes equipped with 1ZZ-FE engines may contain a defective engine control module, the computer that regulates the performance of the engine. In some cases, a crack may develop on the module's circuit board, which could prevent the engine from starting or could cause harsh shifting or an engine stall.

Separately, General Motors Co. is recalling 200,000 Pontiac Vibes in North America due to the same problem, GM spokesman Alan Adler said. The Vibe is similar to the Matrix and was built under a joint venture between Toyota and GM at a now-closed factory in Fremont, Calif.

Both automakers said they will replace the engine control modules on the recalled vehicles at no charge. The companies will begin mailing notifications to owners of the affected vehicles in mid-September.

The engine control module with the possible defect was manufactured by Delphi Corp., a large auto parts supplier headquartered in Troy, Mich., according to documents filed with federal regulators.

The automaker has been more aggressive in its pace of recalls in recent months. Its last recall was in late July, when the automaker said it would fix half a million cars, mostly Toyota Avalon sedans, over a steering issue.

U.S. regulators hit Toyota with a $16.4 million fine earlier this year for failing to promptly tell the government about its car defects. Toyota has been working to overhaul its quality controls and respond more aggressively to customer complaints in the fallout of its recall crisis.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating the possibility of engine stalling in the Corolla and Matrix models since late November. On Tuesday, the traffic safety agency said it had intensified its investigation.

NHTSA spokeswoman Olivia Alair said Thursday that the probe is ongoing. Toyota spokesman John Hanson said the automaker is cooperating with the safety agency on the probe. He said it was the automaker's decision to issue the recall, adding it was not pressured by NHTSA to do so.

U.S.-traded shares in Toyota Motor Corp. fell 34 cents to $68.72.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Toyota recalls 1.3 million vehicles

  1. Closed captioning of: Toyota recalls 1.3 million vehicles

    >>> nbc's tom costello for the details on a new recall from the auto giant. tom, tell us about it.

    >> we're talking about nearly 1.3 million vehicles, million, with an "m." and we may or may not have the list, but talking about '05 to '08 corollas, '05 to '08 pontiac vibe and certain vin numbers and also production dates are affected. toyota says the engine control module for the subject models can, in fact, they may have been improperly manufactured. there is a possibility that a crack may develop at certain solder points, they say, they're talking about the circuit board here, the electronic circuit board for the vehicle. in most cases, if a crack occurs, the engine warning lamp could be illuminated. you could also see harsh shifting conditions or the engine may not start. but here's the most important point. in limited significances, if cracking occurs on particular solder points, the engine could stop while the vehicle is being driven. the engine could stop while the vehicle is being driven. because of that, a voluntary recall being issued by toyota , and they're running this through the department of transportation . again, their '05 to '08 corollas, certain production dates and vin numbers, '05 to '08 matrixes and '05 to '08 pontiac vibe .

    >> and that's a partnership between toyota and gm. so this is the same, what you were just describing, it's the same thing that was used in the corolla, just gm contracted with toyota on this one.

    >> the electronic circuitry that's used for the engine control module is what is at issue here, and in the worst-case scenario, it can shut the engine down while you're driving it. i've asked toyota whether they have any specific cases of that happening, any injuries, any accidents, any deaths and they haven't responded yet.

    >> tom costello on top of this story. i'm sure we'll check back in with you as soon as we get more details. thanks very much.

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