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Toyota recall on Lexus models

Models affected are the Lexus GS450h, GS460, LS460 and LS600h models that range in price from $127,000 to $244,000.

Lexus' image has been battered this week by engine and steering problems in a year of rolling quality concerns over its cars and those of Toyota.  In Australia, Toyota says problems with the Lexus V6 and V8 engines were not subject to a recall "but that may change next week".

Customers in Japan have reported that the engine stalls and is hard to restart. Lexus says the problem is with the engine's valve springs. It affects about 1200 Lexus cars in Australia.  The second Lexus issue is an official recall over steering problems on two models, including its $244,000 LS600h hybrid flagship.

Lexus reports that the there was a problem with the car's computer system that controls the steering. It says no accidents had been reported relating to the issue but on this issue alone it was recalling 11,500 cars globally and 37 in Australia.  Lexus says the problem centres on the computer-controlled, variable power steering unit.

It says some owners reported that after manoeuvring at low speed with the steering wheel in full-lock position, the steering wheel remains in an off-centre position even though the front wheels are straight. 

The company says that this phenomenon is resolved automatically in a few seconds and the driver may notice this correction as the steering wheel centre moves slowly by itself to the centre position.

Toyota admitted the issue had been under internal investigation since March after recieving 10 customer complaints from Japanese owners.  It follows the announcement that some V6 and V8-engined models may have an engine problem that could lead to stalling and a dificulty in restarting.

"Improperly functioning valve springs have been found in some Lexus engines and there is a small possibility that abnormal engine noise or unstable idling may occur," it said in a statement.  "In very rare instances, there is a chance that the engine may stop. There have been no reported accidents related to this issue."

Models affected are the Lexus GS450h, GS460, LS460 and LS600h models that range in price from $127,000 to $244,000.