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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Toyota recalls more than 800,000 Highlanders for a bumper fix

A Toyota Highlander driver splashes through standing water on Jan. 7, 2022, on their way south on Washington Street.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Christine Hauser New York Times

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, is recalling about 814,000 Highlanders in North America because of concerns that the vehicles’ bumper covers could fall off and create hazards on the road, the company said.

The recall applies to Highlanders, including hybrid versions of the vehicle, with model years between 2020 and 2023, the company said in a statement Thursday.

Those vehicles have a resin front lower bumper cover that is connected with mounting clips. A “minor impact” could cause the mounting clips to come loose from the vehicle, leading to additional parts falling off and increasing the risk of a crash or injury, Toyota said.

Owners of Toyota Highlanders can search online to see whether their vehicles are part of the recall. Owners will be notified directly of the recall by late December, the company said.

Toyota said dealers would inspect the bumper covers for damage and either replace the covers and hardware or install improved hardware.

Toyota’s filing was not yet available with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which publishes details about safety recalls by automakers.

On Friday, news coverage of the recall was shared on Toyota Nation, an online forum for Toyota owners, some of whom had previously described being quoted thousands of dollars for fixes to bumper covers that had fallen off.

Vehicle recalls are issued by either the manufacturer or the national safety agency when a car or piece of equipment “creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards,” according to the safety agency’s website. It was not immediately clear when the problems with the Highlanders were detected or whether reports of crashes, if any, prompted the recall.

In response to questions Friday, Toyota said that when the company identifies “what might be a trend, we monitor and investigate the issue, and, if we believe there is a safety-related defect, we will begin taking action.”

The recall, which includes about 751,000 vehicles in the United States, could affect other markets. Toyota said it was now providing improved mounting clips and screw fasteners globally.

Highlanders were among the models covered in a previous recall this year pertaining to a cable in the steering column that could lose an electrical connection, which would prevent the driver’s air bag from deploying in a crash, the company said.

Last year, Toyota recalled 2,700 of its electric SUV, the bZ4X, in the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan because of a risk that bolts on the wheels could loosen to the point that the wheels could fall off.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.