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Toyota Prius models recalled in Canada for steering issues; no accidents reported

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TOKYO - Toyota Canada is recalling certain models of its Prius vehicles as part of a broader global action by the Japanese auto giant.

The company says about 14,816 Prius vehicles are being recalled in Canada to inspect the steering intermediate extension shaft. A certain number of those vehicles may also need to have their electric water pumps replaced.

The Canadian portion of the recall does not include any additional Toyota models.

Toyota Motor Corp. announced on Wednesday that it was recalling 2.77 million vehicles around the world for the water pump problem and the steering shaft defect that may result in faulty steering — the latest in a spate of quality woes for Japan's top automaker.

The company says no accidents have been reported related to these two problems in Canada or elsewhere.

In Canada, Toyota Prius owners affected by the recall will be receiving letters starting in December, notifying them of the issues with the vehicles. Any authorized Toyota dealership will deal with the recall issues at no charge.

Toyota says dealerships will inspect the Prius extension shaft to determine if it needs to be replaced and, if needed, will replace it.

Toyota Canada says about 8,740 of the Prius vehicles affected by the recall will also need to have their electric water pumps replaced for the vehicle's hybrid system.

The pump circulates coolant through the hybrid components to provide cooling. The company says there is a possibility that the electric motor installed in the water pump may stop functioning. In certain cases, the electric power supply circuit fuse may open, causing the hybrid system to stop while the vehicle is being driven.

Some 1.51 million vehicles are being recalled for the steering defect in Japan and 1.25 million vehicles abroad. Affected models around the world include the Prius hybrid, Corolla, Wish and other models produced from 2000 to 2011 in Japan, and from 2000 to 2009 overseas.

The latest global recalls come on top of a recall last month for 7.43 million vehicles for a faulty power-window switch that could cause fires.

Toyota has been trying to fix its reputation after a series of massive recalls of 14 million vehicles over the last several years, mostly in the U.S., affecting faulty floor mats, braking and gas pedals.

Before that, Toyota had boasted a reputation for pristine quality, centred around its super-lean production methods that empowered workers to hone in on quality control. Toyota executives have acknowledged the escalating recalls were partly caused by the company's overly ambitious growth goals.

Executives had shrugged off last month's recalls as coming from products made before stricter quality controls kicked in following the soul-searching that came after the recall scandal in the U.S.

But the latest recall underlines how quality problems continue to dog Toyota, especially as it has gone back to pursuing aggressive growth.

Toyota is now headed to record vehicle sales around the world, offsetting a sales plunge in China with booming demand in emerging markets such as Indonesia, India and Thailand.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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