AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Thursday 20 December 2012
Last update 19 December 2012 11:00 pm
TOKYO: Mitsubishi Motors widened a recall over an oil leak issue on vehicles sold in Japan to about 1.7 million vehicles, prompting a rebuke from the country’s transport ministry.
The Japanese automaker had issued a recall two years ago for nearly 250,000 vehicles, adding about 300,000 more vehicles to the call back this year, after anonymous tips to the transport ministry prompted officials to order the firm to revisit the glitch.
Mitsubishi said yesterday it was adding another 1.2 million vehicles to the recall, the latest in a string of safety and quality issues to dent Japan’s auto sector.
A faulty engine part could trigger an oil leak and light the oil pressure gauge on the dashboard. In a worst case scenario the engine could seize, the company said, adding that no accidents had been linked to the glitch.
The latest recall covers eight Mitsubishi models produced between 1996 through 2004, the company said, adding that it would cost the firm about 7.5 billion yen ($ 89 million).
Mitsubishi’s announcement came a day after news that rival Toyota will pay a record $ 17.35 million fine for failing to promptly notify US authorities about a safety defect on 2010 Lexus models.
Japan’s transport ministry said it would meet Mitsubishi officials to press them on the issue, saying the company had not made sufficient announcements to the public.
It ordered the firm to report on the status of internal measures taken to prevent a recurrence of the problem, and said it would ask government-chosen experts to probe the recall.
Mitsubishi said it decided on the latest recall expansion because the firm had not yet been able to pin down exactly which vehicles would need repairs.
The transport ministry slap down comes a decade after Mitsubishi admitted to keeping the transport ministry and public in the dark about tens of thousands of complaints filed by car owners dating back to 1977.
There were some fatal accidents linked to the safety problems.
Toyota, Japan’s biggest automaker, last month announced a global recall of 2.77 million vehicles over water pump or steering problems, in the latest blow to the firm’s reputation after a spate of earlier call backs.
In October, it issued a huge global recall of 7.43 million vehicles, including its popular Camry and Corolla models, over a possible fire risk tied to a fault in its electric windows.
Rivals Honda and Nissan have also announced recalls in the past year.