RECALL: Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks
(NBC) - Toyota is voluntarily recalling 342,000 compact Tacoma pickups from between 2004 and 2011 due to faulty seat belts.
The problem involves the Access Cab version of the Toyota Tacoma, the smaller of the Japanese maker's pickups, produced between 2004 and 2011.
According to a statement from Toyota, "screws that attach the seat belt pre-tensioner to the seat belt retractor within the seat belt assembly for the driver and front passenger can become loose over time due to repeatedly and forcefully closing the access door. If the screws loosen completely, the seat belt pre-tensioner and the retractor spring cover could detach from the seat belt retractor, which can affect retractor and pre-tensioner performance."
Even with the latest in "smart" airbag technologies, officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have stressed that a seat belt is a motorist's first line of defense.
This is the latest in a series of recalls involving the Tacoma over the last year, problems ranging from faulty airbags to excessive corrosion, as well as a potential fire hazard.
The latter issue, announced last autumn, involved a total of 7.4 million vehicles – the largest recall in Toyota history – equipped with faulty power window switches that could short out and catch fire. Since early 2012, the Tacoma has also faced several recalls involving airbags, including one that covered close to 500,000 of the trucks.
Toyota ordered a similar recall earlier this year of 310,000 of its FJ Cruiser sport-utility vehicles because of the possibility their seat belt assemblies also could come loose over time.
And about 150,000 Tacomas produced between 2001 and 2004 were recalled due to corrosion problems so severe their spare tire carriers could fall off on the road while the vehicles were being driven.
Toyota plans to notify customers by mail in the coming weeks about the latest Tacoma recall. Owners can call 1-800-331-4331 or go to Toyota's recall website. Repairs will be made at no charge.