Millions of Toyota vehicles have been recalled over potentially deadly defects [AFP]

Japanese carmaker Toyota is facing intense scrutiny form investigators following a series of safety recalls affecting millions of its vehicles around the world.

The following are some of the biggest recalls affecting the car industry in recent years.

1996 - US carmaker Ford recalls more than 8 million vehicles to replace defective ignition switches that could have led to electrical shorts and engine fires.

July 1998 - US car giant General Motors (GM) recalls close to 1 million Cadillac, Pontiac and Chevrolet cars over fears air bags may deploy by accident.

August 2000 - Firestone, the US division of Japanese tyre maker Bridgestone, recalls 14.4 million tyres installed on Ford Explorer SUVs and sold separately in stores.

2004 - GM recalls nearly 4 million pickups because of corroding tailgate cables.

April 2005 - GM recalls more than 2 million vehicles, mostly in the US, over a variety of safety issues, including seat belts.

October 2005 - Toyota recalls 1.41 million cars globally, covering 16 models, due to trouble with headlight switching systems.

December 2007 – US carmaker Chrysler recalls 575,417 vehicles on concerns that long-term wear on gear shift assemblies could cause vehicles to shift out of the park position without keys in ignitions.

2008 - GM recalls 857,735 vehicles over fears a heated windshield-wiper fluid system increased risks of fire.

October 2009 – Ford recalls 4.5 million vehicles, bringing to 14 million the number called back since 2008 over electrical fire hazards linked to what it said was a faulty cruise control switch.

January 2010 – Japan's Honda recalls 646,000 of its Fit/Jazz and City cars globally over faulty window switches.

February 2010 – Japan's Toyota recalls 437,000 units of its flagship Prius and other hybrid cars for braking problems, bringing to about 8.5 million vehicles recalled since September 2009, mostly over floor mats and pedals that trigger unintended acceleration.

Source: Agencies