Toyota came under harsh criticism in the US earlier this year for being slow to address safety problems [EPA]

Toyota has recalled 1.53 million vehicles, mostly in the US and Japan, for brake fluid and fuel pump problems, in the latest in a string of problems for the car maker.

Toyota Motor Corp. said on Thursday it is recalling about 740,000 Lexus, Avalon and other models for repairs in the US and 599,000 in Japan, the remainder are in Europe and other markets around the world.

The majority of the vehicles need to be fixed due to a problem with the brake master cylinder, which could lead to braking power getting progressively weaker, Paul Nolasco, Toyota's spokesman in Tokyo, said.

Some models in Japan and elsewhere, although not in North America, also have an electrical problem with the fuel pump, which could lead the engine to stall, he said.

No accidents have been reported from the two defects, Nolasco said.

Mass recalls

The models affected in the US include the 2005 and 2006 Avalon, 2004 to 2006 non-hybrid Highlander and Lexus RX330, and 2006 Lexus GS300, IS250, and IS350 vehicles, the company said in a statement from its US headquarters in California.

The statement said a small amount of the brake fluid could slowly leak from the brake master cylinder, resulting in illumination of the brake warning lamp.

If at this point the brake fluid is not replaced, "the driver will begin to notice a spongy or soft brake pedal feel and braking performance may gradually decline", Toyota USA said.

The models affected in Japan include the Crown, Crown Majesta, Harrier, Mark X, Alphard, Kluger, Lexus GS350, Lexus IS250, and Lexus IS350. The production date of the models ranges from May 2002 to November 2005.

In Japan, two models, the Lexus GS350 and the Crown, are affected by both problems.

'Disaster prevention'

Seijiro Takeshita, from Mizuho International, a London-based securities and investment banking arm of a Japanese group, told Al Jazeera that Toyota was taking a disaster prevention measure by recalling the vehicles.

"This will cause big damage to their reputation," he said.

"They were already trying to claw back [their reputation] ... so this does come at a very bad time.

"The Japanese are usually very poor at crisis management ... Toyota is no exception."

The latest moves by the auto giant come after a series of recalls that affected about 10 million vehicles worldwide in late 2009 and early 2010, undermining Toyota's once stellar reputation.

Toyota came under harsh criticism for being slow to address safety problems. US regulators fined the company $16.4m for failing to promptly tell the government about its car defects.

Since then the manufaturer has seen its US market share shrink by 1.4 points to 15.2 per cent for the first nine months of this year.

Toyota has been working to overhaul its quality controls and respond more aggressively to customer complaints in the fallout from its recall crisis.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies