Wednesday's recall is Toyota's biggest in six years and its second-biggest ever for a single defect [Reuters]

The Japanese car manufacturer Toyota has said it is recalling more than 1.7 million vehicles worldwide for various defects that may cause fuel leakage.

The biggest recall among those announced on Wednesday was to fix a faulty fuel pump and connecting pipe in 1.34 million vehicles, including the Noah minivan and other models sold in Japan as well as 141,000 Avensis sold overseas.

It is Toyota's biggest recall in six years and its second-biggest ever for a single defect, Shiori Hashimoto, a Toyota spokeswoman, said.

The company said it had received 77 complaints overseas, 75 of them in North America, and more than 140 in Japan.

The largest number of the affected vehicles were in Japan at nearly 1.3 million and involved two different problems.

The recall will make it harder for Toyota to convince investors it has put its quality problems behind it a year after the world's number one car company went into crisis after huge recalls worldwide to fix faulty brakes blamed on the fatalities of several drivers.

Toyota said it was also recalling around 335,000 Lexus vehicles sold overseas, including about 245,000 sold in the US, due to trouble with a fuel-pressure sensor connected to an engine fuel delivery pipe.

In two other filings on Wednesday, Toyota said it would recall about 75,000 Crown models and about 6,200 Townace vans in Japan to fix the same fault found in Lexus cars sold in the US and elsewhere.

Toyota said in a filing to Japan's transport ministry that no accidents had been reported because of the defects.

Cost to company

Toyota's Hashimoto declined to say how much the latest recalls would cost the company.

Koji Endo, a car analyst with Advanced Research Japan Co in Tokyo, told the Associated Press news agency that the latest recall will cost Toyota about 20bn yen ($240 million), but that it will not dent its earnings performance by much.

"But there is that perception of here we go again, and that hurts Toyota's image, especially in North America,'' he said.

The company's last big recall was in October when it said it would fix 1.66 million Avalons, Highlanders and other models worldwide mainly for a defect in the master cylinder brake seal.

In December, Toyota agreed to pay $32.4m in fines to the US government to settle the investigation into its handling of two recalls.

The latest settlement was on top of the $16.4m fine Toyota paid earlier.

Shares of Toyota extended their decline after the announcement and closed down nearly two per cent.

Source: Agencies