DETROIT (AP) — Toyota has told North American dealers to stop selling six popular models with heated seats because the fabric doesn't comply with U.S. safety codes and potentially could catch fire.
The order affects 36,000 cars, trucks and minivans, about 13 percent of the inventory on dealer lots in the U.S., spokesman John Hanson said. Also affected are additional vehicles in Canada, Mexico, Korea, Israel and other countries, but no total number was available.
No fires or injuries have been reported, but Toyota can't legally sell cars that don't comply with U.S. safety codes, Hanson said.
Dealers can no longer sell certain Camry, Avalon, Sienna and Tacoma models with heated seats from the 2013 and 2014 model years, as well as Corollas and Tundras from 2014. The Camry is the top-selling car in the U.S. with more than 408,000 sales last year.
One soft material beneath the seat covers does not comply with U.S. safety standards, Hanson said.
Toyota doesn't know yet how long the repairs will take. Hanson said a replacement material is being manufactured and already is being installed at factories. Dealers will use the material to fix cars now on their lots. "We don't think it will take long to get the parts and make the changes," Hanson said. "I don't have any numbers on the timing."
As for vehicles already on the road, Toyota contends a recall isn't necessary since there have been no fires or incidents, Hanson said. It will petition the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ask that the problem be declared "inconsequential" to vehicle safety. NHTSA said it is monitoring the risk from the problem and will take public comment on the petition. If it grants the petition, there won't be a recall.