What do earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear disasters, rebellious accelerators, faulty window switches and a group of islands in the East China Sea have in common? They’ve all caused major headaches for the Toyota Motor Company in the last three years.

First, Toyota suffered through two solid years of bad publicity in 2009 and 2010 when it was forced to recall 14 million vehicles, prone to unintended acceleration. Shortly afterwards in 2011, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami practically wiped their part’s providers off the map, causing a massive supply shortage for the Japanese automaker. Then, after regaining some momentum coming into 2012, the Fukushima nuclear disaster slowed production for Toyota due to a resulting electricity shortage.  And now, amidst a territorial dispute between China and Japan involving a group of islands in the East China Sea, citizens of China—the most robust vehicle market in the world—are boycotting Toyota vehicles and protesting by destroying dealerships and their inventory all over the country.  Coming on the heels of all that great news, Toyota announced today that they are recalling 7.43 million vehicles worldwide, which is the largest single automotive recall, since Ford recalled 7.9 million cars in 1996.

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, the agency recently received over 200 complaints about sticky driver’s side power window switches in Toyota and Scion vehicles.  While sticky switches themselves don’t seem like too big of a problem, apparently sticky switches plus commercial lubricants—at least in Toyota vehicles—equals fire. Upon investigating the reported incidents, the Japanese automaker announced that when lubricants are applied to reduce the sticking, the switch assembly can melt, causing smoke and you guessed it—fire.

Toyota’s website reports that of the 7.43 million vehicles being recalled, only 2.5 million of them were sold in the United States.  If you own one of the affected  vehicles, Toyota will notify you of the recall by mail starting at the end of the month.  Dealers will fix the switch free of charge, in a process that Toyota says should take no longer than an hour.  The following are the vehicles being recalled:

• 2007 to 2009 Camry
• 2007 to 2009 Camry Hybrid
• 2009 Corolla
• 2008 Highlander
• 2008 Highlander Hybrid
• 2009 Matrix
• 2007 to 2009 RAV4
• 2008 to 2009 Scion xB
• 2008 to 2009 Scion xD
• 2008 to 2009 Sequoia
• 2007 to 2009 Tundra
• 2007 to 2008 Yaris

This guest post was provided by Brittany Larson of Central Florida Toyota.