* Takata says more vehicles could be recalled
* Discovers record-keeping errors at plant in Mexico
* Honda, Nissan, Mazda check for problem
* 7 million cars with Takata air bags recalled in last 5
* U.S. safety regulators open probe
(Adds Takata, Chrysler comments in paragraphs 5 and 16)
By Yoko Kubota and Ben Klayman
TOKYO/DETROIT, June 11 Takata Corp's
safety crisis deepened on Wednesday after Toyota Motor Corp
recalled almost 2.3 million vehicles globally, many for
the second time, and the Japanese air bag maker warned that
further fixes may be needed.
Toyota, the world's largest automaker, called back 1.62
million vehicles outside of Japan that it recalled last year as
well as 650,000 more in Japan not previously recalled. The
additional vehicles brought to more than 7 million the total
number of cars equipped with Takata air bags to be called back
worldwide over the last five years.
The 2.3 million cars, many of them sold in the United
States, are being recalled to replace faulty air bag inflators.
Also on Wednesday, U.S. safety regulators at the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation
into vehicles equipped with Takata air bags.
Takata, the world's No. 2 manufacturer of auto safety
equipment, said other automakers may have to issue recalls
because of problems with tracking potential defects related to
air bag inflators that date back over a decade.
Toyota expanded its recall because Takata said it had
discovered record-keeping errors at a Mexican plant where
potentially faulty air bag inflators were made in 2001 and 2002.
While Toyota's recall covers passenger side air bags, NHTSA
investigation documents cited reports of both driver and
passenger side air bags not working properly or rupturing.
Takata said it was cooperating with NHTSA's probe but declined
to comment further.
Toyota's expanded recall comes at a time when General Motors
Co is under intense scrutiny over why it took more than a
decade to discover a defective ignition switch linked to at
least 13 deaths.
In 2013, carmakers including Toyota, Honda Motor Co
, Nissan Motor Co and BMW recalled
about 3.6 million vehicles because of flaws in Takata air bag
inflators that could cause them to explode in an accident.
Takata did not disclose how much it expected Wednesday's
Toyota recall to cost, but last year's recall cost the
Tokyo-based auto supplier $300 million. The company's shares
were down more than 4 percent when the Tokyo market closed.
Previously, Takata told U.S. safety regulators it improperly
stored chemicals and botched the manufacture of the explosive
propellants used to inflate air bags. It also kept inadequate
quality-control records, making it impossible to identify
vehicles with potentially defective inflators.
The Takata-related recall in 2013 was the largest air
bag-related recall in history and came after a series of
recalls, accidents and at least two deaths alleged to have been
caused by faulty air bags.
Toyota said on Wednesday it was expanding its April 2013
recall involving 2.14 million vehicles manufactured between 2000
and 2004. The serial numbers Takata provided for potentially
flawed inflators had been incomplete, Toyota said.
In an unusual step, Toyota said it would also instruct
dealers in the United States and other overseas markets to begin
replacing suspect Takata inflators in all vehicles covered in a
recall announced last year. Previously, the automaker had asked
dealers only to replace inflators that were defective.
"We have judged that it is more certain to replace
everything," Toyota spokesman Naoki Sumino said.
More than 766,000 Toyota vehicles were affected in last
year's recall in the United States.
NHTSA said it has opened a probe into an estimated 1,092,000
vehicles made by not only Toyota, but also Honda, Nissan, Mazda
and Fiat SpA's Chrysler Group after receiving six
reports of air bags not deploying properly in the humid climates
of Florida and Puerto Rico.
Honda, Nissan and Mazda said they were investigating whether
they needed to recall more vehicles due to problems tracking
faulty Takata parts. BMW said it was not aware of any impact on
its vehicles. Chrysler said its engineers were analyzing the
issue and that the automaker is cooperating with NHTSA's probe.
In January, Takata began investigating whether there were
other vehicles with potentially faulty inflators not covered by
the previous recalls after being contacted by Toyota, Takata
spokesman Toyohiro Hishikawa said.
Toyota spokesman Ryo Sakai said the automaker had been
notified of one case in which a defective front passenger-side
air bag inflator caused a seat cover to burn and two cases where
the inflator ruptured when the air bag deployed.
Toyota vehicles covered by the recall include Corolla and
Camry sedans, and Tundra trucks.
The inflators under investigation were manufactured between
September 2001 and September 2002 at Takata's Mexico plant, the
company said. Some of the explosive wafers used in the air bag
inflator may have been exposed to excessive moisture or pressed
into shape with too little force.
That could cause the inflator to explode when the air bag is
deployed, potentially sending pieces of shrapnel into the
vehicle, the previous investigation found.
It was not immediately clear how many Takata air bag
inflators could have defects. Takata said it will supply the
replacement inflators in the Toyota recall.
(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit, Maki
Shiraki in Tokyo, Ed Taylor in Frankfurt and Helena Soderpalm in
Stockholm; editing by Chris Gallagher, Jeremy Laurence, Matthew
Lewis and Steve Orlofsky)