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It took four years, but Toyota Motor Corp. managed to return to the top of the global automobile manufacturing mountain, as the company expects to sell approximately 9.7 million vehicles in 2012. Toyota fell from grace with consumers in 2008 and 2009 after the company announced a number of recalls that ended up involving more than 11 million vehicles, including the immensely popular Camry and Corolla models because of issues leading to unintended acceleration. However, after extensive public relations efforts and global advertising campaigns to erase the memories of those recalls, the company has now announced the largest global automobile recall in 16 years.

Honda Motor Corp. recently announced the recall of more than 268,000 vehicles, and while it was the company’s third recall of the year, it also brought attention to the issue of defective power window buttons. In the case of Honda’s recall, the power buttons posed as a fire hazard, as water could leak into the window mechanisms, causing wires to melt and fires to start.

Today Toyota is recalling 7.4 million worldwide over similar concerns about power window switches that can cause fires. Affected models include Camry, Corolla and RAV4 models that were manufactured and sold between 2005 and 2010. American consumers are affected most by this recall, as approximately 2.47 million cars were sold in the U.S.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Toyota officials view this recall as a “protective measure”, as no consumers have reported any issues as of yet. Still, the list of affected models is rather significant as it includes 2007-2008 Yaris, 2007-09 RAV4, 2007-09 Tundra, 2007-09 Camry and Camry Hybrid, 2008-09 xD and xA, 2008-09 Sequoia, 2008 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid, 2009 Corolla and 2009 Matrix models.

Toyota issued a press release that explains the problem is caused by lubrication that can melt away from the switch and possibly lead to smoke or fire. Toyota has already begun contacting owners of these vehicles – the first notice was issued in February – and will repair the switches free of charge. Toyota vehicle owners can contact the company at (800) 331-4331 for additional information.