Toyota will recall about 12,000 Lexus RX series SUVs in Europe as part of a global recall of 550,000 units of various Toyota and Lexus model lines because of a potentially faulty crankshaft pulley on the V6 engine that could cause noise and make steering more difficult. A Toyota GB spokesman said 4,153 of the RX models are here in the UK.

A Toyota spokeswoman told AFP that the company had logged 79 complaints worldwide over the defect, but the company said it had received no reports of accidents or injuries related to the fault.

The recall includes about 447,000 units in North America and 38,000 in Japan, the spokeswoman said.

Toyota said the recall was due to the possibility that the outer ring of the crankshaft pulley may become misaligned with the damper, causing noise or the illumination of an electrical system warning light.

If this condition is not corrected, the belt for the power steering pump may become detached from the pulley and the driver may notice a sudden increase in steering effort, it said.

The affected models include Alphard (Japanese market), 2004 Avalon (mainly North America), 2004-5 Camry (global), 2004-5 Highlander (Kluger in some markets) and 2004-5 Sienna (North American minivan) and 2004-5 Solara (North America) as well as Lexus 2004-5 ES300 and ES330 sedans (not sold in Europe) and the RX300, 2004-5 RX330 and 2006 RX400h SUVs, the company said.