Toyota recalls 70,000 vehicles to replace air bag inflators

DETROIT -- Toyota is recalling about 70,000 Toyota and Lexus brand vehicles in North America to replace air bag inflators that could explode and hurl shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

The recall covers the 2003 to 2005 Corolla, the 2002 to 2005 Sequoia, the 2003 to 2005 Tundra and the 2002 to 2005 Lexus SC.

Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion and inflate the bags. But it can deteriorate and burn too fast, blowing apart a metal canister.

The Toyota and Lexus vehicles were recalled previously and the inflators replaced with new ones that still used ammonium nitrate. In the latest recall, Toyota will use inflators made by another company with a safer chemical.

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Owners will be notified early next year. Toyota says it has replacement parts available.

About 65,000 of the recalled vehicles are in the U.S.

Toyota says it's doing the recall a year ahead of a schedule set by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

At least 23 people have died worldwide due to the problem caused by inflators made by Takata Corp., resulting in the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history. They cover 37 million vehicles and about 50 million inflators in the U.S. About 100 million inflators are being recalled worldwide.

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The recalls forced Takata of Japan to seek bankruptcy protection.

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