TOYKO (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. recalled 550,000 vehicles worldwide after the company detected a potential flaw that may suddenly affect steering. About 80 percent of the vehicles are in the U.S., Amiko Tomita, a spokeswoman for the automaker said.

She added that, the vehicles are mainly recalled to replace the crankshaft pulley on the V6 engine.

"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," Toyota said in a statement.

The vehicles being recalled are the 2004 Avalon, the 2004 and 2005 Camry and 2006 Highlander HV. Within the Lexus brand, the 2004 and 2005 ES330, the RX330 and the 2006 RX400h are being recalled, according to the statement.

Toyota recalled millions of U.S. vehicles last year and in 2009, mostly for defects related to unintended acceleration, and paid a record $48.8 million in fines because of the way some of the recalls were conducted.

The recalls caused the company to briefly halt sales of some models in 2010 and contributed to its 0.4 percent U.S. sales decrease last year, the only such decline among large automakers.

1.7 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles were recalled by the carmaker in January for defects in fuel pipes and pumps, pressure sensors and spare tire carriers. It called back 2.17 million in February for carpet and floor-mat flaws that could jam gas pedals.

Toyota Cars

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