A Toyota logo is pictured outside a dealership near Chester in England.
A Toyota logo is pictured outside a dealership near Chester in England. - 
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STACEY VANEK SMITH: Not a happy new year so far for Toyota. The company announced this morning it's recalling 1.7 million vehicles. This time, the problem is with various faulty parts, including defective fuel devices. And you might be surprised at what this latest recall means.

Alisa Roth covers the auto industry for us. She has this report.

ALISA ROTH: : Toyota has been working hard to repair its reputation after it recalled millions of vehicles last year. It sounds funny but this latest recall actually proves it's paying attention.

Alan Baum is an auto industry consultant in Michigan.

ALAN BAUM: In an ironic way, this is their system working in terms of generating concerns in their vehicles before the regulatory authorities find those concerns.

This recall isn't as alarming as some of the previous ones. Namely the problems with "unintended acceleration." And it'll have less of an effect for drivers here -- since most of the recalled vehicles are in Japan.

Toyota just took the title of largest automaker -- by number of vehicles sold -- for the third year in a row. But its own problems -- and increased competition from other companies, like the Detroit Three -- may make it hard to hold onto that title.

I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.