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NEW YORK (Kyodo) The U.S. traffic safety authority has upgraded its probe into possible engine troubles involving Toyota Corolla and Matrix cars from “preliminary evaluation” to “engineering analysis,” it said.

If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recognizes defects in the two cars for the 2005-2007 model years, Toyota Motor Corp. could be required to recall 1.2 million vehicles sold in the United States, industry analysts said.

NHTSA said it began the preliminary evaluation last November in the face of consumer complaints about the cars.

The regulator decided to step up its investigation to engineering analysis status after Toyota reported that glitches in engine control units might cause the vehicles to stall.

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