Toyota recalls nearly 700,000 minivans
The new 2010 Toyota Sienna is displayed during the Los Angeles Auto Show on Dec. 2, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. [AFP]

Toyota will recall nearly 700,000 Sienna minivans in North America to fix a gear shift defect, the Japanese automaker said Thursday.

The faulty shift lever has been found to occasionally slip out of the park position, which "could result in a vehicle roll-away," Toyota said.

"There were 21 minor accidents and two included minor injuries," Toyota spokeswoman Cindy Knight told AFP.

"The minor accidents involved some minor property damage. The injuries are on the order of bruises."

A lock on the shift level generally prevents the vehicle from moving out of the park position unless the brake is depressed. But Toyota found this lock could become damaged and is contacting customers to inspect and replace it.

The bulk of the recalled vehicles -- 615,000 -- are in the United States. Another 56,000 will be recalled in Canada and 23,000 will be recalled in Mexico.

There are also 300 affected Siennas in Germany and 100 in Guatemala, Knight said.

The recall affects model years 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]