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After months of bad publicity involving cars that can accelerate out of control, Toyota announced Thursday a recall of another sort: It said that hundreds of thousands of cars in the United States might not be able to quickly come to a stop.

Drivers may "begin to notice a spongy or soft brake pedal feel and braking performance may gradually decline," the company said in announcing the recall.

About 740,000 cars - Lexuses, Avalons and Highlanders - are being recalled in the United States. About 1.53 million are being recalled globally for the problem. Toyota also announced it is recalling 165,000 vehicles in Japan for fuel-pump problems.

"We made commitments earlier this year to be more responsive and attentive to our customers," said Brian Lyons, safety and communications spokesman for Toyota. "We are viewing this recall as a continuation of that commitment."

In the United States, the vehicles are being recalled because "a small amount of the brake fluid could slowly leak from the brake master cylinder, resulting in illumination of the brake warning lamp."

If the driver does not heed the warning and the vehicle continues to be operated without replenishing the brake fluid, the driver will notice that the brakes begin to feel soft, the company said.

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