Toyota recalls over 340,000 compact Tacoma pickups

2008 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab
Source: Toyota Motors
2008 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab

Toyota is recalling over a third of a million of its compact Tacoma pickups due to a seat belt issue that could increase the risk of injuries and even fatalities in the event of a collision.

The problem involves the Access Cab version of the Toyota Tacoma, the smaller of the Japanese maker's pickups, produced between 2004 and 2011. It's the latest in a slew of safety-related problems involving the compact Tacoma.

According to a statement from Toyota, "screws that attach the seat belt pre-tensioner to the seat belt retractor within the seat belt assembly for the driver and front passenger can become loose over time."

Even with the latest in "smart" airbag technologies, officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have stressed that a seat belt is a motorist's first line of defense.

(More from The Detroit Bureau: BMW Reveals New i8 Plug-In Hybrid Sports Car)

Toyota ordered a recall of 310,000 of its FJ Cruiser sport-utility vehicles earlier this year because of the possibility their seat belt assemblies also could come loose over time.

This is the latest in a series of recalls involving the Tacoma over the last year, problems ranging from faulty airbags to excessive corrosion, as well as a potential fire hazard.

(Read more: Toyota to Recall 242,000 Hybrids for Brake Design Flaw)

The latter issue, announced last autumn, involved a total of 7.4 million vehicles—the largest recall in Toyota history—equipped with faulty power window switches that could short out and catch fire. Since early 2012, the Tacoma has also faced several recalls involving airbags, including one that covered close to 500,000 of the trucks.

(More from The Detroit Bureau: Chevy Slashes Price on Volt Plug-in)

And about 150,000 Tacomas produced between 2001 and 2004 were recalled due to corrosion problems so severe their spare tire carriers could fall off on the road while the vehicles were being driven.

Toyota plans to notify customers by mail in the coming weeks about the latest Tacoma recall. Owners can call 1-800-331-4331 or go to Repairs will be made at no charge.

By CNBC Contributor Paul A. Eisenstein. Follow him on Twitter @DetroitBureau or at