Toyota Motor Corporation started as a subsidiary of Toyota Automatic Loom Works, a textile company. Today, Toyota is the world's largest automaker. The company is best known for its luxury car line Lexus, and for its Prius hybrid-electric cars. Part of Toyota's success comes from developing unique car models for different markets across different countries. The company also recently established the Toyota Research Institute aimed at developing robotics and artificial intelligence.
Toyota Defects and Recalls
Toyota vehicles have been subject to a number of recalls in recent years. This section will give a brief overview of some of the larger recalls that Toyota has been involved in. As a note, this is not a complete list of the recalls that Toyota has issued. In order to search for recalls related to your vehicle, check the websites of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or Toyota.
The following information includes some of the most common issues Toyota owners might face.
In 2014, Toyota paid $1.2 billion to avoid litigation over unintended acceleration issues. The company had issued serious recalls related to the problem over the previous four years, but federal overseers had evidence that the company knew about the problems long before issuing any recalls. Customers had complained about gas mats getting stuck on the gas pedal, causing unwanted acceleration. Toyota also knew that some models had “sticky” accelerator pedals that wouldn't come back up properly after being pushed down. The fine was the largest penalty of its kind that an auto company has had to pay.
In 2014, Toyota recalled over 800,000 vehicles for faulty air conditioning condensers that leaked and accumulated water in the air bags, potentially causing sudden deployment or disablement of the air bags.
1.3 million 2003-2004 Corolla and Corolla Matrix models were recalled in 2013 when it was discovered that the supplemental restraint system had circuits that were inclined to internal shorting from abnormal current flow, that caused increased heat in the area and could cause the airbags and seat belt pretensioners to involuntarily deploy.
Toyota recalled over 30,000 2013-2015 vehicles for issues with the brakes and forward collision avoidance. These models used a Pre-Collision System that used a radar to detect obstacles in the street, but the system could brake unexpectedly when it detected steel objects in the road.
In 2015, Toyota recalled 2 million vehicles in the US, and over 6.5 million vehicles total worldwide, for issues with short-circuiting in the driver-side window switch. The switches in the U.S. did not receive enough lubricant grease during manufacturing, causing the switches to overheat, short circuit, and even ignite. Hundreds of customers reported burns from using the switches. In 2012, Toyota recalled 2.5 million vehicles in the U.S., and 7.5 million total worldwide, for a similar issue that resulted from uneven application of the grease lubricant on the power window switch, causing overheating and vehicle fires.
In 2014, Toyota issued a number of major recalls relating to fuel leakages. Toyota recalled almost half a million vehicles due to leaks in the fuel system. Anti-corrosion plating allowed leaks at the juncture of the the fuel delivery pipe and the fuel pressure sensor. Fuel leaks created an increased risk of vehicle fires.
The same year, the company recalled close to 700,000 vehicles for faulty suspension systems that could puncture the fuel tanks. Corrosion or stress caused breaks and fractures in the leaf springs of the vehicles' suspension systems, and this could cause punctures in the fuel tank, increasing the risk of vehicle fires.
In addition, 20,000 more vehicles were recalled for welding issues in the fuel delivery pipe that allowed fuel to leak out.
Toyota recalled about 700,000 2010-2014 Prius vehicles for electrical issues that caused the vehicles to stall or have reduced drivability. High operating temperatures inside the vehicle could damage the Intelligent Power Module, triggering warning lamps on the instrument panel that drained power and allowed the car to drive only short distances. The vehicles could also enter a fail-safe mode that limited drivability or stalled the car completely.
About 800,000 Rav4 and Lexus vehicles were recalled in 2013 for unwanted movement in the rear suspension arm. The company said the nuts of the rear tire rod suspension arm could be improperly tightened during servicing, causing unwanted movement, rust, failure, and abrupt changes in the alignment of the vehicle. These changes could cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles.
In 2015, Toyota recalled over 400,000 Rav4 vehicles for manufacturing issues with the wipers. The joints that link the wipers to the wiper motor rusted over time, causing abrupt breakage of the wipes and reducing driver visibility.
Some 2013 and 2014 models also had electrical issues with the wipers. The windshield wiper switch assembly could short circuit, causing sudden inoperative wipers. Other 2006-2012 models had wipers that could torque under heavy snow or rain, making the wipers inoperable.
Over 550,000 vehicle models created between 2004 and 2006 were recalled in 2011 for steering difficulties brought on by a malfunctioning crankshaft. Rubber rings inside the crankshaft can become misaligned, causing the steering pump to become detached and requiring drivers to use additional efforts to steer the vehicle.
Toyota Safety Ratings
Toyota generally receives high safety ratings for its cars. Almost 20% of all of the company's vehicles receive a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Toyota also equips about 30% of its cars with the Pre-Collision System that uses a radar with 3D object recognition to detect objects in the roadway that could cause a collision. The system also detects the position of the driver to determine if the driver is turned away from the front or if the driver's eyes are closed.
Contact A Personal Injury Attorney
If you or your loved one has been injured due to a defect in your Toyota, Prius, or Lexus, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal today. You can call our office at (303) 825-2223, or fill out our online contact form.