Why are Toyota 4Runners manufactured between 2003 and 2009 defective?
The frame of the Toyota 4Runner, which is manufactured by Dana Holding Corporation, is the primary support structure of the vehicle, to which every piece is attached. It is the main protection against injury in a car accident. Consequently, if it becomes affected by rust, it is significantly more prone to failing to protect drivers in a car accident and, furthermore, it can also cause serious accidents in and of itself.
The excessive rust corrosion of the frame of a Toyota 4Runner greatly hinders the safety, crash-worthiness, and stability of the automobile, as transmission mounts, essential suspension components, and engine mounts are attached to it. This defect in Toyota 4Runners can lead to the following problems:
- Alignment issues: Because misalignment can put stress on the suspension of the vehicle, this implies a risk of damaging suspension components that may cost you a lot to repair. However, the most serious problem that can occur as a consequence of alignment issues is a car accident. If you are driving at high speed, wheel misalignment can lead to difficulty in steering, which greatly increases your susceptibility to experiencing a terrible car accident.
- Uneven tire wear: In addition to excessive frame rust corrosion, the causes of uneven tire wear include a worn-out suspension, overinflation, improper alignment, and underinflation. Like driving with bald tires, driving with uneven tire wear can also be very dangerous, as the unevenness can compromise various parts of a tire and result in blowouts.
- Suspension wear: Since driving a car with suspension damage will make you feel unbalanced and unstable, this issue can easily cause you to lose control of your vehicle. The main purpose of the suspension system is to offer driving comfort by smoothing out bumps in the road and traction. Furthermore, it is meant to keep the wheels on the ground as much as possible. Consequently, if it is worn out, it can lead to serious car accidents.
- Shaking: If you notice a constant shaking of your car, this may be because of multiple issues caused by frame rust corrosion, such as engine problems, worn breaks, and unbalanced wheels. Driving a vehicle that is not steady can also result in you losing control of it and subsequently suffering a car accident.
- Uneven shock: The shock absorbers of your vehicle contribute to a smooth ride, as well as help you maintain control of your car. Worn-out or bad shocks can do more damage than making your ride uncomfortable, as they can cause terrible car accidents. The signs of uneven shocks include car veering or sliding in side winds, rocking, rolling, and rattling, uneven wear on your tires, swerving and dipping when using the brakes, and excessive vibration in your steering wheel.
If you continue driving a 4Runner with severe rust corrosion, you may experience the following car accidents as a result of a piece of your car breaking off and causing you to lose control of your vehicle:
- head-on collisions
- side collisions
- rear-end collisions
- highway construction accidents
- T-bone car accidents
- intersection accidents
- vehicle rollovers
- single-car accidents
The class-action lawsuit against Toyota Motor Corporation
According to documentation, Toyota Motor Corporation had been aware of the issue of premature rusting of the undercarriage of their 4Runners for a long time but continued to manufacture and sell defective vehicles.
The company also chose not to warn consumers of this problem, which is why it can be held liable in the class-action lawsuit whose lead plaintiff is Gary Weinreich. He purchased a Toyota 4Runner in 2005, and his vehicle was undergoing regular service at a Toyota dealership.
However, in 2011, only 6 years later, Weinreich was told by a mechanic that there was a "severe and excessive" amount of rust on the undercarriage of his automobile and the drive shaft transmission. During another appointment, the plaintiff was informed that the undercarriage, splash shields, exhaust, and shocks of his car were very rusted. In 2017, he took his vehicle to a repair shop for brake replacement and oil change. Once again, he was told that his Toyota 4Runner had "excessive frame corrosion."
Allegedly, Weinreich tried to contact the company to complain about the issue of frame rusting, but he received no response in this regard. The plaintiff argues that the rust issue affects the structural integrity of the Toyota vehicles and makes the automobiles "unsafe to drive and a hazard on the roadways." It was in 2018 that the front steering control arm of the 4Runner of Weinreich broke off, which caused him to run off the road. This accident prompted him to file a class-action lawsuit against Toyota Motor Corporation.
Unlike in the case of other models of their vehicles, Toyota Motor Corporation refused to address the problem of 4Runners. Interestingly, the company faced a previous lawsuit in 2016 concerning the same rusting problem in their Tacomas, Sequoias, and Tundras, and it was settled for $3.4 billion in 2020. Nonetheless, the company did not admit it manufactured defective vehicles. At the moment, Weinreich represents himself and the many other drivers who own a defective Toyota 4Runner in the ongoing lawsuit. The 4Runners were not included in the Customer Support Program of Toyota Motor Corporation like the models involved in the first lawsuit, which the plaintiff believes is endangering consumers and fails to thoroughly address the rust corrosion problem.
What injuries can you sustain in a car accident if you drive a Toyota 4Runner with severe rusting of the frame?
Depending on the gravity of the impact, you as a driver and your passengers can experience a wide range of injuries and even death.
Because the excessive rusting of the undercarriage of the Toyota 4Runners can cause plenty of vehicle components to fail, there can be multiple causes for your accident. Nevertheless, the following are the most common injuries people sustain after a car accident:
- traumatic brain injuries
- severe whiplash
- fractured bones
- spinal cord damages
- loss of limbs
- permanent scarring
- internal bleeding
- head injuries
- face injuries
- compound fractures
- soft tissue damage
- back injuries
- dislocated bones
- knee injuries
- shoulder injuries
- herniated disc
- psychological injuries
No matter what type of car you are driving, it is essential to always wear your seatbelt, as it can prove to be life-saving in a car accident. In the regrettable case that you sustained one or multiple injuries as a result of driving or riding in a Toyota 4Runner with excessive rusting of the frame, our attorneys will gladly help you recover financial compensation for your distress. All you have to do is reach out to our law firm as soon as possible so that we will have the necessary time to carefully assess your situation and decide on the best course of action.
What will the financial compensation I will receive after filing a claim cover?
Whether you went through a car accident because your Toyota 4Runner was defective or not, if you have such a vehicle, we strongly encourage you to contact our law firm, and our attorneys will provide you with the assistance you need to file a claim with the liable company.
The money you will receive following claim submission if your car has excessive rusting will help you take your automobile back to the manufacturer and have the issue fixed, for which you will have to pay approximately $15,000.
We are aware that, for many people, this is going to take quite a heavy toll on their budget, which is why it is very important to file a claim in order to recover the money necessary to repair your car.
Which are the Toyota 4Runner models that are susceptible to excessive rusting of the frame?
If you own a Toyota 4Runner that was manufactured between 2003 and 2009, your vehicle is most likely having a defective undercarriage that is prone to excessive and premature rusting. The following are the car models that fall in this category:
- Toyota 4Runner SR5
- Toyota 4Runner Limited
- Toyota 4Runner Sport Edition
During that period of time, Toyota Motor Corporation manufactured only these models of 4Runners every year, although their design and features were relatively different.
What is the stance of Toyota Motor Corporation on the allegations of the plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit?
The complaints of Gary Weinreich, the lead plaintiff in the new Toyota lawsuit, have been brought up to the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which prompted the agency to open a complete investigation.
They looked into the issues of the Toyota 4Runners manufactured between 2002 and 2006 on August 17, 2018, following the complaints of consumers that the severe rusting was "resulting in difficulty controlling the vehicle."
Despite obvious evidence from multiple parties that their 4Runner models are defective, the company still claims innocence, as it also did in the first lawsuit, regardless of the hundreds of thousands of the issued recalls. Additionally, as a response to the lawsuit filed by Weinreich and the other people affected by this problem, Toyota Motor Corporation asked for a motion of dismissal in May of 2019, arguing that "the plaintiff fails to establish any legitimate claims against the automaker."
A timeline of events and lawsuits concerning the defective Toyota 4Runners
The Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota is a world leader with vehicles that are truly a class apart. Nevertheless, the only problem this brand seems to be struggling with is rust. Toyota was forced to recall thousands of Tundra models of 2000-2003 sold in America because of frame rust. Excessive rust on the cross frame member at the rear can cause the separation of the spare tire, which is usually deployed under the truck bed. Therefore, it can be a serious road hazard resulting in accidents and injuries.
To minimize the risk and solve the issue, Toyota came up with some measures, including:
- Tundra owners should remove the spare tire under the truck's bed for safety purposes
- Toyota dealers will inspect the rear cross member and brake lines of Tundra owners and replace the components if necessary
- Tundra owners are advised to spray a corrosion protection compound to prevent rust
These services are provided free of cost, but Tundra owners have to visit the dealer multiple times.
The warranty claims could proceed based on Gary Weinreich's allegation that Toyota "knew, at the time of sale, that the defect existed and would not manifest until after the warranty expired, and that Toyota was on notice based on issues with the frames of prior car models," Judge Richard Mark Gergel said.
Still, the court rejected a claim for negligent misrepresentation. It declined his request to add negligence and strict liability claims based on South Carolina's economic loss rule, which bars tort claims for a product's damage to itself.
Because his defect petition had not led to the investigation of Toyota 4Runners for alleged premature frame rust, Gary Weinreich filed a lawsuit against the automobile manufacturer on behalf of a proposed class of 4Runner owners. However, according to a federal court in the state, his express warranty expired long before his car became undrivable.
Weinreich claimed mechanics detected "severe" undercarriage rust on his SUV in 2011 and 2013, but these did not indicate "structural or safety" concerns. In 2017, a mechanic told the man his car had frame corrosion and that Toyota had a customer support program for rust issues in other models.
In May 2018, while Weinreich was driving, the front right control arm broke off the corroded frame, which caused him to lose control of the SUV. A mechanic "declared the vehicle unrepairable and inoperable." Toyota tried to have the case dismissed under the state's 6-year statute of limitations for warranty claims. Shortly after, the company filed for dismissal, citing a "lack of any legitimate claims against the automaker."
Gary Weinreich of South Carolina, the owner of a 2005 Toyota 4Runner, petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate the premature frame corrosion on over 520,000 models year 2002 to 2006 Toyota 4Runners. However, the agency refused to conduct the investigation. According to the petition, Weinreich referenced frame rust complaints filed by other Toyota 4Runner owners.
Toyota settled a lawsuit for $3.4 billion in 2016 for frame rust issues with Tacomas from 2005 to 2010, Sequoias from 2005 to 2008, and Tundras from 2007 to 2008. Dana Holding supplied the frames for those vehicles. A federal class-action lawsuit was filed by owners of pickup trucks and SUVs whose frames could prematurely rust.
The proposed settlement covered roughly 1.5 million Tacoma compact pickups, Tundra full-size pickups, and Sequoia SUVs, alleged to have received improper rust protection. Due to inadequate rust protection treatment, the vehicles could lead to corrosion severe enough to endanger their structural integrity, according to court papers.
"We want our customers to have a great ownership experience, so we are pleased to resolve this litigation in a way that benefits them and demonstrates that we stand behind the quality and reliability of our vehicles," Toyota said.