A lawsuit against Toyota has been filed in Missouri, alleging the 2011-2016 Sienna minivans have sliding doors that open while driving because of problems with the motors.
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Problems with the vehicles led to Toyota recalling 834,000 Siennas in 2016. According to the proposed class-action, dealers were told “the sliding door motor circuit could be overloaded, opening the fuse for the motor. If this occurs when the door latch is in an unlatched position, the door could open while driving, increasing the risk of injury to a vehicle occupant.”
According to the suit, the automaker did not know how to repair the problem after recalling the minivans, other than telling minivan owners to disable the power sliding door feature.
Plaintiff Paula McMillin said in November 2016 Toyota sent her a “Safety Recall Interim Notice” about the power siding door on her 2013 Toyota Sienna. Toyota referred to the notice as an “interim” notice because the automaker was working on a fix for the vans.
One month later, Toyota sent the plaintiff another notice regarded as an “Important Update” relating to the power sliding door recall. This notice suggested that to avoid the problem, owners should disable the power sliding door system.
The plaintiff said if she would have known about the problem, she would not have purchased the minivan, or at the least would have paid much less for it. Also, if she had known about the defect much earlier, she would have attempted a repair according to Toyota’s warranty.
Customers driving the minivans say Toyota has known about the door problems before 2013. The lawsuit claims Toyota knew about the problem but waited until 2016 to recall the minivans to allow viable warranty claims of the early buyers to lapse.
Owners of the minivans say the vehicles are dangerous because occupants never know when the sliding doors may open while driving.
An owner of a 2011 model said “While driving 25 mph, the driver side sliding door opened while the vehicle was in motion. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the sliding door motor failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired.”
Another owner, who purchased a 2012 model, said the two sliding van doors opening to the backseat will stick mid-way and sound out a loud alarm then refuse to shut automatically, requiring “a huge amount of pushing and shoving to close it, just to try it all over again with fingers crossed that people will be able to exit the vehicle.”
“Dealer refused to replace anything going wrong after one year. This van is so cheaply made its disgusting. Costs thousands to fix. About, avoid, avoid,” the owner said on CarComplaints.com.
Toyota made changes in the design for the 2017 model and fixed the problem.
Lemon law attorneys help their clients by dealing directly with the manufacturer on the clients’ behalf, working to promptly resolve the issue and get their clients back on the road. Thanks to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, attorneys can seek their fees directly from the manufacturer, meaning a client can obtain legal counsel without having to pay attorneys’ fees directly out of pocket.