Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing will recall almost 20,000 Avalon vehicles missing needed seat belt buckle magnets.
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The Plano, Texas-based manufacturer notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Aug. 29, 2018 they will recall 19,354 2012 Toyota Avalon vehicles built between Dec. 5, 2011 and Oct. 22, 2012.
The affected vehicles contain front seat belt inner buckles that use “hall effect switches” that work with the vehicle’s Safety Restraint System to determine if a passenger is buckled in. A manufacturing error at the buckle supplier, Joyson Safety Systems of Apodaca, Mexico, left some vehicles with buckles lacking magnets. This can cause the buckles to tell the system the belt is always buckled, preventing proper airbag deployment in case of a crash and increasing injury risk.
Toyota first learned of a problem on March 14, 2018, when a dealer received reports of a 2012 Toyota Avalon showing an “airbag off” light constantly illuminated. Further investigation narrowed the problem down to the front seat belt inner buckle but technicians could not determine the precise cause. The problem persisted despite installing multiple service parts. Technicians returned those parts to the supplier for analysis and initiated a containment hold on similar service parts.
Joyson’s analysis found the buckles were built using similar looking mechanisms intended for another vehicle manufacturer that didn’t use the magnets. Toyota stated in its recall chronology the parts appear similar and were stored near one another, possibly allowing for mistaken installation.
After determining the affected vehicle range and the safety risk, Toyota approved a voluntary safety recall on Aug. 23, 2018.
Toyota will notify owners and dealers will test the seat belt assembly to verify that it is properly detecting being unbuckled, replacing the inner seat belt assembly as necessary free of charge. The recall is expected to begin Sept. 17, 2018. Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-888-270-9371. Toyota’s number for this recall is J0S. Toyota owners can also visit the NHTSA’s website and enter their VIN to see if their vehicle is included in any recalls.
Your vehicle’s manufacturer is legally required to fix any recalled problems for free. If the dealership refuses to fix the part or tries to charge you for the repair, contact the manufacturer immediately. The Highway Safety Act of 1970, which created the NHTSA, requires car manufacturers to pay for the recall and replacement of a defective part.
If the manufacturer fails to repair, replace, repurchase, or provide your recalled vehicle’s loss value, they are violating the warranty and a lawyer may be able to help you. 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.
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