Toyota Motor Corp. has taken the unusual step of stopping the sales of nearly its entire lineup of vehicles that come with seat heaters because a portion of the seats were not made with materials that met flame-retardant standards.
According to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times, the temporary sales stop includes all new Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry, Camry Hybrid, Corolla, Sienna, Tacoma and Tundra vehicles equipped with seat heaters.
The Japanese automaker has issued a statement saying that a small portion of the seat assembly failed to meet a U.S. motor vehicle safety standard, which requires materials to retard flame at specified rate.
Although Toyota is halting sales of the cars to make a fix that will bring the vehicles into compliance, the automaker is not planning to recall cars that have already been sold. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will review the problem and then decide if Toyota should issue a recall. The automaker learned about the problem from South Korean safety regulators who had tested a seat on a Camry hybrid manufactured in the United States. All of the affected vehicles were made in U.S. plants.
A Serious Safety Issue
Auto safety experts say this issue with the seat heaters could be potentially hazardous because it involves an electrical current going under the car seat.
It is important that Toyota gives consumers more information about the magnitude of the problem and makes sure that the vehicles that have already been sold and don’t meet the safety standard are also promptly repaired.
The right thing to do in this case may be to issue a safety recall for all vehicles involved. This is the second time that Toyota has stopped sales of its popular vehicle models. Four years ago, the automaker halted sales of eight popular models over sudden and unintended acceleration concerns.
Auto Product Liability Issues
Anyone who has been injured as a result of these or other auto defects would be well advised to contact an experienced auto product liability attorney who will fight hard to protect their rights and ensure that the automaker is held responsible. It is also important the vehicle is preserved in its current condition so that an expert can examine it thoroughly for evidence of defects and malfunctions.
Injured victims can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, pain and suffering and emotional distress. The best auto defect law firms will always offer a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation to injured victims and their families.