Toyota Motor Corp and two subsidiaries are the defendants in a proposed class action filed by four plaintiffs over an alleged defect that can cause the windshields of 2016-2017 Prius vehicles to unexpectedly crack during normal driving conditions. According to the 57-page complaint, the supposed windshield defect can present itself at any time, while parked or while traveling at high speeds, for instance, and requires a full windshield replacement for drivers to continue to use the vehicles.
A compromised windshield could prove disastrous in the event of an accident, as a vehicle’s cabin relies on the windshield to maintain structural integrity, the case says. If a windshield is cracked or chipped, the risk of serious injury in an accident is only increased. Moreover, critical Prius safety features can also be hampered by an allegedly defective windshield. From the complaint:
“Many Class Vehicles come equipped with Safety Sense, a package of safety technologies that includes a pre-collision system, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, features that require the vehicles’ front camera to function properly. When the Windshield Defect manifests, the resulting chips and cracks may affect the camera’s visibility, line of sight, and perceived orientation, impairing Safety Sense features and increasing the likelihood of an accident.”
The plaintiffs claim Toyota had “longstanding knowledge” of the alleged windshield defect yet continued to sell the affected Prius vehicles anyway. To shield itself from liability, the complaint continues, Toyota hid behind a warranty provision for damage caused by “road debris (including stone chips),” forcing members of the proposed class to go out of pocket for repairs.