Anyone who owns a 2008 – 2012 Toyota Highlander XU20, Toyota Highlander XU40, Highlander Hybrid MHU28 or Toyota Highlander XU50.
Why Is Toyota Getting Sued?
It has been alleged that Toyota knowingly sold cars with defective rear power doors (also called liftgates). Consumers have spent thousands fixing these doors and are now looking to get their money back.
What Is a Liftgate?
Toyota Highlanders are fitted with automatic trunk doors (the door that rises up at the very back of the vehicle). The company calls these doors "liftgates," which can be operated at the push of a button.
Toyota is facing a class action lawsuit alleging that some of its Highlander SUVs contain defective power-door components. This problem allegedly prevents the automatic open/close feature on the back door, also known as the “liftgate,” from working properly and has already cost some car owners thousands of dollars in repairs. According to the suit, Toyota knew about the defect and hid this information from the public.
What Models Are Affected?
According to the class action, the following 2008 – 2012 vehicles are affected:
Toyota Highlander XU20
Toyota Highlander XU40
Toyota Highlander Hybrid MHU28
Toyota Highlander XU50
What’s the Problem with the Liftgate?
The Highlanders listed above are equipped with automatic back doors, or “liftgates,” that can be opened and closed electronically. The company advertises that this feature gives drivers the ability to “open the rear liftgate and adjust how high it opens with the press of a button.” The alleged defect, however, can cause the rear power liftgate to break, locking the door in the open position until repairs can be made. The door may also be locked closed, preventing the owner of the vehicle from using the SUV’s trunk space. In one case, the power arm broke off the liftgate, warping a hinge and stopping the door from closing at all. The cost to replace these components is estimated to be $4,700 to $5,000 per vehicle.
Complaints Reported Since 2011 – But Did Toyota Act?
According to the class action, Toyota issued a service bulletin to dealers highlighting the power-door problem, but “failed to issue any recall or provide compensation for those who had already repaired their power lift gate or paid for damages resulting from the failure.” Toyota has never publically disclosed the defect and may even have concealed information about the problem so that customers’ warranties would expire before they realized their vehicles were defective, the suit claims.
The company was also accused of denying there was a problem when challenged by consumers, even though the company had been aware of the defect for some time. Toyota is reported to have ignored complaints submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2011. This alleged failure to act may have led directly to some consumers having to pay the $5,000 in repair costs when their rear doors broke or failed to work properly.
What Is the Purpose of the Lawsuit?
The lawsuit seeks to recover compensation for repair costs, the loss of the cars’ value and punitive damages, which is an additional award designed to “punish” the defendant and to deter other car companies from acted similarly. The class action is also trying to get an order that would force Toyota to publicly disclose the alleged defect.