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Toyota RAV4 Hybrid owners allege integral part of car corrodes, many left with hefty bill

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Jean-Thomas Landry was alarmed when his car suddenly stopped on the highway with warning lights flashing on the dashboard.

Immediately, he took his Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to a dealership and was told the connector for the high voltage wire harness had corroded – the harness supplies power to the rear engine-generator.

Landry quickly learned that Toyota’s eight years or 160,000 kilometers (whichever comes first) hybrid component warranty covered most of the hybrid parts but not the wire harness. It is covered by a three year / 60,000 kilometer warranty. Having exceeded 60,000 kilometers, his bill came to more than $ 4,600 the wiring harness, almost $ 1,200 for labor and about $ 900 in taxes.

He asked himself why the cable is not under the eight year warranty. Then went online to do some research.

“I started to see more people had this problem,” Landry said.

In January 2022, he created the Facebook group Towards a Recall (#cablegate), to warn customers of the wire harness and warranty.

The group has 1,700 members.

Landry is just one of dozens of RAV4 hybrid owners, mostly from Quebec, who have taken to social media to complain about the corroded wire harness and shorter warranty.

Toyota has not issued a public statement on the matter.

But in a written statement to the Star, Toyota Canada spokesperson Philippe Crowe said the company has been contacted by “some customers” about a potential problem and they are investigating.

“We strongly encourage all of our customers to have their vehicles regularly maintained at their local Toyota dealership. In cases where there is a concern about a product or part that is no longer under warranty, we evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis, ”he said.

In January 2021, Landry said Toyota Canada offered to cover 66 per cent of its costs, if he signed a nondisclosure agreement not to bring future claims or complaints, legal or otherwise, against Toyota.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the bestselling non-pickup vehicle in North America.

The Automobile Protection Association (APA) calls Toyota’s move wrong and unfair to customers.

George Iny, the executive director of the APA, said after receiving eight complaints – including one from Landry – of corrosion to the wire harness (seven from Quebec and one from Ontario) he wrote Toyota Canada with a list of requests.

In the March 29 letter, he said Toyota RAV4 Hybrid customers reported that the cost to replace the wiring harness ranged from $ 4,200 to $ 6,500, with Toyota Canada covering some or all of the cost only in certain cases. The letter stated that the association was told the cable is exposed to road spray and insufficiently shielded, resulting in dirt and corrosion at the connector.

The letter asks that the harness warranty be extended from the basic three years / 60,000 kilometers to eight years / 160,000 kilometers or 10 years / 200,000 kilometers.

It also asks Toyota to recall the hybrid vehicles for the inspection and improved shielding of the harness, and to reimburse consumers who paid for all or part of the repair even if they signed a nondisclosure agreement as a precondition to a final settlement.

In addition, it asks that Toyota monitor the failure rate of this component on other hybrids and implement a field fix, or extend the warranty if a vulnerability is detected.

Iny said he learned from Toyota’s customers offer to pay a third of the repair cost if the consumer and dealer share the other two thirds, and if the consumer signs a nondisclosure agreement.

Transport Canada has received 17 complaints on the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid for concerns of corrosion to the high voltage wiring harness, said senior communications adviser Sau Sau Liu.

“The department is not aware of any collisions, injuries, or fires related to this issue,” Liu said. An investigation is underway, he added.

Landry is convinced the corrosion is caused by a vehicle design error. He didn’t take Toyota up on its offer because that would forfeit his ability to take the company to court. Instead, he bought the harness online from the US at half the price and took it to a mechanic.

Landry said he plans to sue Toyota Canada for damages.

Toyota has known about the wiring harness issues for sometime, said Iny.

In an October 2020 technical bulletin to dealers, Toyota USA stated, “This issue is currently being investigated.”

Two years later in March 2022, Toyota Canada sent a technical bulletin to its dealers indicating that an improved part is now available and listed vehicle identification numbers (VIN) for cars with the old part.

“It’s clear that with the benefit of two additional winters, Toyota understood the weakness in the parts and implemented a running change (modifications to the car),” Iny said.

“These bulletins show they knew there was a problem and still didn’t extend the warranty and were making profit off a defective part. That’s wrongdoing to us. ”

Kevin McGuire, who lives in Minnesota, noticed the wire harness was corroded in his car on April 17 and took it to the dealership. He was told the corrosion doesn’t mean the car is going to fail and because he’s past the mileage warranty he’d have to pay the entire cost.

“I’m worried it will just stop one day while I’m driving and shut off,” he said. “The corrosion is a design and engineering flaw. They want the customer to pay for it and that’s not fair. ”

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