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Toyota RAV4 side airbags blew up in my face with NO impact to car!

jondubusjondubus Posts: 18
As bizarre as this may sound, it happened (on 3/31/08). My Rav4 has no impact damage anywhere, and now sits at my local Toyota dealership with airbags hanging down while I DRIVE A RENTAL CAR AT MY OWN EXPENSE. Both side airbags went off by themselves on a smooth, straight road, and with a huge bang that knocked me sideways when thay deployed. I nearly lost control but managed to get the car stopped, but I was extremely frightened, to the extent I won't drive this car again. I now have a hearing loss in my left ear,possibly the right too. My E,N & T specialist says that inner ear damage is typical with airbag deployment. I've had numerous discussions with my Toyota " customer service representative" (named Havon Finney) who tells me my claim has now been forwarded to the Toyota claims Dept. in Torrance, CA. Havon tells me it's Toyota's "policy" that they have either 30/60 days to respond to my claim. (Whoopee) So far, after a number of complaints including one to a Toyota inspector who photo'd my car, I've got no answers as to why my airbags deployed on their own and what, even is the status of my case. I'm totally puzzled as to why Toyota is not tearing my '07 Rav4 apart to find a cause for this dangerous condition, and finding out how many more Toyota cars like mine are out there. I bought my Rav4 because of it's safety ratings. And I thought Toyota was a stand-up up corporation. I could've been killed on any other kind of road. Toyota case #200804010880. I'll be taking my case to all sorts of media .
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Comments

  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    Omigosh. That sounds like a nightmare. Please keep us posted on your ordeal.

    Has anyone else ever experienced this?

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • jondubusjondubus Posts: 18
    Thanks for your reply; yeah, it's been a nightmare. I feel like I'm getting the corporate stonewall, especially from this customer representative: Havon Finney. I've asked to speak to the Claims dept. but was told they don't accept phone calls, only mail communications. I've asked to speak to Havon's supervisor- I've gotten a name but no extension number or response. I get the same crap over and over. The local dealer doesn't seem seem to know what to do either, but I can hardly blame them, given Toyota's lack of doing anything. Jeez, it's been over a month, the car's been inspected by them, and there's absolutely no body damage. I have another audiological exam tomorrow, and by next week I shoild know if there's any improvement. I'm still missing some hearing that's happened since the incident with my car's airbag's, despite my Doc's treatment. Just a thought: Mom is driving along on a twisty road with her two kids... side airbag deploys causing her to lose control and go off the road... airbag looks like it did it's job when someone finds the wreckage.
  • stevem685stevem685 Posts: 4
    Wow - that is scary. Hope you are okay -

    I have an 06' Rav that I've already complained about on this forum about - but this is now "scary". Toyota better wake up - the one I own is probably the last Toyota I own for a long long time. The only reason to buy a Toyota and they are losing that mantle to Honda quickly.

    Best of luck and keep us informed please!
  • hank119hank119 Posts: 39
    Perhaps you should take a look at these web sites.

    www.autosafety.org
    A private organization dedicated to auto safety.

    www.safercars.gov
    The Federal Government's NHTSA web site

    You can file a complaint at either site but I'm not sure how responsive these organizations might be. If they get enough similar complaints they may do something.

    If you've had a hearing problem as a result of the airbag deployment, contact a good law firm. You should be recompensed.
  • jondubusjondubus Posts: 18
    Thanks for the tip on the websites, I'll give those a try. I have contacted a product liability attorney, and we're having to wait to see if hearing will improve over time. The Dr. tells me it's pretty much determined that it will stay the same after a four month period.
  • jondubusjondubus Posts: 18
    50 days since my airbag blew and still no response from Toyota. I've sent the their claims dept a letter/bill for over $1200 in car rental fees. Toyota should be ashamed.
  • sm685sm685 Posts: 4
    wow - please do keep us apprised. Toyota has some real customer service problems on their hands these days and their ignorance of this has cost them one customer here. More to follow I'm sure.
  • jondubusjondubus Posts: 18
    (Lack of) Progress report:
    I wrote a letter describing my RAV4 airbag defect to Mr. Yukitoshi Funo, CEO of Toyota N. America in New York with copies to the director of the Toyota human resources dept. and the Toyota legal dept. in Torrance, CA. I did then receive some calls from a representative of the legal dept. in Torrance, offering to buy back my car. Seemed like progress. After more return calls I made to work out the details, and with calls to Mr. Funo, and others, I again have had no response from Toyota for the last two weeks. It is now a full three months since this frightfully defective product nearly killed me, yet I still :lemon: have no satisfactory response from Toyota, just more shameful corporate behavior.
  • jondubusjondubus Posts: 18
    I called the NHTSA today and they registered my complaint, and reccommended I call the Federal Trade Commission. I did that too and registered a complaint with them, giving them Mr. Funo's phone number and the number of the Legal dept. representative. I also contacted the Car Talk radio program on NPR. Any other ideas out there of how I can further advertise my experience with Toyota's potentially lethal airbag defect? On the NHTSA website I found another '07 RAV4 airbag incident reported to them in Jan. '08, where the airbags did not deploy in an accident, and caused a "major injury". :lemon: :lemon:
  • sm685sm685 Posts: 4
    I just sold my Rav after 2 years of disappointing failures and service nightmares. My new Honda is just fine - hopefully not a repeat of the Toyota. Fortunately, the Ravs have a good rep and I did well on the sale. As I've said before, Toyota better wake up - there is competition and it's catching up. Good luck with your airbags - I wouldn't take another Rav if I were you - I'd have a lawyer getting a check from them instead.
  • jondubusjondubus Posts: 18
    sm685,
    After 3 months of wrangling, I've finally reached a settlement with the Toyota Legal Dept. (on my own). It's not quite finalized, but we do have an agrement I can live with. Since it's not finalized, I can't review any other details. I've appreciated your support.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    When and if you can disclose the terms of the agreement, please report back to us. I'm sure other would like to know.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • sm685sm685 Posts: 4
    Glad you were able to work it out. Be interested to hear the details sometime.
  • mexateckmexateck Posts: 9
    This is absolutely positively atrocious. I am so sorry you went through all of that hassle and still seem to be living it to this day. You certainly have my support... as, though I have not suffered as much adversity as you, am going through a bit of hell with my own Rav4. Your resolution trail is certainly appreciated and any help that we can provide I'm sure we'll be more than happy to give.
  • I am a 8 1/2 months pregnant owner of a 97 Toyota Rav 4. My driver/passenger side airbags deployed simultaneously 3 weeks ago fo NO REASON. There I was attempting to make my way home after a busy day at the office, I get in the car, turn the ignition, step on the gas, and BANG. Both airbags explode in my face, scaring the absolute daylights out of me. Never mind that the sheer force of the drivers airbag was centered directly on my baby and the passengers side made burned mincemeat of my right arm. I have spent the better part of the past 3 weeks haggling with my own insurance company and Toyota, over who will be responsible for fixing my machine, to this point in time they are both playing a nice game of not it. I am growing more and more frustrated as the days skulk by and the reality seems to be my baby will be here far before anything is done by Toyota to remedy this disaster. Your help in this matter is appreciated.
  • After 5 months of wrangling with Toyota, including letters and phone calls describing the incident to a Mr. Yukitoshi Funo, Chairman and CEO of Toyota N. America, I've finally recieved a settlement satisfactory to me. To get his adress and phone number, simply Wikipedia Toyota. He is in the Torrance, Californis corporate office. I had a long stretch when I would call nearly every day, or send another letter. Finally I recieved a response from the Toyota legal dept. With Mr. Funo, (via his voice mail, you won't get him personally) bring up the dishonor your incident (and mine), has brought to his company. Not to mention that delays in settling with you are criminal. I settled mine w/o an attorney, but you may need one. Reply if you need more help.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    Are you at liberty to share any details of the settlement? We'd all like to know! :)

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • Tidester, I have one last detail to wrap up with Toyota: The RAV 4 was bought back by Toyota, but I keep recieving payment statements from Toyota Financial. If mikfuoner doesn't hear anything soon, I will reveal the terms of my settlement long and loud. Stay tuned. To mikfuoner: If you haven't already, start a thread on the Toyota Nation forum about your experience. Also, I made no excessive demands of Toyota, only that I did demand they return me to the state I was in, financially and healthwise before their defective product injured me. Likewise, you want to be RESTORED. None of that is unreasonable.
  • Hello Jondubus, I'm a journalist in Canada and have been in touch with mikfuoner. I'm conducting research on this airbag issue with RAV's and hoping I might speak to you by phone about your ordeal. Can you please advise if this is possible? Many thanks in advance.
  • Yeah, I'll consider that. My email adress should now be visible in my profile. I'll need some authentication as to your employer before I commit. reply to this if the E adress doesn't appear.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    Thanks - and good luck!

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • I left a message yesterday afternoon for Mr. Funo and just had a message back from one of his people. They advised that because we are in Canada we have to deal with the Customer Relations people here. I've already been in touch with them and that's where I am stuck. Toyota Canada's head office is "apparently" waiting for Goverment affairs to get back to them and until then they can not move forward. I have a feeling I will be here in limbo for quite awhile longer. Having chosen the path I have thus far, I am now considering legal action.
  • I just had my side airbags deploy on their own today. I drive a 2005 Toyota Tundra pickup and I was going less than 10 mph when all of a sudden I heard a big bang like a gun going off next to my ear. Both side airbags deployed and the exact same thing that happened to you happened to me. I was knocked over and now I have trouble hearing out of my left ear. I don't understand how this can happen, especially since there was no impact that could have caused this. I have contacted my insurance company. I have also contacted 2 different toyota dealerships, including the one I bought it from. They told me that "it could never happen" and I told them it just did. They said that the warranty only covers the airbags up to 60,000 miles and my truck has about 80,000. I was wondering if you can offer any advice or steps for me to take next for me to go about this unfortunate situation? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • EXACTLY the same as mine. Be advised that mr. Funo's corporate title is chairman and CEO of Toyota NORTH AMERICA (includes Canada!!!!). It seemed to help when I called Mr. Funo's number (you only get his voicemail) and filled his voicemail with how I was contacting media/internet advertising my predicament as much as possible. Hell, call 60 minutes and see if they have any interest. I called almost daily for over a month. I was finally contacted by Toyota Legal: after more wrangling with them I recieved a flat settlement of $40,000, less $16,000 I owed Toyota Financial, and less $4,000 in car rental fees over more than 2 months, because I immediately refused to drive my RAV4 anymore. Net was $16,000. I did mine on my own without any attorneys, but it's useful to talk to some and perhaps easier, but hiring one will cost you. You only want to be restored to the same condition you were in before the product defect damage happened to you, that is, to be "made whole again" by Toyota. Get your injuries documented by your doctors and follow the progress of them. You will have to be patient but tenacious. You are right and deserve restoration. I also posted on the Toyota Nation website under RAV4 posts. Good Luck and work hard. John
  • I just had this same issue with my 05 Subaru Outback. No one is helping. Do you have any advice for me regarding this incident. My husband and I are stationed in Puerto Rico by the Military right now and Subaru says because of this they are unable to help me and even come and investigate the problem. We are feeling very helpless.
  • Tdisibio, I hope you weren't injured, but if so, get them documented by your physician immediately, however minor. Take photos. In my case I refused to Toyota to ever drive my RAV4 again, for fear other airbags would deploy. I would start with whatever Perto Rico government consumer protection agency there is; here in Ohio it happens to be the state Attorney General's Office. There should also be some sort of military agency to help, so start with your commanding officer or go through the chain of command. Keep after Suburu, they have vehicles worldwide and are responsible for them anywhere. They will drag their corporate feet. Be patient but persistant, for however long it takes. See also my posts on the Toyota Nation forum under the RAV4 threads. Good luck!
  • Thanks for the suggestion. I don't know much about consumer protection here in Puerto Rico but we purchased our vehicle in Seattle when we were stationed there and I found something today regarding consumer protection for Military Personnel so I am going to check them out. I recently filed complaints with the BBB and Car Safety Agency and I am working on a letter to send to the CEO and anyone else whose name I can find. It is so interesting how difficult it is to get contacts for this company. The Assistant to General Counsel at Subaru only lists her first name and through articles I have been able to find the information for communications people who I am also going to send letters along with pictures of my husband's arm and our car. I haven't refused to drive my car but I think we might because they aren't able to find out yet what caused this. The Subaru people here are being very helpful but they can't seem to find anything wrong with our car which is causing fear for us to drive it again even if it does get repaired. We aren't allowing them to work on the car yet we might have to get a rental car soon which is going to be very expensive as well. I just can't believe corporations are allowed to just toss people aside like this. So disappointing. Thanks again for your suggestions.
  • I have to warn you it's a long ordeal, but keep at it. Ours took around 4 months before we finally got a settlement. Our car rental fees wound up at about $4,000, which was later incorporated into our settlement. In my case, I tried to advertise my predicament, anywhere and anyhow I could- e.g., I approached local and TV stations near Toyota's s corporate HQ's in Torrance, CA., Then I'd let Toyota Legal know about what I was doing, trying to canstantly be a pain in the a$$. Suburu will no doubt try to stonewall you so you'll give up. You have been wronged by their product, and they are obliged to restore your condition to what it was before their product injured you. I wonder if there are some military legal resources at your disposal. For all that military people have done for us, Suburu SHOULD be happy to expedite your case.
    P.S. Look for a local Suburu dealership and tell them you want to contact the Zone manager. I didn;t buy my car locally either, but the local dealership was helpful at times. I asked their repair manager, " would YOU drive this car again if it was yours?" Reply: "uhhhh......No".
  • Was your car repaired? Was your car still under warranty? Our car is still being looked at and the Service Manager here in Puerto Rico is trying very hard to find out what caused this. As of now he located someone (at Subaru) who wants to have a part to the vehicle sent to them so they can look at it. I am concerned about doing this because I do not want them to be able to come back at me and say "Oh well the car has been touched we can't say what happened." I am so skeptical. I heard from someone through email today at the corporate communications level and was supposed to hear from someone in Consumer Affairs but didn't. I called tonight and asked for someone on the consumer affairs team and I was told they don't have anyone listed with that title so they suggested I go back to customer service where I have already come up with no help. I asked the Director of Communications for the name of someone in the legal department and I was denied the information. I am starting to picture these people at Subaru in a secret castle someone that no one can get to them. So far I have been denied the name to someone on the counsel and denied to speak someone in a managerial role who passed the message down to me that this was a problem for my insurance company.
  • My local Toyota dealership said they would repair mine and they were told to order the parts to do so. It was at that point I refused to let them, and the dealership agreed. It was not under warranty. It is NOT a "problem with your insurance company", and your insurance company will probably tell you that, since there was no accident. The Ohio state trooper who arrived at the scene when it first happened, would not file an accident report, since there was no accident, and correctly pointed out that if he did, it could wrongly affect my insurance rate. I don't understand how your car could be driveable with airbags hanging down? You're getting the corporate run-around. Get on every Suburu forum , TV station, local newspaper, etc, you can find, then tell your Suburu dealership or anyone at the corporate level that your advertising Suburu's treatment of you to anyone you can find. I found Toyota corporate personnel names on Wikipedia, including phone numbers, and I went from there. There is also a Toyota consumer hotline number, and I made a number of calls, finally getting assigned a case number. Suburu should have a similar number. Good luck and keep at it.
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