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



  • 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.
  • I was just wondering if you allowed them to work on the vehicle. Here at the local dealership they are wanting to know if they can go ahead and fix the dash board. The service manager here got in touch with someone in the states who wants him to send in a part to our car so they can look at it and see what is going on. We are hesitant to let them do anything to the car because I don't want it to give Subaru a reason they could get out of covering the cost. They have already told me during the first conversation, "We don't know what happened to your car, maybe a wire was cut." So I hate to do anything to it before they send someone out here to look into it because god knows what kind of excuse they could come up with after someone has touched it.
  • I think you are absolutely right in not letting them do anything to the car. It's likely that an airbag sensor was defective- it's a computer designed to detect an impact and instantaneously "tell" the airbag(s) to deploy. It's only supposed to do that at impacts that occur at speeds above about 20 mph. My dealership and others told me that. Your dealership shoud know that. The Toyota Zone sent out an engineer to determine the cause and take photos, I got a chance to speak to him, asked him the cause-reply: we don't know. Your case: Wire cut? By what? What wire? In my case, I ABSOLUTELY refused to let them fix it, fearing that since the side airbags deployed for no reason, how am I to know the fronts would deploy because of another bad sensor? From the time it happened, I refused to drive it again. Ever. I could have been killed but that it happened on a straight four lane with no surrounding traffic. A half hour earlier, I was on a very twisty, hilly road, with many drop-offs to the side. I surely would have been killed at that time. Express to the dealership you want the Zone manager involved to have the car inspected, and you are looking to have Suburu "buy back" their car from you, plus compensate you for your injuries. Tell the dealership to CALL SOMEBODY! good luck.
  • I have finally gotten in touch with someone. As soon as I called and asked for the CEO a kind lady in the executive offices took down my information and I was contacted by a Manager in the Customer Relations Department. They are now working to determine what caused the car to malfunction. Then we are going to go from there. I expressed to them my dissatisfaction with their complete disregard for my issue because we didn't live in the US. This is what it seemed to me. At least we now have the ball rolling and we can go from there.
  • Great news!! It's likely there'll be more hurdles, but you're on the right track. Nice going.
  • chrisc111chrisc111 Posts: 1
    This just happened to me too (July 17, 2009). I have a '08 RAV4 with around 7500 miles on it. The car was in a parking lot, was in park and the parking brake was on. I was not involved in any accident—I was not even moving and nothing hit my car. I subsequently contacted Toyota Corporate and the car is at the dealership to see what happened. I would be interested to hear if someone out there has some advice on how to deal with Toyota on this issue or if this is happening to other '08 RAV4s. Thanks.
  • My side airbags exploded for absolutely no reason. I thought I had been shot the sound was so loud. I was driving about 20 mph on a surface street in my town, Glendale, CA. Had I been on one of our crazy freeways I think I may have been killed. Have sent a very detailed letter to the president of Toyota in Japan. Return receipt was received and again I was pushed off to another representative in Torrance, CA who did nothing but say the car has been repaired. My Rav 4 is still at the dealership (since Sept. 30th) and I refuse to ever drive it again.

    Has anyone made any progress with legal representation? I need some suggestions as I am out transportation and spending a lot on rental cars.
  • I'm the OP to this thread. Toyota finally settled with me for $40,000 but only after about 4 months of wrestling with them, and that meant 4 months of rental cars. I called and completely filled the voice mailbox of the CEO of Toyota North America whenever I had the time :lemon: , and that seemed to finally get results. Out of the 40k I had to pay the rentals but had enough to nearly pay for a new car. You have to keep on them. They will try to wait you out till you give up.Most lawyers I talked with didn't want the case. I did mine on my own. Good luck.
  • lenny20lenny20 Posts: 10
    My 2007 RAV4 V6 airbag light stays on after I drive for about two miles. Dealer says that error code is not under warrenty. There is an airbag recall out there, but dealor says it's not for this problem.

    Anyone out there have experience treating with Toyota for warrenty service on a major safety issue such as airbags?
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