Serious issues with 2014 Highlander Trailer Arm repair under warranty

mahighlandermahighlander Member Posts: 3
edited March 2016 in Toyota
Bought a 2014 Highlander Limited in July 2014. By November 2014, it developed a creaking noise from the rear over significant road bumps when the rear end dips.

Short overview of actions since then: Dealer A researched the problem and after multiple visits, in March 2015, replaced the Trailer Arm as part of a service bulletin recommendation. It doesn’t fix the noise. We're told the noise is a nuisance but not unsafe.

Fast forward a full year, we bring the car for regular service to a new dealership and mention the noise. After a road test and inspection, Dealer B notices the Trailer Arm bold is loose and attempts to tighten. It won’t tighten. Dealer B proceeds to remove the bolt, and long story short, they say the bolt was cross-threaded and is now stripped, and now they can’t reattach the Trailer Arm. Dealer B blames Dealer A workmanship, saying the car is unsafe and undriveable with the Trailer Arm attached by only one bolt, and after consulting with Toyota field technicians and engineers, says the car can’t be repaired without extensive body shop work to replace the lower frame assembly.
Toyota Corp. says the work is not covered under warranty due to it potentially being a problem caused by Dealer A’s workmanship. Dealer B also not taking responsibility for removing the bolt and “causing” the immediate damage. We are stuck between Toyota Corp., Dealer A, and Dealer B, and are paying for a rental out of pocket AND awaiting a big repair estimate which will also have to be paid out of pocket.

None of this seems right or fair. Any suggestions?

Comments

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well you can't strip a bolt by unbolting it so either Dealer A or the Toyota factory is at fault. If Toyota balks, you really have no choice but to take legal action against Dealer A---dealers have insurance for these kinds of mistakes. I suppose no one wants to repair the stripped out hole for safety reasons, but I don't see why it can't be re-tapped and re-threaded without replacing a sub frame. Make sure you have photos of the damage and if Small Claims covers the level of damage you have, that's what you may have to do.
  • mahighlandermahighlander Member Posts: 3
    Thank you for your response, very helpful. Yes, they told me you can't strip it unbolting (I am not mechanically inclined), so only could've occurred during the repair/replacement by Dealer A. I was thinking rethreading, too, but according to Dealer B, Toyota has to call the shots on what is up to their standard for safety and says replacing lower frame assembly is it. I have no idea how much that will cost yet, hoping not exorbitant. But can I insist on retapping/rethreading instead? Also, I was thinking along the same lines as you and am building the case for the small claims against Dealer A; will get photos as you suggested, didn't think of that. Thank you!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    edited March 2016
    Keep in mind that once Dealer B fixes it, the evidence is gone, so you have to have photos and hopefully a carefully worded and detailed repair order that states that the bolt was found to be stripped out upon disassembly. Dealer B won't want to incriminate Dealer A (the "brotherhood") but a statement of facts is just that. It's not an accusation by Dealer B. That's your job.

    I would hope Toyota would jump in on this and they might have if there was no dealer A, and Dealer B just removed a stripped out bolt as it came from the factory. Having Dealer A in the mix kind of messed that opportunity up, seems to me. So Dealer A let Toyota off the hook, and Dealer B doesn't want to be on the hook.

    Point is, you are an "aggrieved" party--you suffered damages.

    Be sure that you ask Dealer A right up front to "make this right" and be sure you record the date and time of his refusal, and the name of the person who refused. This would be important in Small Claims Court.

    Also, it's called a "trailing arm", just so you get the terminology correct.

  • mahighlandermahighlander Member Posts: 3
    Oh, yes, Trailing Arm...told you I wasn't mechanically inclined! :p

    I was going to let Toyota Customer Care (who opened a case) be the go-between the 2 dealers now, as I was not inclined to go back and confront Dealer A with Dealer B's "accusation." (Dealer B is pointing the finger squarely at Dealer A and is not holding back, with me or with Toyota. And Dealer B says they have documentation to share with me, absolving themselves.)

    However, your recommendation to both get the photos and go directly back to Dealer A with the "make it right" offer is making me rethink that...

    Thank you again, this is such helpful advice.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well you can give Toyota Customer Care a shot at it, sure. Any legal action is really a "last resort", and it will look good in Small Claims that you pursued every possible avenue of settlement. It's possible Toyota might work out a deal with the dealer to "share" the cost but be careful here that they don't just inflate the repair cost and then cut it in half, virtually costing them nothing. Getting an estimate from Dealer B would be a good idea, should Dealer A try this maneuver on you.

    I'm not attempting to demonize Dealer A--they may end up doing the right thing. I'm sure they'd like to blame Toyota and have the factory pay for it---who knows?

    But you have to stay on top of this so that it doesn't drag on and on. Dealers tend to put these problems on back-burner unless prodded either by Toyota or you. Be polite but be firm.
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