Japanese automaker Toyota has agreed to a $3.4 Billion settlement after metal body frames on its pickups and SUVs were found to lack sufficient rust protection, causing them to prematurely corrode. The automobile defect settlement covers about 1.5 million vehicles in the United States, which include Toyota Tacoma trucks from model years 2005 to 2010, Tundras from 2007 to 2008 and Sequoias from 2005 to 2008. The court has ordered Toyota to notify owners of the affected vehicles and perform annual inspections for up to 12 years from the first year each individual owned the vehicles. Frames will be replaced at no cost to those who find premature corrosion. The settlement covers both replacements, an estimated cost of about $15,000 per vehicle, and inspections, an estimated cost of $60 per vehicle. Toyota has also agreed to pay $9.75 million in lawyers’ fees, $150,000 in costs and expenses, and $2,500 to each of the eight class representatives as well as the cost of advertising the settlement. This is not the first time Toyota has had issues with rust corrosion. In 2008, the company announced a buyback program for Tacoma trucks manufactured between 1995 and 2000, because of severe rust corrosion. As part of the program, Toyota Tacoma truck owners could bring their vehicles in for a free repair, or the company could buy back the vehicle in “excellent condition” no matter what the state of the vehicle actually was. The buyback program was not the result of an official recall, but an attempt at avoiding an official investigation and lawsuits. Toyota has neglected to admit any wrongdoing “We want our customers to have a great ownership experience, so we are pleased to resolve this litigation in a way that benefits them and demonstrates that we stand behind the quality and reliability of our vehicles,” the company stated in acknowledgment of the issue. The class action lawsuit claimed that Toyota knowingly failed to apply adequate rust protection, leading to premature corroding on the vehicle’s frames, jeopardizing the vehicle’s structural integrity.
If you are the owner of one of the Toyota vehicles described, and suspect that your car may have premature rusting, the attorneys of Hodes Milman can provide you with the assistance you need. Contact us today online at hml.law or call (949) 640-8222 for a complimentary case evaluation.