Toyota hasn't announced any recalls or warranty enhancements for its RAV4 hybrids, but at least things are starting to move.
"In order to continue the ongoing investigation, we are recovering and replacing the affected parts through our dealerships," Toyota spokesman Philippe Crowe wrote to Marie-Eve Fournier of The Press.. These replacements are made “at no cost to the customer”.
This makes a huge difference, because motorists have found themselves with bills approaching $7,000. The piece alone was selling for $4,476 plus tax when she broke this story last spring.
Toyota has not officially announced the news to the general public.
But the rumor quickly spread in the last hours on the “Toyota CABLEGATE (Rav4 Hybrid & Rav4 Prime)” Facebook page, which has about 5,000 members. That's a lot, but given the high popularity of the vehicle, certainly not everyone involved is aware of this development. So hopefully Toyota dealers had clear guidelines.
Once the information was posted on Facebook, some RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid owners were quick to call their Toyota dealer to find out more. They obtained confirmation that the cable change would be free if and only if an alarm on the dashboard indicates that the hybrid system is defective.
Those who would like to have a new cable installed as a preventive measure, to avoid breaking down, will therefore have to take their troubles patiently, it seems. It is also not known whether owners who have already paid the bill will be reimbursed. Toyota would not answer my questions as this case is “currently before the courts."
In May, a class action request was filed by Adams Avocat, of Montreal. The Association for the Protection of Motorists (APA) was delighted, because Toyota "openly decided not to pay" even if the problem has been known since 2020, then commented on its president, George Iny. He also denounced the “grossly exaggerated” price of the part, which is similar to an extension cord for a mower and should not be sold for more than $500.
This class action request, which has not yet been heard by the Court, was amended this week to include other vehicles that have the same type of cable. These are the 2020-2022 Highlander Hybrids, the 2019-2022 Prius with all-wheel drive, the 2021-2022 Venza Hybrids, as well as the 2022 Lexus NX350h Hybrid and NX450h Plug-in Hybrid.
In addition, Adams Avocat is now seeking punitive damages of $1,000 rather than $300. Because the lawyer in charge of the case, Fredy Adams, judges that the answers provided by Toyota and its dealers to motorists are “frustrating” and “do not correspond” to the value of the cars in question. “When you buy a car for $40,000, you expect better service. It's not professional," he said.
The fact that Toyota now replaces cables at its expense responds to one of Adams Avocat's requests. But that will not minimize the chances of the class action to be accepted, believes Mr. Adams, since he also claims the extension of the warranty, the reimbursement of the costs already paid by certain owners of RAV4 and punitive damages, writes Fournier in The Press.
In fact, even if Toyota replaces certain cables for free, it does not solve everything. Who says that the new part will not corrode in turn?
In a report on the "cablegate" broadcast in September by The invoice, on Radio-Canada, a mechanic said that the modification of the part by Toyota on the more recent models is not even enough. The proof: he still sees corrosion!
Nothing to reassure owners of RAV4 hybrids… both current and future.
Especially since a good number of questions remain unanswered about future models. Will they have the same problem? Will they be better protected by the warranty?
So far, the lack of information has caused a lot of uncertainty and stress. Some people have sold their vehicle, others are afraid to use it. A practically new vehicle should rather provide peace of mind.
Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded TorqueNews.com in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News Twitter, Facebok, Linkedin and Youtube.
Reference: Adopted from La Press, referenced above.