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Toyota unintended acceleration settlement - Who does this make happy?

A writer and Toyota/Lexus owner gets his slice of the Toyota Economic Loss Settlement pie.


This week an unexpected letter and check arrived in my mail box. It was my payment from the Toyota Economic Loss Settlement Administrator. This is the person or agency charged with paying me my fair share of the settlement Toyota made with lawyers and the government over the devaluation of Toyota vehicles as a result of their unintended acceleration debacle. Although I had written about that settlement, it didn’t occur to me that I might be part of the settlement. Now that I have my payment I am not sure how to feel about the issue. Better is not one of the feelings I am having.

Toyota Lexus Unintended Acceleration Legal Fights
Just to be clear, the legal wrangling isn’t over yet, nor are the hard feelings. We at Torque News have covered the story, and in some cases offered up opinions about the issue. We as a publication are not on one side or the other. There are still more battles to be fought over individual cases of people killed or injured by alleged unintended acceleration. What my check is payment for is the loss of value I have suffered as a Toyota owner. You see, just by association, my Toyota, in this case a 2007 Highlander, was successfully argued by lawyers to be valued lower than if the issue had never come up.

Toyota Highlander Value Retention
My Highlander has been pretty much flawless. I like it so much I have maintained it in like-new condition, and now it is a part-time vehicle awaiting use by my sons, who I presume will beat it to death as their first car. Since I bought the Highlander I have also owned two Lexus vehicles, which were also vehicles that made me very happy overall.

I almost traded the Highlander for a Lexus RX 350. I was offered $12,000 for it by Lexus. That deal fell through, and I then tried to buy a Toyota RAV4. Toyota offered me $12,000 for it. So I say it is pretty safe to say it is worth roughly $12,000. The check I received is intended help me sleep at night knowing that my Highlander has lost some value because Toyota was embroiled in the unintended acceleration scandal. My check is for a quarter of one percent of the present value of the Highlander.

Toyota Tops Resale Value Lists
The interesting thing about my Highlander is that there is no vehicle like it worth more, despite the unintended acceleration stigma. NADA, the group that tracks actual resale values and reports on them to dealers, says that the Toyota Highlander presently has the highest resale value of any vehicle its type (mid-size crossover). In fact, it is the highest ranked vehicle for resale value of any crossover, of any type. The only similar vehicles that beat it are other Toyotas made the old way, body-on-frame. Just a point of comparison, a 3 to 5-year used Highlander retains 66% over the same period of time that a Mitsubishi Endeavor retains about 43% of its value. The segment average is 55%. I have seen reports that Toyotas have suffered a loss of value in the used-car marketplace. However, my own research and discussion with used car dealers and experts say that is simply not the case. So the NADA data and my personal informal research match. Toyota’s Tacoma is the top vehicle of all types in terms of value retention, and the next few on the list are all also Toyotas.

Does a Tiny Payment Make Anyone Feel Better?
Although a small amount to me, to Toyota the check was $1.1 billion. You see, the company made a lot of vehicles. That results in lots of hands to cross with silver to say “sorry that the issue came up, now we are even.” I wasn’t expecting an apology, and I don’t know how $29 would make anyone feel that this was a solution.

So the upshot of this check is that Toyota was sued successfully for billions of US dollars to compensate owners of the highest resale value vehicles in the market because their vehicles aren’t worth enough. If you think about it, shouldn’t the automakers at the bottom, those who make junk for a huge variety of obvious reasons, be the ones apologizing with silly little checks? I looked to see if the check was mailed to me by the law offices of Dewey, Scroowem and Howe, but it was some other legal entity. See photo if interested.

Note: Your comments on the subject are welcome, and we print all views, but we do edit out insults and repeated posts from the same commenter.

Related Stories:
Update - Toyota to pay staggering billion dollar plus fine for issues related to unintended acceleration
Toyota wins an important unintended acceleration case
Toyota loses unintended acceleration case put before a jury
Feds investigating 1.9 million Ford vehicles for unintended acceleration


Rob (not verified)    October 29, 2014 - 5:16AM

Thanks for writing this John. I too was surprised by my, equal to yours, $29.86 check and now understand why it was mailed to me. Considering I have a well worn 2003 base Tundra with nearly 300k on the clock, I reckon I got a better "deal" than you... I do appreciate both your explanation and candor as well as agree with your views. Cheers!

Donna Ybarra (not verified)    January 10, 2015 - 10:30AM

In reply to by Rob (not verified)

I received a check for $29.23 for Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices, and products Liability Litigation. It also states at the top of the check that by signing it, you agree to the terms of the Release as stated in Section VI of the settlement agreement. Hmmm What if something happens with my car and I end up with a lawsuite? Are they going to dismiss the case due to my signing this puny check? I will shred it and hope I never have to sue them for anything. I love my Toyota and it is the 3rd one I have owned. Never any problems.

Atra (not verified)    October 29, 2014 - 3:59PM

Just got a check for my 04 Camry XLE 6cyl, lthr with 90k miles... $8.97 !!

I'm sure the lawyers did better than we did :))

I'm also quite certain Toyota will increase the price I pay for my next car by MUCH MORE than $8.97 to offset the cost of this class action suit, so, once again the lawyers/politicians score and we get to pay the price !!

JeffS (not verified)    October 30, 2014 - 7:31AM

Owned a 1976 Celica GT. Great car. Now own a '04 4Runner. Bought new, now 50,000 miles, well maintained,garage kept, and the frame and undercarriage was just rotting away, to the point it was unsafe, a condition Toyota is aware of, but not so much as a notice from Toyota. Spent days sanding, wire-brushing, replacing splash and heat shields and painting, (I was able to just pull off the front splash shield a significant chunk of CHEAP metal that was about to fall off and that wouldn't have been pretty, especially if it came off on the highway). Not what they used to be and that's it for anymore Toyota's for me. Trying to talk to Toyota about it was like talking to the wall and it's not like they are unaware of this problem, essentially the reply was, "Too bad, So sad", so be it.

Todd (not verified)    January 8, 2015 - 1:16PM

In reply to by JeffS (not verified)

Jeff, I own a 2003 Toyota Tundra and there was a recall on the rusting underbelly of this vehicle. My dealership notified me last winter and it spent a few days in the shop getting worked on and under sprayed again. I would suggest calling your nearest Toyota Dealership and inquiring about this recall whether you purchased it through them or not, they are liable to take care of it. Or go to the Toyota Recall list and look up your vin number for recalls.

ChrisO (not verified)    October 31, 2014 - 7:52AM

I was afraid to cash the check because I thought it would amount to giving up any right to sue in the future if I became a victim of unintended acceleration. The letter just felt suspicious, since I never signed up as part of any class action lawsuit and I had no communication with this law firm. Yet the letter says the terms of the settlement apply to me whether or not I cash the check. Doesn't feel right, that's for sure!

Enoch_B (not verified)    December 8, 2014 - 12:33PM

In reply to by ChrisO (not verified)

That's exactly the same way I felt when I received the unanticipated check. There's something not quite right about how this is playing out. I am happy to hear that so many individuals are content with their Toyota brand vehicles. For me, I'm going to venture out and see what others have to offer. I'll be giving up my 06 GS300 really soon. The car was good, but I don't want to be "the next report" of something gone wrong, Leaving my family or I am legally stuck with a "Sorry, but we did send you a $29 check to make up for the value drop in your vehicle."--type of apology. High tide, Toyota.

Conrad (not verified)    October 31, 2014 - 9:09PM

I have a 2002 Lexus ES with (only!) 93,000 miles and just received a check for $29.86. WooHoo! Big Deal. I read the fine print on the Toyota website and learned that once I endorse and cash the check, and I have an accident caused by the "unintended acceleration" issue I cannot sue them. I guess I will take that chance...

AP (not verified)    November 1, 2014 - 10:16AM

same here, I just received a check for $29.86, i also never signed up as a part of any class action lawsuit. Im confused what to do with the check?

Dawn (not verified)    November 13, 2014 - 7:12PM

i felt like its a scam also..deposit a six dollar check..and then come to find out they are taking my beloved car lol

bperk (not verified)    November 18, 2014 - 5:17AM

Toyota's settlement website says, "This settlement does not involve claims of personal injury or property damage."

Amber (not verified)    November 20, 2014 - 2:41PM

I also got a check for $29.23....not sure whether to cash it or not. Part of me says why not but is ot a scam or is this a real lawsuit and anyone with a toyota receives this?

paul (not verified)    November 22, 2014 - 11:42AM

Was anyone who posted here an actual part of the initial lawsuit? And if so was the check size actually larger? Just curious to know in case something like this were to happen in the future ever again.

Stephen Brown (not verified)    November 22, 2014 - 6:24PM

Kind of crazy, I just received a check for $29.23 for a 2005 Corolla S that I drive back and forth to work. I would think the biggest winners here were the usual suspects. the laaaaaaawyers.

Peter (not verified)    November 23, 2014 - 12:41PM

I prefer to look at the dollar amount of the check as economies of scale. Mass production decreases individual item costs, which is why all of the nice gizmos eventually migrate from the luxury cars to the everyday commuter. If the recall was limited to a low production vehicle, the individual checks would be much larger. To move that decimal point one or two positions to the right would bankrupt any business against such a large scale of production. My Tundra is still just as valuable to me now as it was before the $29.86 check appeared in my mailbox.

Sam (not verified)    November 23, 2014 - 5:21PM

Wahooo, just received check for $20.46. I feel the same as others....afraid to deposit it as it may be a scam. I have a 2008 FJ Cruiser and never filed a claim or signed up for a class action suit. Creepy.

crofty (not verified)    November 26, 2014 - 9:11AM

2002 Sequoia Limited - Excellent (used) vehicle - 150k or so miles - Received check for US$20.46 - Not sure what to do with it. At least, have until March 2015 to deposit. Can anyone tell is this is legit and if they have actually cashed their checks? I would hate to go to jail for just over US$20 for fraud!

Mark (not verified)    November 26, 2014 - 11:52AM

I got a check for $20.46 for "economic loss" associated with my 2007 FJ Cruiser. It is my favorite SUV of all time, with the possible exception of my previous car, a 1996 Land Cruiser. In 2012 I saw a used FJ with 40K miles sitting on a car dealer's lot listed for pretty much the same price I paid for mine new in '07. Seven years and 95000 miles into its life, my FJ still blue books out at nearly $18,000.

The claims of economic loss are manufactured to enrich the lawyers who brought the class action suit. You can cash the check, of course, and it will clear, and that doesn't make you a bad person. As for me, I will shred my check and post a youtube video encouraging others to do the same.

I have no financial interest in Toyota and have no connection to Toyota except as a happy customer.

Paul Crespo (not verified)    November 26, 2014 - 2:40PM

For all those people who keep asking if this is real or legit, I figured I would finally answer that question. YES! They sent post cards out in the mail about this a few times to ask people if they wanted to be a part of the suit.
Just too bad not one person on here was actually a part of the class action suit to gain further knowledge on the economic comparables.

TessaB (not verified)    November 27, 2014 - 12:07AM

John, you are a hero!!! Thank you for your post and a picture of the check. This is so helpful to a lot of people like me who are wondering if the check is legitimate.

I got $20.46 for my 2002 Lexus GS300. I find it so interesting which model gets what amount. So I compiled the list of cars and check amount from all the posts on this webpage. Too bad not everyone posted their car model and/or the check amount - -
$8.76 - 2005 Camry
$8.97 - 2004 Camry XLE 6cyl
$20.00 - 2006 Camry
$20.46 - 2002 Sequoia Limited, 2002 Lexus GS300, 2007 FJ Cruiser, 2008 FJ Cruiser
$29.23 - 2005 Corolla S
$29.86 - 2002 Lexus ES, 2003 base Tundra, 2007 Highlander

I loved the Erin Brockovich movie when it came out. Later on I learned of the real truth and realized I was ignorant about how the real world operates, and feel sooo stupid to believe in Hollywood's propaganda. Since then I despised class action lawsuits, lawyers, and Hollywood. Due to that I have ignored all the class action mailings.

I searched on the internet and found this information on the You can search ‘toyota-settling-lost-resale-value-lawsuits-why-its-insane-why-everybody-loses-but-the-lawyers’ to read the details -
Term 1: Toyota puts $250 million into a fund to compensate former owners who sold or returned a leased example of select Toyota models (almost all of them) between September 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010
Actual Winner(s): Big used-car dealerships, which may have sold hundreds of Toyotas and Lexuses during that time.

Term 2: Toyota pays to install Brake Override Systems on eligible vehicles
Actual Winner(s): Toyota dealerships, Toyota’s suppliers, and—somewhat indirectly—Toyota.

Term 3: Toyota puts $250 million into a fund to pay people who still own certain Toyotas that aren’t compatible with Brake Override Systems
Actual Winner(s): Nobody, really.

Term 4: Toyota spends $30 million for automotive safety research and education
Actual Winners: The University of Iowa, other universities, billboard owners.

And the Grand Prize Winners Are . . .
Weighing in at some 85 attorneys spread over 25 firms, the grand prize winners are: the law firms. Toyota’s settlement proposal agrees to pay up to $200 million in fees to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, with an additional maximum of $27 million allocated to cover their expenses. (It’s distributed proportionately to how much work the firms put into the suit.)

I see that many of us are wondering if we should cash the check. I did a search on that and postings from indicated the money from the un-cashed checks would not go back to Toyota, but maybe to your State’s Unclaimed Property, and/or the institutions from Term 4, or even towards the lawyers’ administration cost. The suggestions offered are either use it as part of a down payment on a new vehicle at a Toyota dealer, or donate the money to a charity. Quote 'So that you get the benefit of the check and Toyota gets to cram a small piece of that lawsuit down the lawyers’ throats.' (search ‘chat/3216493') I am going to donate mine.

John, thank you again for providing a platform for us to discuss this matter.

TessaB (not verified)    November 27, 2014 - 12:26AM

Just came across these two websites:
1. – it seems people who filled out a claim form received $125. (search 738746-did-anyone-else-get-toyota-settlement-check-mail-2.html)
2. – list the models for electronic throttle control systems (ETCS) and Brake Override along with the rebate.

ChuckD (not verified)    November 30, 2014 - 1:13AM

I got a check today for $94.60. I assume this is for my '07 Tundra which I bought new but traded in '09. I did not fill out any claim forms.

Sabrina (not verified)    November 30, 2014 - 10:41AM

My son, who has never owned a Toyota, received a check today in the amount of $18.22! My husband owns a 2005 Toyota 4-Runner - he has received NO check. Toyota must be confused?