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THE DEFECTIVE TOYOTA RAV4 TUBE-STYLE REAR SUSPENSION ARM

 

THE GIST

In August 2016 Toyota's defective tube-style rear suspension arm no.1 on 2006-2010 Toyota Rav4 vehicles was subjected to its third safety recall – G0V. The tube-style rear suspension arms have a long history of separating while driving, which Toyota reported has caused crashes. The design of these tube-style rear suspension arm no.1s leaves them susceptible to moisture causing the formation of rust. The rust has then spread to other components such as the rear suspension arm mounting hardware.

Unfortunately, Toyota's safety recall “remedy” G0V for preventing the rust calls for an “epoxy” procedure that leaves Rav4s without the ability to have a rear wheel alignment . Then, if a Rav4 owner does need a rear wheel alignment the rear suspension arm(s) must be replaced and the epoxy procedure re-done. If an owner has already completed the G0V safety recall “remedy” and is outside of the 3 year/36,000 comprehensive warranty, a rear wheel alignment can cost upwards of $650 at the local Toyota dealer. A rear wheel alignment normally costs less than $100.

Toyota’s G0V safety recall identified an additional safety defect that two prior recalls on the rear suspension arms did not cure - the rusting of the rear suspension arm mounting hardware. The G0V safety recall includes the mandatory replacement of the potentially dangerous and rusting mounting hardware for the rear suspension arm no. 1. The instructions for the prior safety recalls – C0J and CSJ – did not mandatorily replace the potentially dangerous mounting hardware.

Toyota included approximately 750,000 vehicles in its 2013 CSJ safety recall. The number of Rav4 covered by the August 2016 G0V safety recall was cut by approximately 420,000.

Since so many of these Rav4s were excluded from the G0V safety recall which calls for mandatory replacement of the rear suspension arm mounting hardware, this means there are hundreds of thousands of affected Rav4 vehicles on American Highways with either:

  1. Potentially rusting and/or corroding mounting hardware for the rear suspension arm that has not been replaced
  2. The inability to have a rear wheel alignment which could lead to dangerous tire wear

Unfortunately, many of these Rav4 vehicles have been sold to unsuspecting customers and these pre-existing safety defects may not have been disclosed.

Continue reading for more details.

TOYOTA CHANGES THE DESIGN OF THE REAR SUSPENSION ARM 

“Although TOYOTA is not required to notify NHTSA of any engineering and design changes it made to Toyota and Lexus models sold in the United States, it is required to file a DIR (defect information report) for any safety-related defect addressed by such an engineering and/or design change.”

  • Statement of Facts, Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the US Department of Justice for Toyota’s Sudden Unintended Acceleration Scandal

During its Sudden Unintended Acceleration scandal, Toyota admitted that it avoided announcing a safety related parts change on its pedals to regulators because it would “most likely mislead the concerned authorities and consumers and such to believe that we have admitted having defective vehicles.”

After receiving complaints about Toyota’s defective tube-style rear suspension arms separating  NHTSA opened Preliminary Evaluation 12-013 On June 14, 2012. Toyota responded by issuing safety recall C0J. In the “Initial Investigation 2008” section of the Defect information report, Toyota states, “In August 2010 a new arm was introduced to communize it with other models being introduced in the 2011 model year.”

It is at this point in August 2010 that Toyota switches from manufacturing Rav4 vehicles with a tube-style rear suspension arm no. 1 to a cam-style rear suspension arm no.1. The tube-style rear suspension arms utilize a turn-buckle and lock nuts to adjust the rear toe, which is essential for performing rear wheel alignments. The cam-style rear suspension arm no.1s introduced in August 2010 have a completely different design. The cam- style rear suspension arms do not have a turn-buckle or lock nuts.

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When Toyota changes the design of the rear suspension arm no.1, they also changed the design of the rear suspension sub assembly (which is what the two rear suspension arms attach to). The holes securing the bolts of the rear suspension arms are changed to suit the cam-style rear suspension arm bolt patterns instead of the tube-style rear suspension arm pattern. Toyota does not mention the design change of the rear suspension sub assembly in the C0J Defect Information Report submitted to federal regulators. Toyota’s part number for the newly designed rear suspension sub assembly is 48710-0R030.

Because Toyota also changed the design of the rear suspension sub assembly, the newly designed cam-style rear suspension arms cannot be installed on Rav4 vehicles that were manufactured with tube-style rear suspension arms. The new, safe cam-style rear suspension arm simply won't fit.

Toyota manufactured the next generation Rav4s with the cam-style rear suspension arm as well.


NHTSA’S PRELIMINARY EVALUATION – PE12-013

In June 2014, after receiving complaints regarding separation of the Rav4 tube-style rear suspension arms, NHTSA launched Preliminary Evaluation PE12-013. NHTSA stated in its letter to Toyota, “Pictures provided by some complainants show the wheel adjacent to the failed component severely out of wheel alignment with respect to toe and camber.”

Number 9 of NHTSA’s requests from Toyota as part of the evaluation was to, “Describe all modifications or changes made by, or on behalf of, Toyota in the design, material composition, manufacture, quality control, supply, or installation of the subject component, from the start of the production to date, which may relate to the alleged defect in the subject vehicles.” NHTSA continued to request Toyota include, “A detailed description of the modification or change, whether the original unmodified component was withdrawn from production and/or sale, and if so, when, and also whether the modified component can be interchanged with earlier production models.”

NHTSA wanted to know if a safety related design change had taken place.

ToyotaTalk

In Toyota’s response to NHTSA’s information request, Mathew D. Collins, Manager, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing, North America, Inc. tells Mr. Jeffrey L. Quandt, NHTSA’s Chief of the Vehicle Control Division, Office of Defect Investigations, “Per our correspondence on August 1, 2012, it was agreed that Toyota will provide response to questions 1-6 only…”

Toyota never provides the answers  regarding safety related design changes made to the tube-style rear suspension arm no. 1 to NHTSA.

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THE ONGOING RUSTING MOUNTING HARDWARE PROBLEM

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Toyota’s Defect Information Report for the G0V safety recall states, “Toyota reviewed VOQs provided by the Agency, alleging arm separation, and identified that the cases primarily related to corrosion of the arm mounting bolts...” Toyota finally made the replacement of dangerous, rusting rear suspension arm mounting hardware mandatory under the G0V safety recall that included approximately 431,000 vehicles.

But, Toyota's criteria for the recall population of G0V was not those vehicles that did not have their mounting hardware replaced under prior recalls, but instead:

  1. Those vehicles that did not have both suspension arms replaced is prior recalls
  2. Vehicles never presented for the recall repair or vehicles that did not have the CSJ safety recall completed.

Many Rav4 owners that had safety recall CSJ completed did not receive new mounting hardware. Toyota did not call for the mandatory replacement of the potentially dangerous mounting hardware in the approximately 760,000 vehicles included in the CSJ rear suspension arm safety recall.

According to NHTSA’s 2017 4th Quarter Completion Report for the G0V safety recall, only about 123,000 of the 337,000 affected Rav4’s have had their dangerous potentially rusting mounting hardware replaced. When you consider including Toyota’s CSJ safety recall population in this completion report, as many did not receive new mounting hardware under safety recall CSJ, the numbers looks even graver.

TOYOTA’S CSJ AND GOV EPOXY REMEDY CREATES ANOTHER SAFETY DEFECT

Toyota’s Defect Information Report for the G0V safety recall states, “Toyota reviewed VOQs provided by the Agency, alleging arm separation, and identified that the cases primarily related to corrosion of the arm mounting bolts, corrosion of the turn buckle, and an inability of the customer to have a wheel alignment performed on the vehicle.”

Toyota’s statement should alarm all drivers whose vehicles can no longer have a rear wheel alignment performed as there may be dangerous repercussions.

Every Rav4 owner who received the CSJ and G0V safety recall “epoxy” remedy no longer has the ability to have a rear wheel alignment performed on the vehicle (without replacing both rear suspension arms a completing the epoxy “remedy” again).

ToyotaTalk

According to Toyo Tires, this situation is dangerous to drivers as rear wheel alignments are an important part of vehicle maintenance.

INCLUSION OF THE CAM-STYLE REAR SUSPENSION ARM IN SAFETY RECALL G0V

The cam-style rear suspension arm no. 1 installed on Rav4 vehicles manufactured after Toyota’s August 2010 parts change has a much different design than its tube-style predecessor. The cam-style rear suspension arm does not have a turn buckle or adjusting lock nuts mentioned in the Problem Description of the Recall Acknowledgement NHTSA sent back to Toyota.

Even though cam-style rear suspension arms do not have the components that Toyota cites as the cause of the safety defect, Toyota included a number of cam-style Rav4 vehicles in the GOV safety recall.

Toyota also included a small number of the cam-style rear suspension arms in the C0J and CSJ rear suspension arm safety recalls.

Even though Toyota included some cam-style rear suspension arms in these safety recalls, they’ve instructed dealers to never fully complete the safety recall remedies for the C0J, CSJ, and G0V on a cam-style rear suspension arm. The technical instructions for the C0J, CSJ, and G0V safety recalls only call for an “inspection” of the arm – no replacement of the arm and no  epoxy.

ToyotaTalk

The epoxy molds utilized in the CSJ and G0V safety recall “remedy” procedure were not designed to fit to the cam-style rear suspension arm as it does not have the turn buckle the epoxy mold was designed to fit. No cam-style Rav4 vehicle ever had anything more than an “inspection” performed.

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Do you believe Rav4 drivers with cam-style rear suspension arms were needlessly alarmed when they received Toyota’s recall letter in the mail? Leave a comment below.


THE DEFECTIVE, RUST PRONE TUBE-STYLE REAR SUSPENSION ARM

The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received seven reports of failure of the left or right rear suspension arm assembly No. 1 due to corrosion in MY 2006-2008 Toyota Rav4.

  • PE 12-013 Certified Letter from NHTSA’s Jeffrey Quandt to Toyota’s Vinnie Venugopal

The design of the tube-style rear suspension arm, with its turn-buckle and lock nuts, leaves it abnormally susceptible to rust. There are spaces and creases within the arm that water and moisture may enter, creating an environment where rust and corrosion thrive. Toyota states the epoxy is not only to “prevent future improper servicing”, but to also “seal the arm, preventing water from entering and causing the formation of rust.”

ToyotaTalk

The completion of Toyota’s epoxy procedure leads to customer having to pay up to $650 for a rear wheel alignment.

 

 

 

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