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Just quietly, some Toyota dashboards get free fix

Meltdown: Shiny plastic dashboards on some Toyota and Lexus models have apparently melted due to heat and humidity.

Disgruntled Toyota owners being offered free replacement after Facebook campaign

Toyota logo2 Jul 2015

AT LEAST some Australian Toyota customers who have been waging a campaign to get the Japanese company and its dealers to replace melting dashboards on their cars for free appear to have had a breakthrough, albeit on the quiet.

Several frustrated owners say they have now been offered free replacement of the offending dashboards that they say are not only unsightly but represent a safety hazard due to sun glare and fumes in the cabin.

More than 100 owners of cars suffering the soft, tacky and shiny dashboards – apparently caused by heat and humidity – formed a Facebook group to share their grievances after being rebuffed by Toyota for a free repair.

Toyota and its dealers argued the vehicles, including Australian-made Camrys and Aurions, as well as some imports such as Lexus ISs – did not qualify for a free repair because they were out of warranty.

The owners pointed out that Toyota’s United States branch had taken responsibility for the fault and was offering an extended warranty to cover the dashboard replacement on certain vehicles dating from 2003.

Some Australian owners were offered a goodwill gesture of a replacement dashboard as long as they paid the labour costs, which amounted to several hundred dollars.

But some of the owners dug in, telling both Toyota and the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) that the company should foot the bill for the problem.

At least some of the owners now report that they have been individually advised by their dealers that their cars will be repaired free of charge.

However, the onus appears to be on the owners to prove the fault was caused by heat and humidity and not some other cause.

Asked if Toyota had changed its position on the matter, Toyota Australia media and external affairs manager Beck Angel released a statement to GoAuto: “We continuously monitor the performance of our products in the Australian market.

“Investigations have identified a wide range of contributory factors, especially if they have been subjected to conditions of high temperatures and humidity.

“In the interests of continued customer satisfaction, Toyota will provide considerable product support beyond any manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty if the components are confirmed as being affected by heat and humidity.”

The company has stopped short of a safety recall, even though the owners claim the sun glare reflected from the damaged dashboards on to the windscreen on sunny days represents a safety hazard.

According to class-action lawyers acting for US owners, Toyota is sending letters to customers of affected cars offering to replace the dashboards under a “warranty enhancement program”.

Toyota owners who had already paid to have the dashboard repair done will be reimbursed $US1600 ($A2048) for out-of-pocket expenses.

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