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Loose suspension prompts Toyota action

Just a check: Australian Toyota RAV4 owners won’t get the full safety recall treatment, just a service check.

Toyota stops short of safety recall after eight cases of loose suspension on RAV4

2 Aug 2012

TOYOTA Australia is preparing to write to more than 66,000 RAV4 owners asking them to take their vehicle to a dealer to have the rear suspension checked after eight reported local cases of loose suspension arms, including two in which the arms have completely separated.

However, the company has decided against following Toyota’s move in the United States where a full safety recall has been initiated to resolve the issue, saying it warrants only a preventative “customer service exercise” in Australia.

In the US, Toyota is recalling 778,000 RAV4s – including 18,000 units of its Lexus variant, the HS250h – after discovering that rear suspension nuts not tightened according to proper procedure could work loose, causing excessive play in the assembly, followed by rusting that could exacerbate the problem.

“If this were to occur, the threaded portion of the rear suspension arm may wear and cause the arm to separate,” the US Toyota recall notice said.

In North America, Toyota’s safety reputation has taken a battering over the past few years with multiple recalls for a variety of issues, including loose floor mats and unintended acceleration claims.

Toyota Australia media and external affairs manager Beck Angel said that, while some instances of the rear suspension condition had been noted in Australia, it was less of a problem here because Toyota vehicles were not routinely given a pre-delivery rear-wheel alignment by dealer mechanics as they were in the US.

“As the reported condition is not related to a design or manufacturing defect, Toyota has initiated a preventative measure customer service exercise in Japan, Europe, China, Oceania (including Australia) and other regions,” she said.

“Due to the common practice of rear-wheel alignment adjustments being conducted on vehicles delivered in North America, the likelihood of improperly torqued rear-wheel alignment adjusting nuts is significantly higher.

“Subsequently, a recall has been introduced into North America.”

Ms Angel said Toyota has decided to make the recall in the US “because we are seeing a growing number of these errors in North America”.

“The incidence of adjusting rear wheel alignment in Australia is quite low and, based on the reported cases, we have an extremely low incidence of this condition,” she said.

Ms Angel said Toyota had recorded six cases of “excessive noise” in the rear suspension – due to loose suspension arms – and two cases in which the suspension arms had separated.

In Australia, the 66,377 owners of RAV4s delivered between October 2005 and November 2010 will receive a letter from Toyota asking them to make an appointment to have their vehicle inspected next month.

As well, dealerships will be alerted to the problem and asked to check the suspension nuts during any service procedure.

Last month, Toyota Australia recalled 19,000 HiAce vans due to exhaust gas leaks and seeping diesel fuel.

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