Archive for January, 2010

Technical Service Bulletins Not Paid for Under Lemon Law

Technical Service Bulletins are recommendations issued by vehicle manufacturers to the mechanics who work on them. They indicate the common causes of problems that might be reported for certain vehicles. It’s easy for consumers to become confused between Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) and Recalls, as both involve written communication about vehicle repair issues, but recalls are specific to vehicle problems associated with safety, as determined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Vehicle recalls are repaired at no cost to the vehicle owner under lemon law statutes, while owners are usually required to pay for repairs that are described by a Technical Service Bulletin unless its covered under warranty.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) posts information about service bulletins, safety recalls, and defect investigations on their website, www.nhtsa.gov, including a way to search for bulletins or recalls by make and model. The site also reports crash and rollover ratings, child car seat rating and recalls, current legislation under consideration, and studies related to vehicle and driver safety.

“It’s good for consumers to develop awareness about the service issues relating to their specific vehicles, and to be proactive in learning about safety recalls for their make and model,” says Pennsylvania Lemon Law attorney David Gorberg. “Awareness and prevention on the part of the consumer can mean the difference between identifying a potentially disruptive or even dangerous issue with your vehicle before it becomes a problem and finding out after an accident or loss of vehicle use.”

Toyota Issues 2nd Major Recall in Compliance with Lemon Law

In a second, major recall event, Toyota announced its voluntary safety recall to address sticking accelerator pedals. This recall affects over 2 million vehicles of the following models: 2009-2010 RAV4, 2009-2010 Corolla, 2009-2010 Matrix, 2005-2010 Avalon, 2007-2010 Camry, 2010 Highlander, 2007-2010 Tundra, and 2008-2010 Sequoia. Owners of these vehicles can expect notifications explaining how to contact their dealer for recall servicing.

The issue of sticking accelerator pedals has been under investigation and a matter of concern since reports of sticking accelerator pedals have been linked to high-speed crashes and fatalities.

‘In recent months, Toyota has investigated isolated reports of sticking accelerator pedal mechanisms in certain vehicles without the presence of floor mats,” said TMS Group Vice President Irv Miller. “Our investigation indicates that there is a possibility that certain accelerator pedal mechanisms may, in rare instances, mechanically stick in a partially depressed position or return slowly to the idle position. Consistent with our commitment to the safety of our cars and our customers, we have initiated this voluntary recall action.’

Toyota reports that the rare condition is attributed to worn pedal mechanisms that can cause the pedal to be slow to return to its normal position or even stuck in a partially depressed position.

Toyota advises owners who experience problems with a sticking accelerator pedal to apply firm, steady pressure without any pumping of the brakes and to park in the nearest safe location, turn the engine off, and contact a Toyota dealer for assistance. The investigation into unintended acceleration is ongoing to identify any other common causes that might be associated with the issue.

Owners who have experienced injury or the loss of use of their vehicle from a sticking accelerator pedal should contact a lemon law professional in their state to see what remedies are available.

“Anyone who has experienced injury or loss of vehicle use due to a sticking accelerator pedal vehicles safety defect should contact a qualified attorney who is experienced handling lemon law cases.” recommends lemon law attorney David Gorberg. “Lemon laws can vary greatly from state to state. New Jersey lemon law stipulates that just a single incident can qualify a vehicle as a lemon when it involves a potential serious safety issue. Other state laws, like Pennsylvania lemon law, may allow a dealer up to 3 attempts to repair the problem before a vehicle is designated a lemon.”

New National System to Satisfy 17 Year Old Vehicle Lemon Law

As the New Year was ringing in a new decade, a new federal system to track vehicle titles for stolen and badly damaged vehicles finally emerged – 17 years after the initial lemon laws calling for its implementation were passed. Use of the new National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, http://www.nmvtis.gov, allows all states, junkyards, and insurance companies to identify stolen vehicles and those damaged severely enough to be considered an insurance write off. Many consumers believe that any vehicle considered “totaled” in an accident is simply scraped for parts. The reality is that of the 2.5 million vehicles written off each year, nearly 1.5 million are repaired and put back on the road, according to the data from a 2001 Department of Justice study.

The national system may prevent the transfer of damaged vehicles to new states to wipe out a salvaged title, since registration in a new state wipes the title history clean. An estimated $4 billion to $11 billion is lost from such fraud annually. The required use of the new national system would make it much easier for potential buyers to trace a vehicle’s full history.

Most states, including New Jersey and Philadelphia, are participating in the program. Four states, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, and the District of Columbia are not yet committed to participation, pointing to private services such as CarFax that satisfy this need. The president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety maintain that the new system includes more information than the private services. For example, vehicles written off by insurance companies are not always marked as ‘salvage’. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System tracks all vehicles that are written off for damage, not just those with ‘salvage’ on the title.

“The new national system of tracking damaged vehicles across state lines is critical for informing consumers and protecting their safety and investment,” says lemon law attorney David Gorberg. “In addition to the recent improvements in New Jersey lemon law, and the existing Pennsylvania lemon law, participation by these states in the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System protects consumers from unknowingly purchasing a badly damaged vehicle.”

The Lemon Law Attorneys at David J. Gorberg & Associates have arbitrated, settled and litigated thousands of lemon law claims throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, recovering millions of dollars for their clients. More information at www.mylemon.com or by calling 1-800-MyLemon.

Toyota Details Plan to Comply with Lemon Law Requirements to Fix Acceleration Defect

Pittsburgh, PA – 04 January 2010
Toyota has announced the list of vehicles involved in its largest recall ever recall for a safety defect causing unexpected acceleration attributed to floor mat jamming. The recall affects the 2007 to 2010 MY (model year) Camry, 2005 to 2010 MY Avalon, 2004 to 2009 MY Prius, 2005 to 2010 MY Tacoma, 2007 to 2010 MY Tundra, 2007 to 2010 MY ES350, 2006 to 2010 MY IS250, and 2006 to 2010 MY IS 350.

In their announcement, Toyota describes the proposed remedies as follows:
1. The shape of the accelerator pedal will be reconfigured to address the risk of floor mat entrapment, even when an older-design all-weather floor mat or other inappropriate floor mat is improperly attached, or is placed on top of another floor mat. For the ES350, Camry, and Avalon models involved, the shape of the floor surface underneath will also be reconfigured to increase the space between the accelerator pedal and the floor.

2. Vehicles with any genuine Toyota or Lexus accessory all-weather floor mat will be provided with newly-designed replacement driver- and front passenger-side all-weather floor mats.

An additional change includes the installation of a braking system that will cut power to the engine and override the acceleration if the accelerator and brake are pressed simultaneously in the Camry, Avalon and Lexus ES 350, IS350, and IS 250.

As required by the consumer lemon laws, Toyota will remedy the problem and begin sending out safety notifications and recall instructions to vehicle owners and dealerships. The first of these mailings commenced on October 30. Dealerships will receive the required training and be ready to modify existing brake pedals in early 2010. As new pedals are manufactured with a modified shape, owners will have the option of getting new pedals installed in their vehicles. The braking override will become standard equipment throughout all Toyota product lines starting in January 2010.

“Toyota needs to take swift action to address these serious safety defects,” says lemon law attorney David Gorberg. “Everyone is put at risk with any delay in taking the appropriate steps to remedy problems relating to the steering or braking of a vehicle.”

Owners with questions about the recall are asked to visit www.toyota.com or www.lexus.com or contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331 or Lexus Customer Assistance at 1-800-255-3987.

“Vehicle owners are entitled to have these issues fixed by the manufacturer under the lemon law. Toyota is wise to do so in the interest of customer safety and loyalty. Any owners of the vehicles on Toyota’s recall list should schedule repairs at their earliest convenience to prevent any potential injuries, ” recommends Gorberg.

For owners of vehicles who have already suffered an accident or a loss of use of their vehicle due to a safety defect, recourse may be available under state lemon law guidelines.

The Lemon Law Attorneys at David J. Gorberg & Associates have arbitrated, settled and litigated thousands of lemon law claims throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, recovering millions of dollars for their clients. More information at www.mylemon.com or by calling 1-800-MyLemon.