The rear suspension arms in the affected cars can rust prematurely, wearing out and eventually breaking from their mounting points. According to the Associated Press, the corrosion problem is caused by nuts that aren’t properly tightened after a wheel alignment. Without a suspension arm to properly orient each of the rear wheels, they have no inclination to travel in a straight line. Consequently, a car experiencing a rear suspension failure could skid or spin out of control.
Toyota does not have a solution for this problem, but it said it would notify owners when a fix is figured out. The company said it will notify owners by mail and, of course, will fix their cars for free. Until then, owners are being told to contact their dealers if they hear any unusual noises in the rears of their cars.
The recall includes RAV4s made in model years 2006 through 2011, as well as 2010 HS250h models. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened its own investigation June 4, looking into rear suspension defects in 2006 to 2008 RAV4s, totaling 460,000 vehicles. The NHTSA said that the rear suspension arm “may fail due to corrosion, potentially causing a loss of vehicle control.”
The agency said it had received seven complaints of rusty rear suspension arms on the affected models. One driver reported skidding across four lanes of traffic on an interstate when the rear suspension came apart. Toyota said it knew of nine crashes, and three minor injuries, due to these rear suspension failures.
The rear suspension recall and government investigation are the latest of many quality issues bedeviling Toyota’s compact SUV. In another ongoing investigation, the NHTSA is looking into the potential for power window switches to cause door fires.
Last year, 2007 and 2008 model year RAV4s were recalled for airbags that could go off without warning, which brings us back to 2010 and the infamous “unintended acceleration due to stuck floor mats” extravaganza. RAV4s built for model years 2009 and 2010 were part of the multi million vehicle recall over allegedly sticky gas pedals.