Every time I am slowing down and ride over a bump or hole, my SUV’s brakes and steering are completely gone for about 3-4 seconds. There is absolutely no steering and the brake pedal locks and I continue at the same momentum forward without a decrease. This has happened 3-4 times and the last incidence I ended up on a curb. I took it to the dealer and they say there nothing they can do because it is the ABS in this model is very sensitive. I’m afraid I’ll hit a pedestrian or rear end a vehicle. Is this normal? What should I do? Is there any other agency I should contact?
This is a significant safety defect and because of that, you must go beyond the dealership. I strongly suggest that you send a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), detailing your experiences and stating that you consider this to be a serious safety defect.
Via Certified Mail–Return Receipt–send a copy of your NHTSA letter to the Customer Care Office of Toyota (the info is in your Owner’s Manual), along with a cover letter explaining that you have tried, in vain, to have the dealership resolve the issue. Be sure to include contact information, and I can assure you that Toyota of America will contact you.
As the old saying goes, “Law Suit is such an ugly term”, and Toyota is very law suit averse. You don’t need to threaten suit. They will figure out that you are of that inclination by simply sending them a copy of your NHTSA letter via certifed mail. If you have an attorney, you might also want to “cc” him or her, and to note this “cc” on your letters.
Also–begin researching the terms of the “Lemon Law” for your state. You can probably qualify for a settlement under the terms of that law if you are aware of the terms and if you follow-through on what you need to do in order to qualify.
Good Luck. Don’t stop pushing until they fix this problem or until they give you a new vehicle under the terms of the Lemon Law for your state.
“say there nothing they can do because it is the ABS in this model is…”
I don’t see how the ABS could be causing this. The ABS failure mode is to do cause the ABS to go off line, but not the standard brakes. I don’t seen the connection between the ABS and the power steering.
I would be looking at the vacuum system and the accessory belt. Maybe a bad engine mount.
In any case you have a real safety issue and I would want to get everything in writing that they are saying, give a copy to your next of kin, and look at the lemon law for your state. //www.jdpower.com/cc/auto/bbb/lemon_law.jsp
Thank you. I had actually called NHTSA first and they took my information and suggested I call The Customer Care Service of Toyota who in turn referred me to my dealer. I did write a letter to customer Care but this time I will do as you suggested.
I will research the Lemon Law in Maryland but I thought it only applied to used vehicles.
Thank You. I will check it out.
Unless Maryland is VERY different from the rest of the country, Lemon Laws DO NOT apply to used vehicles and only apply to new vehicles of less than X miles (the number of miles varies by state).
I know that I got a copy of the Lemon Law for all 50 states in the glove compartment of my car when I bought it in December '01. Unless the current consumer UNfriendly administration in Washington has quashed that type of information, you just might find it in one of the booklets in your glove compartment also. Of course, if you bought the car from a really sleazy dealership, they might have removed that information!
Incidentally, if you can get a settlement under Maryland’s Lemon Law, you might want to consider a different model Toyota. The FJ, which is superb for off-road conditions, is just not very good on paved roads in terms of ride and handling, and–as you probably found out–the visibility is really bad. If I were you, I would consider either a Highlander or a Rav-4, as both of those were designed for driving on paved roads–unlike the FJ.