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2008 Toyota RAV4: known rear differential issue

I am writing as a follow up to an article published in the StarTribune in 2014 that I found among the many search results regarding a rear differential assembly issue on Toyota RAV4’s.

In February 2016 I was notified by Toyota of a known issue with the rear differential assembly on my Toyota 2008 RAV4, and that it was being covered by an extended warranty to “assure customer satisfaction” until April 30, 2017. (Warranty Enhancement Notification – ZF4). In December of 2016 I took the vehicle to the local Toyota dealer for unrelated service, and while there, asked them to also inspect for the rear differential issue so that, if necessary, it could be addressed prior to the extended warranty expiring. I was told that even though the part is known to have an unacceptable failure rate, there isn’t a way to inspect it to determine whether it was failing. I was told I had to just wait to see if it failed. Naturally, it did fail, 10 months after the extended warranty expiration date. Now I’m facing a costly repair for a part that is known by Toyota to not have an acceptable failure rate. If Toyota knows a part is not up to its reliability standards, but doesn’t want to do a recall, shouldn’t they repair all vehicle’s that it fails on if they truly want to “assure customer satisfaction”? I can understand not wanting to do a recall, after all, why replace the parts that don’t fail; but saying they will replace the defective part for owners that have theirs fail before a certain date, but for those of us that have it fail after that date it’s tough luck, is the exact opposite of assuring customer satisfaction. I contacted the Customer Experience Center as well as the executive offices at Toyota to discuss my concern, and requested that they at least cover a portion of the cost. I was told they “decline to offer assistance.” Nothing assures customer satisfaction quite like that. :blush: It feels like Toyota chose this extended warranty option, instead of a issuing recall, under the guise of doing something beneficial for their customers, when in reality they appear to be avoiding the cost of doing a recall on a faulty part. Maybe I’m just bitter. What are your thoughts regarding this practice by Toyota?

What is your goal with this request? To collect names off the internet to force Toyota into paying for your repair? Or to validate your complaint in your own mind?

This is a nearly 11 year old car. If average mileage, it should have 132,000 miles. Toyota has to put a time frame on the repair or people will expect free service on this part forever. The part’s design target was not “forever.”

That said, yes, I think Toyota should cover part of the cost but it doesn’t matter what I think. Your recourse is to claim you’d never buy a Toyota again. Which is, in itself, a disincentive to Toyota to pay for your fix. (Heck, she’s never buying one again, why should WE pay for it!) Your could sue Toyota for the repair. Lawyers cost money, you might lose. It may be less costly to just pay for the repair out of pocket. Sorry

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Sometimes stuff happens. You tried to get a reasonable accommodation, but Toyota wouldn’t go along. It seems like they could have done something - covered some of the expense or provided the next regular maintenance service or two free, you know, something.
Tough to say whether Toyota had a bad practice. Some car companies wouldn’t have even done the extended warranty thing. From a company’s standpoint, they can’t have forever warranties.
Sorry to ramble and not have a strong opinion either way, but I just don’t.

Thank you for your reply.

I did already pay for the $2000 repair out of pocket last week, since compromising safety or reliability during an upcoming road trip isn’t worth the risk by delaying the repair to further discuss this with Toyota. I wasn’t asking them to cover the entire repair, but some sharing in the cost would certainly have been appreciated.

I agree with everything you said, and I understand that whenever you buy something, whether it be a car, a computer, a boat, etc., there is always the chance of a part randomly failing, and things are not built to last forever. My biggest issue with this is that it wasn’t a normal “random” chance of failure, the part is failing at an unacceptable rate. Plus I asked for their help to determine if mine was failing prior to the warranty expiration, and was told there wasn’t way to inspect it. (Is that true?) The gentleman from the Toyota executive office asked me if I had a way to prove I asked for their help, but since the service advisor didn’t write on the work order for the recall work I was in for, that he had advised me they couldn’t inspect the rear differential, he said I had no proof, even though he can clearly see that I came in for every recall in a timely manner, and was there for service on the day I noted on the warranty notice that I had asked about the differential (which fell between the date of the warranty notice and the warranty expiration) how likely is it that I wouldn’t have asked about this issue?

You asked what my goal is with this request, and although some help from Toyota to cover the cost would certainly have been nice, at this point a public “shame on you” Toyota is about all I am hoping for.

Best regards,