The frame of the Toyota 4Runner is the vehicle’s main support structure, to which all other pieces are attached. In an accident, it’s a primary protection against injury. But the complaint for this class action claims that Toyota did not adequately treat 4Runner frames during manufacturing for model years 2005 to 2011, so that they are excessively susceptible to rust.
The class for this action is all persons, entities, or organizations who, at any time as of the entry of the Preliminary Approval Order in this case, own or owned 2005 to 2011 Toyota 4Runners distributed for purchase or lease in the US, including in Puerto Rico and all US territories and possessions.
The 4Runner is not the only Toyota vehicle that is alleged to have this rust problem. Certain model years of Tacomas, Tundras, and Sequoias are also said to have the same problem. A class action about those vehicles reached a settlement in 2017.
The complaint claims that rust is a serious matter in a vehicle frame. The rust on the 4Runners “compromises the vehicles’ safety, stability, and crashworthiness…” It quotes an article in Popular Mechanics as saying, “A rusted-through frame means the structural and crash integrity of the car is questionable…” and another on AutoGuide.com as saying that “excessive rust often signals the impending death of a vehicle. Its useful life [is] essentially over…” If it’s bad enough, parts can snap off or crack.
The complaint alleges that Toyota knew about the rust problem but did not tell consumers. Toyota initiated Limited Service Campaigns to deal with the rust in Tacomas, Tundras, and Sequoias, but it has not done anything about the same problem with 4Runners. According to the complaint, Toyota claimed that rust problems with the 4Runner were due to large amounts of salt used on the roads in colder climates.
The complaint says this is not true and that corrosion and metal perforation have been found in 4Runners throughout the country. Gary Weinreich, the plaintiff for this class action, bought his 4Runner in South Carolina and drives it there. A mechanic allegedly found excessive amounts of rust on the undercarriage and drive shaft when the vehicle was only six years old. He contacted Toyota, but they offered no help.
In May 2018, Weinreich was driving at highway speed when the wheel began vibrating violently, which made him lose control of the car and go off the road. Later, a technician told him that his right front control arm had broken away from the frame because of severe corrosion and rust. The person said the vehicle was not repairable and inoperable. The complaint says that this was the first time that anyone had told Weinreich that the rust could be a safety issue.
Among other things, the complaint claims that Toyota has breached its warranties and committed negligent misrepresentation.