Toyota Recalls More Than 168,000 Vehicles for Potential Airbag Malfunction

Laguna Hills, CA – October 16, 2018 – Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota) is recalling certain 2018-2019 Toyota Tundra and Sequoia vehicles and 2019 Toyota Avalon and Avalon Hybrid vehicles. The air bag electronic control unit (ECU) may erroneously detect a fault during the vehicle start-up self-check. If this occurs, the ECU may not deploy the airbags as intended, in the event of a crash. The defect affects in excess of a potential 168,000 vehicles.

The Defect

According to the NHTSA Recall Safety Report, due to inappropriate programming in the subject vehicles, the Airbag (SRS) ECU may erroneously detect a fault in one or more of the front or side SRS satellite sensors during a self-check that occurs at each vehicle start up. This condition will cause the vehicle to set a specific trouble code, disable the affected sensor(s), sound a warning buzzer, activate multiple warning lights, and display a message on the combination meter display. If a fault is erroneously detected, the Airbag ECU may not appropriately identify the crash condition if a crash occurs, and the airbags may not deploy as intended, significantly increasing the chance of injury.

Toyota is unable to provide an estimate of the percentage of the vehicles to actually contain the noncompliance. Whether the condition will occur prior to first sale and constitute a noncompliance will differ depending on part variation and whether normal sensor variances will cause the inappropriate programming of the diagnostic function to set a specific trouble code in each case.

Timeline of Events

In early July 2018, Toyota received reports describing illumination of the SRS warning light, which was the result of one of a specific type of diagnostic trouble code (DTC) being set. The light was accompanied by a warning buzzer, master warning light illumination, and a message on the multi-information display. Toyota recovered replaced SRS satellite sensors and began an investigation.

In mid-July 2018, the supplier performed bench testing of the sensors alone, and did not identify a fault. Testing was then conducted with the sensors connected to the entire SRS system including the ECU and, in some cases, the same DTCs related to the airbag sensors were recreated.

In early August, a review of the Airbag ECU software identified that the parameters for this self-check were not correct for the type of satellite sensors used in the system, which could result in a failure of the self-check. Failure of the self-check could disable only the sensor which failed for that key cycle. Each ignition on cycle performs the self-check, and factors such as heat can affect whether the sensor will pass this check using the incorrect parameters.

A study was initiated to evaluate how the SRS system would function in the event of a crash with any of these satellite sensors disabled. Based on the results of the investigation, the results of the aforementioned analysis, and the field information from the U.S. market indicating that this phenomenon could occur prior to first sale, on September 28, 2018, Toyota decided that the subject vehicles may not meet certain requirements and issued a voluntary recall to correct the problem.

The Solution

All known owners of the subject vehicles will be notified by first class mail to return their vehicles to a Toyota dealer. The dealers will update the software of the Airbag ECU at no cost to owners. As the owner notification letters will be mailed out well within the active period of the Toyota New Vehicle Limited Warranty, all involved vehicle owners for this recall would have been provided a repair at no cost under Toyota’s Warranty. The recall is expected to begin October 22, 2018.

Owners may contact Toyota customer service at 1-888-270-9371. Toyota’s number for this recall is J0X. Owners may also call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153). The NHTSA Campaign Number for this recall is 18V-685.

Sean ReyesToyota Recalls More Than 168,000 Vehicles for Potential Airbag Malfunction