Toyota is urgently advising the owners of 50,000 older vehicles to cease driving their cars immediately and have their airbags repaired. The voluntary recall, issued on Thursday, emphasizes that these vehicles should not be driven until the faulty airbags have been addressed through repair or replacement.
The affected models under the recall notice include the 2003-2004 Corolla, 2003-2004 Corolla Matrix, and 2004-2005 RAV4. Toyota is specifically urging owners not to operate these vehicles due to the increased risk associated with the age of the airbags.
The concern lies in the potential for a component inside the airbags to explode, projecting sharp metal fragments that could result in severe injuries or fatalities.
“Owners SHOULD NOT DRIVE these vehicles until the FREE safety recall repair has been conducted,” Toyota emphasized in the official statement.
To address this issue, Toyota recommends that owners refrain from driving the affected vehicles to seek repairs. Instead, the automaker suggests contacting the local dealer, which can facilitate various alternatives, such as arranging a mobile repair at the vehicle’s location or arranging for the car to be towed to the dealership.
The recalled RAV4s are equipped with Takata driver’s airbags, while the Corolla and Matrix models have them on the passenger side. The Corolla and Matrix are also subject to a separate recall due to the risk of their airbags deploying without a crash.
This voluntary recall comes roughly one month after Toyota recalled approximately 1 million cars in the U.S., citing concerns that the front passenger airbags might not deploy correctly during a crash, posing an additional safety risk for passengers.
The Takata airbags, used in the recalled RAV4s, have been associated with safety issues as their chemical propellant, ammonium nitrate, can deteriorate over time when exposed to high temperatures and humidity.
This degradation can lead to an explosion with excessive force, causing the airbag’s metal canister to rupture and release shrapnel.
Takata’s faulty airbags have been linked to at least 26 deaths in the U.S. since May 2009 and 30 deaths worldwide, including incidents in Malaysia and Australia. Takata filed for bankruptcy due to the repercussions of its exploding airbags.
Toyota has assured affected owners that the airbag repairs or replacements will be conducted free of charge. Vehicle owners can check if their vehicles are part of the recall by entering their VIN or license number at Toyota.com/recall or nhtsa.gov/recalls.
Alternatively, they can contact Toyota customer support at the Toyota Brand Engagement Center by calling 1-800-331-4331.