Toyota extends the warranty of the power cables for the 2019-2022 RAV4 hybrids to 8 years/160,000 km. This is a positive first step while we await the hearing for the class action request on May 1, for several models affected by the same corrosion problem.
Last December, Toyota North America informed its dealerships that it was extending the warranty on the high voltage cable that powers the rear electric motor of the 2019-2022 RAV4 hybrids. The warranty for the cable increases from 3 years/60,000 km to 8 years/160,000 km, whichever comes first, to cover premature corrosion of its connector. According to Toyota, approximately 417,000 vehicles are affected.
US vehicle owners started receiving letters in February 2023 under the customer support program 22TE09. If a Toyota internal document is to be believed, letters to Canadian RAV4 owners will follow. They will be sent in batches to avoid creating a rush for replacement cables, as supply is still limited. Reimbursement for repairs previously paid for by owners will also be covered.
The Automobile Protection Association (APA) was pleased to learn of this decision, which comes less than a year after a class action was filed against Toyota in Quebec. The lawsuit alleges that the manufacturer was aware of the power cable connector defect but did not disclose it to customers. It is widely believed that a sustained claim campaign by a group of RAV4 hybrid owners in Quebec contributed to this outcome.
Replacement cables are equipped with a modified connector, which now includes a significant moisture and debris drain opening.
Authorizing the Class Action Hearing
The hearing to authorize the class action against Toyota Canada in this matter is scheduled for May 1, 2023, at the Montreal courthouse. A complete list of vehicle models for which owners can sign up for this class action can be found at the bottom of the text.
The extended warranty program resolves many of the claims in the action request but overlooks other significant demands. Coverage is limited to the RAV4 hybrid, which accounts for the majority of current complaints. However, other Toyota and Lexus hybrids listed in the action request are not included in the warranty extension, even though they have similar connectors. As for the RAV4s, to qualify for a replacement, the cable must show “excessive” corrosion, a term that could lead to multiple interpretations.
The judge will have to decide whether to authorize the class action for models not included in the warranty extension or reject it based on representations by Toyota Canada.
There will also be other issues to resolve during the hearing, including a request for exemplary damages of $300, alleging that Toyota was aware of the defect but did not inform RAV4 owners, limiting communication to its dealerships.
Lack of a Prevention Program
In its letter to Toyota Canada, the APA requested an inspection program that would include improving the protection of the original part.
In Quebec, some independent garages are now ready to carry out this inspection (an example can be seen in this video from Antirouille VE Lévis). If the connector is not excessively corroded, grease is added at the contact points, and an anti-rust product or sealant is applied to the casing.
For a RAV4 that has exceeded the limits of the extended warranty or has just received the modified connector, this approach seems prudent.
Long-term Effectiveness of the New Cable Questioned
According to Sacha Leroux, co-owner of Arleco Generation III workshop in Anjou, specializing in electric vehicle repairs, the improved part offered by Toyota at the end of 2021 will not really eliminate the risk of corrosion.
The specialist examined a 2022 Sienna with the modified connector. “The vehicle will undoubtedly experience the same problem,” he says. “The connector plugs in the same position. The (new) drain will buy some time, but it’s certain to rust. The plastic traps moisture. The durability of the connector will depend on the climate and the roads traveled. It will be worse on dirt roads or for vehicles parked indoors in winter.”
Sacha Leroux estimates it will take about four Quebec winters before the modified connector begins to experience corrosion problems. In his opinion, Toyota must have calculated that it was cheaper, globally, to replace only the parts affected by corrosion than to implement an inspection program on all RAV4s and improve their protection. However, in Quebec and the maritime provinces, a prevention program would have benefited owners due to winter conditions favorable to corrosion.
The APA believes that Toyota should simply have included the power cable to the rear motor in its longer 8-year/160,000 km or 10-year/240,000 km warranty applicable to hybrid components on all targeted Toyota and Lexus models – past and future.
From a technical point of view, the definitive solution would probably be to relocate the connector inside the vehicle, under the trunk floor, as Toyota has done for the new Corolla Cross hybrid.
Vehicle Models Eligible for Class Action
- Corroded cable – RAV4-cable
Please note that this list will be updated as new information becomes available.