Toyota Motor Corp has alerted NHTSA about seat material in several of its vehicles that fail to meet fire retardation standards. This could result in a recall, depending on what the safety agency decides. It was reported that the Japanese automaker has stopped selling several models in North America equipped with seat heaters made since August 2012. This came after the company was alerted by South Korean safety officials that material in the part did not meet fire retardation standards also used in the United States. The cars are built in United States and some are exported to Korea.
According to a Toyota spokesman, John Hanson, the company initially informed NHTSA about the issue. Then an official report was made on Jan. 30, outlining the non-compliance with the standard. Hanson added that Toyota does not believe that a recall is necessary. He had this to say:
We don’t believe that it is a defect issue or a safety-related issue because there has been no occurrence of any problems out in the real world.
There have been no reports of accidents, fires or injuries related to the issue in the affected vehicles in the United States, Canada or Mexico, according to Toyota. NHTSA will make the final determination on whether a recall is needed. Toyota says it doesn’t know how many cars are affected by this issue. Reportedly, Toyota dealers have been told to stop selling any of the affected vehicles until the part can be replaced. The automaker says it will handle requests by individual owners to replace the part at no cost on a case-by-case basis.
Affected vehicles that are affected include the Camry sedan, Camry hybrid, Avalon sedan, Avalon hybrid, Corolla subcompact, Sienna minivan and Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks equipped with seat heaters that were sold since August 2012, when the fabric supplier was changed. Toyota says it found out about the issue when it was notified that the seat heater did not pass a test conducted by the Korean Automotive Test and Research Institute (KATRI), which uses the same standard as NHTSA. The Korean agency found that the material in the seat heater does not meet standards that require it to retard a flame across the material surface at a specified rate. KATRI notified Toyota of the failed compliance.
Sources: Claims Journal and Associated Press
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