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| Chaffin Luhana LLP

After reaching a $1.2 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, Toyota has been hit with another class action lawsuit.

The company had just put to rest the probe into its alleged mishandling of the sudden acceleration issues in its cars, when at the beginning of April 2014, it was named in a class action lawsuit filed in California federal court. According to, an automotive complaint resource, the complaint was filed on behalf of consumers in five states: California, Washington, Florida, New York, and New Jersey. This time, sudden acceleration wasn’t the problem. Plaintiffs allege that the vehicles have an engine defect that results in faster-than-normal oil consumption.

Engines Running Low on Oil

The new design defect allegedly affects the four-cylinder engine in many of Toyota’s vehicles. According to court documents, plaintiffs say that when they take their vehicles in for an oil change, they’re told the oil in the engine is nearly gone, having been consumed at an unusually high rate.

When an engine runs without oil, the result can be engine overheating, smoking, and eventual engine failure, which could increase risk of accidents and injuries. The NHTSA has received several reports of problems related to this issue, but so far, Toyota has not notified consumers. Worse, the problem usually begins to get worse after the vehicle warranty has expired, leaving drivers stuck with the repair costs.

The company has allegedly been aware of the issue since 2008, but has done little to warn consumers. Plaintiffs believe the vehicles should have been recalled to fix the defect or that at the very least, that the company should have offered to repair it for free, or to reimburse customers who had to repair it themselves.

Vehicles Affected by the Defect

Those vehicles affected by the alleged defect include 2007-2009 models of the Camry and Scion tC, 2007-2011 models of the Camry Hybrid, 2009 models of the Corolla and Matrix, 2006-2008 models of the RAV4, 2007-2008 models of the Solara, and 2008-2009 models of the Scion xB.

As early as 2007, car owners were reporting engines deprived of oil long before the 3,000-mile change schedule was up, with some suffering damage bad enough to require the installation of new engines.

Toyota Ordered to Allow Independent Monitoring of Safety

As part of the settlement with the U.S. Government, Toyota was ordered to pay a series of fines to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for being “slow to report safety problems.” It was also ordered to allow independent monitoring of its safety practices, and to report any defects to regulators within five days, if the defects are determined to affect safety.

Between 2007 and 2011, the company faced repeated bad publicity when drivers reported accidents resulting from the vehicles sudden and unusual acceleration. Toyota denied a problem with the acceleration system, and blamed drivers, trapped floor mats, and stuck accelerators for years before finally recalling the affected vehicles in 2012.


  1. Gravatar for Charlene Blake
    Charlene Blake

    You are no doubt aware of the previous issue Toyota had with engine oil sludge in millions of its vehicles. This condition resulted in engine seizing at very low mileage in the presence of properly maintained vehicles. Toyota stonewalled customers for years. Finally, after outcry from angry Toyota owners, Toyota issued one of its "voluntary programs." Toyota owners went to the internet again because Toyota was not honoring its self-lauded, generous program.

    Successful class action lawsuits resulted. Even then, Toyota stonewalled customers behind the scene and found reasons to disqualify Toyota owners. Fast forward to NOW...a new major Toyota vehicle excessive oil consumption class action lawsuit is brewing. Toyota dealerships are telling some Toyota owners that this is due to engine oil sludge. Indeed, it was a symptom so one can deduce that the issue of engine oil sludge in Toyotas was essentially ignored.

  2. Gravatar for Last Chance Garage
    Last Chance Garage

    The worst part of this issue is...Toyota knew about this defect in 2007.....and continued to sell cars with this defective engine. Did Toyota tell new buyers that they will have to add 5 quarts of oil between oil changes once their vehicles are out of warranty? Shame on Toyota.

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