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1.4 Million Toyota Vehicles Now Included in NHTSAs Expanded Probe into Whether Power-Window Switches Are Causing Car Fires

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expanding its look into whether power window switches in certain Toyota vehicles can cause fires. Its upgrade of its preliminary probe to an engineering analysis, which could become an official auto recall, now involves 1.47 million Toyota 2007 to 2009 vehicles. The initial investigation, which was started in February, had included over 800,000 2007 RAV4s and Camrys.
Involved in the current expanded probe are the Camry (’07-’09), Camry Hybrid (’07-’09), Highlander Hybrid (’08), Yaris (’07-’09), and RAV4 (’07-’09). The autos were manufactured between September 2006 and August 2008. They all use the same power window switch in the driver’s side window. According to the NHTSA, the switches may overheat, which can result in a car fire. Already, the government and Toyota have received 161 complaints of such fires, including reports of nine injuries. The automaker also received 49 warranty claims connected to fires involving the vehicles under examination.
If you or someone you love was injured in a car fire that you believe was caused by an auto defect, you should contact our auto products liability law firm immediately.
It goes without saying that car fires can be very dangerous. Not only are vehicle occupants at risk of sustaining serious burn injuries from a car fire–but should the fire spread or cause the vehicle to explode, others are also exposed to the dangers and devastating injuries that can result.
A car fire can occur for many reasons, including numerous types of defects, such as a faulty gas tank design, a malfunctioning electrical system, defective ignition system, air bag defects, a faulty exhaust system, and, as mentioned above, possibly even faulty power window switches. Automakers can be held liable for auto products liability, and at The Gilbert Law Group, our auto defects attorneys are not afraid to pursue financial recovery from even the car manufacturing giants on behalf of our clients.
A few days ago, the NHTSA said that it was also was upgrading its preliminary probe into a possible connection between car fires and the driver side doors of General Motors’ Chevrolet Trailblazer sport utility vehicles (’06 and ’07 models) into an engineering analysis. While the initial probe involved over 309,000 vehicles, the upgraded analysis is looking at 341,786 vehicles. GM no longer constructs any of the vehicles that may be affected. However, it is conducting its own investigation into the safety allegations and looking at other vehicles from those same model years of the Buick Rainier, the GMC Envoy, the Isuzu Ascender, and the Saab 9-7x, which were constructed using the same platform as the other autos.
No injuries or crashes have been reported in connection with this potential safety issue. However, NHTSA has received 83 related complaints, including 66 contending that the door module had burned or melted. The remaining complaints talked about faulty window switches. 28 of the reports were over door fires, some of which may have allegedly occurred while an auto was not in operation or left unattended.
Regulators Widen Toyota Fire Probe, The Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2012
NHTSA deepens probe of Chevy SUV door fires, Reuters, June 15, 2012
U.S. expands fire probe to 1.4 million Toyota vehicles, Reuters, June 18, 2012
Fires Prompt Intensified Investigations of 1.4 Million Toyotas and 342,000 Chevy TrailBlazers, The New York Times, June 18, 2012

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