Owners Still Waiting on Replacements for Melting Dashboards - NBC 6 South Florida
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Owners Still Waiting on Replacements for Melting Dashboards

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A second carmaker is now promising to replace the dashboards of cars that are melting under the hot Florida sun. NBC 6's Dan Krauth investigates. (Published Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016)

    A second carmaker is now promising to replace the dashboards of cars that are melting under the hot Florida sun. Mazda is following Toyota’s lead after deciding to extend the warranty to fix the dashboards of hundreds Mazda 3 and Mazda 6 models. The production dates range from 2008 through 2012.

    Drivers like Johnny Sotolongo noticed the dashboard of his Mazda 3 started to melt back in 2013. The dashboard is shiny and when he touches the surface, pieces of the dashboard stick to him and leave a black mark on his fingers.

    “When it’s a bright sunny day, the glare is really bad especially if the sun is right above you,” said Sotolongo.

    This month, Sotolongo received a letter in the mail at his Fort Lauderdale home notifying him about the warranty extension.

    “This should’ve been done a long time ago,” said Sotolongo.

    However, the replacement won’t happen right away. According to the letter, Mazda has “limited” parts to replace the melting dashboards. The company is currently working to produce more replacement dashboards. See below for more specifics on covered Mazda vehicles.

    Melting Dashboards in Toyota/Lexus Vehicles

    A lack of parts is also the reason many Toyota drivers have been waiting for replacement dashboards for more than a year.

    After a series of NBC 6 Investigations uncovering the problem, Toyota announced early last year it was extending its warranty to replace the sticky dashboards and side panels of cars and SUVs. There are up to 4. 5 million vehicles affected. See the list below for Toyota and Lexus vehicles impacted.

    However, many Toyota drivers are still waiting to get their dashboards replaced.

    “It’s frustrating,” said Lexus owner Paige Bailey.

    Miami attorney Juan Bauta represents more than 400 car owners in the Miami area alone with melting Toyota dashboards and only a few have gotten them fixed.

    “I’m thinking they’re going to run out the clock on everybody,” said Bauta. “Sooner or later people get frustrated and say ‘I’m tired of waiting for Lexus, let me just sell the car’,” he said.

    As drivers wait, they’re left dealing with the shiny sight that they call a dangerous distraction.

    “It looks slimy and sticky and so when you’re driving in the sun, it creates a glare on your dashboard,” said Daniela Perez. She owns a Lexus IS 250 that’s included in the warranty extension.

    Toyota’s Response

    Toyota told the NBC 6 Investigators the slowdown is due to a lack of parts. Some of the dashboards that have to get replaced date back to 2003.

    Toyota would not address the drivers’ safety concerns on camera because of the lawsuit that was filed. Instead, they sent the NBC 6 Investigators a statement. It reads:

    “Toyota, Lexus and its independent dealers are committed to customer satisfaction and to helping ensure that repairs taking place through our dashboard warranty enhancement program occur in as timely and efficient a manner as possible. As we have explained to customers, while we have been diligently preparing replacement parts since before the announcement of the program, given the number of vehicles and the range of ages, colors, and sizes of the parts covered under program, the supply for certain design configurations varies by model. Parts replacement is proceeding in several phases, based on model, and we are continuing to increase production levels and provide dealers with replacement parts based upon supply and actual customer demand. Any customers with questions or concerns can contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331 or the Lexus Customer Assistance Center directly at 1-800-255-3987”

    However, the drivers the NBC 6 Investigators spoke with said nothing has been explained to them.

    “I still get the same run around that the parts are on order,” said Bailey. She says she’d been told the dashboard would be repaired last summer.

    The three drivers we talked to all said they hold out hope that their dashboards will be repaired soon.

    There have been more than 300 complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about sticky, shiny, cracked dashboards in multiple car makes and models since 2012. Most complaints have come from warm weather states primarily Florida, Texas and California. NHTSA tracks complaints and can force recalls on products based on consumer complaints. Complaints for NHTSA can be filed at safercar.gov.

    Vehicles Affected:
    Toyota:

    4Runner - 2003-2005
    Avalon - 2005-2010
    Camry/HV - 2007-2011
    Sienna - 2004-2010
    Solara - 2004-2008

    Lexus:
    ES 350 - 2007-2008
    GX 470 - 2003-2008
    IS 250/350 - 2006-2008
    LS 460 - 2007
    RX 330 - 2004-2006
    RX 350 - 2007-2009
    RX 400h - 2005-2008

    Mazda:
    Mazda 3 -  2010 (produced from October 7, 2008 – April 28, 2010)
    Mazda 6 - 2009-2013 (produced from February 4, 2008-August, 24, 2012)

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