Melting Dashboards to Be Fixed After NBC 6 Report

Toyota, the world's largest automaker, is announcing a big change after a series of NBC 6 Investigations into sticky dashboards. (Published Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015)

The world’s largest automaker is announcing a big change after a series of NBC 6 Investigations into sticky dashboards.

Some parts of luxury car interiors are literally melting away in the hot Florida sun, especially dashboards and side panels.

“What happened in this case is the one two punch of good investigative reporting and good lawyering,” said Miami attorney Juan Bauta, who is suing Toyota.

Toyota now says it is extending its warranty to 10 years so that owners of Toyota and Lexus vehicles can get their dashboards fixed.

It’s a problem the NBC 6 Investigators uncovered last year.

Audrey Wallace of Pembroke Pines started to notice the dashboard of her Toyota Camry melting and sticking to her hand last year.

"You can see all of these black pieces on the dashboard, those are pieces of the dashboard melting,” said Wallace.

And she’s not alone, NBC 6 Investigators heard similar complaints from drivers across South Florida.

It’s not just a cosmetic problem, it’s a safety concern. Drivers said the sticky dashboard reflects light, sometimes making it difficult to see.

"It's going to get worse, it has gotten worse since I first noticed it and it keeps melting more and more," said Wallace.

Back in 2011, Toyota issued a service bulletin telling dealerships to fix the problem if the car is under the 48-month, 50,000-mile warranty.

"If I want it replaced, it’ll cost me $1,200!” said Wallace.

That’s not the case anymore. The company just announced the warranty extension, which means it will replace the dashboards in more than 4.5 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

"Now they’re saying yes, there’s a problem and yes, we’re going to fix it,” said Bauta. Bauta represents more than 300 drivers with sticky dashboards. He filed a lawsuit against the company back in July.

But the sticky situation isn’t a quick fix. The company doesn’t have all of the parts in stock right now to fix the dashboards.

Some customers are receiving letters stating it’ll take "several months" for the parts to become available.

"This is not you and me making these dashboards in our backyards, this is Toyota, there’s no reason I should be waiting until May to get a dashboard,” said Wallace.

"The devil’s in the details, exactly how is this program going to work, is everybody going to get notified?” asked Bauta.

Those are questions that remain to be answered.

Toyota released a statement that reads "We are committed to listening closely to our customers to help ensure owner satisfaction. In response to customer concerns, we are enhancing warranty coverage to provide complete relief for Toyota and Lexus owners whose dashboards and front and interior door panels may have been damaged by high heat and humidity over time."

Here’s a list of the vehicles receiving an extended warranty:

Toyota:

- Model Model Year Approximate UIO - 4Runner 2003-2005 328,600 - Avalon 2005-2010 331,400 - Camry/HV 2007-2011 1,631,200 - Sienna 2004-2010 924,800 - Solara 2004-2008 203,400

Lexus:

- Model Model Year Appx. UIO - ES 350 2007-2008 175,800 - GX 470 2003-2008 156,200 - IS 250/350 2006-2008 146,000 - LS 460 2007 19,000 - RX 330 2004-2006 285,800 - RX 350 2007-2009 233,100 - RX 400h 2005-2008 66,300