Toyota's sticky 2007 Prius hatch problem

Monday, September 2, 2013
Our Prius, hatch latch fixed.
Update: Oct. 3, 2013. I'm pleased to report that Toyota Motor Corp. and my local dealer have now agreed to fix this goof at no cost. I've made clear I hope this courtesy is being extended not just to me -- because of my squeaky-wheeledness -- but to all owners with similar defects, because the company now realizes it's responsible. Share your experiences below or on the NHTSA website.

If you were Toyota Motor Corp., and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site displayed this many complaints about this identical problem, what would you do? If your answer is "Fix it for free and reimburse people who've already paid for repairs, because we obviously screwed this up and, as some customers have noted, this can be a safety problem" ... well, you're not Toyota.
Date Complaint Filed: 08/01/2013

Component(s): EQUIPMENT , LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 07/25/2013
NHTSA ID Number: 10533059
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): Not Available
SUMMARY: THE BACK LATCH OF MY 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS HAS DEGRADED ("MELTED" ALMOST). IT NO LONGER FUNCTIONS PROPERLY, AND I AM UNABLE TO OPEN THE BACK HATCH DOOR EASILY. SOMETIMES IT REQUIRES CONSIDERABLE EFFORT AND PERSEVERANCE TO GET IT OPEN. I AM CONCERNED THAT IN THE CASE OF AN EMERGENCY, I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GET THE DOOR OPEN. THIS IS A MAJOR CAUSE FOR CONCERN AND IT IS A SERIOUS SAFETY HAZARD.

Date Complaint Filed: 05/10/2013
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES , STRUCTURE Date of Incident: 10/05/2012
NHTSA ID Number: 10511408
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U173...
SUMMARY: THE RUBBER COVER TO THE EXTERNAL TRUNK LATCH HAS MELTED TO THE POINT WHERE IT IS EITHER GOOEY TO THE TOUCH IN WARM WEATHER OR FROZEN SOLID AND IMMOVABLE IN COLDER TEMPERATURES. THIS IS A SAFETY HAZARD BECAUSE, AT TIMES, DUE TO THE INFLEXIBILITY OF THE RUBBER I AM UNABLE TO OPEN THE TRUNK AND, THUS, ACCESS THE SPARE, ANY OF MY REPAIR TOOLS, OUR EARTHQUAKE KIT, FLARES, JUMPERS, ETC. THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE INTERNAL METHOD FOR OPENING THE HATCHBACK/TRUNK. TOYOTA NEEDS A RECALL OF THIS DEFECTIVE PART AS THE COST TO REPAIR IT IS EXORBITANT, QUOTED TO ME AS $352. *

Date Complaint Filed: 03/25/2013
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES , STRUCTURE Date of Incident: 03/12/2012
NHTSA ID Number: 10504366
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U377...
SUMMARY: REAR DOOR OPENER !! RUBBER MELTED AND BLOCK DOOR OPENER (LOCK UNLOCK SYSTEM) . *

Date Complaint Filed: 02/02/2013
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 01/02/2012
NHTSA ID Number: 10496197
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U373...
SUMMARY: THE BACK LATCH COVERING HAS A VINYL(?) COVERING WHICH HAS BECOME STICKY AND THE LATCH ITSELF IS DIFFICULT TO OPEN, RESULTING IN CONTINUED ATTEMPTS. IT IS A HINDRANCE TO GAIN ACCESS TO THE TRUNK AREA AND THUS ACCESS TO THE SPARE TIRE IF NEEDED. *

Date Complaint Filed: 02/19/2012
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES , STRUCTURE Date of Incident: 06/01/2009
NHTSA ID Number: 10448470
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U777...
SUMMARY: REAR HATCH DOOR LATCH FAILURE, STARTING WITH SOFTENING AND DEFORMATION OF THE RUBBER-LIKE COVER AND PROGRESSING TO LATCH NOT OPENING, ESPECIALLY IN COLD WEATHER. *

Date Complaint Filed: 01/04/2012
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES , STRUCTURE Date of Incident: 01/04/2012
NHTSA ID Number: 10442323
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U273...
SUMMARY: THE REAR HATCH RELEASE ON MY 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS HAS BEGUN TO DETERIORATE AND TURN INTO A RUBBERY AND STICKY BLACK MESS. THIS ISSUE INTERFERES WITH THE USE OF THE HATCH AS THE RUBBER NOT ONLY GETS ON YOUR FINGERS BUT APPEARS TO BE BLOCKING THE RELEASE MECHANISM. THE DETERIORATION STARTED DURING THE SUMMER OF 2011. THE ISSUE HAS WORSENED AND YESTERDAY I WAS UNABLE TO OPEN THE REAR HATCH WHATSOEVER. *

Date Complaint Filed: 08/25/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 06/01/2010
NHTSA ID Number: 10421482
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U877...
SUMMARY: EVERYTHING ABOUT MY 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS IS GREAT EXCEPT FOR THE LATCH FOR THE BACK HATCH. THERE IS A RUBBER COVER FOR THE LATCH THAT YOU HAVE TO PUSH TO OPEN THE REAR HATCH. THIS RUBBER HAS MELTED. IT MAKES IF DIFFICULT TO OPEN THE REAR HATCH IN ANY KIND OF AN EMERGENCY. RIGHT NOW, IF YOU TOUCH THE LATCH YOU GET A THICK COATING OF MELTED RUBBER ON YOUR HAND. SOMETIMES THE LATCH FAILS TO OPEN AT ALL. YOU STILL GET THE BLACK MELTED RUBBER ON YOUR HAND. THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN TO A 4 YEAR OLD VEHICLE. I LIVE IN A HOT PART OF THE COUNTRY - THE MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST - AND RUBBER COVERS FOR HATCH LATCHES SHOULD BE ABLE TO WITHSTAND SUMMER HEAT DOWN HERE. *

Date Complaint Filed: 08/24/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 05/01/2010
NHTSA ID Number: 10421410
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): Not Available
SUMMARY: 2007 PRIUS HATCH HANDLE MELT DOWN. *

Date Complaint Filed: 08/22/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 05/15/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10421069
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): Not Available
SUMMARY: THE LATCH HANDLE ON MY 2007 PRIUS HAS BEGUN TO MELT AND IS WORSENING OVER TIME. I HAVE TO OPEN THE REAR HATCH WITH A TOWEL. IT IS DIFFICULT TO OPEN AND IF I USE MY HANDS THEY BECOME ALL BLACKENED AND MY FINGERS STICK IMPEDING THE OPENING ESP IN AN EMERGENCY. BOTH PROBLEMS INTERFERE WITH A QUICK RELEASE. *

Date Complaint Filed: 08/21/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 08/18/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10420881
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U377...
SUMMARY: 2007 PRIUS REAR HATCH SWITCH COVERED BY A RUBBER STRIP. RUBBER STRIP HAS MELTED AND IS NOW MORE LIKE TAR THAN RUBBER. *

Date Complaint Filed: 08/21/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 05/01/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10420855
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U777...
SUMMARY: AFTER ONLY ABOUT 3 YEARS USE, THE RUBBER COVER ON THE HATCH RELEASE HANDLE (THE EXTERIOR HANDLE OF THE REAR HATCH) OF OUR 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS, MELTED INTO A STICKY TARRY BLACK RUBBERY GOOEY MESS. I CAN BEST DESCRIBE IT AS BEING A VISCOUS BLACK GLOB LIKE ROOFING TAR. TO OPEN THE HATCH, YOU HAVE TO TOUCH THIS BLACK GOO EACH TIME, WHICH MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO OPERATE THE HATCH RELEASE. I THOUGHT THAT THIS MIGHT BE A SINGULAR ISSUE, BUT HAVE FOUND THAT THIS HAS HAPPENED TO SEVERAL CAR OWNERS, TOYOTA KNOWS ABOUT THIS, AND IS SELLING THE ENTIRE WIRING HARNESS FOR $96 PLUS REPAIR COSTS, AND HAS DONE NOTHING ABOUT RECALLING THIS. FROM A SAFETY PERSPECTIVE, THIS MEANS YOU CAN EXPERIENCE EXTREME DIFFICULTY OPENING THE REAR HATCH (A LIFE SAFETY ACCESS POINT), AND WILL GET STICKY BLACK TAR ON YOU FROM THE MELTED DOWN RUBBER COVER OF THE EXTERIOR HATCH RELEASE HANDLE. TO ME, THIS IS BOTH A SERIOUS LIFE SAFETY ISSUE AND A SERIOUS QUALITY DEFECT THAT TOYOTA IS OPTING TO IGNORE AND ONLY FIXING ON VEHICLES WITH EXTENDED WARRANTIES, SINCE THE FAILURE APPEARS TO OCCUR AT AROUND THE 3 YEAR MARK (IE AFTER 3 YEARS OF EXPOSURE TO THE BRIGHT SUN ). I AM AWARE OF THE OUTSTANDING WORK DONE BY NHTSA ON OTHER SAFETY ISSUES, INCLUDING THE PROBLEM WITH RUSTY FRAMES ON 02 ISUZU AXIOMS, AND I FIND THIS PROBLEM TO BE SIMILAR IN NATURE, SO I AM ASKING FOR YOUR AGENCY TO TAKE A LOOK AT THESE INSTANCES AND ALSO TO INQUIRE FROM TOYOTA WHY THEY ARE NOT RECALLING THESE HANDLES THAT ARE MELTING IN THE SUN!!! IT'S OUTRAGEOUS. I THINK A DOOR HANDLE OR HATCH HANDLE SHOULD BE MADE TO LAST MORE THAN 3 YEARS. *

Date Complaint Filed: 08/15/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 04/15/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10419520
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U777...
SUMMARY: AT ONLY 4 YEARS OF USE AND UNDER 34,000 MILES, THE RUBBER COVER ON THE HATCH RELEASE HANDLE OF MY 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS HAS MELTED INTO A STICKY, BLACK TAR SUBSTANCE. IN ORDER TO OPERATE THE HATCH, YOU HAVE TO PUSH A BUTTON WHICH IS LOCATED UNDER THE BLACK TAR SUBSTANCE, WHICH MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO OPERATE THE HATCH RELEASE. AS I HAVE LOOKED INTO THIS ISSUE, IT SEEMS THAT THERE ARE SEVERAL OTHER TOYOTA PRIUS OWNERS, NATIONWIDE, WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED THIS SAME SPECIFIC ISSUE. TOYOTA KNOWS TOLD ME THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE RUBBER SWITCH MELTING AS WELL, AND IS SELLING THE ENTIRE WIRING HARNESS FOR $153.23 PLUS REPAIR COSTS, AND HAD NO RECALLS CONCERNING THE RUBBER SWITCH. FROM A SAFETY PERSPECTIVE, THIS IS BOTH A SERIOUS LIFE SAFETY ISSUE AND A SERIOUS QUALITY DEFECT THAT TOYOTA IS OPTING TO IGNORE AND ONLY FIXING ON VEHICLES WITH EXTENDED WARRANTIES. I AM ASKING FOR YOUR AGENCY TO TAKE A LOOK AT THESE INSTANCES AND ALSO TO INQUIRE FROM TOYOTA WHY THEY ARE NOT RECALLING THESE HANDLES THAT ARE MELTING IN THE SUN, LET ALONE ANY EXTREME WEATHER CONDITIONS! IT'S OUTRAGEOUS TO THINK A DOOR HANDLE OR HATCH HANDLE WAS MADE TO ONLY ENDURE 3-4 YEARS OF TYPICAL WEATHER CONDITIONS. *

Date Complaint Filed: 08/09/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 08/06/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10418111
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20UX77...
SUMMARY: 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS REAR HATCH HANDLE MELTED. NOTICED ABOUT A 3 MONTHS AGO JUST THOUGH THAT IT WAS REALLY HOT OUT. THEN THOUGH THIS HANDLE SHOULD NOT MELT TO HIGH HEAT THERE HAS TO BE A PROBLEM. WENT TO DEALER TO HAVE OIL CHANGE AND INSPECTION, HAD SERVICE MGR. OPEN HATCH AND HE STATED THERE IS A PROBLEM. HE STATED THAT BECAUSE CAR IS OUT OF WARRANTY HE CAN NOT DO ANYTHING AND THAT IT WILL COST 58.84 FOR HANDLE AND 97.00 FOR LABOR. HE GAVE ME TOYOTA CARE NUMBER TO CALL, I CALLED TODAY AND THEY STATE THE SAME THING OUT OF WARRANTY...........I KNEW THAT WAS COMING..... THIS HANDLE SHOULD NOT MELT, THERE HAS TO BE A PROBLEM WITH THE WIRING OVER HEATING. THE BUTTONS ON THE DOORS TO LOCK THE CAR ARE MADE OUT OF THE SAME MATERIAL. TOYOTA WILL NOT DO ANYTHING UNTIL SOMEONE HAS A FIRE AND SOMEONE DIES. *

Date Complaint Filed: 08/07/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 03/01/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10417873
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): Not Available
SUMMARY: 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS REAR HATCH HANDLE HAS MELTED LIKE HOT TAR. HARD TO OPEN HATCH AND TOYOTA WANTS CLOSE TO $250.00 TO REPAIR. I REALIZE THERE IS WEAR AND TEAR ON VEHICLES BUT THIS IS NOT ONE OD THEM. THIS IS DEFINITELY A MANUFACTURING DEFECT. I LIKE MY PRIUS BUT THIS HAS BEEN THE ONLY TOYOTA I HAVE BOUGHT AND DID SO FOR THE GREAT REPUTATION BUT THIS CAR HAS BEEN RECALLED SEVERAL TIMES, WHICH I'M HAPPY THEY DID, BUT IT'S THE FIRST CAR I'VE OWNED THAT'S BEEN RECALLED. *TT

Date Complaint Filed: 07/18/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 07/15/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10413277
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U377...
SUMMARY: AFTER ONLY ABOUT 3 YEARS USE, THE RUBBER COVER ON THE HATCH RELEASE HANDLE (THE EXTERIOR HANDLE OF THE REAR HATCH) OF OUR 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS, MELTED INTO A STICKY TARRY BLACK RUBBERY GOOEY MESS. TO OPEN THE HATCH, YOU HAVE TO TOUCH THIS BLACK GOO EACH TIME, WHICH MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO OPERATE THE HATCH RELEASE. WE BELIEVE THIS MELTING PROCESS STARTED AT ABOUT THE 2 YR. MARK. I THOUGHT THAT THIS WAS JUST STICKY AT FIRST, BUT HAVE FOUND THAT THIS HAS HAPPENED TO SEVERAL CAR OWNERS, PARTICULARLY IN FLORIDA. WE ALSO LIVE IN FLORIDA. TOYOTA KNOWS ABOUT THIS, AND IS SELLING THE ENTIRE WIRING HARNESS FOR $96 PLUS REPAIR COSTS, AND HAS DONE NOTHING ABOUT RECALLING THIS. FROM A SAFETY PERSPECTIVE, THIS MEANS YOU CAN EXPERIENCE EXTREME DIFFICULTY OPENING THE REAR HATCH (A LIFE SAFETY ACCESS POINT), AND WILL GET STICKY BLACK TAR ON YOU FROM THE MELTED DOWN RUBBER COVER OF THE EXTERIOR HATCH RELEASE HANDLE. THIS IS BOTH A SERIOUS LIFE SAFETY ISSUE AND A SERIOUS QUALITY DEFECT THAT TOYOTA IS OPTING TO IGNORE AND ONLY FIXING ON VEHICLES WITH EXTENDED WARRANTIES, SINCE THE FAILURE APPEARS TO OCCUR AT AROUND THE 3 YEAR MARK (IE AFTER 3 YEARS OF EXPOSURE TO THE BRIGHT SUN IN FLORIDA FOR EXAMPLE). I AM AWARE OF THE OUTSTANDING WORK DONE BY NHTSA ON OTHER SAFETY ISSUES, AND I FIND THIS PROBLEM TO BE VERY SERIOUS IN NATURE, SO I AM ASKING FOR YOUR AGENCY TO TAKE A LOOK AT THESE INSTANCES AND ALSO TO INQUIRE FROM TOYOTA WHY THEY ARE NOT RECALLING THESE HANDLES THAT ARE MELTING IN THE SUN!!! IT'S OUTRAGEOUS. I THINK A DOOR HANDLE OR HATCH HANDLE SHOULD BE MADE TO LAST MORE THAN 3 YEARS. PLEASE REVIEW THESE FORUM COMMENTS OF OTHER INCIDENTS: *KB

Date Complaint Filed: 07/09/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 04/23/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10411638
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): Not Available
SUMMARY: I AM OWNER OF A 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS. LESS THAN 3 YEARS SINCE PURCHASING THE VEHICLE NEW FROM TOYOTA, A RUBBER WEATHER SEAL COMPONENT IN THE REAR HATCH HANDLE HAS PROGRESSIVELY MELTED. WITH THE SEAL NOW COMPROMISED, I FEAR THE HATCH HANDLE WILL EVENTUALLY FAIL OR MALFUNCTION RESULTING IN CORROSION OR WORSE STILL, ACCIDENTAL OPENING OF THE REAR HATCH WHILE THE VEHICLE IS IN MOTION. I HAVE CONTACTED TOYOTA ABOUT THE DEFECT AND THEY ADVISE IT WOULD BE A $150 REPAIR AND ALL COSTS WOULD BE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE OWNER. AS THIS IS CLEARLY A MANUFACTURER DEFECT AND ONE THAT COULD POTENTIALLY LEAD TO SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH, I WOULD EXPECT TOYOTA TO CORRECT THE PROBLEM AT THEIR OWN COST. *

Date Complaint Filed: 07/02/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 09/22/2010
NHTSA ID Number: 10410295
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U277...
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

Date Complaint Filed: 06/30/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES , STRUCTURE Date of Incident: 06/29/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10410132
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20UX77...
SUMMARY: THE REAR HATCH RELEASE ON MY 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS HAS BEGUN TO DECOMPOSE AND TURN INTO A RUBBERY, GOOEY MESS. IT INTERFERES WITH THE USE OF THE HATCH AS THE GOO NOT ONLY GETS ON THE FINGERS BUT APPEARS TO BE BLOCKING THE RELEASE MECHANISM. *

Date Complaint Filed: 06/27/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 06/01/2010
NHTSA ID Number: 10409002
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): Not Available
SUMMARY: THE LATCH ON THE HATCH OF MY 2007 PRIUS HAS MELTED INTO A GOOEY MESS. IT INTERFERES WITH THE OPERATION OF THE LATCH MAKING IT DIFFICULT TO OPEN THE HATCH. I STARTED NOTICING THIS AT THE 3-3.5 YEAR MARK, NOW IT IS A BLACK GLOB THAT COMES OFF ON MY HAND WHENEVER I ACCESS THE LATCH. *

Date Complaint Filed: 06/26/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 06/25/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10408966
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U373...
SUMMARY: AFTER ONLY ABOUT 3 YEARS USE, THE RUBBER COVER ON THE HATCH RELEASE HANDLE (THE EXTERIOR HANDLE OF THE REAR HATCH) OF OUR 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS, MELTED INTO A STICKY TARRY BLACK RUBBERY GOOEY MESS. I CAN BEST DESCRIBE IT AS BEING A VISCOUS BLACK GLOB LIKE ROOFING TAR. TO OPEN THE HATCH, YOU HAVE TO TOUCH THIS BLACK GOO EACH TIME, WHICH MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO OPERATE THE HATCH RELEASE. WE BELIEVE THIS MELTING PROCESS STARTED AT ABOUT THE 2 YR. MARK. I THOUGHT THAT THIS MIGHT BE A SINGULAR ISSUE, BUT HAVE FOUND THAT THIS HAS HAPPENED TO SEVERAL CAR OWNERS, PARTICULARLY IN FLORIDA. WE ALSO LIVE IN FLORIDA. TOYOTA KNOWS ABOUT THIS, AND IS SELLING THE ENTIRE WIRING HARNESS FOR $96 PLUS REPAIR COSTS, AND HAS DONE NOTHING ABOUT RECALLING THIS. FROM A SAFETY PERSPECTIVE, THIS MEANS YOU CAN EXPERIENCE EXTREME DIFFICULTY OPENING THE REAR HATCH (A LIFE SAFETY ACCESS POINT), AND WILL GET STICKY BLACK TAR ON YOU FROM THE MELTED DOWN RUBBER COVER OF THE EXTERIOR HATCH RELEASE HANDLE. TO ME, THIS IS BOTH A SERIOUS LIFE SAFETY ISSUE AND A SERIOUS QUALITY DEFECT THAT TOYOTA IS OPTING TO IGNORE AND ONLY FIXING ON VEHICLES WITH EXTENDED WARRANTIES, SINCE THE FAILURE APPEARS TO OCCUR AT AROUND THE 3 YEAR MARK). I AM AWARE OF THE OUTSTANDING WORK DONE BY NHTSA ON OTHER SAFETY ISSUES, INCLUDING THE PROBLEM WITH RUSTY FRAMES ON 02 ISUZU AXIOMS, AND I FIND THIS PROBLEM TO BE SIMILAR IN NATURE, SO I AM ASKING FOR YOUR AGENCY TO TAKE A LOOK AT THESE INSTANCES AND ALSO TO INQUIRE FROM TOYOTA WHY THEY ARE NOT RECALLING THESE HANDLES THAT ARE MELTING IN THE SUN!!! IT'S OUTRAGEOUS. I THINK A DOOR HANDLE OR HATCH HANDLE SHOULD BE MADE TO LAST MORE THAN 3 YEARS. PLEASE REVIEW THESE FORUM COMMENTS OF OTHER INCIDENTS: *

Date Complaint Filed: 06/21/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 06/01/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10407697
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): Not Available
SUMMARY: 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS REAR LID RELEASE BUTTON. THIS BUTTON RELEASE HAS BEGUN 'MELTING' INTO A GOOEY PLASTIC THAT BINDS THE RELEASE. *

Date Complaint Filed: 05/31/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES , STRUCTURE Date of Incident: 05/27/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10403789
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): Not Available
SUMMARY: I BOUGHT A SCION IN '06, MY FIRST CAR I'VE EVER BOUGHT. IT WAS WONDERFUL, EXCEPT THAT I LIVE IN FLORIDA AND THE RUBBER PIECE ON MY TRUNK HANDLE MELTED. IT MELTED SO MUCH THAT, TO THIS DAY, THERE IS A HUGE GLOB OF RUBBER ON MY LICENSE PLATE. WELL, YESTERDAY I TRADED IN MY SCION FOR A PRIUS. I AM HAVING THE SAME ISSUE WITH THE HANDLE! EVERY TIME I OPEN MY TRUNK, I GET BLACK GUNK ON MY HANDS. UPON RESEARCH, I FOUND THAT A LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE ARE EXPERIENCING THIS PROBLEM WITH THEIR TOYOTAS. I EMAILED TOYOTA AND ADDRESSED THEM WITH THE ISSUE. THEY WROTE IT OFF AS GREASE DRIPPING FROM THE HANDLE, WHEN IF YOU LOOK AT MY CAR, IT IS CLEAR THAT THERE ARE GLOBS OF MELTED RUBBER EVERYWHERE. THEY TOLD ME IT COULD EASILY BE WIPED OFF AND I CAN'T EVEN SCRAPE IT OFF OR WASH IT OFF WITH SOAP AND WATER! I EVEN SENT THEM LINKS TO FORUMS WITH PAGE AND PAGES OF COMPLAINTS WITH THE SAME ISSUE AND THEY STILL WON'T ADDRESS IT. THEREFORE, I DECIDED TO REPORT IT HERE. THIS COULD POTENTIALLY TURN INTO A SAFETY ISSUE, IF THE RUBBER CONTINUES TO MELT CAUSING THE TRUNK TO BE INOPERABLE. *

Date Complaint Filed: 05/06/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 04/27/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10399401
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U377...
SUMMARY: AFTER ONLY ABOUT 3 YEARS USE, THE RUBBER COVER ON THE HATCH RELEASE HANDLE (THE EXTERIOR HANDLE OF THE REAR HATCH) OF OUR 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS, MELTED INTO A STICKY TARRY BLACK RUBBERY GOOEY MESS. I CAN BEST DESCRIBE IT AS BEING A VISCOUS BLACK GLOB LIKE ROOFING TAR. TO OPEN THE HATCH, YOU HAVE TO TOUCH THIS BLACK GOO EACH TIME, WHICH MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO OPERATE THE HATCH RELEASE. WE BELIEVE THIS MELTING PROCESS STARTED AT ABOUT THE 3 YR. MARK. I THOUGHT THAT THIS MIGHT BE A SINGULAR ISSUE, BUT HAVE FOUND THAT THIS HAS HAPPENED TO SEVERAL CAR OWNERS, PARTICULARLY IN FLORIDA. WE PURCHASED THE CAR IN FLORIDA. TOYOTA KNOWS ABOUT THIS, AND IS SELLING THE ENTIRE WIRING HARNESS FOR $96 PLUS REPAIR COSTS, AND HAS DONE NOTHING ABOUT RECALLING THIS. THE DEALER STATED THAT THIS IS A PROBLEM ON NUMEROUS MAKES AND THEY SEE THIS REGULARLY. FROM A SAFETY PERSPECTIVE, THIS MEANS YOU CAN EXPERIENCE EXTREME DIFFICULTY OPENING THE REAR HATCH (A LIFE SAFETY ACCESS POINT), AND WILL GET STICKY BLACK TAR ON YOU FROM THE MELTED DOWN RUBBER COVER OF THE EXTERIOR HATCH RELEASE HANDLE. TO ME, THIS IS BOTH A SERIOUS LIFE SAFETY ISSUE AND A SERIOUS QUALITY DEFECT THAT TOYOTA IS OPTING TO IGNORE AND ONLY FIXING ON VEHICLES WITH EXTENDED WARRANTIES, SINCE THE FAILURE APPEARS TO OCCUR AT AROUND THE 3 YEAR MARK (IE AFTER 3 YEARS OF EXPOSURE TO THE BRIGHT SUN IN FLORIDA FOR EXAMPLE). I AM AWARE OF THE OUTSTANDING WORK DONE BY NHTSA ON OTHER SAFETY ISSUES, INCLUDING THE PROBLEM WITH RUSTY FRAMES ON 02 ISUZU AXIOMS, AND I FIND THIS PROBLEM TO BE SIMILAR IN NATURE, SO I AM ASKING FOR YOUR AGENCY TO TAKE A LOOK AT THESE INSTANCES AND ALSO TO INQUIRE FROM TOYOTA WHY THEY ARE NOT RECALLING THESE HANDLES THAT ARE MELTING IN THE SUN!!! IT'S OUTRAGEOUS. I THINK A DOOR HANDLE OR HATCH HANDLE SHOULD BE MADE TO LAST MORE THAN 3 YEARS. *

Date Complaint Filed: 04/11/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES , STRUCTURE Date of Incident: 01/01/2010
NHTSA ID Number: 10395552
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U573...
SUMMARY: I HAVE A 2007 PRIUS AND 2-3 YEARS AFTER PURCHASE, THE RUBBER PIECE UNDER THE HATCHBACK MELTED, MAKING SO THAT IT WAS A STICKY BLACK MESS AND IT WOULDN'T OPEN. IT NOW DOESN'T OPEN AT ALL AND I CAN NOT GET INTO MY TRUNK, RECENTLY HAD A BATTERY REPLACED AND MY CAR WAS STRANDED, THE AAA GUY HAD TO CRAWL TO THE BACK W/ SEATS DOWN FROM THE SIDE OF THE CAR. I COULD NOT GET TO MY TRUNK IF I HAVE A FLAT TIRE IN THE FUTURE. I AM OUT OF WARRANTY . MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT TOYOTA IS MAKING OWNERS PAY 300+ TO FIX THIS DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT IS OBVIOUSLY A MANUFACTURING DEFECT. PLEASE ASSIST WITH THIS SAFETY CONCERN ON ALL PRIUS VEHICLES. *

Date Complaint Filed: 02/04/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES Date of Incident: 01/04/2011
NHTSA ID Number: 10380225
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U777...
SUMMARY: AFTER ONLY ABOUT 3 YEARS USE, THE RUBBER COVER ON THE HATCH RELEASE HANDLE (THE EXTERIOR HANDLE OF THE REAR HATCH) OF OUR 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS HAS BEGUN MELTING. IT IS STICKY TO THE TOUCH AND IT DOES MAKE THE TRUNK RELEASE DIFFICULT TO OPERATE. I JUST DROPPED MY CAR OFF AT THE SERVCO HAWAII DEALERSHIP AND THEY TOLD ME THAT I WOULD HAVE TO PAY $170.00 TO REPLACE THE LATCH SYSTEM. THE SERVICE TECH ASKED ME IF MY CAR HAS BEEN OUT IN THE SUN. WELL, I DO LIVE IN HAWAII, I DO GARAGE MY CAR BUT I HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED A RUBBER PIECE ON ANY CAR TO MELT. FURTHER, THE RUBBER TRUNK RELEASE COVER IS NOT EXPOSED TO DIRECT SUNLIGHT AT ANY TIME BECAUSE THE RUBBER COVER IS ON THE UNDERSIDE OF THE TRUNK/REAR HATCH RELEASE BY DESIGN. PLEASE HAVE TOYOTA TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS DEFECTIVE PART. AFTER A QUICK GOOGLE SEARCH IT APPEARS THAT I AM ONE OF MANY PEOPLE THAT HAVE HAD THIS HAPPEN. THANK YOU FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE. *

Date Complaint Filed: 02/02/2011
Component(s): LATCHES/LOCKS/LINKAGES , STRUCTURE Date of Incident: 05/15/2010
NHTSA ID Number: 10380030
Manufacturer: TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION
Vehicle Identification No. (VIN): JTDKB20U977...
SUMMARY: AFTER ONLY ABOUT 3 YEARS USE, THE RUBBER COVER ON THE HATCH RELEASE HANDLE (THE EXTERIOR HANDLE OF THE REAR HATCH) OF OUR 2007 TOYOTA PRIUS, MELTED INTO A STICKY TARRY BLACK RUBBERY GOOEY MESS. I CAN BEST DESCRIBE IT AS BEING A VISCOUS BLACK GLOB LIKE ROOFING TAR. TO OPEN THE HATCH, YOU HAVE TO TOUCH THIS BLACK GOO EACH TIME, WHICH MAKES IT DIFFICULT TO OPERATE THE HATCH RELEASE. WE BELIEVE THIS MELTING PROCESS STARTED AT ABOUT THE 2 YR. MARK. I THOUGHT THAT THIS MIGHT BE A SINGULAR ISSUE, BUT HAVE FOUND THAT THIS HAS HAPPENED TO SEVERAL CAR OWNERS, PARTICULARLY IN FLORIDA. WE ALSO LIVE IN FLORIDA. TOYOTA KNOWS ABOUT THIS, AND IS SELLING THE ENTIRE WIRING HARNESS FOR $96 PLUS REPAIR COSTS, AND HAS DONE NOTHING ABOUT RECALLING THIS. FROM A SAFETY PERSPECTIVE, THIS MEANS YOU CAN EXPERIENCE EXTREME DIFFICULTY OPENING THE REAR HATCH (A LIFE SAFETY ACCESS POINT), AND WILL GET STICKY BLACK TAR ON YOU FROM THE MELTED DOWN RUBBER COVER OF THE EXTERIOR HATCH RELEASE HANDLE. TO ME, THIS IS BOTH A SERIOUS LIFE SAFETY ISSUE AND A SERIOUS QUALITY DEFECT THAT TOYOTA IS OPTING TO IGNORE AND ONLY FIXING ON VEHICLES WITH EXTENDED WARRANTIES, SINCE THE FAILURE APPEARS TO OCCUR AT AROUND THE 3 YEAR MARK (IE AFTER 3 YEARS OF EXPOSURE TO THE BRIGHT SUN IN FLORIDA FOR EXAMPLE). I AM AWARE OF THE OUTSTANDING WORK DONE BY NHTSA ON OTHER SAFETY ISSUES, INCLUDING THE PROBLEM WITH RUSTY FRAMES ON 02 ISUZU AXIOMS, AND I FIND THIS PROBLEM TO BE SIMILAR IN NATURE, SO I AM ASKING FOR YOUR AGENCY TO TAKE A LOOK AT THESE INSTANCES AND ALSO TO INQUIRE FROM TOYOTA WHY THEY ARE NOT RECALLING THESE HANDLES THAT ARE MELTING IN THE SUN!!! IT'S OUTRAGEOUS. I THINK A DOOR HANDLE OR HATCH HANDLE SHOULD BE MADE TO LAST MORE THAN 3 YEARS. PLEASE REVIEW THESE FORUM COMMENTS OF OTHER INCIDENTS: HTTP://PRIUSCHAT.COM/FORUMS/GEN-II-PRIUS-CARE-MAINTENANCE-TROUBLESHOOTING/71647-2007-PRIUS-TRUNK-HATCH-RELEASE-RUBBER-PIECE-MELTED-4.HTML [XXX] INFORMATION REDACTED PURSUANT TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6). *

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Same problem with my Prius. Please advise of the number, email or address I should be contacting to get this fixed for free.
Thanks

Iselag said...

My prius has the same problem, they won't fix it! They are charging me 500$
I can't open my hatch door!
What are we supposed to do?

Iselag said...

Toyota does not care, they want their money, especially if the car is already paid off, which is my case

Charlie Meyerson said...

Anonymous, I don't have much advice beyond the obvious: Call both your dealer and Toyota Customer Service, share all you've read here and make the case that Toyota should do the right thing for you.

Wouldn't hurt to post a (polite) plea for help on Toyota's Facebook and Twitter pages, too.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to call the number below and file a claim. Once they have enough they will open a campaign and repair or reimburse. She told me as of today not enough people have called. I paid to have mine fixed today but am keeping reciept to be reimbursed once enough people have called. Below is the email response from toyota headquarters:
Thank you for contacting Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. Your case is filed at our headquarters office under your name and file #xxxxxxxxxx
If you have any further questions, please contact us at 800-331-4331. Our hours of operation are 5:00 am to 6:00 pm PST Monday through Friday and 7:00 am to 4:00 pm PST Saturday.

Sincerely,
Toyota Customer Experience

davidrmoran said...

It is amazing anyone got this fixed for free, so good on you. My dealer said he had never heard of it, which seems bloody unlikely, and fixed it fine ... for like $600. I called Toyota beforehand and they politely took down all the info, found my car without VIN, meaning it is properly in their system, and made a note, they said, and gave me a case number. I will call back tomorrow to kvetch further. The service guy said the gasket was okay but the switch had melted or something; 'like water got in there'. Bah and feh.

Anonymous said...

Mine was "fixed" for free because the dealer fixed it with out asking. So I said no thanks. 1 month later it melted again. Clean all the goo out with orange based solvent. Replaced the black rubber thing with a cut out from a plastic milk carton. Now the handle works but the release still sticks.

davidrmoran said...

As long as it works, and good for you, I guess. I had no choice, and am willing to pay dealers, sort of, but get my dander up a bit when they say Never heard of this before.

Sel Vieux said...

Followed Leigh's advice and created a claim and now have a nice new latch on our 2008 Prius at no cost; thanks Toyota and social media!

davidrmoran said...

Can you please copy/paste or link to Leigh's advice??

Charlie Meyerson said...

David and Sal, just scroll down (or up, depending on whether you're viewing the newest first or the oldest first) through the [Facebook] comments on this post to see Leigh's comments. Which are basically the same steps I took. Here they are:

"Thanks to information posted on this site, I took my problem to Toyota. I opened a claim, and they eventually fixed the problem at no cost to me. Thank you to everyone on this site for letting me know that this is a problem for a lot of us, and for telling me how to get the ball rolling (Toyota: 800 3314331 for out-of-warranty repair). The new latch is an improvement, not just a newer version of the same flawed design. It's a stiffer plastic, not that rubbery stuff that oozes around when it gets hot."

davidrmoran said...

No go! Just had a nice long cordial phone investigation w sharp and sympathetic T rep, at that number, but he found nothing and was able to offer nothing. 'Next time please call first before going to dealer' etc., but it did not seem that my calling today, 13mos after the repair, was the reason; it was that no case or recall or warranty-asst information exists. Bah and phooey. He did have all the paperwork and dealer info and right VIM and my name and ownership, etc.

davidrmoran said...

fwiw, my (failed) case # is 1701111919; not that that will do anyone any good, but could be cited as we try and build a viable case in their eyes.