Hey Toyota, recall my 2006 RAV4

All the Toyota recall news lately remind me of the problem I've had with a klunking noise in the steering column of my 2006 Toyota RAV4, which leads me to wonder: Hey Toyota, where's my RAV4 recall?

Toyota RAV4 recall - steering column klunking noise

I first wrote about the 2006 Toyota RAV4 steering column klunking noise problem (no recall) back in September of 2007, where I linked to many reports of other Toyota RAV4 owners having the same steering column “klunk” noise problem. A year later I wrote about the poor overall quality of the 2006 Toyota RAV4.

To be fair, the RAV4 isn’t a horrible vehicle — but my wife’s Ford Explorer is a better vehicle. The things that bug me most about this 2006 RAV4 experience are:

  1. The Anchorage Toyota dealer’s inability to find the problem,
  2. Their inability to find the TSB about this problem, and
  3. Toyota’s unwillingness to pay for the steering column problem after I found the TSB (Toyota Service Bulletin), but my mileage was then past the warranty period.

(Which leads me to the gripe that since this problem isn’t related to mileage, why does being past 30,000 miles mean that Toyota shouldn’t repair this known steering column defect? And why the heck isn’t there a recall for this problem?)

This whole experience was like some horrible game, where Toyota new the secret behind the RAV4 steering column problem, but they wouldn’t admit to it, at least not until I did a lot of research to find that TSB.

As you can imagine, I can rant on Toyota quality and the RAV4 steering column noise problem for a long time, but in the end the best I could do was to manage a 50/50 cost split with Toyota, so I recently got the RAV4 steering column fixed before I drive back to Alaska. The total repair cost was right at $800, and Toyota is supposed to reimburse me for $400 of this cost. As I've written before, I don't believe in the myth of Toyota quality, and now in the latest news reports we're seeing problems with Toyota honesty.

(This article was originally published February 7, 2010.)

Toyota RAV4 steering column repair - update

After agreeing on the phone to reimburse me for 1/2 of the cost to repair my RAV steering column noise, I had the $800 repair performed, sent in my receipts, and now the Toyota people called me recently and left a message for me, questioning what this repair is for ... what the heck? It's like they will do anything they can to avoid paying for this steering column problem. Just to be clear, I have a very serious dislike for Toyota.

RAV4 steering column refund - another delay

April 14, 2010: The people at Toyota still haven't reimbursed me for half of my RAV4 steering column repair, as they promised to do. I don't know what the problem is, because all we can do is play phone tag. I sent my repair paperwork in, included a letter explaining everything, and included my case number. The only message I've gotten back is that there is a problem with the paperwork. Every time I call, the person I need to speak to "isn't available right now", and I can't talk to anyone else, so I have to leave a message. They promise to call back in "two business days", a promise they have yet to keep.

You'd think with all their current safety and PR problems they would be as nice and apologetic as can be, but no, I feel like we're just playing some game so they can either delay reimbursing me, or avoid reimbursing me altogether. I'm just a wee bit frustrated and irritated with them, and my new mantra is "Toyota is Evil".

RAV4 steering column repair - phone call - April 16, 2010

I finally got to talk to my "contact" at Toyota, and here's the summary: "Mr. Alexander, you know that three-page, stapled document you sent in? Well, we scanned it in, and we can only find one page, so you'll need to send it in again. Do you still have our address?"

After I nearly exploded, she said she also had a fax number, and that would go directly to her, so I'm heading out now to find a fax machine so I can get this to her today.

RAV4 steering column repair - phone call - April 19, 2010

Wow, I'm stunned ... my Toyota contact called today to say "the check is in the mail". They are finally going to reimburse me for $400 of the $800 repair bill. Wow. It took two and a half years, but it looks like Toyota is finally going to cover half of the repair. I still don't think it's fair, but at least they're paying something.