Toyota Recalls 1 Million Vehicles Over Risk of Passenger Airbag Failures

Airbag sensors in various Toyota and Lexus vehicles may short circuit, causing the passenger airbag to fail to detect an occupant and not deploy in an accident.

Federal highway safety officials have announced a recall impacting nearly 1 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the U.S., due to potentially defective airbags that may fail to deploy in the event of crash, increasing the injury risk for passengers.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the Toyota and Lexus airbag recall on December 20, after discovering problems with the passenger seat airbags Occupant Classification System (OCS) sensor.

Officials are warning the impacted OCS sensors may contain a manufacturing error that can lead to a short circuit. When that happens, the sensor may not be able to accurately calculate the occupant’s weight and fail to deploy the airbag in a crash.

Toyota and Lexus Airbag Recall

Toyota first identified the issue in November 2020, after receiving three dealer reports involving Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) malfunctions in the OCS sensor. According to Toyota’s investigation, the problems were caused by a cracked capacitor that allowed moisture to enter, which short-circuited the OCS sensor and prevented the airbag from deploying.

Through its investigation, Toyota determined that the OCS sensor Printed Circuit Board (PCB) may have become deformed during production.

The manufacturer is warning that if a short circuit occurs, the SRS warning lamp will illuminate, the “Passenger Airbag OFF” lamp will illuminate, the MultiInformation Display (MID) message will display, and the front passenger airbag may not deploy in certain crashes.

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The Toyota and Lexus recall impacts an estimated 999,901 vehicles, including the 2020 through 2021 model year Lexus ES, 2020 through 2022 model year Lexus ES Hybrid, 2020 through 2021 model year Lexus RX, 2020 through 2021 Lexus RX Hybrid, 2020 through 2021 Toyota Avalon, 2020 through 2021 Toyota Avalon Hybrid, 2020 through 2022 Toyota Camry, 2020 through 2022 Toyota Camry Hybrid, 2020 through 2021 Toyota Corolla, 2020 through 2021 Toyota Highlander, 2020 through 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, 2020 through 2021 Toyota Rav4, 2020 through 2021 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid, and 2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid.

Toyota anticipates recall notification letters to be mailed to registered owners by February 4, which will include instructions on how to schedule an appointment with an authorized Toyota or Lexus dealer to receive a free vehicle inspection and replace the sensor if necessary, free of charge.

For more information on the recall, owners may contact Toyota customer service by phone at 1-800-331-4331 and reference Toyota recall number 23TB15/23TA15 or Lexus recall number 23LB03/23LA03. Customers may also contact the NHTSA’s vehicle safety hotline by phone at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153).

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