Toyota and Lexus Melting Dashboard Problems Were so Frustrating, Owners Filed a Lawsuit

Toyota and Lexus have an outstanding reputation that has been well-earned over the years. Both are associated with building high-quality vehicles that help drive sales while other automakers are struggling to stay afloat. Toyota has been especially dominating in the auto market.

Their reputation is not entirely spotless, however. There are a few notable blemishes that have driven consumers away. Car Complaints reports that consumers got so frustrated with the Japanese automakers that they sued not once, but twice over dashboards that were physically making drivers sick.

Toyota and Lexus dashboards

When drivers head to the dealership to buy a new car, the dashboard is probably the last thing on their mind, yet that was the biggest problem with several Toyota and Lexus models. It wasn’t a minor problem either. Consumers report that the dashboard cracked, melted, felt sticky, began to look shiny, and emitted a strange odor that was physically making owners sick. 

There were twelve models affected from 2003 to 2011. In total, there were about 3.5 million vehicles impacted, which included the following models: 2006-2008 Lexus ES 350, 2003-2008 Lexus GX 470, 2006-2008 Lexus IS 250 and 350, 2007 Lexus LS 460

These models also were affected: 2004-2006 Lexus RX 330, 2007-2009 Lexus RX 350, 2005-2008 Lexus RX 400h, 2003-2005 Toyota 4Runner, 2005-2010 Toyota Avalon, 2007-2011 Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid, 2004-2010 Toyota Sienna, and the 2004-2008 Toyota Solara.

The first lawsuit

Toyota and Lexus first came under fire in 2014. It’s clear that both automakers knew there was a problem with the dashboards because Lexus sent out a technical service bulletin to its dealers in 2011, the last year to have dashboard issues.

The bulletin essentially said that if a customer complained about the 2006-2008 Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 vehicles, there were revised interior panels that could be installed to address the problem. There was no mention of issues with the other Lexus models, and Toyota never acknowledged there was a problem at all. The Mazda3 also faced the same problem.

Consumers became frustrated and filed a lawsuit in 2014. Toyota and Lexus, in an effort to reach a settlement, created a customer support program that was intended to replace the dashboards. Part of the agreement was to issue a full reimbursement to customers who had their dashboard repaired prior to the lawsuit. The other part was an extended warranty that was supposed to last through May 2017. 

The deal sounded great, and consumers were more than happy with what the Japanese automakers were offering, dropping the lawsuit. Unfortunately, Toyota and Lexus didn’t live up to their end of the bargain. May 2017 was rapidly approaching, and Toyota had made no effort to repair the dashboards, so consumers sued again.

Toyota and Lexus stand behind their original agreement, and nothing has been done. Many vehicles never got repaired, and because the 2017 date has come and gone, consumers who missed the deadline are just out of luck.

The problem isn’t over for Toyota and Lexus models

Many owners are still experiencing problems with the dashboard, but Toyota and Lexus are done. On ToyotaNation, many owners are expressing their frustration with the fact that neither automaker seems to care. Toyota claims to have alerted all owners, but many drivers state that this is simply untrue.

One owner reports, “I wasn’t aware of the extended warranty for the melting dash issues. I read an article online and rushed down to the dealer only to find out I was 3 weeks too late.” 

Another owner stated, “I was quoted a $1,700 cost to replace the dashboard while the service manager at our local Toyota dealership disavowed the problem being caused by the materials Toyota changed to for the years in question. He claimed it is the Florida sun/heat’s fault…Yeah right!”

Many owners are so frustrated that they’ve come up with their own solution, which is using custom cut mats to cover up the dashboard. It works well, as the dashboard is so sticky that it acts as a glue and holds the mat in place. Still, for two automakers known for having great quality vehicles, it’s rather shocking that neither stood behind its product.