Allegations of Conspiracy and Fraud Against Toyota
Why does my Camry’s air conditioning system emit odors?
Like something out of a Seinfeld episode, some Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid owners are allegedly living a smelly car nightmare a bit similar the one Jerry suffered after a restaurant valet left a stench that was “beyond body order” in his car. It was impossible to remedy, even after multiple cleaning attempts. The whole gang noticed it and were forced to hang their heads out the window.
Instead of body odor though, the alleged problem is mold. And mold isn’t a laughing matter as the class action lawsuit against Toyota makes clear. The suit impacts Toyota Camry and Toyota Camry Hybrids for model years 2012-2017.
Plaintiffs in the conspiracy and fraud lawsuit claim that severe odors are present when the air conditioning system is turned on and worsens as “the air conditioner temperature [is set] to blow cooler air” In addition, passengers have complained about the odors “even when the air recirculation feature is turned off”.
The plaintiffs allege that the air conditioning defect likely occurs because the water produced as the refrigerant passes through the evaporator of the air conditioner fails to properly drain out of the system from a rubber hose and that “pollen, moisture and debris causes the growth of mold in the evaporator”. The moldy and musty smell, described by one plaintiff as a “funky, horrid, old smell” then blows onto the drivers and passengers riding in the Camry and Camry Hybrid cabins allegedly “exposing occupants to health problems from the mold”.
According to the Camry lawsuit, Toyota has known about the mold odors because the automaker sent dealerships multiple technical service bulletins (TSBs) since 1997.
The initial 1997 TSB reportedly entitled “Air Conditioning Evaporator Odor” referenced all Toyota vehicles and at the time Toyota allegedly noted that a “possible blockage of the evaporator housing drain pipe” or “microbial growth in the evaporator from dampness in the evaporator housings” may have been the problem.
Subsequently, a 2009 TSB relevant to Camry and Prius models still addressed the air conditioning odor issue and noted that a “newly designed evaporator sub-assembly has been made available to decrease the potential for HVAC odor.” The sub-assemblies were also reportedly referenced in a 2011 TSB.
By the time of the 2013 TSB on the subject, an apparent shift occurred. The TSB advised dealers that the smelly odors were “naturally occurring from the HVAC system and/or related environmental factors.” It also reportedly noted “there is no way to eliminate these odors” and encouraged dealers to try to “minimize the smells” through tips in prior TSBs. In 2015, Camry and Camry Hybrid cars from 2007-2012 were added to the 2015 TSB.
All of these TSBs, spanning nearly two decades, may be potentially damning evidence that Toyota knew of the problem with mold, failed to correct it, and allegedly concealed it from vehicle owners and buyers. Some plaintiffs allege they were told by dealers that the odors were due to “humidity” or that they should open the vent and use the heater occasionally to relieve the odor problem.
Consumer fraud is a big problem in the auto industry overall. Fortunately, car owners and lessees have remedies against automakers and dealers who engage in deceptive and unlawful practices. They also have remedies like breach of warranty lawsuits against sellers who don’t stand behind their products and don’t correct problems when their products fail.
If you feel you have been the victim of dealer fraud, breach of warranty, or any other car-related problem, the Law Offices of Timothy Abeel & Associates can help you. Depending on your particular circumstances, you may be entitled to a full refund, a brand-new car, or a cash settlement. Contact us today for a free consultation.