In January, Toyota is expected to announce a customer service campaign to alert about 700,000 vehicle owners of 2007-2013 Lexus ES, 2006-2012 Lexus IS, and 2013 Lexus GS models due to a problem with the emergency trunk release found by Consumer Reports.
While not a regular part of our test program, we found that the emergency interior trunk escape lever on our 2013 Lexus ES and GS can easily snap off during use, potentially leaving a trapped occupant without any way to escape. When the lever is pulled straight or toward the passenger side of the vehicle, it worked fine. However, when pulled toward the driver's side, the plastic surround acts as a fulcrum and snaps the emergency release handle off easily, preventing the trunk from opening.
We immediately notified both Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about our findings. Toyota was able to reproduce the problem, and it identified another model, the IS, that also was prone to the release breaking.
To correct the problem, Toyota is replacing the ABS plastic release with a more robust polypropylene unit, strengthened with supporting ridges (photo right). Toyota has implemented this change at the factory, ensuring all affected ES, IS, and GS models going forward will have the correct piece.
Once parts and procedures have been made available to dealerships, Toyota will alert owners by mail to bring their vehicle in for a free fix. The customer service campaign announcement is expected to go out in late January.
We applaud Toyota for quickly addressing the problem and making the necessary fix to ensure that if someone does get trapped in a trunk, they can safely and easily escape without incident.
For more information, contact Lexus customer service at 800-255-3987 or visit www.lexus.com/recall.
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