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What if your Toyota is recalled?

If you're driving a model affected by the recall, here are some questions you should ask.

By Stacy Johnson Jan 28, 2010 4:43PM

With all the problems surrounding the current Toyota recall, many drivers are confused about what they should do next and what their rights are. What you should do varies from nothing to seeing a lawyer. 


First things first

Here are the first steps you should take:

  • Is my car affected? You can call your Toyota dealer’s service department with your vehicle identification number (VIN) in hand. They’ll be able to tell you whether your car is part of the recall.
  • If your car is part of the recall, is your accelerator pedal hard to press, slow to return or jerky in motion? If so, Toyota suggests you park it and call the dealership.
  • No matter what you're driving, take a minute to see how you can stop it in case of emergency. Here's some help from Consumer Reports

If you're wondering what's taking so long to get these cars fixed, here's an article explaining where the parts are.

And in the meantime, keep in mind that the vast majority of owners, especially those in newer cars, are unlikely to ever experience a failure, Toyota says.


What else can you do?

All that being said, many people are still understandably nervous about driving their cars. Others may also be wondering if they have other options, like getting a loaner or free rental. Or even dumping their Toyota if it's leased


For some answers, I talked to an attorney who specializes in lemon laws, Bob Silverman of Kimmel & Silverman. It turns out that your rights hinge on whether your car actually has the problem (symptom) that prompted the recall.  


According to Silverman, you can’t simply turn in your leased car and walk away if you haven’t had any issues. If you do have issues, you might be able to, but you should contact the dealer and consider enlisting the aid of a lawyer.


If you’ve had an accident that involves the symptoms, you should definitely talk to a lawyer. And that lawyer might be free: Many lemon-law lawyers, including the one I interviewed, collect from the company, not you.


When it comes to rental cars, according to Silverman, if you’re afraid to drive your Toyota...leased or should be able to get a free rental or loaner through the dealership. And if they’re not forthcoming, you might have a legal case for reimbursement of those expenses. (Remember, that's one lawyer's opinion, not Toyota's policy.)


If you want to see the entire interview, I've got it on video at 


What about resale value?

For answers regarding how the recall might affect used Toyota values, I reached out to both Kelley Blue Book and Below are their comments:'s analyst Joe Spina said, "Used Toyota prices will drop as much as 10% for the affected models and about 3% for the unaffected models in the short term, but we anticipate a recovery to original pricing within six months of the resolution of the problem."


Juan Flores of Kelley Blue Book said, “(We) would not be surprised if there was some incremental softening in Toyota values among the models that are two or three years into their product cycle.” 


So it looks like, at least at this stage of the game, any decline in your Toyota's value may be small and short-lived.


What if you still want to get out of your lease? No matter what you drive, it is possible to get out of a lease, although it’s not easy. Watch this story I did a while back for some other ideas for ditching your leased car.


So no matter what kind of lease you have, it's possible to get out of it, either by buying it out of the lease and reselling it, or trying to get someone to assume it at one of several lease-swapping sites.


But those two options are never easy. And if you've got a Toyota affected by the recall, it will be even harder. 


Related reading at Money Talks News:

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