NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 2003 Toyota Sequoia

The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 2003 Toyota Sequoia, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. Air Bag Inflator Rupture NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA15001

    • Status:
      OPEN
    • Date Opened: February 24, 2015
    • Date Closed: Pending
    • Recall: possible recall

    Component(s): Air Bags
    Air Bags:Frontal

    Summary: The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened PE14-016 in June 2014 based on six inflator rupture incidents involving consumer owned vehicles produced by five vehicle manufacturers.All six vehicles were operated in Florida or Puerto Rico at the time of the rupture and for the majority of their service life, and were equipped with inflators produced by Takata, a tier-one supplier of automotive air bag systems.During the course of PE14-016, ODI determined that five additional vehicle manufacturers used inflators of a similar design and vintage also supplied by Takata. No evidence of field failures was found in vehicles produced by these five additional manufacturers.Nonetheless, at ODI's insistence, all 10 vehicle manufacturers initiated a regional recall within approximately two weeks of the opening of the investigation.The regions recalled initially included Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, areas with high absolute humidity and climatic conditions believed to be a significant factor in the inflator ruptures.As part of the recall actions, inflators removed from remedied vehicles are to be returned to Takata for testing.Takata's initial test results on passenger inflators from remedied vehicles indicated a much higher than anticipated rupture frequency for inflators returned from Florida.Accordingly ODI requested all 10 manufacturers expand the regional recalls for passenger inflators to include other geographic areas where high absolute humidity conditions exist, including the Gulf States and other coastal areas.Takata's testing of the passenger inflators to date continues to indicate this geographic area as having the highest risk, with no ruptures occurring from inflators returned from outside the expanded recall regions.During PE14-016 four additional passenger inflator field events occurred, all in vehicles from the same expanded geographic region.Also during PE14-016 four additional driver inflator field events occurred including two in vehicles from regions not known for high absolute humidity, specifically California and North Carolina.Accordingly, ODI requested all five of the affected vehicle manufacturers currently using the subject Takata driver inflators expand to nationwide recalls.Significantly, neither of the affected vehicle manufacturers or Takata provided any explanation to account for these two driver air bag inflator ruptures outside the area of high absolute humidity.Takata testing of returned driver inflators indicates a lower rupture frequency as compared to passenger inflator testing.All test ruptures reported by Takata to date have occurred on inflators returned from high absolute humidity areas.The investigation now includes all manufacturers and vehicles known to be affected at this time.ODI's investigation will focus on, among other things, root cause analysis, other potential defect consequences, identification of affected vehicles scope, and adequacy of the remedy.The five ODI reports cited above can be reviewed online at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification numbers: 10537899, 10568848, 10585224, 10605877, 10651492

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #EA15001 »

  2. Air Bag Inflator Rupture NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE14016

    Component(s): Air Bags
    Air Bags:Frontal

    Summary: The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened PE14-016 in June 2014 based on six inflator rupture incidents involving consumer owned vehicles produced by five vehicle manufacturers.All six vehicles were operated in Florida or Puerto Rico at the time of the rupture and for the majority of their service life, and were equipped with inflators produced by Takata, a tier-one supplier of automotive air bag systems.During the course of PE14-016, ODI determined that five additional vehicle manufacturers used inflators of a similar design and vintage also supplied by Takata. No evidence of field failures was found in vehicles produced by these five additional manufacturers.Nonetheless, at ODI's insistence, all 10 vehicle manufacturers initiated a regional recall within approximately two weeks of the opening of the investigation.The regions recalled initially included Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, areas with consistently high absolute humidity and climatic conditions believed to be a significant factor in the inflator ruptures.As part of the recall actions, inflators removed from remedied vehicles are to be returned to Takata for testing.Takata's initial test results on passenger inflators from remedied vehicles indicated a much higher than anticipated rupture frequency for inflators returned from Florida.Accordingly, ODI requested all 10 manufacturers expand the regional recalls for passenger inflators to include other geographic areas where high absolute humidity conditions exist, including the Gulf States and other coastal areas.Takata's testing of the passenger inflators to date continues to indicate this geographic area as having the highest risk, with no ruptures occurring from inflators returned from outside the expanded recall regions.During PE14-016, four additional passenger inflator field events occurred, all in vehicles from the same expanded geographic region.Also during PE14-016, four additional driver inflator field events occurred including two in vehicles from regions not known for high absolute humidity, specifically California and North Carolina.Accordingly, ODI requested all five of the affected vehicle manufacturers currently using the subject Takata driver inflators expand to nationwide recalls.Significantly, neither of the affected vehicle manufacturers or Takata provided any explanation to account for these two driver air bag inflator ruptures outside the area of high absolute humidity.Takata testing of returned driver inflators indicates a lower rupture frequency as compared to passenger inflator testing.All test ruptures reported by Takata to date have occurred on inflators returned from high absolute humidity areas.The PE is now closed/upgraded to an Engineering Evaluation (EA15-001) to include all manufacturersand vehicles known to be affected at this time.ODI's EA investigation will focus on, among other things, root cause analysis, other potential defect consequences, identification of affected vehicles scope, and adequacy of the remedy.The recalls related to this PE are: 14V343, 14V344, 14V348, 14V351, 14V353, 14V655, 14V700, 14V701, 14V752, 14V763, 14V770, 14V773, 14V787, 14V802 and 14V817.The number of vehicles affected are an estimate since some vehicles may have both the driver and passenger side inflators recalled. The five ODI reports cited above can be reviewed online at www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/owners/SearchNHTSAID under the following identification numbers: 10537899, 10568848, 10585224, 10605877, 10651492

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE14016 »

  3. ELECTRONIC STABILITY CONTROL NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA09006

    Component(s): Electronic Stability Control
    Traction Control System

    Summary: On April 28, 2010, Toyota Motor North America submitted a Defect Information Report (NHTSA Recall No. 10V-176) to NHTSA describing a problem in the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system in approximately 50,000 Model Year (MY) 2003 Toyota Sequoia vehicles.According to the report the centering position of the Steering Angle Sensor (SAS) in the MY 2003 vehicles may not be stored correctly due to a logic problem with the Skid Control Computer programming.The VSC system uses the information from the SAS to calculate the driver's intended vehicle direction.This information is cross referenced to sensors that tell the system which direction the vehicle is actually going and the system will, if it determines a variance indicating the vehicle is in a over-steer or under-steer condition, reduce throttle control and apply braking to make a correction in vehicle direction towards what the system believes is the driver's intended path.Toyota dealers will replace the Skid Control Electronic Control Unit in recalled vehicles.Toyota has indicated to NHTSA that it does not believe that inappropriate activations of the VSC system present an unreasonable risk to safety because it believes the activations are rare and tend to occur at low speeds when the vehicle is fully controllable and that the activations do not last more than a few seconds.Based on interviews with complainants ODI believes that the majority of the inappropriate activations of the VSC system occur when turning at low speeds, such as when a driver is pulling into or across the flow of oncoming traffic.Complainants report the effect produced by the malfunction of the VSC system is to leave the vehicle without the ability to accelerate up to speed, essentially leaving them creeping along exposed to oncoming traffic, because of the brake activation and reduction of throttle control caused by the VSC system.Complainants report that the events can last up to 10 seconds and some complaints report that oncoming traffic had to unexpectedly swerve or severely brake to avoid colliding with the malfunctioning Sequoia.During the VSC event the brake lights of the Sequoia are not illuminated such that the following traffic is without indication that braking is occurring, nor would the following traffic expect the driver to be applying brakes in such a situation.Several near misses were reported.There were also reports of the VSC system malfunctioning and applying vehicle braking unexpectedly while traveling at highway speeds.Some complainants reported experiencing malfunction activations of the VSC at both low and higher speeds.ODI counted 140 incidents of lower speed inappropriate activations of the VSC system (approximately 10 mph or less - similar to an inappropriate traction control system activation) and 43 incidents of higher speed inappropriate activations of the VSC system (some as high as 60 mph).These numbers include complainants who experienced both types of failures.This investigation is closed based on Toyota's recall.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #EA09006 »

  4. ELECTRONIC STABILITY CONTROL AND/OR TRAC NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE08072

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: December 16, 2008
    • Date Closed: April 15, 2009
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Electronic Stability Control

    Summary: ODI has received 64 consumer reports and Toyota has received 96 reports that allege incidents of inappropriate activation of either the electronic stability control system [Toyota nomenclature: Vehicle stability control (vsc)] and/or the traction control system in model year (MY) 2003 Toyota Sequoia vehicles.during the activation of either system the driver loses throttle control and one or more brakes may apply causing the vehicle to slow suddenly.during these activation events the brake lights are not illuminated to signal to following traffic that the vehicle is slowing.some of the complainants allege almost being struck by following or crossing traffic because of the unexpected deceleration.in response to ODI's information request letter for PE08-072, Toyota indicated that it has reviewed the reports submitted to ODI and to Toyota and that it believes that there are several issues responsible for the reported incidents.it is Toyota's opinion that the vsc system was operating as designed and that the reports are most likely related to the application of the traction control system rather than the vsc system.at this time Toyota has not determined that a safety-related defect exists in the MY 2003 Sequoia vehicles. This preliminary investigation has been upgraded to an engineering analysis (EA09-006) to continue to investigate the scope, frequency, and safety-related consequences of the alleged defect.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE08072 »

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