— A 2019-2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid fuel tank issue has caused a class action lawsuit that alleges the gas tanks cannot be filled to capacity, causing a decrease in the advertised range of the vehicles.
Toyota advertises the 2019-2020 RAV4 Hybrids are equipped with 14.5 gallon fuel tanks, but the plaintiffs who filed the class action claim the tanks cannot hold that amount of fuel.
The Hybrid allegedly should get 41 miles per gallon for city driving, 38 mpg for highway driving and a combined 40 mpg.
The plaintiffs say this should provide a range of 580 miles on a tank of gas. However, the 2019-2020 RAV4 Hybrid allegedly cannot reach that range because when refueling, the gas pump nozzle automatically shuts off before the tank is close to being full.
Many owners claim adding 8 gallons of gas when the low fuel light is illuminated causes the fuel nozzle to shut off. Trying to add more fuel allegedly causes an overflow even though the tank should hold 14.5 gallons total.
Toyota allegedly redesigned the shape of the 2019-2020 RAV4 Hybrids compared to previous model years, and this allegedly caused the automaker to change the design of the fuel tanks. The gas gauge typically never reads full and the "Distance to Empty" allegedly is in the 400-mile range or lower.
According to the class action, the fuel systems are not properly vented which increases emissions from the vehicles and causes damage to the components due to higher internal pressure.
The plaintiffs say no reasonable consumer expects to purchase or lease a vehicle with fuel tank issues which create a safety hazard and limits the fuel capacity and range of the vehicle.
One plaintiff who owns a 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid says he noticed the fuel tank issue about two weeks after he bought the vehicle. The gas tank was allegedly unable to hold more than 10 gallons of fuel, an issue he told his dealership needed to be fixed.
The dealer allegedly refused to make any repairs because technicians could find no problems, other than telling the plaintiff to use a gas station other than Costco. The plaintiff says he complained directly to Toyota which told him to take the Hybrid back to the dealership, which he says he did.
"Remarkably, the Toyota dealership admitted in Plaintiff Boulom’s repair orders that this was 'a normal characteristic of this vehicle' and that the fuel tank’s true capacity was 'around 12 gallons.'"
In the end the plaintiff says he was told the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid was operating normally.
The class action lawsuit alleges Toyota knows about the fuel tank issue because the automaker sent dealers a technical service bulletin on November 5, 2019, about the 2019 Hybrids.
Bulletin T-TT-0581-19, titled “Fuel Gauge,” applied to the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid and said, “Some 2019 model year RAV4 HV customers may be experiencing some concern related to the fuel gauge reading less than full.”
Toyota went on to say the concern was under investigation, but the lawsuit alleges nothing fixes the problem with the fuel tanks.
The plaintiffs claim Toyota dealers have performed various repairs such as replacing the sending units, updating software, replacing the fuel tanks and replacing the gaskets. At first the repairs seem to help before the fuel tank issues return.
In some cases, dealers allegedly tackle the issue by a software fix that can make the fuel gauge appear to be full. But the lawsuit says it's only possible to add 11 gallons of gas once driving the vehicle to empty.
The 2019-2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid fuel tank lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California: Boulom, et al., v. Toyota Motor Sales. U.S.A., Inc, et al.
The plaintiffs are represented by Capstone Law APC.