Toyota Owners Are Suing Over Frustrating Bluetooth Problems

by Gabrielle DeSantis

A car is one of the most expensive purchases you can make, and for people who aren’t homeowners, it is probably the most you will spend on a single possession. Because of that, drivers expect their vehicles to perform to their expectations in all ways – which, in 2021, includes any built-in technologies. Bluetooth is an important feature in modern cars, allowing people to safely use their mobile devices hands-free. A group of Toyota owners is unhappy with Bluetooth problems in their vehicles and are suing the Japanese automaker.

The Bluetooth problems Toyota owners are having explains that the affected Toyota owners have filed a class-action lawsuit against the automotive giant that alleges when a consumer uses Bluetooth for calls, the person on the other end hears an echo of their own voice.

The suit claims this issue is the result of defective hands-free phone head units.” All Illinois law firm filed the suit and represents all Illinois residents who purchased or leased a “class vehicle” within the time frame covered by the lawsuit.

The affected Toyota models

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There are a number of Toyota models that are affected by the alleged Bluetooth problems and, as a result, are considered a “class vehicle” in the class action.

The lawsuit lists various makes of the Toyota 4Runner, Highlander, Prius, Sequoia, Sienna, Avalon, Camry, Tacoma, Tundra, and Yaris as the affected models.

There are exceptions to that list, however. The 2018 Toyota Camry are excluded from the lawsuit, and in order for a specific vehicle to be included in the class, it must not have been “initially equipped with Apple CarPlay” and cannot have “had a head unit replaced at Toyota’s expense” resulting from a 2017 Technical Service Bulletin from Toyota.

That TSB alerted owners of “a Bluetooth echo in 2018 Camry and Camry Hybrid vehicles” and offered to bring the vehicle to a dealer to have the Panasonic head units replaced.

What has happened in the lawsuit so far

But the plaintiff, who has reportedly leased multiple 2019 Tundras with the Bluetooth issue, says that the TSB didn’t go far enough.

Toyota subsequently issued a “Tech Tip” with the subject “Bluetooth Hands-Free Call Echo” letting owners of other vehicles on the above list know of the Bluetooth problem on the 2016-2018 model years but failed to issue a similar recall for those models.

The Tech Tips claimed the echo issues were a result of the phone volume being too low and recommended that the user should increase the phone to max volume using the volume up button on the side of the phone after initiating the call. Then, he should lower the volume on the head unit to 45 or lower. The lawsuit alleges that the advice doesn’t address “the underlying problems in the hands-free phone systems.”

The plaintiff also criticizes Toyota’s advised fix because it requires the user to initiate the call, then “find the phone, pick it up and adjust the volume while driving,” which is the distraction that drivers look to avoid by using Bluetooth to make and receive calls while in the car.

When Toyota started offering Apple CarPlay in some 2019 and all 2020 models, according to the lawsuit, it fixed the problem, and those vehicles don’t have the Bluetooth echo.

If you think you’re affected and may qualify to join the lawsuit, you can contact the law firms handling the case, Goldenberg Heller & Antognoli, P.C., the Law Office of Richard S. Cornfeld, LLC, Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos, LLP.

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