I’ve Got One of the Recalled Toyotas. Now What?

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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. Here are the first steps you should take.

With all the problems surrounding the current Toyota recall, many drivers are understandably afraid to drive their cars. Others may also be wondering if they can simply dump their Toyota and move on. After all, why should you be making payments on a car you’re afraid to drive?

And you might have other questions, like “Can I get a rental car at Toyota’s expense?”

For answers, I talked via Skype to an attorney who specializes in lemon law, 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.

Watch the interview below, then meet me on the other side for more.

So the short answer is, you can’t simply turn in our car and walk away if you haven’t had any problems. If you have, you might be able to, but you should contact the dealer and consider including 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.

And when it comes to rental cars, according to this lawyer, if you’re afraid to drive your Toyota, you should be able to get a rental or loaner through the dealer. And if they’re not forthcoming, you might have a legal case for reimbursement of those expenses.

What about resale value?

For answers about trade-in and resale value, I reached out to Kelly Blue Book. Below are their comments:

How is my resale value affected?

“Toyota is not sweeping this under the rug; they are looking after their consumers, and this should help keep Toyota in high regard and their residual values stable. Kelley Blue Book has a team of analysts at auctions across the country, and we will be monitoring how the Toyota recall affects the auction lanes over the next several weeks. However, we don’t expect that the Toyota recall will affect the two-, three- and five-year residual values of these vehicles.”
Eric Ibara, director of residual value consulting

How will the recall affect Toyota’s current used-Car Values

“On the used-car values side of the business, Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com 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 and in need of a refresh.”
Juan Flores, director of vehicle valuation

Other ways to get out of a 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 on ditching your leased car.

Bottom line? If you want to dump your leased Toyota, it’s possible, especially if it’s having problems associated with the recall. If it’s not, you’ll have to use the same techniques open to all: either buying it out of the lease contract and reselling it, or getting someone to take it over, either by advertising it or trying one of several lease-swapping sites.

And for the moment at least, either of those options probably won’t be easy until Toyota’s problems are resolved.

Stacy Johnson

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