Sales of Toyota Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Camry, Camry Hybrid, Corolla, Sienna, Tacoma and Tundra cars equipped with seat heaters have been temporarily discontinued because the fabric on the seats does not retard flame at the rate to meet U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
The stop sale affects 7.1 percent of 2013 model year Toyotas and 12.1 percent of 2014 model year Toyota cars that are currently available for sale, according to data from Kelley Blue Book. The cars most greatly affected are the Toyota Avalon/Avalon Hybrid, which are all equipped with seat heaters; the Toyota Sienna minivan, with 39 percent equipped with seat heaters; and the Tundra CrewMax pickup truck, with 24 percent equipped with seat heaters, according to Kelley Blue Book analysis.
At press time, Toyota had not provided any information about these cars already purchased by consumers.
"Given that much of the U.S. is currently in the grips of a record cold snap, there's sure to be high demand for models with seat heaters. Toyota's stance in halting sales of affected models is prudent, though more information about cars already in consumers' hands would be welcome.
"Should owners of those vehicles stop using the seat heaters? Hopefully, more information will become available quickly as many Toyota customers are likely to be using those seat heaters right now," said Karl Brauer, Kelley Blue Book senior analyst.
Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.