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Toyota stops sales of seat-heater models

By Tara Baukus Mello ·
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Posted: 9 am ET

cars-blog-ToyotaAvalonToyota has stopped sales of some versions of eight of its 2013-2014 models because of a seat heater issue that doesn't comply with federal standards.

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.

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Paul K
March 01, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Arranged for a lease on a new 2013 Avalon Limited in early February, and are still waiting for Toyota to get parts to the dealer to replace the defective seat heater parts. It's been almost a month now, and no official explanation from Toyota as to when I will be getting my new Avalon. It still sits in an outlot with a "Hold" sticker in the window, surrounded by Camrys and Siennas that can't be released. I can hardly believe Toyota went the entire month of February without selling any of their top-sellers, without someone expediting the necessary repair parts. Pretty shoddy way to do business, if you ask me. Honda dealer next door might be getting a call very soon.

February 09, 2014 at 12:12 pm

We leased a 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid in late NOV/13 - Learned about seat heater matter on 2/6 - called local dealer service department - clueless on report or suggested direction we should take to protect from possible fire. Voiced my trouble with his position and hung up with matter unresolved. To his credit he did call me back and gave me the 888 number for Toyota USA - will be calling them on 10th.

February 09, 2014 at 1:13 am

Where would I be without my a$s-cooker? Here but colder.

ted moore
February 08, 2014 at 9:40 am

I was told that I would not be able to test drive a Toyota with seat heaters, and would not be able to take the car untill around two weeks after I.purchased it, but would be supplied with a rental, is this the direction toyota has given to their dealerships?