Home » If You Own One Of These Toyota Corollas, RAV4s, Or Matrix/Vibes You Should Stop Driving Your Car Immediately

If You Own One Of These Toyota Corollas, RAV4s, Or Matrix/Vibes You Should Stop Driving Your Car Immediately

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Toyota is telling some owners of 2004-2005 RAV4 crossovers, 2003-2005 Corolla sedans, and 2003-2005 Matrix wagons not to drive their cars due to potentially lethal Takata airbags that haven’t yet been replaced under recall. Oh, and since the 2003 to 2004 Pontiac Vibe is essentially a Matrix in a pair of Oakley sunglasses, it’s getting the same treatment.

The Detroit News reports that “about 50,000 Toyotas” are affected in America, and that’s just one jurisdiction. Canadian outlet Global News reports that approximately an additional 7,300 vehicles are still affected north of the border, bringing the grand total to roughly 57,000 cars before Pontiac Vibes are even factored in.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

For the Corolla, the first shrapnel-related recall came about on May 13, 2015. That’s almost nine years ago, even if it doesn’t feel quite that long. Shrapnel? Ah, yes. As a refresher, the Takata airbag scandal triggered one of the biggest automotive recalls ever due to airbags that don’t deploy properly. In the words of Toyota’s initial defect report:

The subject vehicles are equipped with front passenger air bag inflators (Takata-designated SPI, PSPI, or PSPI-L) which, according to the Part 573 Reports submitted by Takata, may have been manufactured in such a way as to have a potential for the intrusion of moisture over time. Depending on the circumstances, this potential condition could create excessive internal pressure when the air bag is deployed, which could result in the body of the inflator rupturing upon deployment. In the event of an inflator rupture, metal fragments could pass through the air bag cushion material, which may result in injury or death to vehicle occupants.

Translation? Some vehicle occupants are essentially sitting in front of Claymores. Now, you’d expect this sort of problem to send shivers down the spines of owners, encouraging them to bring their vehicles in for free airbag replacement.

1998001 2003 Corolla Le 7 takata airbagsWhile many have, there are still thousands of vehicles roaming the streets with potentially deadly recalled Takata airbags, and due to the age of affected vehicles, it’s likely some of the most vulnerable drivers on the road are behind the wheel.

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15 2004 Matrix Xrs takata airbags

Today, many of these Toyotas are cheap cars that have either been passed down through inheritance or depreciation to people who don’t have a lot of money but still need to get around. They might not be able to find the time to get the recall fix done, as they’re so focused on putting food on the table. It’s also worth noting that some of these 50,000 cars might not be on the road in America anymore. Some may have been shipped overseas, others sent to the junkyard and not documented properly.

2004 Toyota Rav4 takata airbags

Whether news of some cars’ demises hasn’t made it back to manufacturers or some drivers just can’t time recall work in a way that works for them, both are signs that the systems put in place aren’t working optimally. Some dealerships don’t perform recall work on Saturdays and that needs to change. Some cars get lost in the system and that needs to change.

02 2004 Matrix Xr 2wd

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In any case, Toyota and GM are merely the latest manufacturers to slap do-not-drive warnings on Takata airbag-equipped cars, with Honda, BMW, and Dodge all having done so. As these restraint systems continue to age, it’s only a matter of time before more manufacturers join in.

(Photo credits: Toyota)

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Gardenbolt
Gardenbolt
1 month ago

Thanks for the heads up thomas, I have an 04 rav. i went to their site to input the vin and it came up no safety recall issues with no real details. I wasn’t satisfied with that lack of detail. So I contacted a local toyota dealer. They quickly looked it up and my vehicle was repaired before i bought it.

Mine is hi miles. But i’ve got to say it is a very reliable daily driver. Other than maintenance it has no real mechanical issues in the last 4 years that i have owned it.

Thomas Benham
Thomas Benham
1 month ago

My Vibe has had two clocksprings (the thing that brings power from the column to the wheel) fail. My airbag wouldn’t go off if I wanted it to. If I decide to change the clockspring again, I’ll probably leave the airbag disconnected but the car is quickly reaching the point where any failure could cause repair costs to exceed the value of the car.

James Carson
James Carson
1 month ago

I’ve been getting seat belt recall notices for 18+ years for my long departed (junked) Oldsmobile Intrigue. Called the local GM dealer, the MOT and written GM. Notices still keep coming about every 6 months. The system appears to have flaws as all the concerned parties have been notified. It’s either that or no one can be bothered to enter the data.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
1 month ago

Hey Thomas, thumbs up for the real-life perspective you included in the story.

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago

The Takata recall turns 10 this year, and of course Toyota is only one of the many manufacturers involved. Honda was a huge client as well.
Takata got in over their head in the early aughts. They were supplying everyone, and had to expand their operation into Mexico.
They ran into a shortage of the appropriate explosive, so they substituted a cheaper, more volatile chemical. Engineers warned that these airbags would eventually explode into people’s faces, killing them, but like the heroes that tried to stop the Challenger launch, they were rebuffed and ignored by management.
I would wager that a large percentage of the remaining death traps are caused by dealers turning away customers due to no parts inventory.
A friend of mine was told this by the Honda dealer when trying to get his daughter’s car repaired. He just told them he won’t drive the car until it’s safe, and they were forced to give him a rental until the repairs were complete.

Delta 88
Delta 88
1 month ago
Reply to  Pappa P

I can’t speak to the situation with Honda, but other than the new one announced a few months ago for the ~2015 Traverse that GM is dragging it’s feet on getting fully up and going, the Chevy dealer I work at always has them in stock, and GM has plenty sitting on the shelves at the PDCs whenever we have to order more

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Delta 88

After 10 years, it’s good to know that some dealers finally have decent supply.
Closer to the beginning of this, the demand was overwhelming and it’s understandable that many dealers would have to wait for parts. No excuse to keep customers driving around in a death trap though.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
1 month ago

I’m a little confused by this my wife has already had her ’05 Pontiac Vibe in for airbag recalls twice now-it only has 2 airbags. Is one of the recalled airbags now getting recalled??

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
1 month ago

I don’t think this is a new recall; I imagine this is the same recall that your wife has already dealt with.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob Boxbody

Here’s hoping-need to put her VIN into the NHTSA thing

Clark B
Clark B
1 month ago

My fiancee used to have a 2009 Ford Fusion, which had a Takata recall out for it. Holy shit, was Ford determined. My fiancee kept putting it off and by the time he finally got it fixed we were getting recall notices once a week, with increasingly alarming messaging as time went on. Which, honestly, isn’t a bad idea.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 month ago

I am still waiting on Toyota to tell me that the airbags are available for my 09 Scion xB. Such bullshit.

This is why I was forced to hire The Terminator to be my driver.
But that frickin eye in the rearview mirror sort of freaks me out at times.

Last edited 1 month ago by Col Lingus
JShaawbaru
JShaawbaru
1 month ago

They are really bad about taking scrapped cars out of the system, the Saab 9-2x is affected by a similar recall, and after scrapping one of mine 3-4 years ago, and reporting it as such, I still got recall warnings in the mail for years after it was gone. I don’t think I’ve seen one in a while, so maybe they finally figured it out.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

A few thoughts I have been hearing forever that availability was the problem in that Noone had 200 million fitted airbags living around and I doubt Covid helped. The 2nd at current value I wonder if buying back the car would be cheaper than replacing the airbags?

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

The repairs are covered by the manufacturer, so no cost to dealers

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  Pappa P

Yes hoe does it create air bags for replacement where there are none or why does it affect paying for cars to be bought back instead repaired?

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Are you calling me a hoe?
It’s likely Takata footing the bill for everything, and I just don’t see a component manufacturer buying back vehicles.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  Pappa P

Meant how but sure why not? LOL. Takata declared bankruptcy, and manufacturers are still on the hook for replacement so there are still costs.

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

The things I have to do to make my money…
I guess if manufacturers are footing the bill, a buy back would make sense in some cases. If they have to pay for a customer’s rental for months while waiting for a part, a buy back could be cheaper.
It would suck for the owner though, as they likely won’t be able to replace e the vehicle for what they get.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  Pappa P

Yeah, but just maybe the dealer ups an incentive that gets these poor soils into something without the claymore.

Torque
Torque
1 month ago
Reply to  Pappa P

A ‘like’ for both of you on the gracious handling of the fat finger ‘hoe’ 😉

About recalling a whole vehicle… I know ‘Lemmon law’ buy backs occur for specific units of a given make/model after XX number of attempts by a certified dealer to fix a given (one) car due to some significant defects, such as a car having its engine or transmission replaced multiple times…

Outside of that I can’t think of any instance that I’ve heard of, of a manufacturer “recalling” and buying back Multiple units of the same make/model

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Torque

The Toyota truck frame recall is the first thing that comes to mind, as I believe owners could opt for a buyback or frame replacement.
Another instance I recall was when a buddy of mine bought a new Dakota, at least 20 years ago. They had overstated the vehicles towing abilities, and had to lower the rating. They offered I think $500 in accessories, or a full buy back. I guess that was more of a false advertising thing.
Unfortunately, here in Canada we have no lemon laws, but instead a crooked, dealer run, customer funded arbitration board. If you buy a lemon here you have to swallow it whole.

Torque
Torque
1 month ago
Reply to  Pappa P

Thats right! The Toyota truck frame recall I had forgotten about that one.
I (think?) The VW diesel lawsuits could be a good 2nd example that I clearly wasn’t thinking about yesterday too.
Still pretty rare (and for good reason, need to stay in business and all…)

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago
Reply to  Torque

Oh yeah, VW was a good one.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
1 month ago

I have a friend whose husband has a Mazda with one of these recalled airbag units and they still haven’t gotten it fixed! I’ve gently pestered them about it while visiting to no avail. They really have no excuse either.

David Smith
David Smith
1 month ago

I guess that means I have about 4 years to replace the one in my ’09 Matrix. Since no one has ever sat in the passenger seat since I bought it, it doesn’t seem like an issue.

Actually the salesman who went with me for the test drive sat there. I asked him if he wasn’t a bit nervous. He said he was cool. He could have had no idea if I were a shit driver.

Either way that was before I bought it.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

Yeah but let’s get real… people still need to go places and they will continue driving their cars.

My first thought is that better option would be to pull the fuse that controls the airbag. However after checking, I found that the fuse that controls the airbag ALSO controls the fuel injection, the starter and the gauges.

So I guess the other option would be to preemptively remove or disconnect the airbag… which seems like a simple DIY job
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clFdfoQeq6w

JurassicComanche25
JurassicComanche25
1 month ago

Had an 05 Vibe from 2020-2022. They recalled us every 6 months, then said they didnt have a part to fix the recall. At this point, you want to take it off the road they should do a buyback.

Citroen BX4TC
Citroen BX4TC
1 month ago

Immediately? Or can I get off the freeway first?

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago
Reply to  Citroen BX4TC

Yes… IMMEDIATELY!!! Crash it if helps you stop faster…. Oh wait!! Don’t do that…

Phil Layshio
Phil Layshio
1 month ago

But haven’t pretty much all of the air has been under recall for years now?

Data
Data
1 month ago

Takata airbags, the gift that keeps on giving.

No Kids, Just Bikes
No Kids, Just Bikes
1 month ago

Our local GM dealer (there is no toyota dealer within an hour) is in no rush to get the airbags fixed on our beater Vibe, let me tell you.

Pappa P
Pappa P
1 month ago

Go to the dealer, hand them the keys, and tell them you’ll be willing to drive it once it is safe. They will have to get you a rental until the car is repaired.
No excuse for them to have you driving around in a death trap.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago

In addition to people not having the time, I suspect many of them just don’t know. If you’re not the original owner, and you never take it to a dealer, you might not know you’re riding in front of a hand grenade. Appliance drivers don’t read sites like this.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

most recalls like this require the manufacturer to send notices out to every registered owner of the impacted models. So they should be getting notices in the mail telling them if they still own the car go get it fixed.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

Providing they don’t think they’re junk mail. Yes, I know people should be checking, but a lot of junk mail looks “official” these days and many may not read it.

Data
Data
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

You may have already won permanent dismemberment or death.

Torque
Torque
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

“I’m calling about your car’s extended warrantee…” 🙂

Thomas Ogle
Thomas Ogle
1 month ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

I am a small used car dealer. Loved selling Vibes/Matrixes, still do if I can find them in nice shape. I have sold possibly 200 and I get constant recall notices for them. They definitely send them out to everyone who has had the title in their names. I also have a stack of Tacoma recalls on frames of trucks that are long gone.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 month ago

I hope Toyota has a fix for those affected sooner than the shit situation a sibling is in with a Chevy Traverse he hasn’t been able to drive regularly for over 6 months now, with still no new part or ETA yet.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 month ago

These have now become Darwin bags.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago

Now it’s time for an awkward conversation with your insurance company.

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