By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN Business
Last June, Toyota warned owners of its first mainstream electric vehicle, the BZ4X, to stop driving their SUVs and have them transported to dealers because of a scary problem: the wheels could fall off after driving even just a few miles.
Now, more than three months later, Toyota has announced that it has finally figured out what was causing the problem, and it has a solution.
A supplier that made wheels for the SUV didn’t make them precisely according to Toyota’s specifications, Toyota spokesman Aaron Fowles said. A different supplier that made the hub bolts that attach the wheels to the axle also didn’t make them quite the right shape, he said. Those two incorrectly produced parts allowed the wheels to vibrate loose as the SUV was driven.
To fix the problem, Toyota will put on new wheels that will be attached with new bolts that will also have washers to help keep them tight. These new wheels, nuts and washers are being sent to Toyota dealers who will install them at no charge. Toyota said in an announcement that it hopes to begin putting the new wheels on customers’ SUVs by November.
Issue wasn’t widespread
Because the problem was discovered shortly after the SUV went on sale, it never became widespread. Only 260 BZ4Xs had been delivered to customers before the recall was announced. The Subaru Solterra, which was developed in collaboration with Toyota and is very similar to the BZ4X, was unaffected as Subaru hadn’t delivered any to customers before the issue was discovered.
In early August, Toyota said it had begun working with some customers to buy back the SUVs that they had purchased but weren’t able to drive. The company is offering customers the free use of another Toyota vehicle until the issue is corrected. Toyota also offered owners $5,000 toward their car payments or as a partial refund of the purchase price. Toyota extended the vehicles’ factory warranty by the amount of time that the SUVs have been taken out of service.
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