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Car safety issues can be covered by recalls that never expire, but watch out for warranties that do

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — In 2014 Toyota offered to replace dashboards in 3.4 million vehicles after owners in sunny states like Arizona and Florida reported that their dashboards were melting, causing a dangerous glare on the windshield.

Some drivers assumed it was a recall, but it wasn’t. Toyota labeled the replacement program an “enhanced warranty.” There’s a big difference between extended warranties or enhanced warranties and actual recalls.

Recalls never expire whereas safety campaigns involving warranties have an end date, something Ronald Annis found out the hard way when the dashboard in his 2010 Toyota Camry started melting in 2020.

“I almost had an accident from the glare,” Annis said.

Annis found out about the enhanced warranty program, but he was too late. Toyota’s extended warranty on dashboards expired in 2019.

“Toyota told me it would be around $1,500 dollars to replace it,” he said.

In a statement Toyota told ABC Action News: “It was an enhancement to the original warranty that extended coverage to 10 years from the date it was first sold.” The enhancement warranty notice regarding the dashboards went out to owners in 2014 three years before Annis bought his used Camry.

Annis can’t understand why the safety issues surrounding melting dashboards did not warrant a recall. “It is just disturbing to me,” he said. But to avoid any more close calls, he’s paying out-of-pocket for a dash pad that should get rid of the glare.

Federal regulators mandate automakers notify owners of warranty enhancements, but they may or may not show up on a Carfax or vehicle history report. Your best source for that information would be your local dealer.

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