Toyota Motor Corp. is expected in January 2013 to alert around 700,000 owners of three Lexus nameplates in the United States about a problem with the emergency trunk release, according to Consumer Reports magazine. Affected Lexus models are 2007-13 ES mid-sized sedans, 2006-12 IS compact cars and 2013 GS mid-sized sedans.
According to Consumer Reports, it discovered that the emergency trunk release in the 2013 ES and GS can easily break off, which could trap occupants inside. The same effect was also exhibited by the IS.
Consumer Reports said that the lever works properly when pulled straight or toward the passenger side of the vehicle. However, plastic on the handle snaps when pulled toward the driver’s side. The magazine has notified Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about its findings.
In a statement, Toyota acknowledged that Consumer Reports found the faulty lever and confirmed the defect. Toyota said that the part has been changed in production vehicles, adding that Lexus is preparing parts to conduct a product update for existing customer vehicles. Toyota said that the product update will start when preparations are completed.
Consumer Reports flagged the problem in October 2012 after the 4-year-old son of the magazine's auto testing director discovered the problem with the trunk lever, which has been mandatory since the 2002 model year.
Toyota will replace the ABS plastic release with a polypropylene unit, which is strengthened with supporting ridges. Toyota will alert owners of the concerned models by mail to have the trunk releases replaced when components and procedures are made available to dealerships.