The Toyota FJ Cruiser is a uniquely-styled sports utility vehicle that debuted with a 2007 model that sold approximately 56,225 models upon its release. While that seemed to be good news for Toyota’s position in the compact SUV market, sales of the vehicle dropped to as low as 11,941 in 2009 and 13,656 in 2012. Regardless of the sales, owners of these retro-style vehicles are receiving bad news this week, as Toyota Motor Corporation has announced a recall of approximately 209,000 FJ Cruisers of all model years in the U.S.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota have received complaints of defective front seat belt retractors that can eventually lead to the belts loosening and ultimately not providing the intended safety. Specifically, according to the Toyota press statement:
The seatbelt retractors for the driver and front passenger seat belts are mounted in the rear doors (access doors) of the vehicle. Due to insufficient strength of the rear door panel, cracks may develop over an extended period of time if the rear door is repeatedly and forcefully closed. If cracks occur in the panel around the lower seatbelt retractor anchor, the seatbelt retractor may become detached.
While no injuries or accidents have been reported in conjunction with this problem as of yet, the defective seat belt retractors could cause the FJ Cruiser’s front seat belts to malfunction when they are needed the most. Specifically, if the straps become loose, they could fail to properly restrain the occupant in the event of an accident, possibly increasing the occupant’s risk of harm.
This recall essentially affects every FJ Cruiser ever sold in the U.S., as well as approximately 100,000 additional FJ Cruiser vehicles in other countries, including Canada. Toyota will begin contacting vehicle owners immediately about how they can have the seatbelt devices replaced; however, vehicle owners can contact the company at (800) 331-4331 for additional information.