Toyota Prius Bad Smell Causes Lawsuit

Class action lawsuit alleges moisture and mold grows in the evaporator and HVAC system.

Toyota Prius Bad Smell Causes Lawsuit

Posted in News

— A Toyota Prius bad smell has caused a Florida car owner to file a class action lawsuit alleging the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems emit bad and harmful odors.

The Toyota Prius lawsuit covers the 2006-2020 Toyota Prius, 2017-2020 Toyota Prius Prime, 2010-2015 Toyota PHV, 2012-2016 Toyota Prius c and 2012-2017 Prius v.

According to Prius owner and plaintiff Jose Javier Perez, all the vehicles were delivered with identical defective air conditioner systems that cause the inside of the cars to smell bad.

The class action goes on to reference a Prius complaint in which the customer described the bad smell as “an overpowering urine smell coming out of vents,” saying “somehow an animal must have gotten into the engine, urinated and the urine and bacteria has built up somewhere in the car.”

The heating and air conditioner systems allegedly accumulate moisture and microbial growth, causing mold growth and the Prius passenger cabins to fill with bad smells. In addition, Toyota Prius occupants can allegedly get sick from the noxious toxic odors from mold and other contaminants.

Numerous Toyota Prius bad odor complaints and associated technical service bulletins allegedly prove the automaker knew about the HVAC problems but concealed the issues from consumers.

The allegedly defective Toyota Prius HVAC systems are manufactured by DENSO.

Toyota Allegedly Knows about the Prius Bad Odors

According to the class action lawsuit, Toyota Prius owners must pay their own money to inspect, diagnose and repair the cars. But the plaintiff alleges the repairs only help mask the bad smells, and Toyota allegedly won't issue a recall to properly repair the cars.

The Prius lawsuit further alleges Toyota has admitted in a course manual the bad smells come from the air conditioner and climate controls and are “a common complaint among users.”

According to the class action, Toyota says the bad odors are caused by “[m]icrobes growing on the evaporator surface” including “small living bacteria. . .carried into the evaporator case [that] grow in the warm, moist environment.”

The plaintiff says he was sold a car which Toyota knew was defective in the HVAC system. And the plaintiff also says Toyota dealers make money by charging customers for special filters, HVAC servicing and other “repair” fees when consumers complain about bed smells in the cars.

The Prius class action lawsuit alleges going all the way back to 1997, Toyota issued a technical service bulletin (TSB AC002-97), titled “Air Conditioning Evaporator Odor,” that explicitly acknowledged the presence of microbial growth in the HVAC evaporator caused by dampness in the housing.

Several TSBs have been issued about the Toyota Prius bad interior smells, but the lawsuit says the most recent bulletin issued to dealers in March 2020 says:

“NOTE The procedure in this bulletin will NOT eliminate the odors described but is provided to help reduce intensity of the odors.”

The Toyota Prius class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida: Jose Javier Perez, vs. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., et al.

The plaintiff is represented by Kopelowitz Ostrow Ferguson Weiselberg Gilbert, Gordon & Partners, and Edelsberg Law.