2018 Toyota Avalon Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Fuel system, brake and suspension issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

With so few full-size sedans on the road anymore, the 2018 Toyota Avalon surely stands out from the crowd. The automaker claims this vehicle can “give every day new meaning.” However, customers are struggling with the air bags, service brakes, suspension and fuel system.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2018 Toyota Avalon

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Air Bags
Unknown Or Other
Fuel/propulsion System
Electrical System
Service Brakes
Vehicle Speed Control
Exterior Lighting
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings

Problems with the Air Bags

Air bags are an essential safety feature that is simply expected to work as designed. However, the Avalon is struggling to protect occupants.

One NHTSA complaint says, “The contact owns a 2018 Toyota Avalon. The contact stated that while waiting at a traffic light, a vehicle traveling at high speeds crashed into the vehicle’s front passenger side. None of the frontal air bags deployed. The police was present and a report was issued. The passenger was taken to the hospital by ambulance, treated and released the following day. The vehicle was driven to the dealer. They could not determine why the air bags did not deploy. A third party company sent by the manufacturer came to evaluate the vehicle and they were not able to determine why the air bags did not deploy and the claim was declined. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 9,300.”

It turns out that there is a safety recall and open investigation into the air bag systems. First, NHTSA Campaign Number 20V024000 states that nearly three million vehicles have a malfunctioning air bag electronic control unit (ECU) that disables the deployment of the air bags and seat belt pretensioners, both of which are needed to protect occupants during an accident. There is also an open investigation, #EA19001, which talks about a defective ACU system needed to sense when a crash has occurred. Whatever the cause, air bags aren’t being deployed and people are getting hurt. Waking up in the hospital isn’t a way to give the day a “new meaning.”

Problems with the Brakes

Another vital safety feature is the service brakes. Again, the Avalon is struggling with this basic system, which is putting lives in danger.

Another NHTSA complaint states, “The contact owns a 2018 Toyota Avalon. The contact received notification of NHTSA Campaign Number 20V024000 (Air Bags). However, the part for the recall repair was unavailable. The contact stated the manufacturer exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair. The contact stated that while driving approximately 40 mph when another cut in front of them and in order to avoid hitting the other vehicle the contact veered to the left, the contact ended up crashing into a side barrier on the side of the road. The air bags did not deploy. A police report was filed. The contact received injuries to his left arm, leg and chest/torso area. Medical attention was needed. The vehicle was towed. The contact contacted the unknown dealership who diagnosed that the left side of the vehicle, steering, and braking needed to be repaired. The vehicle had received repairs to the body, steering and brakes of the vehicle. The contact stated that the vehicle was still difficult to steer and there was a rumbling coming from underneath the vehicle whenever driving or braking the vehicle. The manufacturer was made aware of the issues. However, there was no resolve provided. The approximate failure mileage was 10,000.”

Safety issues are simply running rampant. Service Bulletin #T-SB-0313-17 talks about brake vibrations occurring because of the improper lug nut torque. Imagine the fun of driving a car that feels like it’s running over rumble strips all day. That’s the last thing anyone wants to deal with while driving to work in the morning, and not the way to give the day “new meaning.”

Problems with the Fuel System

The car’s fuel system seems to also be causing headaches. This system is designed to pump fuel throughout the engine to ensure proper power.

Read an important Edmunds review. “This car is subject to a recall for fuel pump failure. Toyota claims to have a solution but doesn’t have the part and will not have the part for another month. In the interim I don’t have transportation. I will never buy another Toyota.”

There’s yet another recall worth mentioning. NHTSA Campaign Number 20V012000 states that nearly two million vehicles have a failing fuel pump. When this goes out, the engine stalls, possibly in the middle of the road. This is a major accident risk, leaving many occupants in danger. In the above review, it’s clear that Toyota is pushing off the repairs and leaving drivers with no transportation in the meantime. What are they supposed to do, walk to work? But, they are still responsible for paying the car payment or lease, even with a non-functioning vehicle. Maybe “new meaning” translates to broke and without a car.

Problems with the Suspension

One final system worth looking at is the suspension. Without a properly working suspension system, the ride becomes downright horrible.

That’s shown with this Edmunds review. “I recently bought a 2018 XLE with 34k miles on it. The steering and brakes are good, but the harsh suspension is so bad that I will hopefully trade it in for something else in a few weeks. This is not a touring model but feel like it has an F1 suspension crossed with a 20 year old utility truck that at low speeds on small bumps us unbearably annoying. Toyota what are you thinking?”

What could be causing the problems? Looking at Service Bulletin #T-SB-0128-18 might offer some information. It turns out that Avalon models are struggling with a squeaking should that is coming from the front stabilizer bushings. It is most noticeable when traveling over speed bumps or rough roads. The technician can alleviate some of the sounds. However, between the sounds and feel of the ride, customers are on sensory overload and ready to dump the Avalon at the nearest junkyard.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Joel B

    My 2018 Avalon did not handle properly from the first time I drove it. Buying it in March, I drove it out of the dealership and hit some ice on an incline and the car went into a jumping and shaking that I will never forget. I kept complaining about the handling and it took 40,000 miles to discover the bushings were of an inferior quality and the dealership had been warned, but not to do anything until there was a complaint. My car started to make so much noise when going over a bump I knew something was wrong. Took it in and a mechanic drove it and said he found no problem. Brought it back again and finally a different mechanic discovered the bushing problem and told me the factory had warned them when it was new. I resent this very much as the steering and handling was terrible especially in the wind. Finally replacing the bushings and stabilizer bars has the car driving much better. Steering is much better. If the parts were of poor quality or defective in the first place, Toyota should have taken care of it immediately instead of just issuing a warning to dealerships and no notification of owners.

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