What’s going on with Toyota?

What’s happening? Toyota, a company known for decades for extremely high quality, is getting the opposite reputation right now.

First the gas pedals. Now the brakes on the popular Prius hybrid.

What do you think is going on? Growing too fast? Losing focus? Bad coincidence?

And what can Toyota do now to earn your trust back? Or is it too late?

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104 comments Add your comment

Done with Yota

February 4th, 2010
6:23 am

I’m so tired of the quality issues with Toyota! I have had 4 Camry’s in a row, and have watched the quality take a nosedive on the last 2! Now my wife won’t even drive her car, and has started driving her mothers 08 Chevy Malibu. Can’t say I blame her!

Dan

February 4th, 2010
6:32 am

This is panic similar to what happened to Audi in the late 80’s and their 60 Minutes “expose” on unintended acceleration. The media has an absolutely massive impact on the perception of any kind of brand. Toyota is not a perfect company, obviously. But they are absolutely doing the best thing in all of these instances by issuing recalls and fixes for any design flaws they may have had. I’m sure they’ve doled out millions to those who have been negatively impacted by the issues, and while that may not bring back loved ones, there’s not a whole lot more Toyota can do to make things right.

I still believe in their product. We own two of them and they’ve been very good vehicles. With the complexity of the automobile, nothing is going to be 100% without flaws. Maybe their QC issues are related to their efforts on becoming number 1. If so, I guarantee they’ve realized the error of their ways and are refocusing on quality first.

Cheers to Toyota for their efforts on making the product right. Still massively more dependable than my two Chevrolets I had in the 90’s.

Moving forward?

February 4th, 2010
6:35 am

I was told last week by the service manager at my Toyota dealership, that my car was “unsafe” to drive and should be parked until the recall was completed. When I asked him if Toyota would pay for a rental until the work was done, he looked at me and said “why?”. Toyota has lost their minds if they think I will ever buy another one of their death traps!

Kraig

February 4th, 2010
6:38 am

It is not anything new. The brakes on the Tundra trucks until 2006 were junk. Numerous complaints, Toyota figured out a fix, issued a TSB but wouldn’t recall the trucks or fix under warranty. I have owned 6 Toyota trucks and 3 Toyota cars in the last 20 years, after getting shafted by Toyota on the Tundra brakes problem I’ll never buy another Toyota.

Done with Yota

February 4th, 2010
6:40 am

(Dan) I’m sorry to say but, it’s not the “90’s” anymore!

tim

February 4th, 2010
7:09 am

It’s not good news for Toyota but they still mfg the best vehicles. Not much was said when Mitsubishi eventually revealed they put faulty parts in cars. Ford puts faulty parts in vehicles knowing that they would last just past the warranty period, and then make millions from customers replacing those faulty parts. Unfortunately, for Toyota, their recall is a safety issue.

Where were all you concerned (I scared to drive my) Toyota customers 3 months ago when Toyota announced the acceleration problem?? It seems that very few of you cared about it then, so why are you complaining now??

Spanky Spankmeyer

February 4th, 2010
7:53 am

Unlike the US Crap Automobile swindlers, Toyota will address and solve the issue.

Fed up!!

February 4th, 2010
7:56 am

I’ll tell you where I was Tim, I was working 50 hours a week to pay for a car that I am now told is UNSAFE to drive! They lied to me then and told me it was my fault for letting the floormat slide up behind the gas pedal! This was my 3rd Toyota and my last!

Fed up!!

February 4th, 2010
8:00 am

Spanky, when was the last time you actually looked at an American car without the “Toyota colored glasses” that we have all been wearing for years?

Dan

February 4th, 2010
8:19 am

Had a quiet, non media-related recall been issued to address the problem, there would not be any mass hysteria to “never buy another Toyota again.” You’d be surprised at how many hundreds of recalls are out there that do not get reported in the media that deal with vital parts to a car – brakes, fuel system, etc. – that in the even of failure, can be highly dangerous. And these recalls are on every brand out there – GM, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes, everyone.

But the media has blown this story way out of proportion, and has backed Toyota into a corner. 8 million vehicles, in question, and how many total failures? I think it was 16 instances? Won’t I get struck by lightning before my Toyota’s gas pedal fails? Not to mention this garbage about the Prius brakes. This “breaking news” is without a doubt an attempt by the media to kick a man while he’s down.

Believe me when I say that Toyota is doing everything they can to make the situation right.

Done with Yota

February 4th, 2010
8:23 am

I must say, the 08 Malibu shocked me with how nice it is! Even if it is my Mother-in-law’s! ;)

jj

February 4th, 2010
8:49 am

Anyone want to buy a used Camry? I sell you mine really cheap!

I love my car that works

February 4th, 2010
9:13 am

Lets just recall all Toyota products

Marko

February 4th, 2010
9:13 am

Toyota was backed into a corner because they dragged the recall out, their lack of co-operation made it more of an issue. Floormats weren’t the real fault. I suspect the gas pedal may not be the real fault either and software may be to blame like the Prius brakes. They need smart pedals to cut back the throttle when brakes are applied at speed like Chrysler and the European makers use.

The Thin Guy

February 4th, 2010
9:35 am

In around two months I’ll be taking my 2009 Toyota Camry into the dealership where I bought it for an oil change. I will refuse to have the gas petal aka accelerator aka throttle changed. There’s nothing wrong with it. This is all politics. Last year the feds took over GM and Chrysler. The only person who wants to buy a GM product is Howie Long and he has extensive brain damage from pro football. So the thugs now in charge in Washington were looking for a way to deflate the competition. Use some common sense people. If there were a problem with Toyotas the lead story on the news each night is how many people were killed or injured by failing parts on Tototas. I owned two Fords. My favorite was my 79 Ford Mustang which burned two quarts of oil on every single tank of gas and the steering column caught on fire as I was driving on I 75. If I wanted to try another Ford I’d have no idea where to look since both of the Ford dealerships I used in the past went out of business, Friendly Ford on Scott Blvd in Decatur is now an empty lot and Stone Mountain Ford on Memorial Drive is now a Hertz Rent a Car. Toyotas aren’t trouble free. But unlike Ford and GM products I’ve used they’ve never left me stranded in the middle of traffic. The only problem I’ve had with my 2009 Camry is the satellite radio, it keeps picking up Air America and they went bankrupt weeks ago.

What Happened?

February 4th, 2010
9:42 am

All the Americans who own foreign cars must have a sick feeling in the bottom of their stomachs, kinda like the American car makers felt when you stopped buying American made and owned cars and runined so many American families…….

Ted

February 4th, 2010
9:47 am

I believe that Toyota got so focused on being #1 that they lost sight of putting quality first. I know people say well, it’s only been a few people killed or hurt out of millions of cars. I’m sure the families and loved ones of those people who’ve been killed or hurt have a little different perspective.

butts

February 4th, 2010
9:48 am

did you notice it only affects the toyotas made in the US? vins beginning with a J are not affected. also, its due to a problem with a part from a specific supplier, they haven’t said who. That doesn’t mean the part was made in the US but likely only purchased by the US plants. Any idea on who made the bad part?

Brian in Athens

February 4th, 2010
9:51 am

Yes, every car company has had issues at one point or another. The problem is with how Toyota has handled it. They only issued the recall at a point of a gun from the Federal government. Here is an excerpt from a Consumer Reports writer that says Lexus is probably next!

“I’m glad that Consumer Reports has temporarily suspended its “recommended” status for Toyota-produced vehicles which may be prone to Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA). However, there is still reason to believe that a variety of Lexus models may be also be affected by SUA. So far, Toyota is maintaining that its floor mat fix will take care of all Lexus SUA problems.

*** “Consumer Reports recommends that owners of the estimated 2.3 million vehicles involved in the recall become familiar with the warning signs of trouble, which may include the accelerator pedal being harder to depress, slower to return to its upper position, or simply not operating smoothly.” ***

This is good advice, but smooth operation of an accelerator pedal does not guarantee that the vehicle is immune from SUA, particularly when it is equipped with an electronic throttle control. Toyota’s SUA incidents increased dramatically starting in 2002 when the company began replacing mechanical throttle linkages with electronic modules.

Toyota’s reaction to SUA claims have not been reassuring. When the first rash of SUA incidents began occurring in Toyota and Lexus vehicles, Toyota said that SUA was caused by driver error. Next, Toyota claimed that the problem was caused by binding floor mats. Toyota’s latest theory is that sticking accelerator pedals are the cause of its ever-increasing SUA incidents, but only in its Toyota vehicles. Toyota claims that Lexus vehicles are immune to the sticking accelerator pedal problem.

Toyota’s Sudden Unintended Acceleration problem is can be life-threatening. It is the sudden, or full-throttle part of SUA that is being ignored by Toyota. When a vehicle is put into a full-throttle state, it is operating at maximum power. This full-throttle state can be obtained by pushing the accelerator pedal to the floor. If the vehicle is stopped, initiation of the full-throttle state will cause the vehicle to take off in low gear, under its maximum power. There are reports stating that SUA occurred in Toyota-produced vehicles that were stopped or operating at very low speed.

There are also reported incidents of SUA occurring in Toyota-produced vehicles when they are operating at highway speeds. When a vehicle, equipped with an automatic transmission, is put into a full-throttle state as it travels at highway speed, the transmission will downshift into a lower gear, sometimes referred to as a passing gear. This burst of Sudden Intended Acceleration can be useful when entering a freeway, passing another car or climbing a hill. But, if the vehicle is left in a full-throttle state, it will quickly reach speeds of over 100 miles per hour.

Toyota engineers are not totally convinced that driver error, binding floor mats or sticking accelerator pedals are the only causes of SUA. Toyota has also hinted that it may initiate a software change to allow brake or clutch operation to close the throttle of runaway cars. If the original electronic throttle design had included a simple throttle-override protection system, there may have been no deadly SUA incidents occurring in Toyota-produced vehicles.

*** “All nine of the models involved in this recall had performed well in Consumer Reports’ road tests and reliability Ratings, and had earned our “recommended” designation as a result…. we expect to be able to reinstate the “recommended” tag once we are satisfied the problem has been resolved.” ***

The reinstatement of Toyota-produced vehicles to “recommended” status by Consumer Reports could be a long time coming. Some analysts estimate that it could take up to two years for Toyota to fully implement its sticking accelerator pedal fix. Lexus may initiate another recall to address SUA problems inherent in its vehicles. In the meantime, reports of SUA will continue to plague Toyota, particularly if some of the SUA problems are caused by faulty electronics and not by binding floor mats or sticking accelerator pedals.”

Dan

February 4th, 2010
9:52 am

That’s a load of crap. There are thousands, if not millions of Americans who are employed by foreign branded factories right here in the USA. American-made foreign brands = Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, BMW, Honda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Volkswagen, and those are just off the top of my head. Ford and Chrysler has vehicles built in Mexico. GM has plants in Canada. So much for buying American! You can blame that on the UAW!

Dan

February 4th, 2010
9:54 am

butts, the supplier of the pedals is CTS out of Elkhart, IN. American-built part.

Joe

February 4th, 2010
10:02 am

They grew with quality and customer service but have lost these values in their efforts to be the biggest and richest. I will never buy one of their cars – I did in the 90’s but they have sucked for the last 6 or 7 years.

Still like Honda though.

Not Brain washed

February 4th, 2010
10:05 am

The media in the USA convinced us that Japanese cars were sooooo much better than American cars and our nation drank the cool-aide. What they are and have been are imitations of other car makers cars dumped on our market subsidized by the Japanese government. I have owned Fords, VWs, Mercedes and all have been reliable and economical. All went well over 175, 000 mile with no and I repeat no problems. Two are still going my Ford Excursion with 189,000 mile and a total of $385 in repairs. in 10 years. Yeah I maintain my vehicle change the oil service the transmission but not more than manufacturer calls for.
Buy your “Green” Prius my Jetta TDI gets better mileage overall and has less of an environmental impact during manufacture.
Drink up America Japanese cars are sooo better!!!!

Joe

February 4th, 2010
10:08 am

It isn’t about where it is built or what nationality, the car or the part. It is about the quality of the brand and the values of the company. I have no faith in many car companies today with the exception of Honda perhaps.

It Started with the Sienna

February 4th, 2010
10:09 am

My wife had a 2000 Sienna with brake problems similar to those described now with the Prius. After numerous trips to the dealer for repair, one of their employees said that Toyota knew about these problems but unwilling to issue a recall or take responsibility for a fix. I still am thankful we got rid of it soon after and have been a loyal Honda customer since.

barneyb

February 4th, 2010
10:24 am

I’m not giving into the media & public hysteria, sorry

Van Jones

February 4th, 2010
10:31 am

What kind of idiot can call 911 when their throttle sticks but can’t figure out how to put the transmission in neutral, downshift, turn off the motor, etc?

annie

February 4th, 2010
10:40 am

i’m wondering why no one is looking into why these problems only apply to vehicles coming from certain US Toyota plants.

Say "NO!" to Thugs!

February 4th, 2010
10:46 am

Toyota decided to start cutting corners like GM did and begin using the cheapest-possible parts on as many of its vehicles as possible to save $$$$$ while still charging customers premium pricing.

Talk about putting all their eggs in one, poor-designed basket! When one of those cheap parts fails, it cause problems throughout the company’s entire line of vehicles.

Additionally, hiring unqualified and under-qualified decision makers through AffirmativeAction to make such ill-conceived, myopic decisions in the first place didn’t really help Toyota’s case, either.

RGB

February 4th, 2010
10:47 am

The entry from the individual who bought 4 Camrys and complained about them reminds me of the joke about the restaurant where the patron exclaimed “the food is terrible and the portions are too small.”

Regarding the massive cut-and-paste excerpt on Consumer Reports, did the lifter not think to copy all those little red circles (denoting “much better than average” in reliability) for Toyota products along with the black ones for GM and Chrysler? This is not cool-aide [sic] but statistical analysis from millions of owners collected over decades of use. My sound statistical analysis beats your anecdote every time.

Regarding “this is not the 90s”, the American manufacturers have told us every decade that our cars are better than they were in the (pick one: 70s, 80s, 90s, etc.), so give us another try. I did–and I won’t. For laughs, check out the Consumer Reports annual Auto edition where you can track a problem (electrical issue, for example) for a GM vehicle that occurred, say, in 2001 and continued through 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. The inept management and goonion members refuse to fix problems. Compare like years for domestic producers and their Japanese counterparts and in most cases it’s not even close.

Finally, if you dump Toyota you are falling in line with the Obama administration’s plan: Buy GM, give it to the unions, use the Transportation Secretary to malign GM’s competitors, then get big union contributions for the re-election campaign.

Like shootin’ fish in a barrel.

ManOfTeal

February 4th, 2010
12:33 pm

You wanna talk about consumer’s faith in a product? Fine.

Who would you rather buy a car from? A company that is owning up to its issues and addressing them like Toyota, or a car company that has had to file for bankruptcy and be bailed out by tax dollars?

I guarantee if the government looked at Ford, GM, and Chrysler with as much scrutiny as they are looking at Toyota right now…Those three companies would have little to no consumer confidence in their products.

If Toyota, a Japanese carmaker, wasn’t the number one selling automobile manufacturer in America this whole thing would never have even gotten a second glance.

Moving forward?

February 4th, 2010
12:37 pm

I am sure that Toyota wished for a quiet, non media-related recall Dan. However, it’s hard to keep the largest recall in automotive history where people have died quiet! And to the comment from “What Happened?” I can not say my next new car will be a Ford or Chevy, but I will promise you one thing, they will be on the list!! And as for Howie Long, I will do exactly like he says! “Let the best car win!” Oh, and I am a Republican!

I guess I am a fish in a barrel!

February 4th, 2010
12:47 pm

Here is my story.. Much like “Done with Yoda” I have had several Toyota’s in a row. Not all of them were Camry’s though. The first 2 were fantastic, 3rd had a few issues with, but I went back and bought my 4th based on the experiance of the first 2. I bought a 2008 Camry that after 18000 miles, had to have the transmission replaced. After that, no problems until last October. My pedal started to stick. I have complained to Toyota about this for 4 months and they told me they could not “duplicate” the problem, and maybe I was pressing the gas and not the break. Now the recall comes out, I am sorry to the “diehard” Toyota people (I was one!) but Toyota has lost my trust in their cars and their ability to handle a VALID service complaint. I simply do not believe in a “conspiracy theory” against Toyota by the government.

RH

February 4th, 2010
12:49 pm

100% correct ManOfTeal. All of this media hysteria towards Toyota is quite ironic. GM (Government Motors) is presently benefiting quite nicely from this hype as well.

bligity blogity

February 4th, 2010
12:50 pm

I’m on my second Prius (only traded the 1st cause i racked up the miles, over 100k/4yrs) only service was oil changes, filters, a headlight and a resolved manufacture seal fix. The stock breaks where impressively in good condition after four years (unheard of). My wife is on her first and we are still content with the quality and performance. Maybe we have just been lucky with no problems. It’s realistic to understand that there can be/are Toyota issues with millions of autos on the road.

I have owned 2 other cars before by Chevy & Ford that didn’t even last past warranty, constant issues, headaches and lots of money. These also went through recalls do to tranny’ problems, gas intake and worst of all, a non recall recognized problem, which I heard by other Ford owners that where also experiencing the same problem: Ford’s REPEATED ignition shut off with loss of steering (BAD COMBINATION!). Last case was heading downhill on I-5 SOUTH/Cali.

It’s unfortunate for the family’s affected from the errors but I think the present bold recall is the best thing that could happen. If anything, I think TOYOTA’s quality will just get stronger and their Q/C will improve for the better.

Oh yeah – I agree that this is a political bash to improve domestic auto trust/sales.

ManOfTeal

February 4th, 2010
12:53 pm

@I guess I am a fish in a barrel!

If you don’t believe it then you are either blind or not paying enough attention. It’s pretty obvious.

Fed up!!

February 4th, 2010
12:57 pm

Fish in a barrel??? I work VERY hard to be able to provide for my family and myself. I took my car to the DEALERSHIP, not to the federal government; and the DEALERSHIP told me it was unsafe to drive! They did not tell me it was “ok to drive, just be careful”. They said UNSAFE! As far as politics, I did not vote for Obama nor will I in 2012, I think you are crazy to think that they are out to get Toyota, just so people will buy a Dodge! Try telling that to the familys of the people that were KILLED by sticking Toyota gas pedals!

Steven G

February 4th, 2010
1:01 pm

Its about time Toyota made a error and got caught. How far will they go

RH

February 4th, 2010
1:06 pm

“I simply do not believe in a “conspiracy theory” against Toyota by the government.”

No one is claiming conspiracy here, just that the US government is taking FULL advantage of the situation. To suggest that all of a sudden GM, Chrysler & Ford make better cars and is a better car than Toyota is lunacy. Some of you posters decrying Toyota are the same yocals seen on the 11 pm news – your ’stories’ and tales of woe just don’t ring true.

Jim

February 4th, 2010
1:06 pm

RGB, if you are talking about the consumer surveys CR uses, there are plenty of resources on the internet that refute the validity of those results. I have wondered about those ratings for years because I have owned Hondas, Toyotas, Fords, Nissans, Volvos and Nissans and I have always gotten better service from the F-150s I have owned. The problem with the CR ratings is that a gap in the carpet carries as much weight as a poor mechanical design. Back when CR was originally raving about Toyotas and Hondas, I would not ride in one because I have seen them cut in half in a Voc-Tech shop. The later years are more substantial and that was what prompted me to buy one. However, the regular maintenance and timing belt changes offset any gas savings the cars ever yielded. The only proper way to evaluate cars is to tear the engine and drive train components down, test the metal and mic the parts after a few thousand miles to evaluate the wear. A test drive of the car and a owner survey is useless for determining how well a car is designed and built. From my experience, American cars owners are much more likely to neglect preventative maintenance on their cars. The other factor is a lot of people by American cars from rental fleets. We all know how rental cars are abused. If you want to believe in the CR ratings, it is your right, but I think you might be wrong.

Voice of reason

February 4th, 2010
1:07 pm

Not a conspiracy, just bad gas/brake pedals. Toyota has been getting pretty cheap lately. Which is bad, I use to really like Toyota.

bligity blogity

February 4th, 2010
1:08 pm

ManOfTeal

February 4th, 2010
1:09 pm

@ Steven G

They’ll go as far as Ford did with the exploding gas tanks in the Pinto. As you may remember Ford allegedly was aware of this design flaw but refused to pay for a redesign. Instead, it was argued, Ford decided it would be cheaper to pay off possible lawsuits for resulting deaths.

So again I say who do you want to make your car? One that will tell you of problems and pay to have them fixed? Or one that lies to you and tries to hide the truth?

Oh, by the way my wife and I both drive Honda’s, just thought I’d throw that out there. But I respect what Toyota has done and is still doing to try and fix the problem and prevent the loss of life.

ManOfTeal

February 4th, 2010
1:12 pm

I meant to say that they will not go as far as Ford went in the first sentence of my previous comment…my bad.

I guess I am a fish in a barrel!

February 4th, 2010
1:13 pm

@ RH.. I have 3 “repair orders” from 2 different Toyota dealers dated well before any of this came to light…

Voice of reason

February 4th, 2010
1:15 pm

The Pinto thing was 30 years ago!

Jim

February 4th, 2010
1:15 pm

ManOfTeal, a lot of companies, foreign and domestic, used to use risk analysis and other statistical analysis to determine if it was more profitable to do a recall or pay off a few deaths. This continued until the lawsuits made it totally unprofitable to do the latter. No profit making company, Toyota or Ford, is going to do anything willingly unless the downside risk tells them it is the right thing to do.

ManOfTeal

February 4th, 2010
1:19 pm

@Voice of reason

Just because it happened a long time ago doesn’t mean it’s not still relevant.

Voice of reason

February 4th, 2010
1:24 pm

Yea good point ManOfTeal, they would have never learned from their mistake. I hope you speak sarcasm.

RGB

February 4th, 2010
1:26 pm

“The problem with the CR ratings is that a gap in the carpet carries as much weight as a poor mechanical design.”

This statement is factually incorrect. If you’ve ever looked at the CR ratings even once, you would know that CR has a variety of categories for owner reported problems including electrical, engine, cooling system, body hardware, etc. So did you purposely misstate this point or are you simply unaware?

Also note that the resale market rewards vehicles based on how they are valued by purchasers of used vehicles. Domestic cars (not trucks) do not typically hold their value (as a percentage of the purchase price when new) as well as Japanese brands.

But it’s a free (for now, but it’s slipping rapidly) country. If your car-of-choice is a Chrysler Sebring convertible or a Dodge Caliber, then go for it. And good luck with that.

I’m not excusing Toyota, but if you flee to GM or Chrysler thinking you’ll get a trouble-free car that doesn’t suffer recalls, you are fooling yourself.