By on December 7, 2009

Things fall apart/ the center can not hold
I was watching the classic British gangster film “The Long Good Friday” the other day. For those not in the know, it’s a story about how Harold Shand, the kingpin gangster of London, struggles to keep his grip in the London underworld when the IRA try to muscle in on his patch. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice to say, it isn’t pretty. Shortly after watching the film, I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal detailing yet another Toyota quality problem. From Floormatgate to the 110,000 Tundras which allegedly rust prematurely, to this most recent headline, “Corolla and Matrix face U.S safety probe,” there’s clearly something rotten in Toyota City. Much like the aforementioned Harold Shand, Toyota built an empire on the foundation of quality and reliability, but now, subsidence and rot are affecting that foundation. The question for the Best and Brightest is this: Are Toyota in danger of losing their crown of quality and reliability in the minds of consumers? Or are these recent cases statistical outliers that car buyers take for granted?

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57 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Are Toyota Losing Their Reliability Halo?...”


  • avatar

    Much of this is the press trying to create a story. People who think the press is largely to blame for Detroit’s reputation hope that the same fate will now befall Toyota.

    But Toyota won’t have a real problem until a much higher percentage of owners have bad experiences. People look to the press to confirm their experience. They’ll ignore much of what doesn’t fit their own experience.

    TrueDelta’s reliability stats indicate that the great majority of Toyotas continue to be reliable:

    http://www.truedelta.com/results0909.php

    Scroll down to the Toyotas and check out the colors of the signals.

    There are some Toyota owners who’ve had bad experiences, and Toyota doesn’t seem to be any better than Detroit in providing proper customer care. But there just aren’t enough such cases to dent Toyota’s reputation, at least not yet.

    • 0 avatar
      jeventures

      Notice that not every car is on truedelta due to a lack of data.  I have a few cars listed there…the one that is not per lack of other owners on the site: Toyora Solara.  We have 90,000 miles of TLC and that car has been almost $2k in trouble since 60,000.  It’s a major bummer that the few cars they make with a decent interior (Solara) tend to crap out under the hood while the super entry level plastic cars they make (corolla) are extremely reliable.   It should also be noted that my wife and I baby our cars and this is only one we have had trouble with.   True Delta is a fairly good analysis of individual car reliability….not whole brand reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      jeventures

      PS- True Delta rocks and is much appreciated.  Anyone else with a Solara should go create an account so there will be sufficient numbers they need for the car.

    • 0 avatar
      baldheadeddork

      I’m not so sure, Michael. Toyota doesn’t have the widespread problems that plagued Detroit in the 70′s and 80′s, but they’ve badly mishandled some very big embarrassments in the last few years, like the oil sludge problem that killed thousands of engines and the frame rust problems on the Tacoma and Tundra. Toyota also has a big problem with customer satisfaction with their dealership experience, including service.
       
      It’s not the quality problems that kill a manufacturer. Regardless of the problems, you’re screwed when your customers think and tell their friends that you and your dealers don’t give a damn. And Toyota is losing that halo if its not already gone.

  • avatar
    MasterOfTheJawan

    Lets wait a few years and see what happens… well lets look now at what carsurvey.org camry owners feel about their toyotas.
    http://www.carsurvey.org/reviews/toyota/camry/2004/  ouch,, that’s grand am satisfaction

    http://www.carsurvey.org/reviews/toyota/camry/2005/  only 41% would buy another toyota!? The oldsmobile alero is laughing from beyond the grave.

    http://www.carsurvey.org/reviews/toyota/camry/2006/  Vega fans revenge!!!  I think these camry owners would be happier with a Hyundai Excel…

  • avatar
    carguy

    Toyota’s blue chip credentials are not yet at risk but their brand perception in terms of both reliability and value for money are no longer as unassailable as they once were.

  • avatar
    zloy

    as the owner of 10-years old Solara SE V6, I can attest that I’ve had my share of fixes and repairs and my experience is definetely not “I just change oil every 5,000 km and nothing else” as you can often hear from Toyota owners…

  • avatar
    rnc

    Yes there is a problem.  One even if the above situations are statistical outliers, the way information travels, internet news and blogs means as much as CR or even truedelta.  If you are an “uninformed” car buyer in the market right now, in the back of your mind there is going to be a voice saying “uncontrolled acceleration”, “rusting frames”, etc.  Additionally there is the “group think” mentality, let’s say everyone says how great toyota is, you look at your product and the little things don’t stick out and you think that it’s great too.  Suddenly everyone is saying how toyota is losing it, you look at your product and begin to notice little things that are wrong and they begin to bother you.  And the second you are beginning to hear more than the first (the saying you learn in marketing:  one mad customer tells 40 people, a happy customer tells 7) 

    Secondly, there is obvious cost cutting occuring in thier vehicles.  When you step into a toyota vehicle and have to look and make sure that it isn’t a chryco product, something is wrong (go look at a venza or camry). 

    On a personal note, my first car out of college was a 2001 camry and it was a POS.  Speed/transmission shift sensor went out three times (I believe that Toyota knew about the problem as the sales man twice told me not to deactivate the OD during the test drive and once after signing (ofcourse in that car salesman way)) and finally I had a main drive bearing go after 100k miles and a few months after making my last payment, despite changing the oil with syn (+)  little interior bits and pieces falling apart.(my 98 jeep has 205k on it and has only had a headgasket go and that was my fault).  My oldest brother who has driven nothing buy toyota’s since the 80′s (one mazda) says that his latest is his last.

    • 0 avatar

      The psychological factors you describe certainly have an impact, but what’s the actual size of this impact?

      How was a headgasket failure your fault?

      What has upset your brother with his latest Toyota?

      I do think there’s more of a chance of others being seen as reliable as Toyota than of Toyotas being seen as not reliable.

      For a similar case, see Volvo. Volvos aren’t seen as unsafe, but people these days tend to think that other makes are equally safe, or at least close enough.

      Safety is a bit of a different case, though, since far fewer people have the chance to directly observe it, and even when they can causality is much harder to determine.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      Car overheated (possible side story about temp. sensor placement).  It was 19 degree’s (doesn’t happen to much in SC) and I had my 15 month old in the car, so I turned around and made it as close to home as possible.

      In the 80′s he had a 4-runner and put close to 650k miles on it with nothing except regular maint/replace (sold it after it after his mechanic said it may need some work soon), his latest truck that has not been the case (I asked him about and with his obvious look of frustration I left alone).

  • avatar
    blau

    Don’t you mean, “Is Toyota Losing Its Reliability Halo?”

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Toyota is/are losing their reliability halo only if the public thinks so.
     
    Most people are not aware of the floormat/accelerator problem, and it doesn’t have the same spectacular impact as exploding Pintos – which was way overblown in the 1970s.
     
    My only Toyota (actually Scion) experience has been quite good.  My only Honda experience was quite bad.  Some people still think VW builds reliable cars, in spite of years of data to the contrary.
     
    Personally, I’ve had much better luck with Chrysler products than Honda or VW.

  • avatar
    PennSt8

    It’s really hard to say whether Toyota’s issues are being blown out of proportion, especially when one hasn’t had much long term experience with their product offering.
    Consumer/Customer obtained information is all fine, but what have Toyota’s warranty costs looked like over the past decade? Have they increased, remained the same or gone down?

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    I’ll add another anecdotal bit of evidence:
    My sister’s 2003 Camry has been bulletproof – over 130,000 miles with no major unscheduled service.  The most serious thing she addressed on the car was a dead battery and a dirty throttle body (which became apparent after replacing the dead battery).
     
    My mother’s 2005 Avalon hasn’t been so good.  Less than 5 years old, and less than 50,000 miles she’s had the following major services:
    Water pump replaced
    Power steering pump replaced
    Power steering rack replaced (blew up after the pump died).
    Front passenger power seat replaced (made all kids of squeaks and rattles)
    Headliner fell down – needs to be replaced.
    Transmission leak was fixed (don’t remember the cause).
    Her service record reads like an 80′s GM product rap-sheet.  I’ve got to say, I’m not impressed.

    Toyota better be careful.  Their cars are as boring as melba toast.  Reliability is the ONLY reason to buy one.  If Toyota loses that perception with the public, they are sunk.
    -ted

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Are Toyota in danger of losing their crown of quality and reliability in the minds of consumers? Or are these recent cases statistical outliers that car buyers take for granted?
     
    Neither.  Enthusiasts and auto journalists are particularly bad at understanding what exactly it was that drove buyers from Detroit and nearly killed the Europeans in North America, so it’s not surprising they misinterpret this.
     
    Gearheads tend to think in terms of powertrain and frame reliability, theoretical engineering soundness and ease of maintenance and repair and “build quality”.  Consumers are much simpler, and yet more holistic: they think “How much is this going to cost me, and will it leave me stranded?”.   The most readily accessible example of this can be summed up by thinking about the kinds of cars that gearheads say are reliable, versus the ones the Consumer Reports et al rate as being so.
     
    In the gearhead column:
    * Ford Panthers
    * Older Volvos and Mercedes
    * Any diesel
    * Most trucks
    In the consumer column:
    * Toyota’s Corolla
     
    Consumers don’t care that a car can go a half-million between engine rebuilds, or how strong the frame is, or how easy it is to repair.  They care about their cost to own and convenience.  An enthusiast will write off power window switches, brakes, ignition issues, sensor problems, power steering issues and so forth; a consumer, who has to spend money on this, will get very out of joint about it.  Conversely, a consumer doesn’t really care about soft-touch plastics where you don’t rest an elbow or how an engine design is overbuilt.  They also don’t particularly care about recalls as long as they’re not having problems with the car: they get recalls on baby cribs and suchlike all the time and are more than willing to accept a new floor mat or whatever.
     
    Recall notices and forum wankery simply do not affect the general buying public’s opinion, certainly not when the problems governed by recalls and flame-fests aren’t problems that “matter”.  Where Toyota is still winning is in making cars like the Corolla; cars that don’t cost much to repair, go a long time between brake replacements, don’t require any particular outlay of time and effort, and are really quite good.  That they do a pretty good job of satiating customer complaints only helps matters more.  Toyota is still giving customers confidence in their stuff.
     
    This is why GM’s recent efforts to pretty up the interiors of their products is horribly misguided, and why Hyundai is making strides in customer perception.  People do not trust GM, and despite gearhead bitchery about OHV engines and bad interiors, they don’t trust them because the cars cost them money to keep up, not because of OHV engines or plastics.  Putting chrome, wood and mushy polymers everywhere is like putting Bernie Madoff in a pinstripe suit and expecting him to sell mutual funds.  Hyundai, by comparison, is addressing people’s fears and attempting to give them the kind of security that Toyota gives it’s buyers: the assurance that the car will not cost them to keep up.
     
    Toyota has never made the perfect car, but the quality problems they’ve seen are not the kind that will sting people in the pocketbook.  Heck, the Tacoma rust recall actually gained them goodwill, what with buying rustbucket Tacos at well above their book value.   About the nearest they’ve come to breaking the halo was the sludge issue, and that had more to do with the speed (or lack thereof) in addressing it than the issue itself.
     
    A lot of the “Toyota’s Tarnished Halo” is really wishful thinking among fans of other brands (well, other brands excepting Honda).  Again, it’s similar to the “GM’s Finally Turning Things Around” meme that’s been the case for the last decade or more.  There’s a pathological need to see something that, according to all objective evidence, just isn’t there: Toyotas aren’t less reliable, and if GM isn’t “turning things around” as much as they’re spinning.

  • avatar

    There is one simple thing anybody can do, you go to a Toyota dealer, sit in a Camry and check out the interior, sharp edges, mismatched panels and cheap materials, the new Corolla is the same in terms of quality of materials.
    I’m sure many people simply don’t care just because it’s a Toyota, I have rented more than one Camry over the years, none looked so cheap as the 2007 and up model.
    dror

    • 0 avatar

      Materials quality and reliability are two totally different things.

    • 0 avatar
      YotaCarFan

      The 2007 Camry had horrible interior fit and finish – I experienced this first hand.  But, the 2009+ ones are decent.  My wife bought an ’09 Camry Hybrid, and the interior is very good in terms of panel alignment.  There is a lot of hard plastic in there, but most of the stuff you’re likely to touch or lean against is soft-touch material.  It’s definitely not luxurious, and I’m not sure I’d want to pay nearly $30K for such a car (hers was fully loaded), but it runs flawlessly, has zero rattles, and looks reasonably attractive and high tech (if a bit cold and spartan) inside.  She absolutely loves it (and she couldn’t say enough bad things about my ’07 Camry V6 XLE).  I’ve never been in the new Corolla, so I can’t speak to that.

  • avatar
    210delray

    I think it’s all overblown.  I think Toyota becoming #1 has made it more of a target, plus the GM and Chrysler fanboys can’t stand to see their makes crashing and burning financially.

    TrueDelta and Consumer Reports both agree on Toyota reliability.  I have had 3 Camrys (2 currently), and they’ve required very little in the way of repairs outside of normal maintenance.  The newest one has required nothing but routine maintenance, and the older one I own had one recall for possible mis-installed side curtains (mine turned out to be fine) and one other minor problem which I haven’t bothered to fix — a minor “stiction” in the steering when making sharp left hand turns under about 25 mph.   The latter car has over 68K miles and will be 6 years old in Feb.

  • avatar
    mikey

    So Toyota’s arn’t perfect?  Honda’s breakdown,and VW”s live in the repair shop?  I’m shocked!

     Oh…thats right Hyundai and Kia are the automotive media darlings, for now. Ten year warranty and all. Face the it, Toyota and Honda….there’s a new kid in town.

     Maybe its all a” perception gap” eh?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    There is one simple thing anybody can do, you go to a Toyota dealer, sit in a Camry and check out the interior, sharp edges, mismatched panels and cheap materials, the new Corolla is the same in terms of quality of materials.
    I’m sure many people simply don’t care just because it’s a Toyota,
     
    No, they don’t care because it doesn’t matter.  If the seats are comfy, the plastics soft where your elbows are and the car reliable and inexpensive, cheap materials are a non-issue.
     
    Enthusiasts don’t get this, and never have.  The average Cavalier wasn’t appreciably better or worse than the contemporary Corolla, but the Corolla was reliable.  You could forgive the Corolla’s interior, but the Cavalier’s reliability made the materials quality the excrement-flavoured icing on a putrid cake.  GM can make the Malibu as nice as an Audi, but until they back it up with a no-questions-asked ten-year warranty and make the car as reliable or better, that nice interior is wasted dollars that do nothing but make GM’s members and fans feel better about themselves.
     
    Mercedes made a similar mistake, although in a different direction, when Lexus started eating their lunch.  They thought they could beat Lexus by making cars that performed better, not realizing that performance didn’t matter so much as the luxury car experience, and that the money spent on AMG models that made them and their fans feel superior would have been better spent on making reliable cars at a price that would have cut the nascent Lexus off at the knees.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The first Cavalier (introduced in 1981) was built to compete with the Accord, not the Corolla or the Civic. The Camry would not be introduced for another two years.

      Over the years, Toyota introduced the Camry, and it, along with the Corolla, Civic and Accord, became steadily larger and more refined. The Cavalier wasn’t as good as its first target (the Accord), and by 1988 it wasn’t as good as cars that were initially below it in the pecking order (Corolla and Civic).  

    • 0 avatar
      PennSt8

      So what is Toyota to do when you have the interior quality and reliability to match that of any of their products? If Toyota has remained pretty much on an even keel (when it comes to reliability)…….all this demonstrates is the fact that so many manufacturers have upped the ante whereas Toyota has remained the same without advancing or taken a slight hit (when it comes to reliability). As far as I’m concerned, the quality certainly isn’t nearly what it used to be.
      Case and point…..Lexus.

    • 0 avatar

      The Camry was introduced in 1983, and the first one was compact. I remember thinking “what a silly name for a car.”

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The first Cavalier (introduced in 1981) was built to compete with the Accord, not the Corolla or the Civic. The Camry would not be introduced for another two years.
       
      You’re right; I was thinking more of the later Cavalier/Sunfire
       
      The Camry was introduced in 1983, and the first one was compact. I remember thinking “what a silly name for a car.”
       
      It’s as close as you can get to “kanmuri” (Crown) in English.  I could never figure out why they didn’t stick with Corona or Crown.  I always got a kick out of Corolla, though: (small crown/crown of flowers).  The older ones had a little C-logo with a stylized floral wreath above it.

    • 0 avatar
      The Walking Eye

      I’m a car nut and I could give two shits about the quality of plastic that makes up the dash.  I don’t touch the thing, so what do I care if it’s soft to the touch?
      I had a Cobalt and the thing that irked me most was the hard, kinda sharp plastic on the door where I wanted to rest my elbow comfortably.  I have an Impreza now, and I can rest my arm on the door perfectly well.  The Impreza does have softer plastics all over the dash, but that wasn’t a factor at all in the purchase.
      I don’t like newer Toyotas or Hondas because they look stupid.  Plus, I’m also a guy who loves the look of the Impreza hatch and can’t understand why so many scream that it’s ugly (seriously, the previous Mazda3s have a nearly identical profile and are not considered the ugliest thing to ever grace the earth like the new Imprezas).
      As to this article, I think we’re pretty close to as reliable as we can make these complicated machines.  If companies use inferior products to put the machines together, then we’ll see some problems.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    With Toyota’s sales performance in the U.S. it doesn’t surprise me in the least that they’ve cheapened their cars where they can. Even after having done so they’re still market leaders with the Corolla and Camry. It’s going to take more than has happened thusfar for Toyota to lose appreciable market share and I’d be very surprised if they let that happen. For quality and reliability I’m sure Toyota is still thought of as a leader by most car buyers, I know I view them that way.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Once established, it would take a cataclysm to change a brands reputation quickly.  Instead it erodes; buyer by buyer, over decades, mediocre to bad performance wears away at the brand like water on rock.  If the domestics fall proved anything, it’s that.   So no, not right now.  But it Toyota decides to put some blinders on and ignore the problem, then yes.  Eventually.

    • 0 avatar

      GM blew through buyers by the millions from the mid-1980s onward. It hasn’t been a trickle. Toyota would really have to lose it to go down the same path. Possible, but not likely.

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      I’d call losing 1% market share a year erosion.  Tricklish.
       
      I picture the domestics as lobsters in a slowly heating pot.  Sure, it’s getting hotter, but at any given moment its just a bit hotter than it was a while ago, so why worry?  It’s not until they are dying do they realize they are in trouble.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I think Michael Karesh and psarhjinian have pretty well nailed it.

  • avatar
    loverofcars1969

    I have had several Lexus vehicles over 110K before I traded them only put oil in them. Great cars but they do have problems. The worst was the subwoofer blew in both my 1999 and 2003 Lexus LS’s. Ill take that anyday over a engine or transmission issue. I think at the end of the day its not whether you do or dont have an issue with a vehicle its more how does the dealer/manufacturer stand by fixing the problem.

  • avatar

    Toyota is merely becoming the next GM. They are probably were GM was in the late sixties just when reliablity was starting to decline. Like GM of the late 60s and early 70s they are still consider top dog, but with some question marks. It should be interesting to see how this plays out.

    • 0 avatar
      Bunter1

      One word: Vega

      GMs reliability only looked OK then because they were being compared with other domestics.  THey had already sold their souls completely.

      IMO

      Cheerio,

      Bunter

  • avatar
    jmo

    Back in ’94 I had friends who replaced an ’89 Cutlas Ciera with a ’94 Camry LE.   It might as well have had a V-12 the engine was so much smoother than the 4-cyl in the Cutlas.   Now, you just can’t find a gap in quality, NVH, etc as big as that which existed between the Cutlas and the Camry.   But, people don’t think all cars got better they think Toyotas got worse.

    I’m sure if you looked at the numbers, after five years of ownership, a 94 Camry was more reliable than an 89, a 99 was more reliable than the a 2010 will be more reliable than a 2005.

    I think Mercedes has the same problem.  I’m sure a 2010 S550 will be more reliable after 5 years than a 1987 560SEL was after 5 years.  But, people will still complain.  I think it’s because a 87 560 was so very much better than anything else at the time it felt special.  But an S550 isn’t that much nicer than an A8 or a LS460 or even an Equis.

    • 0 avatar

      Bingo. Talk about the quality of GM’s cars declining is largely BS. Back in the 1950s and 1960s they were awful, but Ford and Chrysler were even worse, and there were no other competitors.

      The problem was that the Japanese raised everyone’s expectations, and these expectations continue to increase. I’ve been saying for a couple of years that an increasing number of people expect no real problems for at least 7 years / 100k and no major problems for 10 years / 120k.

      No other product is expected to be this reliable. People aren’t surprised when they have to replace a DVD player or cell phone after only a year or two.

      Also, as you note, the key is the size of the difference between cars. At current levels, it’s virtually impossible for a company to open up the sort of lead Toyota had in the 1980s.

  • avatar
    morbo

    “Are Toyota Losing Their Reliabiliy Halo”

    All Your Recalls Are Belong To Us!

    Couldn’t resist.  As goes GM (imperial assload of suck), so goes Toyota (metric assload of suck). 

    Yea Honda and Ford (until they become the biggest and start / resume sucking)

  • avatar

    The incredible final scene from the Long Good Friday is below. Look at hoskins face when he knows it is over. I had to add this because it is one of my favorite films. This film is considered  by many to be among the 50 best English films ever, and certainly the best gangster film from that country.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVVrZJaN1IU

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      I’m glad someone mentioned The Long Good Friday reference. Along with The Crying Game, I’m particularly fond of the IRA as the primary protagonist. 

      However, I’m not sure it’s the best British gangster movie (Guy Ritchie’s British gangster movies, particularly Snatch, are more entertaining). Nonetheless, as noted it’s quite good, and Bob Hoskins at the end of TLGF is brilliant. The Toyota analogy makes for interesting reading.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    In the latest CR data 93% of Toyota’s were above the numerical average for the industry in reliability.   The vast majority were well above.

    For referance: Honda was 100% above average, Hyundia 80%, Ford 67%, GM 21% and Cryco 8% (please note, this is the numerical average not the “average range” that CR uses).
    TD’s data, as MK himself noted, also indicates this is one of the best there is at reliability.

    I think there are two things at work here: 1) “Tall poppy” syndrome, Toyota is the big guy now so any problems are media bait.  2) Sour grapes, a lot of the “doom for Toyota” chat on the net seems to come from the disappointed fans of other companies.  Boo-freaking-hoo.

    I don’t currently own a Toyota, and the Sienna is the only current Toy product I have on my radar, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to a friend that they consider almost anything Toy makes that is appropriate to their needs.
    Honda is the only other company I can say that about.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    As far as I’m concerned, the quality certainly isn’t nearly what it used to be.
    Case and point…..Lexus.
     
    To quote Wikipedia: “Citation needed.”
     
    That fine, but as far as objective data in concerned, their quality is as good, if not better, than it used to be.  Case in point: their problems-per-annum rate is better and their satisfaction remains well above average.
     

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I miss the edit function.
       
      ETR: their problems-per-annum rate is better than it was during whatever golden period it was gearheads seem to think they’ve fallen from.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Toyota is not losing its reliability standing.  Here are my reasons:

    1.  I have never been stranded by my Toyota.  I’ve been stranded by every GM car I ever owned, including my Corvette.

    2.  I have not had many problems with my Prius.  Those problems that I have had were fixed.  They were fixed CORRECTLY THE FIRST TIME.  At best, prompt repairs requiring a single visit to a GM dealership were… NONE.

    3.  I have not had many recall/bulletin items for my Prius.  Maybe three or four in the 5.5 years I’ve had the car.  Those bulletin items that required repair or corrective action were fixed CORRECTLY THE FIRST TIME.  I had to have the same GM bulletin work done TWICE on my Corvette.

    4.  There was one item that Toyota insisted was not under coverage by the hybrid portion of my warranty.  It was an inverter coolant pump.  The hybrid components are supposed to be warranted for 100,000 miles, but the fine print in the warranty indicates that this pump is not covered.  I wonder why, given that no non-hybrid car has such neither inverter, nor inverter coolant, nor an inverter coolant pump.  I ended up having to pay for this one out of pocket; a couple hundred dollars, if memory serves.

    5.  In the plus column, the aforementioned inverter coolant pump never stranded me.  And it was properly replaced.  Yes, THE FIRST TIME.

    Please note the common thread that continues to appear in my points above.  Be forthright, admit when there’s a problem, and then fix the ‘effing thing CORRECTLY THE FIRST TIME (regardless of whether it’s covered by warranty).

    I have little patience for service department bunbling and bungling.  Get it right the FIRST TIME and my mood will be decidedly less surly, even if I have to open my wallet.

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      I’m with you on expecting the service department to get it right the first time.  My Toyota dealer is unique in that it is a combination Toyota/Chevy/Cadillac dealer.  This dealer’s service department takes a casual lax attitude towards efficiency and customer satisfaction.  They just don’t really seem to care.  The ironic thing is that there is a GMC and another Chevy dealer within 15 minutes of this one – but the only Toyota dealership is 45 miles away.  The majority of vehicles in this service department are Chevies and Caddies.  The Toyotas are only in for either bodywork repair after accidents or oil changes.  So you would think that they’d realize that they have more to lose by pissing off GM customers than Toyota’s.  Go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      It sounds like you have a good Toyota dealer.  Fixing the first time is a good thing.  But, at the same time, there are dealers out there that don’t do this, Toyota included.  But there are many that have been stranded by Toyotas, including new Toyota’s.  While it is good to hear that everything has been fixed the first time, how many trips have you made to the dealer to have things fixed?  How many recalls/TSB’s have the performed on your vehicle?  FWIW, the Corvette is hardly a quality king.

    • 0 avatar
      The Walking Eye

      I had a Ford Escort that was purchased at a Buy-here-Pay-here lot back in my more youthful days.  Thing had a bad transmission from the get go that wasn’t diagnosed until a year after purchase.  My brother and I worked to keep it running while I had it by replacing the simple things that matched the issues, i.e. it died at stop signs sometimes and replacing the vacuum hoses helped alleviate this.  The thing made it down to TX from IN and back before dying completely.  It died on me in Dallas on the way home, but started back up and got me there.  That was a Ford and the least reliable thing I’ve ever owned, therefore Ford is crap and I’ll never buy from them again.
       
      All the other vehicles I’ve owned have been perfectly fine in routine maintenance and the only issues I’ve had with them have come down to quality of interior materials that wear out quicker (like the fan bearings in my Grand Prix that started whining after 40K miles).  My family has owned a whole lotta GM products, and we’ve only had an issue with one of them AFAIR and that one had well over 150K miles before exhibiting the same problems over and over.  Therefore, GM makes world class products that are on par with Toyota as far as I’m concerned.
       
      See what’s wrong with that?  While I don’t agree that Toyota’s declining, to base their current product with only what you’ve owned is meaningless.  The objective data disproves my conclusions.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I’ve owned 2 Toyoyta’s. Neither V6 motor made a 100K without major work. They stood behind the first vehicle and left me out to dry with 3K in repairs on the second one. In both cases these were design flaws that affected many owners, not just me. No more Toyota’s for me. They suck!

  • avatar
    rtt108

    Interesting.  My Sister-in-laws Corolla just suffered this exact problem last weekend.

  • avatar
    YotaCarFan

    As my handle on this website implies, I’ve been a Toyota fan for a long time — I’ve bought nothing but Toyota/Lexus vehicles for about 20 years, and have bought many, all new.  I see their quality as varying from year to year.  In the early 90s, it was very high.  In the late 90s and early 00s, it dropped.  In the mid 00s, the quality got even lower, and they started de-contenting the cars.  Starting about a year ago, the quality appears to have started rising, but the de-contenting continues.  I was burned with a lemon ’07 Camry V6 with a POS transmission and poor engineering (fit and finish, rattles, etc.), and then a ’07 Lexus ES350 with a POS transmission and poor (but not as bad as the Camry) engineering (rattles, failures of electrical parts, piston slap, etc.).  This, combined with horrendously incompetent mechanics at several Lexus and Toyota dealers that break more things than they fix (literally), and an attitude that “it’s working within spec” regarding expensive to fix problems (e.g., piston slap, transmission thunking/slipping) has me disgusted.  My local Lexus dealer today gave me a loaner that had an unsecured all weather floor mat designed for the back of the car stuck in the driver’s footwell, despite all the publicity (and I’m sure corporate memos) about floormats jamming the gas pedal.  (Yes, it was an ES350 loaner, the same kind that the CA cop died in.)  For me, the halo is off the brand.  They need to make right with their loyal and burned customers, even if it costs money.  And, they need to shake up the management at their Lexus and Toyota dealer franchises — although independent from the manufacturer, they are the “face” of Toyota/Lexus that customers see and deal with on a regular basis.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    Everyone has a story, and it colors their perceptions forever.  The guy in college who owned a VW diesel Rabbit 30 years ago will spend the rest of his life thinking VW makes garbage cars, if he had problems back then.  I guess now it’s Toyota’s turn.  The truth about cars is that they are more complex now than ever before, and there’s more to cause problems.  Besides, everyone wants a car that’s goes 100K with little or no service.  On the other hand, while Toyota is not my thing, I’d guess their product is as good as any, and better than most.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Broad generalization: The Japanese have a culture of making reliable vehicles, while the Europeans have a culture of making safe vehicles. Because the floor mat issue is a safety and ergonomics issue (ie ‘foreseeable use’).
     
    I don’t think Toyota cares exactly how far ahead they are reliability-wise, as long as they’re ahead. As the joke goes, they don’t have to outrun the bear, they just have to outrun Honda (or whomever is No.2).

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Our ’95 Toyota Camry was an excellent car. We wanted to keep it in the family, but our son needed a minivan for his growing family. We sold it privately for top dollar.

    Notwithstanding our positive ownership experience, widely reported reliability and customer care issues have caused us to avoid Toyota since. Lexus transmission problems and stonewalling owners kept us out of its ES and RX models. We bought Acura and Infiniti products instead.

    I don’t know if we are typical, but in our case Toyota is paying dearly for its corner cutting blunders.


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