By on February 16, 2010

According to popular wisdom, the flood of recalls will change Toyota and will permanently damage Toyota’s market share in the United States (much like what happened to Mitsubishi and their cover up scandal). But there are some people who believe (like I do) that this is “man bites dog” journalism. That the Toyota recall (whilst serious) is being blown out of proportion. It seems that other people are starting to see it that way.

US Recall News‘ reason for being is recalls. They would be dead without recalls. US Recall News has written an article that says that the real recall bogeyman doesn’t live in Toyota City, but in Detroit. The identity of the true bogeyman’s name may surprise some.

US Recall News’ article starts off rather reasonably:

“Toyota led the pack for recalls in 2009 with over 4.8 million units recalled across both the Toyota and Lexus brand names. And 2010 already puts Toyota as a front-runner so far with its Prius recall of over 437,000 units and the subsequent recall of over 4.5 million units for various problems. A Tacoma recall of 8,000 units was added to Toyota’s bill on February 15 as well.”

Nothing contentious there, but then, it takes a sudden turn:

“But wait – is the hype more bark than bite? While 5 million units for the Japanese automaker may seem like a sea of cars, there’s another car manufacturer that trumps Toyota in total recalls over time”

Your best guess in 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1

Time’s up, let’s take a look at the answer:

“Since the NHTSA started keeping records, Ford Motors has recalled over 20 million vehicles, the highest recall year being 1996 with over 7.6 million units. Thus, while the current recall hype might be news to the US consumer who favors Japanese models over their American counterpart, the news of Toyota’s 5 million units recalled could be overshadowed by Ford’s recall history.”

A partial breakdown of Ford’s recalls is then given, from 1972 when Ford recalled over 4 million cars for defective seat belts to cruise control issues of the new millennium.  In fact, the article sticks the boot further into Ford by mentioning that the Dearborn boys barely averted a total meltdown:

“2005 wasn’t such a great year for Ford in the recall department, either. While we’re at it, we should mention 2009 as well. Both years resulted in a recall of 4.5 million units each for Ford, and were directly related to cruise control malfunctions. Had the NHTSA combined these incidents into a single report, it would have been the largest recall of all time with an estimated 14 million Ford / Mercury vehicles affected.”

But don’t think that this TTAC article is just here to pour water on Ford being on fire recently (are they on fire due to one of their cruise controls?) You see, despite Ford dwarfing Toyota in the recall stakes, Ford are making huge strides in quality and reliability and are now being thought of in the same vein as Toyota and Honda. Which shows that you can turn a perception gap around. So, things aren’t that bleak for Toyota and is it totally within reason that they can get back on top and put “acceler-gate” (copyright Cammy Corrigan) behind them. Then they can start worrying about Hyundai.

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69 Comments on “Toyota Aren’t Number One … In Recalls...”


  • avatar
    Autojunkie

    It’s not about the amount of recalls. Everyone has recalls. Some big and some small. Toyota is on the $hitlist primarily because of the seriousness of the recall(s) and how Toyota handled it.

    Toyota deserves what they get for trying to blame the customer and saying it was operator error, and then blaming the pedal supplier (CTS) when the complaints go back at least two years before the supplier was even supplying accelerator pedals to Toyota.

    I love how TTAC writers will go so far out of their way to defend Toyota and bash Detroit. If I EVER read one positive article about Chrysler on this site I will $hit my pants…

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Plus 1 Autojunkie. It’s how they handled it (or didn’t, in this case). That’s what has torpedoed all the good will they built up over the years.

      “You see, despite Ford dwarfing Toyota in the recall stakes, Ford are making huge strides in quality and reliability and are now being thought of in the same vein as Toyota and Honda.”

      Ford is being seen as trying very hard to improve their reliability. Whether that’s real or imagined it’s the perception right now. If reality ever collides with perception, as it has in Toyota’s case, perception loses.

      If recalls #’s were the only yardstick to go by, then we would all buy Chryslers. They have among the fewest recalls of the top six selling automakers in North America.

      Toyota screwed this one up. Not the media. Not the motoring masses. If they realize this, they can repair their reputation. But it will take time. No amount of favorable blog postings is going to do that for them.

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      Autojunkie.. so true but, Chrysler was given props when CC covered a 65 Newport months ago.. So it’s not all anti Chrysler here on ttac.
      Most of the time, but not always.. haha.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike66Chryslers

      Yes, but the mid-60s was a pinnacle of design and performance under the sign of the Pentastar, along with solid engineering and reliability at least comparable to their peers. Chrysler has since fallen a long way and been repeatedly kicked while it was down.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Oh yeah! Toyota has got the damage control machine up and running. Too bad they can’t stop the NHSTA from releasing numbers. Like 34 deaths and counting.

  • avatar

    Cammy, way to reinforce TTAC’s brand as “Detroit Sucks”. I realize that Toyota’s current troubles might create a problem with that branding so I understand how an article attacking Ford might be desirable. The problem with that branding is that it when I tell a domestic car company rep that I write for TTAC, their eyes roll and they assume that I’m biased against them.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      I’ve been an avid reader of TTAC since the beginning. Yes,in the past TTAC was highly bias.The former editor,gifted writer that he is, hated all things domestic with a passion. That reputation is hard to shake.

      IMHO TTAC’s coverage of the Toyota story has, so far been fair and balanced.

      That being said,the seriosness of this recall put it in a whole different catagory.

    • 0 avatar
      Some Guy

      “Yes,in the past TTAC was highly bias.The former editor,gifted writer that he is, hated all things domestic with a passion.”

      Agreed. If the unnamed web-site censoring individual you’re referring to was still here, I wouldn’t be on this web site right now. This web site is far more balanced now.

  • avatar

    Cammy, are you Canadian? American English treats collectives as a singular. “Detroit are playing well tonight” is fine if I’m watching Hockey Night In Canada on CBC, but “Toyota Isn’t Number One” is how we say it in the USA.

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan

      Mr Schreiber,

      I’m actually from the UK which, hopefully, will clarify the grammar aspect.

      What I am curious at is why people think this is a “Detroit sucks” article. Firstly, US Recalls (an American website) showed that Ford have had more recalls than Toyota, that’s a fact. And then I showed how Ford turned the situation around, made good and how they are being thought of in high esteem. If that’s how “Detroit haters” talk about Detroit, what do “Detroit lovers” do? Go round and offer their daughter’s hand in marriage to the executives?!

    • 0 avatar
      Jordan Tenenbaum

      I am quite positive that regardless of country, collective nouns need a singular verb.

    • 0 avatar

      Cammy,

      It may not have been your intention (people sometimes take what I’ve written and read exactly the opposite of what I was trying to say – cf Karl Popper and the impossibility of not being misunderstood) but the coda reads like “well, if even Ford can overcome their terrible recall stats, their cars that catch on fire, and convince consumers that they have good quality, there’s still hope for Toyota to turn this around.”

      Your response is a bit like, “I didn’t insult her and say that she was a fat cow, I complimented her and said that she carried her weight well.” Either way you manage to bring up negative images.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      If that’s how “Detroit haters” talk about Detroit, what do “Detroit lovers” do? Go round and offer their daughter’s hand in marriage to the executives?!

      I think you have to appreciate the size of chip on the shoulder (and, lately, the overbearing schadenfreude) of your average American car lover in any debate of this type.

      They’re a downtrodden group with a wicked victim complex.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      I don’t know if Corrigan is anti-Detroit, or anti-Ford, but the presence of that miserable albatross of an avatar next to his name may be indication enough of a peculiar bias towards a pure capital destruction machine, masquerading as an OEM.

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan

      “His name”

      Her name, Crash Sled. HER name.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      My apologies, madam.

      And in truth, every fiber of my being is being strained here, in resisting the mercilessly lowbrow followup. We are making progress here in Detroit, it must be vouchsafed. ;)

    • 0 avatar

      Crash Sled,

      Don’t dis the Leaper, it’s one of the great hood ornaments and logos ever. Your comments about capital destruction may be true (though I think they put Ford’s money to good use if you look at the new XF and XJ), but the Leaper is still an iconic automotive image.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      Ronnie, although I’ve at times gagged at the specter of a Brit lamenting the fate of “dear old Jag”, I don’t care enough about hood ornaments to dis one. I don’t care about them at all, in fact.

      I do care about the estimated $12B total that Ford threw away on that fiasco. We coulda had a perfectly wonderful winterfest bonfire with that cash. Hot chocolate, marshmallows, live bluegrass, the kids running around playing. Something useful, in other words.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe it’s “aren’t” in Ontario but in Alberta it would be “isn’t”-that jarred me as well.

    • 0 avatar
      carsinamerica

      @Jordan Tenenbaum:

      This is off topic, but your certainty is incorrect. In the USA, the singular form of a verb is used: “The committee is debating…” In the UK, collective nouns often take the plural form: “Manchester United are in the running…”, “the government are considering new limits on free speech…”, etc. This is is one of the many quirky differences between British and American English.

  • avatar

    But don’t think that this TTAC article is just here to pour water on Ford being on fire recently (are they on fire due to one of their cruise controls?)

    Of course this TTAC article isn’t just to pour water on Ford, it’s to buck up the Toyota fanboys and reassure them that Toyota will be restored to its rightful position and Detroit will be put in its place. It must really grate that with all those Ford cruise control fires, there isn’t an audio recording of someone burning to death like in that Toyota product.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      It’s too bad we didn’t have video of that elderly gentleman being run over repeatedly and killed, by his own car, in the Schoolcraft Community College parking lot here in Livonia a couple decades ago.

      Not hard to reconstruct the scene, however. It was a Ford automatic transmission, one of 23,000,000 sold, that were subject to jumping out of park, and killing somebody. I wonder which of the several times he was run over was the one that finally killed him? Was he conscious throughout?

      How many dead from those transmissions? How much property destroyed? We can only speculate.

      No, no need for the haters to forget history, and think we’re witnessing something new here. We’ve seen much, much worse.

  • avatar
    th009

    I think TTAC are to be commended for their breadth of commentators, regardless of whether they write in American English or Queen’s English.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Cammy

    Good article. It pretty much shows why Toyota will be ok 10 years from now, just like Ford is ok now despite recalling 7.6 million vehicles in ’96. Who remembers?

    I didn’t take it as a Detroit bashing article at all.

    In addition, it won’t hurt us to read British English once in a while.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    I’m not sure what the point is of this. Is it to say that Toyota’s recalls aren’t quite as bad as a slightly larger recall (so far) that happened in the early 90s? Because I don’t think that is any relief to anyone. It just shows that Toyota’s quality today has sunken to the equivalent of the worst years of domestic auto industry. People are also uneasy about Toyota’s reluctance to issue recalls and willingness to allow safety defects to go unaddressed. Recalls aren’t inherently a bad thing. They happen all the time and it’s generally not a big deal. What does matter are the events that lead up to the recall. Toyota botched it big-time.

  • avatar

    Ford’s reaction to the Explorer recall was not exactly a study in corporate accountability, either. And it did hurt Ford, bad*, for years. Toyota was among those who benefited, as was GM. This time, it’s the other way around.

    *As long as we’re on a grammar subthread, “bad” is correct in this instance; adding -ly would be over correcting. Would you say “fastly?”

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Nor was Ford’s reaction to the cruise control switch problem a model of accountability. Part of the reason it happened in “stages” was that Ford resisted a blanket recall. The problems with the Ford cruise control were similar in scope to the Toyota accelerator problem. It was not something that could be fixed in a few days or weeks and factories had to be dedicated to manufacturing parts over considerable time.

    • 0 avatar

      Why not say “fastly”? We say quickly. Just because people err and use the adjectival form “fast” instead of the proper adverb “fastly” doesn’t mean that it’s correct.

    • 0 avatar
      blue adidas

      “Ford’s reaction to the Explorer recall was not exactly a study in corporate accountability, either. And it did hurt Ford, bad*, for years. ”

      Agreed. What I don’t think people understand is that, by saying these things, it doesn’t impact what Toyota has done. Also, when you look at the granular details about the Explorer recall or the cruise control recall, they are very different scenarios and can’t be compared apples-to-apples with Toyota today. But even bringing up the Ford examples shows how people forget or choose to disregard the details and the brand suffers greatly.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It just shows that Toyota’s quality today has sunken to the equivalent of the worst years of domestic auto industry.

    No. What it shows is that recall magnitude is a useless statistic for determining quality. Doing so only punishes companies that either sell in large volumes and/or leverage parts-sharing. I believe that was Cammy’s point.

    Recall frequency could be considered a useful metric, but not until the counts get very high. TSB count might be useful as well, but many aren’t indicative of problems. The most useful at problems per system and per year/mile or total cost to own. Consumers notice the last one more than anything else; they’ll forget the recall for the problem they didn’t personally experience, but they will remember, for years, the transmission that failed and cost them four grand to fix.

    • 0 avatar

      What it shows is that recall magnitude is a useless statistic for determining quality.

      Translated for those who don’t speak Toyotafanboy:

      What it shows is that recall magnitude is a useless statistic for determining quality when the company doing the recall is not based in Detroit.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I’d said the same for Detroit marques, too. Several times, in fact.

      Recalls are nice (if your a fanatic) because they’re a really simple method for keeping score. They’re also incredibly misleading as a quality metric because recalls are almost never done for non-safety issues.

      Toyota never recalled cars over the engine sludging issues. Honda never recalled V6/5AT combinations (that one scored a big, black mark across Consumer Report’s rankings, by the way). GM never recalled cars equipped with a plastic intake manifold. Ford never recall the AXOD transmission. All of these affected far more cars than PedalGate did.

      Other brand fanatics would be well-advised not to make hay on the Toyota recall for two reasons:
      * Consumers now smell blood in the water. They aren’t going to make distinctions between safety and technical problems, and are probably going to start demanding recalls for items that are covered under TSBs or secret warranties. That intake manifold problem? The one that has affected thousands of GM cars (not like PedalGate, that’s maybe touched a few tens). GM must be praying that never crosses the desk of a theatre-hungry politician.
      * Any mass-market manufacturer is sitting on a metaphorical landmine. Everyone shares parts to leverage economies of scale, and anyone could just as easily see a recall this big. Or bigger. The lack of engineering biodiversity has cost and quality advantages for sure, but a five-million unit recall would be so very easy.

  • avatar
    Hippo

    My neighbor across the street in winter is from Canada. He had a less then 1 year old 50K+ King Ranch burn to the ground while parked in the garage almost taking the whole house with it.
    Ford has been jacking him around for over a year. Apparently they delay and fight every single case in court.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      A few years ago, my next door neighbor’s house burned, just a couple weeks before Christmas. A less than 10 year old house, same as mine. Their 2 Fords were parked in the garage, and that’s where the fire started of course.

      If it had happened in the middle of the night, and not in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, who knows if he and his wife and yound kids woulda made it out alright, rather than standing out on the sidewalk with us across the street, watching the pyrotechnics and minor explosions emanating from the garage.

      I wonder what’s the final body count around the world from THIS particular Ford blunder?

  • avatar
    Hippo

    My neighbor is the Gordon in the link

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/automotive/f150_fires.htm

  • avatar
    TR4

    F.O.R.D.
    First
    On
    Recall
    Day

  • avatar
    Odomeater

    “It pretty much shows why Toyota will be ok 10 years from now”

    You think 10 years is about right to “forget” 34 deaths?

    • 0 avatar
      blue adidas

      Toyota has multiple recalls for many defects happening concurrently, and they attempted to bury them until they finally got caught. People could argue that this is significantly worse for Toyota than other major recalls were to other automakers. That people still remember Ford, GM, Suzuki or Mitsubishi safety recalls from 20, 30 or 40 years ago shows that this will hurt Toyota for quite awhile.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      Good point. Make it 5 years.

  • avatar

    After careful deliberation, the editorial board of Thetruthaboutcars.com has decided not to interfere with the peculiarities of the Queen’s, or the President’s English. Cultural diversity adds to the colour and flavour of the site, it will also result in a decrease of labour for the editors.

    We reserve the right to redact in certain cases. Putting a bee in Cammy’s bonnet for instance could be misread that I want to bug her car.

    If you have any further questions, please contact our Customer Service Centre.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      Don’t get me started on YOU, Bertel. That extraneous “u” you’ve conjured up and added to those words HAS to go. Speak uh-mehr-ih-khun there, mister. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Ack! Shame on you Bertel! You’ve triggered the supressed memory of when Ford was being run by Trotman and amongst other crazy things done under Ford 2000, was the decision to use British spelling for Company locations in S.E. Michigan (e.g. Cost Engineering Centre in Livonia, MI). Egads!

    • 0 avatar

      Bertel,

      It was a point of information, not a criticism of Cammy’s grammar. With Canada just 20 minutes south of here, and being in one of the few American markets that has access to Canadian radio and television, I’m perfectly comfortable with Canadian and British spellings and syntax.

      I think that most of the major car companies try to speak to local customers in local dialects. Toyota has certainly tried to position its image in the US as American as Mom, baseball and apple, and don’t forget to mention all those folks working in Toyota plants in Kentucky other parts south of the Mason Dixon line.

      For the most part, Canadian ad campaigns by companies active in the US use different commercials and different tag lines than American campaigns. GM’s given car models different names in Canuckistan than in the States and even refrained from using French model names there on occasion (the urban legend is that LaCrosse is Quebecois slang for masturbation).

      I think that language is one barrier that Chinese car companies face in entering the North American market, at least based on the personnel they send to the NAIAS. The executives from Chinese companies that have come to the US rarely have any English skills at all, and frankly their interpreters have seemed more eager to suck up to their bosses than they have with getting the translation right.

      Bertel, my impression is that the Japanese put some effort into knowing American English, the Koreans less so and the Chinese hardly at all. Is this impression accurate in your experience?

      I think that fluency in English is one advantage the Indians have over the Chinese. My bet is still that there will be Indian vehicles on sale in the US before they are exported here from China.

      Speaking of Koreans, at the Chicago show, I rode the shuttle bus to the media party at Buddy Guy’s club with a product planner from Kia. When I asked him about the seemingly high turnover rate with their American executives, he said that his bosses from Korea are very high pressure, with expectations that sales will only go in one direction, up. He said that they were presented with a vehicle concept from the home office with the opinion, “We think 100,000 vehicles is a reasonable target”, and one of his colleagues asked, “You mean for the entire product life cycle?”.

    • 0 avatar
      50merc

      I agree with Ronnie; the Indians do have an advantage over the Chinese in an English-speaking market. Of course, the Chinese are working on that. We have Canadian friends who spent a year teaching English at a Chinese university. Asians have a reputation in the US as being tireless brainiacs, so it was interesting (and rather comforting) to hear that their students were a mixed bag: Some were bright, eager and hard-working. Some had one or two of those attributes. And some were mainly enjoying life and looking for encounters with the opposite sex. Just like here.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      I can’t speak about the auto industry, but I have some friends who know Japanese – her son married a Japanese lady and lives in Japan – and they got into a program whereby a Japanese steel company sends executives to stay with these folks for a couple of weeks so they can learn more about the idiomatic English that’s spoken here. From this I would assume that this may be the case in other Japanese industrial areas as well.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Toyota is in the pilot’s seat whether they land this thing with the wheels up or down.

    The problems and the way they have handled the situation has created a widely-held perception they build the cars then throw them over the fence with little concern for the buyer. Yes they build top stuff, but once it is out the door it’s yours. Even Consumer Reports rates their warranty coverage as “Poor”.

    To understand this is the predicament Toyota is in, is to grasp the job ahead: re-sell people on the idea Toyota cares about their cars and the people who buy them. They need to create a more tangible illusion of a shared ownership of their products.

    Pimping the cars or larger discounts doesn’t do this. 8yr/100k b2b warranty with free scheduled maintenance and a few bucks on the hood erases much of the memory of the bumpy ride.

    With the serious blunders they have made looming large, I’m not optimistic Toyota won’t ground loop this trying to get it back on the ground. They need better damage-control talent than they seem to have.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Whaaat? A TTAC article that is unfavorable to Ford? Where are all the guys and gals who claim TTAC is a ‘notorious’ hate GM site?

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Could we get some better data here? Sure, Toyota had lot of recalls last year. Apparently, Ford has recalled more vehicles since the NHTSA started keeping track of recalls. But why not say how many each manufacture has had last year, how many they have had total etc.

    You should also consider recall amount as it relates to market share. I am sure that Ford has also sold more vehicles in the US since the NHTSA has kept records count.

    I think that throwing out one statistic in an article that has the tone of, Toyota had a bad year with recalls last year… but that doesn’t mean much because Ford has a greater running total of recalls. The whole we aren’t as bad because they are worse argument is ridiculous.

    Here is my opinion about recalls. The volume of the recall really indicates how many common parts are used in vehicles. The pedal assembly that Toyota makes can go into a lot of vehicles. Same thing with the Ford cruise control system. When these types of parts have problems, the number of vehicles recalled is going to be quite large. I think everyone would understand that.

    The real measure should be how the company reacts when the product has a problem. Toyota has not done a real good job. Several complaints over a long period of time, a redesign in 2007 to fix part of the problem then (and that fix didn’t work) and it takes a very visual crash for them to do anything about it. That is the real problem I see with Toyota right now. They new about a problem in 2007, redesigned the part, and told no one. It is odd that the redesign failed, but it is interesting that Toyota made no announcement then about the potential problem. That is why Toyota is in hot water right now. They had a problem, tried to fix it and not tell anyone. The day has come to pay the price for that mistake.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Agree completely w/ your comments.

      In addition, size of recall is also affected by time to failure in the field (which in turn is influenced by climate and customer usage profiles).

      Re. the CC-switch failures, I wouldn’t be surprised that the staged nature of the recall of these vehicles was agreed in advance by NHTSA based on an eventual understanding of the failure mode, specifically regarding the location of the switch in any given vehicle-type, its influence on time-to-failure, and the application of a time-factor-of-safety to ensure that affected vehicles would be returned and repaired before torching themselves off in somebody’s garage.

      I agree with other comments here that the staged-nature of the recall was to balance the need for timely replacement of the part without having to (over)capacitize to replace all the parts within a short period of time. Do also recall, that as an interim measure, Ford requested owners to come to the dealer to have the wiring disconnected from the switch until a replacement switch was available.

      It is unlikely that the expanding nature of Ford’s CC-switch recall was a surprise to NHTSA. (If it was, then this is a strong indictment that NHTSA is in worse shape than anybody realizes.)

      Cue the nut-job responses:

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      The vehicles and properties burned down made the cruise control failure a surprise to precisely nobody. The fix was tailored to business realities, not customer safety, much like the mankiller transmisssions of eras past.

      And since rumor, speculation and innuendo seems to be a firm portion of many analyses here, let me take a hand at some of that. Toyota is claiming 10 confirmed incidents in the US resulting from the CTS pedals, and 3 in Canada. That would be a total of 13 confirmations, of 2.3M vehicles sold.

      Anybody wanna bet dinner that those 13 vehicles have been water-immersed, or that water immersion is the root of this issue? Plug that into your customer usage cycle.

      Hey, this rumor, speculation and innuendo stuff is fun!

      EDIT: “Cue the nut job responses”. Pretty slick edit… that’s a good one, bud!

    • 0 avatar
      trk2

      The staged recall of Ford’s cruise control switches, despite some conspiracy theories, made complete sense. The original vehicles recalled had the switch located on the firewall in area below the master cylinder reservoir. Sense the switch had power going to it at all times, the primary cause of the fires was thought to be from brake fluid overspill or leakage falling into the switch and sparking a fire.

      The vehicles that were recalled later were vehicles where the switch was located in other areas and therefore immune to the primary suspected failure mode.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      @crash
      I am not sure what you mean about the cruise control fires not surprising anyone? I think they certainly surprised the owners and Ford. While Ford hasn’t fixed all the vehicles, I am not entirely surprised by the workaround of disabling the feature till there is a fix. Toyota isn’t replacing the gas pedals, they are placing a shim behind it and shortening them (depending on the recall). Why is this allowed, because it would take years for Toyota to replace all of the pedals.

      I don’t know why you are suggesting rumor on any of the comments. Everything I have posted I get from news sites, and mostly from this site.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      Steven, the cruise control issue ignited rather quickly, and soon enough, few of us had doubts as to the problem. Maybe I was closer to it at the time, as it was in my face, but the average guy was plenty aware, and so was NHTSA.

      Ford made a business decision, and handled the cruise control fix following that model. Nothing unexpected, and you’re right, I wasn’t surprised by their CC approach, particularly after having driven their mankiller transmissions for some years. That’s their way, and Toyota is following that same model, although they at least are making a pretense of actually fixing their issue.

      I’d say there is a shortage of fact based analysis in many of the posts on this site, as regards this Toyota sudden accel issue (perhaps your posts notwithstanding). We have seen far more death and destruction in recent automotive history, than what I’m seeing in this case, and far more stonewalling. Hey, I enjoy rumor, speculation and inuendo as much as the next guy, but when it wears off eventually, we’ll have to get down to some hard data. I suspect it’s going to paint a different picture than the hysteria currently prevalent. I’m lookinig abroad, and not seeing this level of hysteria. Why?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      I was under the pretense that Ford was trying to fix their CC issue? Do they not get some replacement parts to people? The newer cars aren’t using the same fault CC system, are they? I am not sure how the Ford CC issue is different from a fix standpoint. If there was some stamped metal, excuse me, precision cut aluminum (guessing at the material) that would have fixed the Ford CC issue, I am sure they would have taken that approach as well.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      I’ll take your word that the CC problem was resolved, Steven. However, it was resolved in the context of a chosen business and financial model, in a phased manner, just as Toyota seems to be doing here.

      As for the mankiller Ford transmissions, all 23,000,000 of them, they were never resolved, and this too was a business model they chose.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      There is no defense for what Detroit did back in the 30 year or more ago. They earned the reputation that they have. The transmissions Ford put out were ridiculous. There is no defense for that at all.

      The same people aren’t running Ford today has 30 years ago either. Assuming a company hasn’t changed in 30 years, especially with Ford having quality numbers way up there, isn’t exactly a fair assumption. Take the quality numbers from every manufacture for the past 10 years, pick your source, and you will see that quality has improved great at all manufactures. So much so that some publications change their rating system to be more strict to differentiate the competition more. I am not saying this isn’t valid for them to do, but I am saying that quality is improving everywhere. What was allowed in the 70′s and 80′s isn’t allowed today.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Don’t worry about Anglo-American grammatical differences, Cammy. It’s unavoidable in such a big linguistic family. As the exasperated Professor Higgins said in “My Fair Lady”,

    “Oh, why can’t the English learn to
    set a good example to people whose
    English is painful to your ears?
    The Scots and the Irish leave you close to tears.
    There even are places where English completely disappears.

    In America, they haven’t used it for years!”

  • avatar

    * Any mass-market manufacturer is sitting on a metaphorical landmine. Everyone shares parts to leverage economies of scale, and anyone could just as easily see a recall this big. Or bigger. The lack of engineering biodiversity has cost and quality advantages for sure, but a five-million unit recall would be so very easy.

    At the Chicago show not a single person from any car company disagreed with my opinion that they were all saying about Toyota, “there but for the grace of God go I.”

    Actually, since part sharing sometimes extends beyond platforms all the way to other car companies, we may end up seeing recalls that affect more than one manufacturer. Everybody buys parts from the same vendors.

    Also, you can’t discount the amount of business the car companies do with each other – as it has been since the early automotive days – I can remember when Ford sold glass to other car companies. The AWD Chrysler minivans still use a transfer case manufactured by what is now a Magna subsidiary, New Venture Gear, that used to be New Process Gear, a JV between GM and Chrysler. The component’s design, I understand, dates back to when American Motors owned New Process.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      Ronnie, I don’t think God is going to give them much grace here. I suspect that Toyota will likely offer to reflash every drive by wire vehicle they ever made, to provide brake overide of the accelerator. What do the other guys do then? Some have that feature supposedly, some don’t, and it seems to be spottily scattered throughout the fleet, best as I can tell. A tidy little 50-100M vehicle recall, potentially?

      Will NHTSA make a recommendation? Will the OEM’s step up themselves? Or will Toyota simply take their medicine, enjoy their time in the box, and everybody else just builds that feature into their fresh production?

      The trial lawyers will be watching closely, I suspect.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem has to do with testing. Once upon a time they had things called switches. There were electromechanical devices like motors and solenoids. Getting quality/reliability metrics like MTBF is not that hard with a mechanical device. Rig up a 24/7/365 test device and see when the part fails.

      While there may be more motors and electromechanical devices, there are fewer and fewer switches and more and more logic circuits reading sensors. There’s a lot of software and firmware (which is just software by another name). While you can rig up a machine to press a button a million times, to test that button, I’m not sure that you can automate how users will interact with software. Hence the need for beta testing, something not entirely practical with a car. While everything else we buy (cell phones and other consumer electronics) is just as filled with buttons and knobs that aren’t switches or potentiometers, few if any of those products have the inherent danger of an automobile. If Apple gets bug reports and has to recall and reflash your iPod or iPhone, there won’t be recordings of people screaming as their Lexus (or Ford or Hyundai or Bugatti) burns. Actually, Apple can do it on the iPhone without you even knowing about it. With all the OBD and telematics, On-Star and satelite radio, I can see the next generation of cars being able to have all their firmware and software updated in real time as it’s released, just like your computer or phone can.

      Car companies are uniquely exposed to litigation here. Because of cars’ inherent danger, though it’s a natural for IPs and the center stacks with their touch screens, I don’t think we’ll see any third party apps for your car like there is on the iPhone store.

      It’s bad enough to be an OEM, liability wise, but would you want to be an aftermarket company? Imagine the liability exposure of a company like SuperChips or Power Commander. As I understand it, those tuning devices alter the way the ECU works. I’m sure that a trial lawyer could convince a jury of folks who can’t tell an ECU from a CPU, that a tuning gizmo caused the brakes to fail.

      It’s a terrifying time to be a manufacturer. I really think what happened to Toyota could happen to any automaker. The only important factor is when did Toyota know about it and how have they responded.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      @crashsled,
      You are assuming the engine control computer has available the status of the brake switch. It is not obvious to me that status is available. Remember, this drive by wire system is in use over a period of years and there may be “versions”. Some versions may be upgradable to react to brake application and others may not. Adding sensing of the brake switch would be a complication to any recall. Yes, every car has a brake light switch but to which “input” would this signal be connected? This is a fix that can only be done by the folks who know all the facts about the control system. I worked in the computer control industry and you can’t just suddenly pick a new signal to use without background work.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      Ronnie, as I’ve been picking through this Toyota business, I’m coming to the conclusion that large portions of calibration and control are gonna have to be standardized, to head off all the issues you’re describing. The same base packages might be platformed and laid into every vehicle. I’m sure they’re all doing all their work similarly, from an outline and organizing standpoint… but I’m talking exact duplication of code. That’s one way to get beyond this challenge… let the OEM’s put their heads together and come up with a standard, and they can then platform their proprietary jazz on top of that standard, as long as it doesn’t compromise the standard in any way. As the pharoah said… so let it be written… so let it be done.

      tc, I assumed a suitable signal to be available, as you can’t shift an auto trans these days unless the brake pedal is depressed, and that’s all the functionality that an accel kill would require. Maybe it’s not as simple as all that, but Toyota is making it sound like they’re pulling it off with just a reflash.

  • avatar
    skcusmg

    I’ve been an avid reader of TTAC since the beginning. Yes,in the past TTAC was highly bias.The former editor,gifted writer that he is, hated all things domestic with a passion. That reputation is hard to shake.

    ……………………….

    Mikey that is complete BS and you know it. Farrago was fair, he wasn’t always right but he was fair. If you were not such a ‘dyed in the wool’ GM lifer you might be able to see that.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Yeah…Guilty as charged,dyed in the wool GM lifer,and dam proud of it.

      Farago is no longer part of TTAC,and there is no need to debate what he was,or wasn’t.

      I stand by my post.

  • avatar
    newyorker

    This editorial and comments are far more balanced than some of the news sites where there is info about the Toyota recalls. So far no government consiracy theories about Obama trying to send the Japanese back to Japan so that the Government owned GM can survive.

  • avatar
    littlehulkster

    I really hate to sound like an asshole here, but assuming that C&D tested the afflicted car and showed that it’s brakes could overpower the motor even at WOT, and that a simple shift into neutral would make the motor cut fuel and stop itself, I have to conclude that anyone hurt by this issue has no business whatsoever operating a motor vehicle on public roads.

    It’s a problem, sure, but the real problem here is that people, even ostensibly well trained Highway Patrolmen, have no idea what to do when an automobile goes out of their control.

    I’d hate to see what would happen to these people if they lost the rear end on an icy road. I’m sure they’d careen into someone’s house, then try to sue the tire manufacturer for insufficient traction.

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    I feel that Toyota is doing a good job of dealing with this recall. Better than some domestic car companies have in the past.

  • avatar
    Zasdoogy

    Inasmuch as there’s been Toyota “bashing” or Ford “bashing” and every pundit claiming that they will survive (or has survived as in the case of Ford), some of you have been a bit brain-dead in remembering the Audi fiasco of the mid-1980′s. How many people did those run away Audi 5000′s kill? Who watched the 20/20 investigative report on it? The 60-Minutes profile about the safety of Audi automobiles?

    I could go on and on, yet, 25 years later, as part of VW, Audi HAS survived, and has done quite well in more recent times. They have a niche-upscale Euro market that delivers some stunning vehicles.

    The last batch of “holiday” commercials from them this past Christmas is an example of a luxury brand that has “come of age”. They took aim at Lexus (as did BMW) and one-upped the par in showing that a “luxury vehicle” doesn’t need a fancy bow or inane commercial to say “me” in that exclusive crowd.

    ALL brands have had some form of recall that has affected their ability to sell at one time in their history. No car manufacturer will be immune from it because that’s just unrealistic. I don’t remember who posted about “the economies of scale” when it comes to manufacturing millions of parts, but that statement is true. Regardless of what internal testing a car company does (or any manufacturer for that matter) things will fall through the cracks eventually and cause issues that the media will run with.

    Who here remembers the recent Graico recalls of their baby products that could kill or cause injuries to infants? How many million units did Walmart, Target, Kmart sell of these defective products before a recall was derived? Have people STOPPED buying Graico products because of this issue? – NONE: Walmart and Target still sell quite a number of their products, even with the massive recalls in the past several years.

    I only bring up these recalls that can be analogous to what’s going on with Toyota and what “lemmings” people can be at times. But do we all have to run to the cliff and jump because one person does it? I don’t think so. I know I don’t want to. Certainly, people on this website are not prone to such things as well (I hope?).

    Toyota will survive, Arnold will retire and do another Kindergarten Cop movie and 20 year old Sarah Palin nudies will show up somewhere on the internet…

    …ok, maybe the latter 2 won’t happen, but one can always hope!

    -”Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one!”

    I’m not a Toyota-fanboy, I’ve never owned a Toyota and never will. Not because I don’t like them because of quality, I’ve just never been enthusiastic about any of their products, less maybe the old Celica GT Turbo AWD of years past. I’ve owned Nissan, Ford, GM and Honda automobiles in the past 25 years.


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