By on February 5, 2010

Based on the emails I’ve been receiving from TrueDelta’s members, I have underestimated the impact of the unintended acceleration fiasco on Toyota’s future sales. This fiasco is going to hurt Toyota, possibly for years to come. The problem isn’t that many people feel that Toyotas are unsafe. Most seem to recognize that a very small percentage of Toyotas have suffered from unintended acceleration. But they’re hearing about problem after problem, so Toyota’s quality seems to be lower. Most of all, Toyota’s public statements have seemed dodgy, and people seem to feel that they cannot trust the company to keep owners’ best interests or even their safety in mind.

In other words, they’re feeling about Toyota much like they’ve felt for decades about Detroit. That the company is focused on sales and profits rather than the owners of its cars. That Toyota does not really care about them.

The odd thing here is that many people previously felt that Toyota could be trusted more than the typical auto company. Why? Because of their reputation for reliability? Because of the Prius?

The fact of the matter is that, when car owners have had problems with Toyotas, Toyota has been at least as bad as the average car company in taking care of them. Conducting TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey, I hear customer care horror stories involving virtually every manufacturer. If a car has a problem you feel it should not have had out of warranty, and you haven’t been regularly servicing your car at a particular dealer, that dealer will tell the manufacturer you’re not a valued customer, and you’ll get little or no out-of-warranty assistance. This is as true of Toyota as any other make. Have a problem that requires special help, and you’ll quickly learn how little they care. Toyota’s advantage was that its cars have been (and in many cases continue to be) more reliable, so people had fewer opportunities to experience how little they really care.

Among mainstream automakers (I have less information on luxury makes), Honda seems to be better than the others in readily paying for repairs after the warranty ends, buying back troublesome cars (always with a confidentiality clause, so you won’t hear about them), and in other ways taking care of customers.

But even with Honda I don’t get the sense that they do these things because they care more. The confidentiality clause when they buy back a car indicates their true interest. They simply concluded some time ago that taking care of customers would earn goodwill and, perhaps most importantly, protect their reputation and so earn them more money in the long run. And it has. It’s simply smart business. Other car companies don’t actually care less. They just aren’t as smart in this regard.

Toyota, though, behaves no differently than GM, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, or VW and has not in recent memory been more trustworthy than these companies. But apparently many people felt they were more trustworthy anyway. This illusion is now, in many cases, gone.

What does this matter? Well, when you trust someone to do the right thing, you don’t pay nearly as much attention to what they’re actually doing. You buy the car blindly. Going forward, car buyers will be scrutinizing both Toyota and its cars more closely. Those who want to buy a car with a minimum of research and thought are now much more likely to go elsewhere.

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online provider of auto pricing and reliability data

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

83 Comments on “Toyota: Illusions Of Trust, Gone...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I find this surprising, mostly because when I used to talk to dealers, the Toyota service departments were on much, much better terms with the mothership than anyone save (as you noted) Honda. Ford was, at the time, attempting to patch this relationship up and was seeing some success with it; Honda was finally recovering from a dealer kickback scandal (sales, not service) and was trying hard to shake it’s sales image.

    I am very, very surprised to know that Toyota has allowed that relationship to slide because their warranty performance was probably the most important pillar of their customer satisfaction, especially at Lexus, where the parent would more or less bend over backwards for the dealer and the customer.

    For the record, VW dealers absolutely hated VWoA—they were by far the worst—and Benz dealers had only slightly less vitriol for Daimler and the way they were treated. The others were better, but it was clear that nobody screws their dealer body to the degree the Europeans did. I wonder if that’s changed, too?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s possible that, in the cases I hear about, the Toyota dealer did not see the owner as a valued customer. Meaning they didn’t get all service performed at the dealer.

      I am specifically speaking about the Toyota brand here, not Lexus. Lexus dealers are a different world from Toyota dealers, and I don’t have contact with nearly as many Lexus owners.

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    Ah. “Customer care.” That old delusion. Well, they do care about something – that you’re still alive to spend the money in your pocket on their product, and that they showed enough interest in you to bring you back to spend said money. People really do think that Toyota cares about their goodwill? My God…

    Anyway, my parents and many of their friends have become Honda devotees because of this. Honda regularly fixes problems out of warranty, treats the customer as an owner/potential repeat instead of an enemy who is trying to bilk the company out of funds, and generally acts as a decent corporate citizen. This has endeared them to many people (no, my parents aren’t the sentimentalists that believe Honda cares, but the situation works in their favor, so why change a good thing?). I actually have also had repeated good dealings with Mitsubishi, and would absolutely consider them again even though the cars are generally not as reliable or logical to buy as some others.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      I strongly agree about American Honda fixing problems out of warranty. I got a reduced price on alternator replacement. Know several people who got defective automatic transmissions replaced. Honda makes mistakes, but they tend to shield the customer from the cost of those mistakes. Wish someone would beat their designers with the ugly stick they’ve been flogging their cars with, but I’d consider buying another car from them.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    I think that you’ve hit on an important aspect of this situation.

    Toyota dealers have sucked for a long time. The personnel- from sales to service and inbetween are generally arrogant, their parts departments are unhelpful, their prices outrageous. (They aren’t alone – see Mercedes Dealers as the prototype).

    However, because the cars themselves have been so reliable, comparatively few people have really had to deal with them.

    This situation is going to make their attitude very visible, and worse, show it in an amplified mode. The dealerships are going to look bad no matter how good they might theoretically or actually be.
    There are literally millions of people calling the dealerships – “Is my car on the list? When will you give me an appointment to fix it? Sonny, why NOT today? I might be dead by tomorrow afternoon!” Just try to remain polite and helpful while under that kind of bombardment.

    This is going to leave a mark. Honda will be the biggest beneficiary, and then Ford. I doubt if this will cause any kind of a bump for GM or Chrysler at all. Toyota shoppers didn’t have GM or Chrysler on their lists at all.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Toyota’s dealers are, frankly, assholes, mainly because the product (used to) sells itself, so they don’t have to try very hard to win over customers. But the whole point of buying a Toyota is you don’t have to deal with them that much. You buy the car, and then only see them come scheduled maintenance time. So even a minor reliability problem hurts Toyota more than it would for another manufacturer, since that’s their big selling point. (Even though it’s not really a reliability issue-the number of vehicles which have actually had problems due to this issue is very, very small; small enough to be noise if it wasn’t for the recall including the other five million that haven’t had problems yet and probably never will.)

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Which, quite frankly, is so sad. My mother resided in Germany for over two decades, and owned two Toyotas at that time. Both bought through the Armed Forces Sales, but serviced continually by a local German Toyota dealership. They were always fully cognizant of the fact that she would never be in a position to purchase a vehicle from them, but they treated her fairly and honestly (they even helped me with a rental car flat tire I had…on a weekend…at no charge). She trusted them and never thought twice about getting either her 1993 Camry or 2003 Corolla serviced there. Why is that so hard for American dealerships to grasp?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack99

      Dealership sucking? You said it!

      Back when my parents bought their 99′ Camry, Toyota was THE company to buy from. Reliability and quality were the rage. The dealership we bought it from had some decently nice people. The manager was willing to spend time just to talk to us even with a backlog of people and the salesperson gave us a decent discount. We made good time with the test-drive and signing paperwork.

      Fast-forward about 8-9 years and we have the 2008 Camry. The car is a disappointment to say in the least. Interior materials now consistent of a much higher proportion of cheap plastics. Steering and handling feels heavy and cumbersome. The power’s increased but beyond that…a quick 10 minute drive makes me miss the old Camry.

      Fastforward another year, and it’s time to buy a new car. I have my eyes set on the 2009 Corolla. The car looks nice, has gotten decent reviews, I’m excited to pick up on the $13,089 special they had at the Power Toyota in my neighborhood. I make 2 phone calls throughout the day to confirm that the discount is being honored as shown in the newspaper and to make sure they have a few in stock. I get promises from both salespeople on the phone that the blue one I wanted is in stock.

      After my job ends at 5pm, I swing on over…only to find not only that the blue one’s gone, but the red one they have left is now worth $14,995. Bait and switch. Classic. Just classic. The salesperson does his best to keep me there to buy for more. I say no. While I’m driving home, another salesperson tries to become my friend, tries to COAX me to buy a blue corolla for $14,800. BLUE COROLLA?! I ask him why the other salespeople at the dealer said the blue one was gone. Never mind that the price was raised almost $2,000. He dodges that question and begs me for 2 minutes before I say “Sorry bro, you pull stuff like that, you piss off people.”

      Long story short, I end up buying from a Hyundai dealership and haven’t looked back ever since.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Jack99-welcome to the world automobile retailing. I worked for a dealer group in the Southeast (I’d rather not mention which one) about 20 years ago, where your scenario with the Corolla was the norm. Or charging some customers $1000 for the (dealer installed) a/c package, while if you were woman with a nice rack, you could jiggle your way down to $800 or so. Depended upon how badly you wanted the a/c, I guess.

      We had a killer closer (Finance and Insurance guy) who could close the Pope if he had to. I never saw anyone convince people who just bought a brand new Toyota they needed a 100 K mile third party warranty. So far as I know he didn’t go into politics, which is probably a good thing.

      We gamed the customer satisfaction mechanism Toyota put in place. In the time that I worked there, I bought 7 Celicas, 3 Supras, a dozen Camrys and a Land Cruiser. No, not in reality. But in order to get endorsed for the good financing rates and the pick of the inventory coming in from the importer, our dealership score had to be a certain number. In order to get and maintain that number, salesmen’s names were routinely assigned to cars of ‘fussy’ customers so there were no bad reports on us.

      Now when I worked the Nissan or the Buick dealership, none of this crap went on. The Nissan dealership was as much a mill as the Toyota one, but the Buick was treated slightly (just slightly) better. We waited until they turned their back to make fun of them. But we didn’t have to fill out those forms for cars we didn’t own. We just watched more TV on rainy days.

      I bought a car in June, I was totally dismayed to see my local PBG dealership starting to use the same tactics that I used twenty years ago. The poor young kid they sent in to “close” me had no idea what he was in for. I think I did OK, but I see this way of selling cars continuing on. I’m keeping this car for a while, that’s for sure.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    I think it will leave a mark. But like most news in today’s world of extremely short attention spans, it will fade, then Toyota will climb back in the game and be fine.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      But in todays world the internet is where people go for information, this will never go away. When people google “toyota” three months ago it would have come back:

      Great
      Great
      Great

      Do that same search now:

      Largest recall in history
      Don’t drive your car
      Unintend acceleration and death

      And probably the most important one that won’t go away even after it changes:

      Consumer Reports can no longer recommend Toyota Vehicles (without going into the actual result and seeing that it applies to cars with the CTS pedals)

      Those pages and information will stay for years (if not decades).

      This isn’t going to kill them but it will never be the same.

  • avatar
    Ernie

    Michael – can you “name names” of the best to fix problems right away?

    I was a Saturn driver for years – loved the service. I went to a used Honda which had a lot of problems (probably not defects) but with them the dealer is the gatekeeper . . . You may get full or partial comp for something outside of warranty, or have them tell you that your aftermarket stereo is related to a coolant leak. Kia in-warranty repairs always got done for us on the Sedona, but, again, the dealer was the weak link.

    Unfortunately, were I live, most dealerships don’t really care about anything other than sales (any make/model).

    • 0 avatar

      I’d like to be able to rank manufacturers on customer care, but am not sure I have the data, and haven’t performed the necessary analysis on the data I do have.

      I’m writing from my gut here. I review over a thousand reported repairs a month, which include a report of who paid for the repair, and also get quite a few emails. But I don’t currently have any stats. They are needed.

      And, no, CSI surveys don’t provide this information.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I wonder if this is how VW dealers get a bad rap – it’s not that they are better or worse it’s just that you have to see them every 8 months vs. every 14 months with a Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It is absolutely how VW dealers get a bad rap, though the problem there is that either VWAG or VWoA is really, really hard on the dealers when it comes to getting warranty compensation.

      If you’re a VW dealer and you know VWoA is going to screw you on claims, why would you stick your neck out for the customer?

    • 0 avatar

      Great point. I don’t see the manufacturer-dealer relationship from where I sit. But sh*t certainly runs downhill.

    • 0 avatar
      hakata

      I visit my VW dealer regularly (sigh) and I must admit they are great to work with. The techs all drive old VWs and we commiserate about the cost and they often recommend doing minor work elsewhere. Also, they assiduously hunt for TSBs, warranty extensions etc. to get me free work, although when I missed the extended MAF sensor warranty by a few months, they politely said they couldn’t help me.

      I am sure that a lot of this attitude has to do with their location in a wealthy liberal college town. They are certainly not hurting for business because they are they only VW dealer and they have a lot of European transplant customers. But it does show that there isn’t necessarily a poisonous VW corporate culture that infects all levels.

      Fun game: ask the VW service manager how much (insert random part) costs and see how often they express visible shock when the price pops up on their computer. Bonus if accompanied by a verbal “whoa!” or “oooo.”

    • 0 avatar
      guyincognito

      I have never had a good experience with any dealership service department. I’m sure there are plenty of honest mechanics out there, but most recognize that anyone who takes their car to the dealer for work either doesn’t know anything about cars, doesn’t care about money at all, or has a vehicle that is under warranty, and are thus ripe for screwing. In light of Toyota’s customer base of people who view cars as appliances, it is no suprise they would fall into this category. Of course, now that said people, who wished to never have to think about their car, are going to be visiting dealers out of fear of every squeak and rattle, this will indeed have a snowball effect on Toyota’s reputation.

      Still, VW/Audi service departments have got to be the worst by far. I’ve dealt with them in NJ, MI, and CA and they were all either completely incompetant or absolutely corrupt. For example, my sister had a tire that continued to leak air on her new VW Golf. She brought it in 3 times to have them look at it. They charged her a nominal fee to look at it and sent her off saying everything was fine each time. It wasn’t until she finally took the car to a tire place that the large nail sticking out of it was found.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I used to work as a tech at a VW dealer. I can tell you VWoA was usually stood up for customers. If a 1.8T car came in that needed a new engine because the owner only changed the oil once in 40-60K miles, they usually paid for the fix when the customer called them. One time a Passat 1.8T came in with 65K miles, no oil change history or receipts, and the oil was almost solid. VW payed for half, against the recommendation of us at the dealership.

      The dealership also was pretty good about helping out people under warranty, as long as their was some service history, or the car was bought from us.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      In my time being on both sides of the counter with dealer service departments, I’ve seen a marked change in the way they react to customers. If you are sane and rational they will usually treat you the same way.

      Of course, some dealers are just sh*theads and the attitude starts at the top.

      I once bought a Dodge at my neighborhood dealer, when it came time for warranty work, they treated me like the proverbial redheaded stepchild. I took my car to the Dodge dealer in the next town, and they treated me like a king. They clearly got the fact that how you treat service customers helps determine whether they are in consideration when it comes time to buy again.

      Another example, we bought a new Pontiac Aztek in 2001 our (then local family owned) dealership practically kissed our ass*s for buying that car. When we took delivery, the salesperson gave us a thorough rundown of all of the features of the car. They scheduled a meet and greet with the service department once a month for all new owners, and gave away free hats and coffee mugs. We did have issues with the car, but they never hesitated fixing it, on the occasions we had to wait for parts, we got an equivalent or better rental car (the rental Azteks were OK, but the time we got the Bonneville SSEi was frakin awesome!).

      Fast forward three years later, when it was time to replace the first Aztek with a second one, the dealership had changed hands. A young guy bought it, was turning it into a ‘volume’ dealer, we lost our old ‘family’ dealership and it’s excellent service. The new guy is no dummy when it comes to a good service department, but the whole operation has lost some of it’s luster. They still treat us well, but not as good as the previous owners.

      Now that Pontiac is no more, the Chevy dealer down the street treats us as well as the new PBG dealer does, and I may start buying Chevys again. If the PBG dealer had manage to maintain that exceptionally high level of service, I would consider what they carry, but probably not. We’ll see.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    As I wrote before, once you lose your virginity in public, your fans have more trouble with denial and less vigor to rise to defense.

  • avatar
    obbop

    1978 Toyota pick-up.

    Cracked exhaust manifold, a common problem with the 20R engine.

    Extended warranty for smog-related defect, may have been limited to California, I am unsure.

    Took the truck to the dealer in 1989.

    Picked it up later that day.

    The dealer replaced the ENTIRE exhaust system except one piece, the down tube around three feet long connecting the exhaust manifold with the rest of the exhaust; service writer said it was in perfect condition and did not need replacing.

    New muffler, new catalytic converter, ALL NEW.

    Free. Gratis. No charge.

    Move to Nebraska in 1993 where salt was used on the roads in winter revealed one problem with those early trucks… rust mobiles, even when frequently rinsed off.

    The critter died an early death.

    Still, that dealer treatment in California was a wonderful thing.

    Unable to proclaim if my experience was the norm.

    Sure did beat the Chevy treatment (non-treatment) of failing to diagnose problems repeatedly during their new vehicle warranty period.

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    I have consistently found my local Toyota dealer and the service department to be helpful and reasonably priced. Our local GM dealer and parts folks are also great, although the prices for GM parts are ridiculously high (I am currently waiting for a replacement Impala blower motor I bought on EBay. If I get scammed on that purchase, I can try Ebay two more times and still end up slightly ahead financially. And the dealer had to order it too, so no convenience factor there).

    Maybe it’s a function of location – I live in a small-ish town where there is exactly one dealership for each major brand. Word of mouth is king here, and people take things very personally. Perhaps the folks behind the counter loathe their customers, or are jerks when they go home to their families, but they hide it well if that’s the case. Any dealer who jerked their customers around or ripped them off for service would be putting plywood over their windows and a ‘For Sale’ sign out front in no time.

  • avatar
    forraymond

    If Toyota made cars people were passionate about, this problem would not be as damning in the long term. Most Toyota owners don’t care about cars, as they are appliances. Once the appliance is no longer bullet-proof, move on to the one perceived as such. That is another problem Toyota must address.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, the thing I’ve belatedly realized is that the current mess will hurt them most among people who simply don’t want to think about cars. It’s easy as an enthusiast to lose sight of how much differently most car buyers think–or prefer not to.

    • 0 avatar

      That is an excellent point. I’ve had lots of friends who’ve said they wanted a Toyota because they just wanted a car they didn’t have to fret about.

      In 2007, a friend of mine wanted to buy a new Corolla because she wanted an A-to-B appliance. I suggested she also look at the Honda Fit, but she was reluctant to even consider it. I went with her to three different local Toyota dealerships, and it was only after watching them lying to our faces that she agreed to look at the Fit, which she ended up buying. After our experience with the dealers, it’ll be a long time before she thinks about buying a Toyota again.

  • avatar
    Bancho

    Hopefully, after this debacle Toyota will be hungry again and really strive to prove themselves again. It would be a happier ending than endless harping over a perception gap. I guess time will tell and until then there are plenty of other manufacturers with nice cars out there.

  • avatar
    K.T. Keller

    I remember Toyota in 1968 while I was a sophomore in EE, as a professor of mine had just bought a new Toyota. Someone brought this up at the beginning of my Electromagnetic Fields class, and his response was to go to the blackboard and write “TOY” in capital letters while turning around and smiling to the class. That was then. Now, with the enormous size of Toyota, the big business arrogance has set in which has them baffled as how to solve a major problem. Instead of earnestly taking a little time to investigate, they have to respond immediately with a risky answer. Wouldn’t it be funny if there was a conspiracy of the Big 3 (or at least the Big 2) to hack into their ECMs and cause havoc much like what has gone on with Microsoft software. Anyone having access to their production run could easily infect a bug into the flash programmer.

  • avatar
    richeffect

    I’d still rather buy a Toyota Yaris (sans any throttle/floor mat/brake problems) than any current Chevy, Ford, or Dodge compact car.

    In the long run, especially if you perform maintenance and repairs yourself, the difference is astounding.

  • avatar
    jmo

    VWoA is really, really hard on the dealers when it comes to getting warranty compensation.

    Just out of curiosity how does this happen? I’ve probably had a dozen warranty claims over the past 12 years and I’ve never had a problem. If something is broken how do they attempt to deny the claim?

    The only think I can think of is what happened to my 98 Passat:

    I had brought it to the dealer for it’s 60k mile service and they inspected the timing belt (as they were required to do). At 70k miles the belt failed taking the engine with it. The car was towed to the dealer and they confirmed the 60k mile service was done and installed the new engine.

    Now, I know people who think those 30k and 60k services are a waste of money. So, for those people, I’d assume if you never did the 60k mile service and the timing belt failed – VW would tell you you’re out of luck?

    I guess I’m just curious how they go about not honoring their warranty claims….

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I guess I’m just curious how they go about not honoring their warranty claims….

      It’s not that you don’t honour it per se, it’s that you make it hard for the dealer to get paid back. Warranty work can be a risk for the dealer because they have to front the time and (sometimes) the parts which they then bill the manufacturer for.

      The manufacturer can make the dealer’s life hard in several ways:
      * Stonewall on initial approval of the work. Demand all sorts of proof of maintenance, coverage, use/misuse, etc.
      * Set absurdly low compensation rates: eg, for a given repair that takes three hours, only pay for one.
      * Keep a low stock of replacement parts for warranty use, forcing the customer to wait a long time for repairs
      * Charge over-market for repair parts, and then deny warranty work if the dealer gets parts from someone other than manufacturer’s parts warehouse
      * Insist the dealer pay for “shop supplies”, or classify expensive parts “shop supplies”
      * Stretch out repayment of claims as long as possible
      * Retroactively deny claims based on “new evidence”

      Does this sound like anyone’s VW repair experience?

      The trick with dealers is to make warranty work worth doing. VW was absolutely horrible at this, as was Daimler and, to a lesser degree, the other Europeans, GM (depending on the time of day) and Mazda. Toyota and Honda used to make it pretty easy, so does Ford, from what I’ve heard.

      Service departments have to meet revenue and utilization targets, just like sales. If the manufacturer makes it hard for them to do that, then they’ll cut back on accepting warranty work. There are sleazy service departments, sure**, but if the manufacturer makes warranty work worth doing, the dealers will do it.

      Saturn, for years, did far better than their product quality or performance should have allowed because Saturn (the mothership) gave dealers the kind of latitude that Lexus dealers would have envied. They were the anti-VW: mediocre product, amazing warranty performance.

      ** Mazda seems to have this problem, or at least they used to. Mazda made an effort to cut parts prices to the dealers and increase warranty labour payback rates, but many of the dealers just pocketed the extra cash and continued to screw customers.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      **You mean like $70 for a stolen gas cap (paid $10 at autozone) or $140 for front brake pads (just the pads) (paid around $30). This was in the early 90′s on a B2200. Loved the truck, overall mazda experience not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @psarhjinian:
      * Set absurdly low compensation rates: eg, for a given repair that takes three hours, only pay for one.
      * Keep a low stock of replacement parts for warranty use, forcing the customer to wait a long time for repairs
      * Charge over-market for repair parts, and then deny warranty work if the dealer gets parts from someone other than manufacturer’s parts warehouse
      * Insist the dealer pay for “shop supplies”, or classify expensive parts “shop supplies”
      * Stretch out repayment of claims as long as possible
      * Retroactively deny claims based on “new evidence”

      Nearly all manufacturers use flat-rate schedules for repairs, whether warranty or not. Mechanics can sometimes beat them, sometimes not, but if the flat-rate schedules are “absurdly low”, the dealer will lose money on all service business, warranty or not.

      Local parts stock is within the dealer’s control (again for all manufacturers) and most manufacturers can provide overnight delivery of most non-inventoried parts, VW included.

      And I don’t know of any manufacturer that will cover a warranty repair made with third-party parts — nor do I understand why a dealer would want to do this since the manufacturer’s warranty covers both the labour and the (original) parts.

      As for the last three items, did you just make these up or do you actually have some evidence that VWoA (or another manufacturer) intentionally engages in these kinds of business practices?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Nearly all manufacturers use flat-rate schedules for repairs, whether warranty or not. Mechanics can sometimes beat them, sometimes not, but if the flat-rate schedules are “absurdly low”, the dealer will lose money on all service business, warranty or not.

      Many manufacturers (not automobilia) will set a benchmark number of hours that a repair will take. Some are pretty good about allowing for difficulty, some are not.

      Local parts stock is within the dealer’s control (again for all manufacturers) and most manufacturers can provide overnight delivery of most non-inventoried parts, VW included.

      This wasn’t always the case. Heck, for many high-value parts it still isn’t the case.

      And yes, it’s in the dealer’s control, but do you think dealers really want to be sitting on a large safety stock of parts?

      And I don’t know of any manufacturer that will cover a warranty repair made with third-party parts — nor do I understand why a dealer would want to do this since the manufacturer’s warranty covers both the labour and the (original) parts.

      I haven’t seen this one in automobilia, but I see it in electronics fairly often: the repair for a given issue is included as part of a kit. That kit can’t be bought separately, nor can you use parts from past kits. Sometimes, if you want to be refunded for a job, you need to buy the kit or you’ll get your claim denied.

      As for the last three items, did you just make these up or do you actually have some evidence that VWoA (or another manufacturer) intentionally engages in these kinds of business practices?

      Retroactively denied claims? Not often. Stretching claim payment times? Very often, depending on the economic health of the manufacturer. Games with “shop supplies” I haven’t seen in ten years, but I’ve been out of that role for six years, so it’s a wash.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      th009, Yes they use flat rate time, but remember that warranty time and customer pay time are way different. A customer pay brake job at a VW dealership is 2.5 hours. Warranty time is 0.9, big difference.

      Also, VW will overnight parts, as long as the car stays at the dealership for repairs. If the customer leaves and decides to come back at a later date, the part will be shipped normally.

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    In agreement with Michael, in JD Power’s 2009 Customer Service Index Study rankings, which measures “satisfaction among vehicle owners who visit a service department for maintenance or repair work…during the first three years of ownership,” Toyota dealers rank low: 28th of 37 brands.
    http://www.jdpower.com/autos/ratings/service-ratings/sortcolumn-1/descending/page-#page-anchor

    • 0 avatar
      Suprarush

      Not that there is anything wrong with the JD powers surveys, but…. and this goes for everyone here.

      Do you think that the expectations for a Dodge, GM, Ford, Hyundai customer are the same as a Toyota dealer and what service you get?

      Wouldn’t you “expect” more from a quality car maker. Has anyone seen Toyota’s face at the dealership???

      It’s quite black and white when Toyota deals with warranty, it’s either applicable or not, no in between. Now it’s up to the dealership to earn your business especially if you have done all of your service at the dealership since you purchased it, then they may give you a “goodwill” gesture and pay for some or all of the parts/labour. If you don’t service your Toyota at a Toyota dealer, then don’t expect them to go above and beyond earning your business when all you’ve done is a single oil change and tire rotation and those were probably included in the new car purchase.

  • avatar

    Living with a 986 Boxster, I can’t feel that I just have a ticking time bomb under the hood. Porsche was pretty good at keeping it quiet for a long time, but my trust in the company is pretty much gone – I will never buy another Porsche again without them seriously owning up to the design flaw.

    Toyota will fix this eventually and people will move on and maybe even forgive them. The big gainer will be Hyundai which, with its 10 year warranty, is really showing how it is done.

    The problem with selling a car as an appliance is that the idea is you don’t have to think about your car – it just functions. When that is put into doubt, the whole crafted image falls apart.

  • avatar

    A corporation that “cares” about its customers? Oh FFS, please. To hell with what the Supreme Court says about corporations being people too… I vest human emotion in a corporation about as much as I would with a snow tire.

    I don’t need a pat on the head or a cup of tea when I have a problem with a product, I need the problem resolved, preferably with a minimum of time and plasma lost. If I feel warm and fuzzy afterwords at what swell people I’ve dealt with, that’s just frosting on the cake. To paraphrase Harry Truman, if I need a friend, I’ll get a dog.

    A product is a product, and business is business, but seeking or selling emotional support via the purchase of a mass-marketed consumer item is pathetic. Toyota has spent so much PR effort on being “the car company that’s your pal and cares a whole bunch! really!!!” that they richly deserve being slagged when their hype doesn’t ring so true.

    • 0 avatar
      Catherine

      “…seeking or selling emotional support…is pathetic.”

      I won’t disagree with that. But with regard to the customers, seeking “emotional support” is not typically what is happening. What customers are seeking, whether they see their car as an appliance or as something much more than that, is respect. (There is nothing wrong with seeing your car as something like an appliance; most drivers can’t afford to have it any other way.) I would almost rather have a public beating than take my car in for repairs. Patronizing, condescending, arrogant, belittling — these are all words I would use for the treatment I usually get. I got wise at one point and tried to wear my police uniform whenever I went to the shop. Sometimes a hand strategically resting on the butt of my gun helped. Otherwise they didn’t seem convinced I really even knew how to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      “a hand strategically resting on the butt of my gun helped”

      haha. Well, the rest of us show up in a nice car of another make to get a dealer’s attention…but I like your method better.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Toyota, especially the US and Canadian wings, must reach out to their dealers.

    The recall, believe it or not, gives them an opportunity to fix their reputation right at the front-line. Giving dealers carte-blanche to perform warranty repairs, as well as a free oil change/rotation/detailing/proactive checkup would go a long way to assuaging the customer base.

    The problem is, they have to give the dealer service departments the incentive to do this. Now is not the time to nickel-and-dime.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I heard a Toyota dealer from Boston interviewed on Armed Forces Radio (I think it was a feed from NPR’s All Things Considered), and this dealer said that, depending on the size of the dealer, Toyota was giving them a stipend of 75k USD to handle all the extra hassle (more porters, car washers, telephone answerers, greeters, etc.) associated with the recall.

      Idea here is to make sure the dealers don’t cut corners and further nerve the customer coming for a recall.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      I heard that NPR ATC piece too, and I had to chuckle at the dealer’s final comment about the recall work, something along the lines of “action leads to action”, and that while the car was in for the brake fix maybe the customer will need new wiper blades, etc. How many Toyota service depts are going to try to upsell services during the recall visits?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      I would disagree with this. A free oil change is too much of gimic for a recall. I don’t think it would solve the problem. People would absolutely take them up on the offer, but I don’t think the conversation would go, “Toyota has been recalling a lot of cars lately for safety defect”… “But I got a free oil change.”

      For what it is worth, Toyota doesn’t get good marks for dealer experience or service. That definitely won’t change.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    I agree with almost all that has been said. We had a minor problem when our Toyota was new. Original dealer was incompetent. When I tried to get Toyota corporate involved, they were indifferent to say the least. Acura (Honda) has always been good to us. I service my cars regularly at the dealer and it is almost always fixed fast and right. I will never buy a Toyota again. I will almost certainly be a Honda customer forever. It’s not that I think the Toyota is a bad car. I just think Toyota is a bad car company.

    • 0 avatar
      YotaCarFan

      That’s been my experience, too. When my brand new fully loaded 07 Camry’s transmission fell apart and the dealer butchered my 2-mo car swapping the transmission (scuffed paint, gouges on plastic engine parts, unconnected stuff under the hood, broken parts, weird noises, & the new trans had issues too), I called the “Toyota Customer Experience Center”. Their response: “We’re sorry, but the dealer is an independent franchise, and we are not responsible for their actions.” When I said how about either buying back my car or giving me a discount on a new one of a different model, they said “We are a car manufacturer. We sell new cars, we don’t buy used ones. And, any price on a new car is negotiated between you and the independent dealer franchisee.” Total jerks. They either need to pull the “Toyota” signs down from the dealerships and replace them with “Independent Repair Shop for Toyota Brand Cars” or hold them to certain standards and back the customer when the standards are not met. After all, the dealer is the face of the company that the customer sees, regardless of who owns it.

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    I wonder how much of this dealer behavior is a function of urbanization. GM, Ford, and Chrysler are all over the country including small towns and rural areas. It seems to me the Japanese makes are more of an urban phenomenon, with dealerships primarily in big cities, not small towns. Big cities are places of anonimity. You are just a number.

    I’m 60 years old and have never bought a new car, so I have no experience with warranties, but my Chrysler dealer in northern Minnesota has always been great with me: always gives me a discount for parts, never overbills, never does work that wasn’t needed. If I’m looking at a used car in the lot, the mechanics can give me a complete run-down on the car from their own memory. They’re honest with me on what I should or shouldn’t buy. I’m a person to them, a friend. I have a real relationship with them, and I now drive 500 miles round trip to get my cars serviced by them. Many of my vehicles have gone 250,000 to 300,000 miles, which is a tribute to their care.

  • avatar
    cardeveloper

    Good example of dealer creating a positive buzz is Mercedes. As far as I’m concerned the cars are junk, but their dealers are quick to over repair, at Mercedes expense. Tic in the engine, you now have a new engine.

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    Maybe the lesson here is found in the title of TTAC’s immediately preceding article: “Quote Of The Day: A Sucker Born Every Minute Edition”. We rail against Detroit as short-term, cost-cutting, profit-taking enterprises. Now, Toyota proves itself the same and we’re shocked, SHOCKED! Lesson learned; Toyota is just another car company. But here’s Hyundai, and we now believe THEY will promise something too good to be true. I wonder if we’ll transfer the lesson or rather hope for another impossible dream.

    • 0 avatar

      Hyundai is definitely not better than the pack even within the warranty period. They seem especially likely to deny coverage on trim items as “wear and tear” that most other manufacturers would cover. The norm these days is that if an interior trim piece breaks or a seam comes apart within the warranty period, it’s covered. Not necessarily with Hyundai.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I’ve said before that I don’t like Toyotas, but that I’m sorry to see the company being threatened by what is largely business as usual (+ media frenzy) as I see it. But I’m starting to think that, this, combined with GM’s oh so public humiliation, might just be the best thing that could happen to my future car buying options.

    Both car companies dominate their positions with mediocre product, relying on a big picture brand identity and customer loyalty to frankly crush their competitors. Neither one makes a truly high volume vehicle that I would consider purchasing, and, at 29 years old, it’s been that way for my entire driving lifetime. Now, I don’t think that Toyota is necessarily going to lose droves of loyal customers here (Chevy didn’t go away and they still sell mostly shit by my lights), but I love it that they must face that as a real possibility. I want to see pain, panic and desperation when they discuss new model launches, not just recalls, and I want a major pissing match to develop between the smaller companies with unique product and the big guys as the feel newly compelled to really benchmark them. This has done a lot of good where it’s been in evidence at GM, and, since I think the two are here to stay regardless of scandal, I hope it improves the Toyota breed as well.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    People want a car that costs less than the competing brand and lasts forever with no maintenance. And everyone knows someone who knows someone that has a story. In the scheme of things I really doubt Toyota is any worse than any other brand, and maybe better than most. I don’t drive them, as my complaint with the brand has nothing to do with their quality, real or perceived. I’ve always thought that, today, all cars are a crap shoot. My last two VWs have been good cars, with good dealer experience. But, here on TTAC, VW is the perennial whipping boy…at least until now.

  • avatar
    TheRedCar

    Does anyone else get the feeling that once that sense of “Toyota is your buddy” enevitably washes away after this, that it’ll be a case of the Emperior’s New Clothes?

    How may bland or ugly cars has Toyota been rolling out there to the masses that wouldn’t have been touched if they were a GM product?

    I think we’ll see a bit of a wake up where the public suddenly realizes that the current line-up is boring and unattractive.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      I suspect that no such “wake up” will happen. First, most people don’t care that the cars are boring and unattractive. For most people, all cars are boring, just as all washer dryer combos are boring. As far as unattractive, Toyota isn’t noticeably uglier than any other maker.

      Piston heads need to stop looking at the world through racing goggles. What people care about is reliability/cost of ownership. I suspect Toyota will still be at the top of such shopper’s lists in the future, because for the most part they’ll continue to do the things that got them to #1 in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @Dynamic88,

      Not just reliability and cost — but leather seats, navigation, power sliding doors, climate control and whatever else their imaginations need (thanks to advertising). On the other hand, rarely do they desire things like “multi-link suspension”, “rear-wheel drive” or “dual-clutch transmission.”

      But as you said, the vast majority of the buying public have completely different priorities to the TTAC readers.

    • 0 avatar
      TheRedCar

      While you’re certainly correct about the racing goggles, take away the virtuous reliablity and what compelling cars in their line-up are there? If you leave out the Prius attraction for the Pious ones, is there anything evocative cars at all? Pistonhead or not, there’s just nothing that makes me run to a Toyota dealership to get and go show off to my friends.The FJCruiser is somewhat interesting looking but thats about it. Everything else might as well have a Buick badge.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      You really hit the nail on the head with that one. Outside of reliability and occasionally price what do the Camry or Corolla have over their competitors?

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Michael, I think your email inbox is not somethng complete enough to be used as a basis for judging or predicting real marketplace behavior. Your inbox’s scope only consists of people who are willing, able, and knowledgable enough to write an email (and to get it to you). Not to mention somehow motivated enough to undertake the effort.

    This is not the entire universe of car buyers. It’s only a very small slice. A few skin cells from an elephant’s body, so to speak.

    I’m not saying that your inbox is an innacurate barometer. It’s just an incomplete barometer. Useful for spotting possible trends, yes. But using it to guage the future could lead us down the wrong path.

    You also have not taken into account the drumbeat impact of an overhyping media. This is what the media does. It takes time for people to REALLY analyze what’s going on and then make up their own minds.

    Your inbox may be a good barometer for some things, but maybe it’s incomplete.

    For example, I have not written you an email, so my personal sentiment and my future plans are not part of your inbox’s scope. And I can’t be the only one not motivated enough to write you on this (except for here in a thread on TTAC).

    I’m a Prius owner and I’m not too worried about Toyota’s quality or care for the customer. Maybe I’m in the tiny minority, who knows. I do remember the bad old days when I drove GM cars, though. And what I experience today doesn’t even come close to comparing to that time.

    I don’t think inbox evidence is great enough to indicate that the book is closed on this issue. Most certainly, time will tell. I shall wait and watch before I make up my mind, and I suspect that a lot of others will, too.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    It’s a shorter news cycle than the old days. I think you’re giving too much credit to the past few days.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    MK

    I have to respect your opinion. You run True Delta and you are in contact with more car owners than I ever will meet and talk to.

    However, your editorial just doesn’t ring true for me. Perhaps this is a function of the type of people I have for friends – though this doesn’t ring true with respect to my casual acquaintances and co-workers either.

    Specifically, I don’t know anyone who thinks of Toyota as their pal. I don’t know anyone who thinks of Toyota as a warm fuzzy care- bear.

    It seems to me most people are well aware that Toyota is a huge corporation, mostly interested in profit. The deal, up to now, (and I suspect the deal largely continues in the future) is that Toyota cars and trucks won’t need to visit the dealer except for scheduled maintenance. They make their cars good, because that sells cars.

    I only know a few Toyota owners, and they tell me this makes little difference to them. Yes, they have to make a special trip to have their gas pedal replaced but overall Toyota reliability is still good. What they care about is predictable cost of ownership. These fixes (mats, pedals, re-flashes…..) are free.

    IMO this is a temporary set-back for Toyota. Shadenfreude is to be expected, I guess, but I suspect Toyota will remain #1 or #2 for a long time.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Toyota’s reputation – if it is really damaged – will rebound like that of so many tarnished celebrities.

    Unhappily, my only Honda ownership experience was horrible from Day One, both for the product and the dealership service.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Spot on about Honda. Brought mine in for a strange noise in the brake system, one day and $1000 (eaten by Honda) later it had a new ABS module, with virtually no hassle from the dealer. I’d love to think they fixed it because they’re nice guys, but I suspect it’s because Honda backs them up and doesn’t try to cheap out on warranty work. I’m sure they pay a lot less than retail for parts and labor, so a they got a thousand bucks worth of good will for probably $250 or so. Until other car companies can figure this out, I’ll have a Honda in my driveway.

  • avatar
    davejay

    I know a person who has been treated like crap by two Chicago-area Toyota dealers, when trying to buy a new car, so badly that they’ll never drive one. In Los Angeles, my wife and I decided we wanted a 5-door hatchback Yaris, and the first Toyota dealer (when I went along) was fine but didn’t have any and wouldn’t search the computer, and the second (I waited in the car while my wife went in) gave her such a bad experience (the guy first wouldn’t look at or talk to her, then he refused to answer any questions unless she agreed to buy a car if he did, then he just walked away) that Toyota’s off our shopping list, too.

    There’s the “mother ship”, and then there’s the dealerships on the ground, and when you have a rock-solid reputation you can afford to drop the ball in both locations. This should be a wake-up call for both ends of the chain.

  • avatar
    dartman

    Toyota dealers have long had a reputation as being the worst in all almost every category sales/service/parts etc. My question is; Does the unusual distribution set-up Toyota has with a the regional distributors,(Gulf States Toyota for example) create a detrimental “extra middleman” effect between the customer/dealer/manufacturer?

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    If a car has a problem you feel it should not have had out of warranty, and you haven’t been regularly servicing your car at a particular dealer, that dealer will tell the manufacturer you’re not a valued customer, and you’ll get little or no out-of-warranty assistance.

    Bingo! This factor kills brand loyalty faster and more thoroughly than any other. The manufacturer designs and builds a reasonably decent car. The customer pays many thousands of dollars for it in good faith. The dealer turns out to be incompetent or crooked, eg. charging for unneeded work. The customer won’t deal with him.

    So what does the manufacturer do? He craps on the customer from great heights. Oh, what a feeling! In most cases the mistreatment ensures the customer will never buy the same brand again, and will tell everybody how poorly he was treated. Don’t get mad, get even!

    Unlike almost all other consumer businesses automakers do little to ensure their dealers are competent and honest, secret shoppers etc. They have a hands-off attitude treating dealers as independent businessmen, not franchisees. Toyota/Lexus forums are filled with owner horror stories about stonewalling and being dumped on. Thanks to the Internet it’s no longer the dirty little secret it once was.

  • avatar
    Seth L

    How much does the dealer experience count for? I had lots of trouble even getting my 03 XRS fixed (services not performed, refusal of replacements, blaming me “you can’t used burned CD’s they’re thicker.”)

    Then I bought my cooper and the dealer bends over backwards, even servicing my A/C out of warrenty (though it’s broken again, two weeks after they fixed it.)

    I can’t win.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      I guess it depends on the type of dealer experience you’re looking for.

      We’ve had Hondas since the mid ’80s. I don’t have any experience with warranty work because I’ve never had to have anything fixed. That’s the sort of dealership experience I’m looking for.

  • avatar
    97escort

    Your car computer may kill you:

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/your-car-computer-may-kill-you-2010-02-05

  • avatar
    meefer

    I have had a terrible experience with Honda (took to same dealership for 7 years, my v6 becomes a w-5 two days after they performed a recommended valve adjustment and they try to blame me, Honda of NA sides with dealership). I give up and shuttle the car to the scrap heap. If I ever buy a hondacura product again, it certainly won’t be from that dealer.

    So far my Lexus dealer has been far smoother, but I’m only at 3 years and 70K miles. As soon as I go out of warranty (100K) it’s independent mechanic for me.

  • avatar
    sco

    My local Honda and Toyota dealerships are literally 2 blocks from one another and under the same ownership and i’ve been to both places with my Odyssey and Scion(Toyota) Xb. Honda dealer bends over backwards to cover items under warranty and even slightly out of warrantee, Toyota dealer refused to address an under warrantee rim problem on my Xb claiming my clearly marked original equipment TRD rims were “aftermarket”. What could possible explain the differences in attitude from these two highly related dealerships? Answer: I dont care, now that the Xb is out of warantee I take both cars to the Honda dealer

  • avatar
    Ion

    Our dealer wanted 740 to rotate the tires,change the cabin air and PCV filters, and perform an oil change when the “Maint Required” came on when our Matrix hit 15,000. I googled it found out the light is timed (hence no CEL)and did all the required maintenance in the owners manual (which didn’t include the air or PCV filters) myself. I was a ticked at the dealer’s service but I was disgusted Toyota would resort to timed dummy lights when most of their buying demograph is the elderly. Though I’m sure their not the only manufacturer doing it.

    • 0 avatar
      Suprarush

      @ ION
      Our dealer wanted 740 to rotate the tires,change the cabin air and PCV filters, and perform an oil change when the “Maint Required” came on when our Matrix hit 15,000. I googled it found out the light is timed (hence no CEL)and did all the required maintenance in the owners manual (which didn’t include the air or PCV filters) myself. I was a ticked at the dealer’s service but I was disgusted Toyota would resort to timed dummy lights when most of their buying demograph is the elderly. Though I’m sure their not the only manufacturer doing it.

      I’ve worked for Toyota for several years and have yet to see a “Maintenance Req’d” light on the 07 Matrix, unless you are referring to the “Check engine light”? But then you’re saying there is not a CEL. Not true its yellow and shaped like and engine. I don’t know about that either since you also imply that the car has PCV filter(s) it’s a valve and there’s only one! If you are going to gripe about a company and spill usless information its probably best you didn’t throw in your 2 cents. No customer would pay $740 to rotate tires and change a a filter and PCV valve at any company. I would hate to imagine what they recommended yet you tuned them out most likely when the bill got up over $34.95

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “I hear customer care horror stories involving virtually every manufacturer. If a car has a problem you feel it should not have had out of warranty, and you haven’t been regularly servicing your car at a particular dealer, that dealer will tell the manufacturer you’re not a valued customer, and you’ll get little or no out-of-warranty assistance.’

    Whatever the reason may be, this has not been my experience with our 2003 Honda or 2006 Acura. I do nearly all of my own routine maintenance and repairs and have never been to either dealer’s service department except for warranty issues. Even so, Honda replaced the complete transmission on my Accord when I had it in for multiple leak complaints, later replaced the Electronic Load Module when it failed long after the warranty was over because there was a TSB describing a defect with that module … and the dealer cover the paint repair of a door which was damaged on their lot while the car was waiting for the electronic repair. Likewise, Acura repainted all of the external plastic parts on my TSX when I complained that they were fading to a very different color than the rest of the car. Acura covered the complete removal and repaint of both bumpers and the lower under-door skirts as a customer satisfaction issue.

    I have no idea if other Honda or Acura customers get treated this way, but I can say for certain that Honda USA has gone out of its way to take care of the problems I had.

    YMMV.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    That commercial is seriously, profoundly creepy.

    What I have noticed about Toyota dealer service departments is that they seem particularly fond of the service upsell, especially extra engine flushes and fuel system cleanings.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Dealers ruin the ownership experience. My Subaru dealership was taken over, and the new service manager is a doink. I look forward to many a verbal joust with this twit.

    It’s been said over and over again that manufacturers should lay down the law with their franchisees. I’ve never seen that happen.

    Now with Toyota going down for the third time before completely drowning, I’m a bit surprised at the offhand way dealers are treating their customers, based on Toyota ownership among friends and business associates. The existing customer base is what pays your bread and butter tomorrow, but humankind generally rushes towards oblivion at a great rate, thinking only of today. It’s still all sweetness and light at Toyotaland.

    As for Toyota Mfg, their QA system is incomplete if it had no game plan for emergencies. They are flailing, and it’s obvious to everyone. As for all the customer anecdotes, it’s very hard to tell the wheat from the chaff. What is disappointing, is that over years this problem has taken to “develop”, Toyota seems to have been totally disinterested in reports from customers, and very few investigations, if any at all, have been undertaken. Surely, there must have been some cases where someone with a technical background and decent observation skills has had this happen. And yet Toyota seems not to have cared.

    So, how many readers here have taken these “runaway” episodes to try out their skills at stopping their car in such a situation?

    1. My Subaru has an electronic throttle, the pedal has an adjustable stop on the floor, not just flexy carpet. So I have no worries about ruining the plastic pedal housing by pushing too hard.

    2. Neutral is a mere tip forward from Drive. Simple.

    3. At full power in second gear at 5000 rpm with the turbo singing, a full jab on the brake (left foot) stops the car no problem, even though the engine is still trying. So my car does not seem to have the “cut throttle under braking” feature.

    3. Turning the ignition key back to ACC is NOT recommended. At night your lights go out, and my biceps aren’t big enough to steer the car without power assist, even though the column is not locked.

    Here’s my wild-assed guess about the Toyota problem. Heavily worn plastic gears in the servo step motor housing at the throttle butterfly plate, that ETC box. As a past enthusiastic R/C gas car racer, I’d say plastic gears are nasty things if their diameter is not well controlled, and they’ll bind quite nicely. Or they’ll chew their teeth and bits of plastic will get into the gears, also binding things, especially if the gears have grease on their teeth. Explains why in some stories, the engine still revved after being turned off and back on again, and the accelerator pedal was free. Just a guess.

  • avatar
    fgbrault

    I have a 2009 Jetta TDI sedan with DSG. I have had excellent service from my VW dealer (including the free 10,000 mile maintenance). One morning some months ago I came out and my battery was stone dead. I called VW and they sent out someone who got it started. I then took it to my dealer who kept it for two days to see if they could determine what the problem was and whether it would repeat itself after they did a slow recharge of the battery. They provided me with a free loaner. They cold not find a problem or determine why the battery was dead, but did not try to blame me. I did not pay a penny. The car has been fine since with no repeat.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Anyone else catch Toyota’s superbowl (and beyond) ad campaign? I laughed out loud when they showed us a Highlander and a Venza after discussing their recall. What, no Corollas or Camry’s…I wonder why not?

    It would have made my day if, after saying, “if you have a car affected by these recalls” they showed a parking lot full of Accords and Fusions, and not just their own low volume models. The inevitable lawsuits would’ve been worth it for hilarity’s sake.

  • avatar

    I agree with psarhjinian’s comment on Volkswagen service. We have a 2004 volkswagen Touareg Midsize SUV and have a car accident on March, 4 months ago, but the car can not get fixed until next month because the Volkswagen dealer at Nyack, New York, is still waiting for the leather passenger seat cover, which is broken by the airbag in the accident. Now we have run out of $900 (e.g. 4 weeks) car rental fee covered by the insurance company. Volkswagen customer service department allow me reimburse another about $200 (e.g. 1 week)rental fee. Together they only cover 5 weeks. And I have to pay the car rental fee for the remaining 20 week out of my own pocket, and sometimes I have to go to train station by bike or by feet, in this killing hot summer in New York!!! They said this leather cover is a special order and they are back ordered. Can not believed it. took so long – 5 months – to replace a cover. We strongly recommend that everybody do not a buy any Volkswagen car.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States