By on April 17, 2010

And the hits, they keep on coming: The Nikkei [sub] has it that Toyota will recall 740,000 Sienna minivans that have been sold or operated in cold-weather areas in the United States and Canada. They’ll be checking for corrosion of the spare tire carrier cable.

If extensively exposed to road salts, the carrier cable of the 1998-2010 models of the minivan could disintegrate and the spare tire could get away from the vehicle.

Reports that “Toyota will recall all their cars to get it over with” are a nasty rumor.

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49 Comments on “Have A Toyota Sienna? Do You Know Where Your Spare Tire Is?...”


  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    I wonder what the thought process was here? Cable rusts, tire falls off. Cable doesn’t rust, tire stays attached. Hmmm…
    Hopefully, no serious accidents were caused by one these faulty cables.

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    Hey Bertel, what time is it where you’re at? It’s 0400 here! Looks like we are the only two awake! You should call Edward Edward Niedermeyer and see if he is awake yet. I wonder how loudly he’d complain?

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    The hits keep on coming, indeed. Self-inflicted hits.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    This should really give Routan sales a major boost.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    As Maxwell Smart would say, “Ha ha, the old rusted cable on the spare tire trick”

    Ya’ll are going to blame this on the fact that the US government owns part of GM and Chrysler?

    Toyota is basically going back to all the crap they covered up in the past and owning up to it before “someone” finds it in a hidden e-mail.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Another chapter in the “they’re just another car company” is written.

    I love the fact that they’re losing the mask

  • avatar
    wmba

    May 2016:

    Toyota announced today that they are recalling 45 million cars to correct a problem that may allow all Toyotas to actually move from rest when the engine is running, the transmission is put in gear and the accelerator depressed.

    As vehicles are not actually allowed to move (unless assembled by Government Motors and accompanied by a suitable Government writ for the journey filled-in in triplicate), and are now regarded as driveway scenic dressing, this newest Toyota problem may spell the end for a company racked by recalls. A Toyota spokesman said today, “We all know that moving vehicles are dangerous objects and should never actually move at all, so this quick action by Toyota will ensure that its vehicles remain immobile. We are considering how to actually effect repairs in the individual driveways of America, and have hired an extra 10,000 ex-marathon runners.”

    NHTSA officials declined to comment in-depth, merely saying that Toyota could be fined $35.4 billion under the latest legislation if it is found that the cars can actually move. Their detailed investigations are already under way, and an extra 3,000 pairs of Dr. Scholl walking shoes have been delivered to NHTSA HQ for the exclusive use of investigators who “walk America for you!”

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      So your point is what? That DOT can’t require, or enforce recalls, until Treasury sells off it’s equity in GM & Chrysler?

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Getting all the Toyotas off the road would represent a highway beautification initiative in my eyes – all of their cars are horribly ugly or painfully bland. The road would be a better looking place if it were filled with new Camaros, Corvettes and a few CTS-Vs thrown in for good measure.

      I especially hate coming up on and passing a current Camry and having to look at the odd protuberance built into the shape of the headlamp that you don’t notice when looking at a straight-on side or front view. The current Accord has a similar ugly detail only noticed from the same vantage point when passing one.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Are these like the “Venus Bumps” one sees on the headlamps of the newer Escapes, or the front and rear lamps on the old FWD Cougar?

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Mr. Walter:

      Gosh, do I have to be like an American comedian and explain the joke as well as tell it?

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Robert,

      I’ve noticed the Escapes have this as well, but it’s nowhere near as pronounced as the Toyota and Honda ones. I’m sure it serves some functional purpose, but that doesn’t stop it from being ugly. It’s kind of like the 3rd brake lamp on my Wrangler – it serves a legal and functional purpose, but that doesn’t make it attractive or cohesive to the overall design of the vehicle.

      As far as the bumps on the Cougar lamps – those seemed like they were more of a styling device than something purely functional…and I want to believe the humps/bumps on the Toyota/Honda lamps are purely functional because who in their right mind would think it’s attractive or adds to the styling/design in a positive way?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      wmba: nah, just a little emoticon or so to let us know you have not slipped over to the dark side…

      wheeljack: agreed, the cougar hooters were styling devices, but the breast buds you describe are, in my mind, something to allow the vehicle to meet lighting regs, without spoiling the body-line, but when you notice them on the lamp-line, i also agree, they look wierd and kind of spoil the look of the vehicle. (only thing going for them is that they probably allow the elimination of a single bulb and associated wiring by combining two and locating them in one easy to see positon. Alternatively, they may allow the packaging of all lighting features in what would otherwise be crowded real-estate.)

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Robert,

      In the case of the Camry and the Accord, the rest of the vehicle spoils the look of the vehicle :)

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    One of my employees was almost killed when the rear bumper fell off a Buick Regal on the freeway and went through his windshield, front and rear seat and embedded itself in the trunk. The bumper brackets had rusted through.

    Now, I don’t remember a congressional panic over flying bumpers on rusted out GM vehicles. This incident can’t possibly be the only one.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      A bumper that penetrated that far thru a following vehicle must have come from a “classic” Regal … newer bumpers just don’t have the mass to do that … so, given this, it would seem safe to assume the Regal was relatively clapped-out by the time it shed its bumper … this is the subject of state inspection and scrapping regulations, not recalls.

      The factors most important to corrosion-induced structural failure are mode, effect, mean-time to failure and frequency … and also, if there were previous similar recalls, on other vehicle lines, or from other OEMs, that the OEM in question did not learn from.

      When major parts of vehicles fail, or fall into the roadway, it is always a big deal … wouldn’t you hate to be the following vehicle or motor cycle (or kid walking on the shoulder**) when that tire comes flying at you at 50 mph?

      **(I have my own, oddly enough, “Disintegrating Regal Story” … when I was a boy, around 1978 or so, I was walking on the shoulder of a busy road and a Regal passed by me, made a strange whining and clunking sound, and, quite surprisingly, out from under the car, and straight at me, flew the engine’s vibration damper … I jumped to miss it, and then went over to check it out … I had to drop it on the ground as it was so hot, so I realized that it came from that car, and was not a piece of debris kicked up from the street…)

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Hi Bertel, Since it is a liberated tire theme we are talking about, shouldn’t that be “the hits just keep on rolling”?

    Two comments:

    1. I’m glad they do this recall, and they should be investigate for cover-up with intent to delay or minimize (their apparent modus-operandi), but to be fair to TMC, I note here that they are neither the first, nor only OEM to have this happen … but, they may be the first OEM to have failed to prevent two failure modes leading to spontaneous spare tire liberation … 1) Sienna as described above, and 2) Tundra due to frame cross-members rotting and dropping the tire, winch, and cross-member onto the road as an assy.

    2. I hate the salt/no-salt state recalls … this is a cheap way out for the industry, and puts owners in border-states at risk, if the buy a non-salt state vehicle and bring it into a salt-state …

    Re the cable failure mode … cables of this sort are usually plated against corrosion, some even have a plastic jacket … it would be nice to know, what the mode is … is it a) an unjacketed cable which has lost its plating (and why rubbing against adjacent strands on the spool?), b) entry of NaCl-soln either from the ends of the plastic jacket, or through cracks in the jacket, and working on the cable, c) rotting of the cable where it is swaged onto the fitting that engages the rim, or d) rotting of the vehicle or winch assy at the interface where the two attach (Tundra mode).

    3. Falling tires (like failing pick-up and tail-gate cables who have similar failure-modes) seem to be an industry issue worthy of deeper NHTSA investigation. If I were NHTSA, I would ask other OEM’s about their warranty calls and service part sales for any of the kinds of failures seen in pt. 2 above, and then would also ask them about their design (tensile strength) and material spec (cable, plating, and jacket type) and validation testing procedures (if it conformes to an ANSI-standard then which one, and if not then what the details are NaCl-spray or immersion concentration, pressure, temperature, etc. used by the OEM to do their validation.)

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      Protection of this lightweight cable under continuous + shock loads by plating or plastic coating only (as opposed to stainless) would be basically asking for failure over a 15+ year lifetime exposed to constant bathing in salt.

      Unlike a car body, or exposed parts of the undercarriage, who is ever going to clean this cable?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      An additonal problem with cables in such an application is the risk of “wicking”, where saline solution on newer cables is drawn in from the ends, or on older cables, through cracks in the jacket, and even potentially between the strands on both jacketed and unjacketed cables.

      The salt when dry, acts as a fine abrasive on the plating, and when moist acts as a corrosive, and to top it off, salt is hydroscopic, so it is good at picking up moisture out of the air to get itself into the corrosive mode …

      (Aside: My sister had a GMC version of the S-10, and she was glad that only one of her tailgate cables had rusted and broken … I tried to tell her that the other cable was comprimised (nobody ever wants to believe the automotive engineer if he bringeth bad news) but since the jacket was clouded, this couldn’t be seen … finally in frustration I slammed the tailgate down and the remaining cable failed -in the centre- and she became very pissed … until I told her “and what would have happened if you were climbing in/out or standing on this when it failed?”)

      Additionally, take the car through the car wash, and soap wicked into the cable, or between the cable and the swaged fittings at the end, can attack these like the salt does (just at a slower rate)…

      Material selection, system design, and protective coating strategies are very important here … I’m not sure if anyone is using stainless, and if not, whether this is due to being thought unnecessary, or that cheaper solutions were adequate, or perhaps due to ultimate strength or toughness issues particular to stainless material itself.

      Bob Elton: The other thing that makes elevator cables appropriate for their application is redundancy, and the Otis Safety Brake, neither of which is present on a spare tire carrier system.

    • 0 avatar

      @ Robert.Walter:

      Assuming the supporting assembly was properly robust, this seems to be a perfect place to use some type of plastic in place of corrosion prone metal cable.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      I’m still waiting for Government Motors to step up to the plate for broken tail gate cables on my 98 S-10 that broke in 2001.

  • avatar
    relton

    Separating GM bum[ers was a tremendous problem for GM cars from 1977 through about 1987. The inner bumper, the part you can’t see, was made of aluminum to save weight, and it corroded away from the steel fasteners. In Michigan, they were usually gone in about 4 years.

    Aggrzavating the condition was the fact that lots of people hooked a bumper hitch to these bumpers. After all, the chrome plated steel part looked very robust. There were slots in the bumper to attach the hitch. There were more than a few cases of boats liberating themselves from the tow vehicle, bumpers and all.

    The engineers forgot basic metallurgy and galvanic reactions. Steel against aluminum is a recipe for failure.

    I’ve worked with cables, and I never like them. There ae so many modes of failure. Elevators in buildings hange from cables, and the only thing that prevents thousands of deaths per year is a small army of dedicated elevator inspectors who force building owners to replace the calbes periodically.

    Bob

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      As Bob Dylan would say “…the executioner’s face is always well hidden…” How long has this been lurking on Toyota’s radar but kept quiet.

      A cable itself is not automatically a poor choice of suspending the tire. With proper design (material selection, thickness, corrosion protection, mounting details) it can be a fine choice. How many decades did the cables on the Brooklyn Bridge last? In this case, cost factors and the desire to make the part just good enough to last the life of the vehicle is to blame. With no margin left in the design, a few will fail in normal service. With this van, I guess one of the variables used in the design proved to be inaccurate, resulting in a premature failure rate.

      Regarding elevator ropes (Elevator people never call them cables; don’t know why) there is a cluster of them supporting the elevator itself. They are required to be inspected and because they stretch during their service life, they are shortened on occasion. They are also a far better grade of material than what is used for run of the mill items. And even if they were severed all at once the cab itself would not plunge to the ground.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    my ’71 Datsun PU had the spare under the bed. It was on a chain instead of a cable. It worked fine. If the cable are unjacketed, then rubbing a paper towel full of chassis grease every so often would keep them from rusting

  • avatar
    bnolt

    “I especially hate coming up on and passing a current Camry and having to look at the odd protuberance built into the shape of the headlamp that you don’t notice when looking at a straight-on side or front view. The current Accord has a similar ugly detail only noticed from the same vantage point when passing one.”

    This is rapidly becoming an epidemic, especially with the Japanese brands. It certainly is not limited to Toyota and Honda. Look at what Mazda did to the 3 & 6, or take a glance at the Murano. It seems the current designers must have a fetish with telescope-eyed goldfish. I really can’t understand what’s so hard about integrating the head and tail lamps with the rest of the sheetmetal. I suppose on an SUV these details aren’t quite as hideous, but what function do they serve?

  • avatar

    It’s happened before – Ford Tire winch – NHTSA Defect investigation EA00012 in 91 to 94 Ford Explorers – 1.298 million vehicles, documented crashes and field reports because of the tire winch cable rusting out. No recall was ever ordered and none are listed. This has been a problem on many other makes and models as well I’ve seen them fall off Chevy Astros, Dodge Durangos and many others. In this case the problem for Toyota is real and needs to be addressed, the question is will they be given a free pass like all the others? If not (and I don’t think any manufacturer should) Toyota can be proud of the fact that once again it’s displaying a pattern of setting the standard for addressing customer problems at a higher level than other manufacturers have done in the past.

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      NHTSA closed Defect Investigation EA00012 with this statement:

      Based on the low complaint rate over the numerous years the subject vehicles have been in service, a safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time. Due to this low complaint rate and improvements designed to further increase the durabilility of the winch cable systems that have been sold as replacement parts since 1994, further use of agency resources does not appear to be warrented.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      Chevrolet has solved this problem on their Silverado pickups by having the assembly fail in such a manner that one can never remove the spare tire from the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      rodehardputupwet

      +1 fincar1 Chevy Blazers have this undocumented feature also.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Sometimes you have to wonder about NHtsa’s logic:

      “…and improvements designed to further increase the durabilility of the winch cable systems that have been sold as replacement parts since…”

      being used as the logic to avoid a recall.

      One would think that

      “…and improvements designed to further increase the durabilility of the winch cable systems that have been sold as replacement parts since…”

      would be exactly the logic used to recall the older parts in the field, and to issue a new FMVSS standard defining the performance and life of such parts.

    • 0 avatar
      zbnutcase

      Toyota has had nothing to be proud of since about 1976. ‘nutcase

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      Speaking of tire wenches: (Pirelli Girls)

      http://thm-a03.yimg.com/nimage/b2ad37444f46a770

  • avatar
    IGB

    Day to day driving has become very anxiety provoking. I can’t drive in front of Camry’s and Prii any more for fear of getting rear ended. Lord knows you can’t drive behind the damn things if you actually need to get somewhere. Now you risk your life behind Sienna’s as well.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    More not good news for Toyota.

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    Ironically enough, the spare tire cable in my 1998 Dodge Caravan is in perfect shape and has never failed.

    And people claim Chrysler has bad quality.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Well, yes. My Sienna had the decayed cable. On the other hand, my Sienna also has a perfectly functional engine, transmission, accessory system, etc, etc.

      I’ll take the cable, thanks, especially since Toyota is footing the bill.

      The reason people say that Chrysler’s reliability is questionable has to do with all those wonderful non-safety-related problems that don’t warrant a recall but affect thousands of people (as opposed to PedalGate which has affected, what, fifty? A hundred at most?)

      This sounds callous, but what ruins reputations is not a something that affects a few people mortally, but that affects tens of thousands of people financially. I don’t know anyone whose had sudden acceleration; I know at least six people whose Caravan/Voyager has had one (or more!) transmission rebuilds.

  • avatar

    This seems like a real thing, unlike all the unintended acceleration nonsense. Just like the rusty frames on Tacomas actually. Fortunately, only a small number of cars is affected.

    • 0 avatar
      b1msus93

      you have to be kidding.
      “unlike all the unintended acceleration nonsense”?
      you do realize that toyota admitted the vehicles are faulty right?
      obviously not all accidents were because of the faulty parts, but the problems do exist in those cars

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    This is a real issue down here. But not really for the rusting issue (I’ll get to that later). The issue here is that all cars that have this design are totally vulnerable to theft. And rest assured, you’ll be robbed. So much so that I refuse to buy a vehicle that doesn’t put the spare in the trunk, where it belongs. And so much so that anybody w/ half a brain puts a heaqvy chain around the spare tire as soon as they buy a car w/ this figure (like you see on Bicycles).

    And who really gets under the car, dirty, and air up the tire for a trip? Or even every couple of weeks? I mean these spares lose air, too.

    Ny brother has a 1998 Palio Weekend (station wagon). It’s sitting (not so pretty) on the curb of my parents’ house. the thing is he’s got another 2 newer cars for him and the wife (Fusion and peugeot 307 SW) and he “bought” the car from a deceased uncle’s estate. But our cousin never finds the time to ask the judge to allow the sale of the car. So he stopped driving the Palio Weekend about a year ago and parjked it on my mother’s curb. And there it sits. Never washed and only driven on those rare occasions I take pity on it and drive it around the block a few times. Amazingly the battery is holding on for dear life and the air con has lost potency but it still starts and moves when I drive it. My brother, the owner, never does it. But I hate to see cruelty to good cars…Any way it’s a miracle the neighbors haven’t complained.

    Sorry to get off topic but I thought the story was relatively pertinent.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Can’t help but think that a quick shot of grease at the factory could have prevented all this, given that spare tire cables are otherwise fairly well-shielded from direct road spray.

    Penny wise, pound foolish.

  • avatar
    relton

    If it wasn’t for elevator inspectors, the redundant cables would eventually fail, one by one, until there were no redundant cables. Then, when the last cable failed, the safety brake would probably fail to work because it had never been maintained, again because there were no elevator inspectors.

    Falling elevators are extremely rare, but not unheard of. Sometimes there just aren’t enough elevator inspectors.

    Bob


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