By on December 30, 2013

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Barring a last minute campaign from another manufacturer, Toyota will be number one in recalls on the American market for 2013. This will be the second year in a row that Toyota has topped the recall rankings. Since the 2009 sudden unintended acceleration controversy, Toyota has led the nation in recalls every year except 2011.

A recent overview published in the International Business Times highlights the recall problems of major OEMs globally, with a focus on the United States. Official NHTSA statistics for 2013 won’t be available until next month, but a rough count of major recalls places Toyota in the lead. In 2012, Toyota recalled 5.3 million cars for a variety of maladies. Honda was number two, with 3.3 million cars recalled. Lowlights in the recall race include Toyota’s 870,000 units with randomly deploying airbags due to spiders, Chrysler’s 280,000 units with potentially faulty rear axles and 2.7 million Jeeps for potential  fire hazard, BMW’s 569,000 units that could randomly shed battery cables leading to stalling, and Honda’s 777,000 units with missing rivets leading to airbag malfunctions.

None of Toyota’s major recall campaigns in the United States in 2013 were related to unintended acceleration. Instead, airbags and seatbelts top the list of problematic components. Besides the aforementioned airbag issues in Camrys and Avalons, Toyota recalled over 750,000 Corollas and Matrixes for problems with electronic circuitry that could lead to random deployment of airbags or seatbelt pretensioners. 209,000 FJ Cruisers and 342,000 Tacomas were also recalled for seat-belt issues, as were 170,000 other units for faulty airbag inflators. In addition, 615,000 Sienna minivans were recalled for transmissions that can slip out of park without prior application of the brakes. Although no cars in the U.S. were recalled for SUA-related issues in 2013, Toyota just announced a recall of 400,000 units in Saudi Arabia to install brake override systems. That recall is meant to address concerns about possible unintended acceleration.

Toyota’s problems with airbags can be traced at least partially to the widespread reliance of multiple manufacturers on large suppliers. As the IBT article explains, Toyota’s recall for faulty air bag inflators is part of a widespread problem that has also affected Honda, Nissan, and Mazda. All of these companies used air bags manufactured by the Takata Corporation at its Mexican facility from 2000-2002. All of these companies have announced recalls to address the same problem. This illustrates the way in which component defects at the supplier level can spread widely throughout the industry. If headaches like this continue for OEM’s, one has to wonder if they might insource more production of critical safety systems. At the very least, it is likely that suppliers of these components will face tighter scrutiny in an effort to avoid costly recalls.

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74 Comments on “Toyota Set to be #1 in Recalls for Fourth Time in Five Years...”


  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Just once I hope to read a comment like the following: “Volkswagen’s reliability is clearly not the best, but at least it’s not as bad as Toyota’s.”

    • 0 avatar
      krayzie

      At least Toyota is proactive in issuing recalls. VW historically has a tendency to ignore until the class action lawsuit is upon them.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Toyota has to be proactive in recalls like making fun of spider webs last October that backed up drainage areas and leaked onto electronic modules. Poor design more than anything as no one else over looked the obvious.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        The myth of “superior German engineering” has been shattered. Got to hand it to the German marketers. A lot of folks believed that VW’s were built by elves in the Black Forest.

        • 0 avatar
          NMGOM

          mikey – - -

          The “goodness” of German engineering seems selective with regard to years (generations), models, and components. Sometimes great; sometimes just stupid, in my experience.

          I’m sure the new Mercedes S-class is top notch; but my son’s old VW “Jetta” had just about every electrical glitch you could imagine. My 2006 BMW 325i had its expensive electro-mechanical steering column fail (take $1 grand from bank; do not pass “GO”; do not collect $200). But my 2007 Z4 has been utterly reliable, if you can ignore the stupid brushed aluminum dashboard (in a roadster!!) that reflects the sun into your eyes. Don’t even mention the cup holders: they are not part of the German psyche: it is nearly impossible for that nationality to design a proper, robust cup holder**! (Now, maybe if the need were for beer-stein holders, then I’d think they would have it in the bag, so to speak….)

          Gee, my 18-year old 1996 Dodge Ram 1500 Pickup with 175K miles has only had a starting motor fail in all these years. (Yeah, I finally put some “upgrades” in it last year: shocks, brakes, nothing special.)

          —————
          ** my delightful Nissan Frontier has so many cup and bottle holders splattered about the cabin that I am wondering if they are not over-compensating for the Germans, or just saving plastic on the holes thus created.
          —————

          =================

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Recalling 870,000 vehicles because a total of three airbags went off, or 615,000 vehicles because a couple of them shift out of park when you move the shift lever out of park, or 209,000 vehicles because slamming the doors too many times after nagging from the wife could reduce the function of the seatbelt retractor, etc, has more to do with this country’s insane civil tort system than it does any reasonable definition of reliability.

      Volkswagen’s toxic reputation didn’t come from a history of non-problems which were cured for free while the car was in for an oil change.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I can’t believe I’m defending Toyota here.
    Todays automobiles are an incredibly, high complex, mass produced product. The large car companies need to deliver their product, to the consumer in a very competitive market. Higher costs translate to higher sticker prices. Toyota, contrary to some beliefs, are not immune to these factors.

    Safety regulations, emission requirements and fuel consumption, all add to the complexity of the modern vehicle. Recalls are the inevitable result of these factors.

    I personally don’t believe that recall stats are any reflection of the over quality of any manufactures product.

    I’m not shocked that Toyota, as the highest volume producer in the world, leads in vehicle recalls.

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      I would think that GM should be close behind Toyota as well. Didn’t GM recall 1.5 million vehicles in China for a fuel bracket problem?
      I agree, more sales will equal more recalls but still, the lesser the better. Can you imagine an airbag going off in your face with no warning? Ouch..

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @ Halftruth….My point exactly. The consumer demands air bags. Toyota has no choice.Include four airbags or suffer the consequence’s.

        So they in turn, cheap out on the engineering,and quality. Toyota doesn’t want to crank stickers up $500.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @mikey – you raise a valid point.
          Recalls do not necessarily affect quality. A large recall occurs if the problem item cannot be isolated to a small batch. These large recalls show the risks of using “universal” components. You put the same airbag, cruise control switch, gas pedal in millions of vehicles and the chance of having to recall millions of vehicles increases.

      • 0 avatar
        alexndr333

        Halftruth: As noted in the article (should you have not read it) the ranking is for recalls in the USA. However, it’s even more interesting that Toyota has airbag problems when they equip their cars with four, while GM puts eight to 10 airbags in their cars and experiences no recalls.

        Toyota’s reputation for reliability is largely based on using platforms, engines and transmissions for years and years. (GM derived similar high-reliability marks from the long-used Buick Century platform.) Once Toyota has to make more rapid changes in their drivetrains, their reliability drops to par with just about every other mainline manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Honda isn’t anywhere near highest volume but has followed Toyota in recalls except for one of the five years.

      Toyota leads in recalls because they continue to contract low quality parts and poorer engineering. They use the same suppliers as every other manufacturer yet are are the ones that suffer with recalls having a part built to minimum specification. Stupid stuff like rusting spare tire holders and frames that bend in half are further proof they are building under engineered vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        TheAnswerIsPolara

        Indeed. I have a 2011 Sienna. The DOOR PANEL arm rest cracked. I’ve got 50 year old cars with their original door pannels! The apron around the drivers seat also cracked. Between the two pieces, I’m out nearly $1,000. That’s $1000 in PLASTIC. Obviously, they cheaped out on the density of the materials used. Seems Toyota has learned from their American manufacturers while the Americans have come up in quality.

        I’ll certainly not be blindly picking a Toyota on the next van (Yeah, I admit that’s what we did back then!).

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          I think as the pricing pressure on them intensified – competition from H/K as well as renewed competition from the domestics. Toyota couldn`t attract the premium that originally had, and pay their dealers well (they have amongst the largest invoice to MSRP price spreads). So they had to cut cost somewhere – you don`t get to buy a 2014 Camry for $18K without some compromise.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            You’re right but Toyota quality problems started long before 2014.

            The problems surfaced when they started making them OUTSIDE of Japan, like in the USA, and other places, using local suppliers each eager to cut costs by cutting corners.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @NormSV650 – when Toyota had to recall all of the pedals made by CTS, it went basically unreported that Ford recalled Transit vans(China)using CTS pedals, and Chrysler recalled an econobox using CTS pedals.

        If Toyota was to blame for faulty engineering then they would have had to recall all of the Denso made pedals that were made to the same specs as the CTS pedals. The only difference between the 2 pedals engineered by Toyota was the coupler on the wiring harness.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I too would expect a lot since they are the largest manufacturer (although not all the years referenced in this article). The more startling thing is a) Toyotas have the image of reliability (and that is usually true) and b) they were far ahead of the other companies in the top 3 volume manufacturers (GM and VW).

      As the owner of a 2008 Sienna I can attest to the recalls they have issued, which are not just for minor issues – fuel system issue, rusting spare wheel cage and the transmission which in park can be moved by a four year old and make the car move (as happened in my case). It is undeniable (although some will try) that Toyota is issuing more recalls (and not just per-emptively) because, as they themselves admit, quality went down in their race for #1.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        My 2010 Sienna has had minimal issues. A strut bushing needed replacing under warranty and new brakes at 60,000 km. The Grand Caravan we owned prior to it had multiple issues. 3 – 4 dealer visits a year.

        I do agree that Toyota quality has slipped but most ratings put them ahead of most companies. That can be viewed as great for Toyota or viewed as the competition just sucks.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      This data is America only, though manufacturers have an agreement with Canada that US Recalls will be conducted there as well.

      General Motors, Ford and even Chrysler have more exposure than Toyota and far, far more than Honda, since recalls can be required on older vehicles.

      GM has several times as many cars on the road in America as Toyota and continues to outsell them by a substantial margin.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    They had more cars recalled because they sell more cars. How many actual recalls did they issue.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      At least Toyota issues recalls. Something that Detroit rarely did with their rolling junk yard preferring instead a state of perpetual denial.

      My 2011 Tundra was recalled…. ….for a sticker reflecting GVWR!

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        But in a previous post you stated that the only acceptable issue number was zero, and you referenced aircraft. So, by that metric, your Tundra has let you down.

  • avatar

    It’s sad that as Toyota got bigger, their quality slipped.
    I drive an ’03 Camry, which has never been recalled. It was very well built with good quality materials. It has been very reliable.
    Back then Consumer Reports magazine recommended more Toyota models then any other car make.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      GF’s parents drive a 2001 Avalon. I told them they cannot buy that car new again today from Toyota and they should drive others to compare as mikey has mentioned the scenery has changed.

      • 0 avatar
        jz78817

        If my daughter’s boyfriend tried telling me what kind of car to buy, I’d likely be telling him where to go.

        • 0 avatar
          WhiskerDaVinci

          Not if the advice is actually sound and makes sense. When my mother-in-law needed a new car, before I was married mind you, I was the first person she asked about what to buy. She’s now incredibly happy with her car, and realized that her age doesn’t automatically mean she knows more about cars. Sound advice is sound advice, regardless of where it’s coming from.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I get asked by old codgers, friends and family, all the time what a good vehicle is to buy nowadays. Mostly they want to know about my personal ownership experience.

            I’d be hard-pressed these days to recommend anything, since everything I recommended based on my excellent experience turned into a bust for others, not just once, but twice in the case of my wife’s three sisters!

  • avatar
    mikey

    In 2003, Toyota didn’t have the Koreans nipping at their heels. C.R. was crucifying the domestics, {some of it deserved} while giving Toyota a by.

    In 2013 its a whole different world.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Recalls do not equate to overall reliability. They are specific to safety-related items, which precludes many items from ever being recalled. (If your air conditioner is trouble prone or interior trim suffers from premature wear, then don’t expect a recall.)

    They also aren’t an indication that the parts have failed in large numbers. Rather, the idea is to replace those parts because of what might happen if they did fail.

    The issue is that parts are shared across many vehicles. That is generally better for reliability, since there is less variance in the supply chain. But there is a downside: If a part turns out to be potentially flawed, then there will be tens or hundreds of thousands of vehicles affected.

    Recalls are also a function of the regulatory environment. There have been far more recalls during the Obama administration than there were under Bush 43. NHTSA is more aggressive, proactive, or whatever you would like to call it, and is imposing larger fines now than it used to. That encourages the automakers to be more proactive as well, as they want to stay ahead of any bad publicity.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Agreed, however if the regulatory environment (and fines) have tightened then that would apply to all auto companies operating in the US. I agree that the recalls are safety related, but that isn`t just airbags we are talking about it includes rusted spare tire cages and transmission in park which can be moved by a 4 year old into neutral. Never mind floor mats that obscure pedals – never heard of any other company being affected by some many seemingly simple items.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Your memory is selective.

        Last year, GM had the most US recalls. Toyota had fewer recalls, but the recalls that it did have included a lot more vehicles.

        The difference is that Toyota is sharing more parts, so its individual recalls include more vehicles. As GM’s manufacturing operations become more efficient, its recalls will get larger, too.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          No, not selective if they have led 2 out of the past 3 years. It does depend on your metric whether it is number of different recalls or total number of vehicles affected. There is merit in both, but it can be agreed that affecting the largest number of consumers is not a great thing.

          Also my point was that on my vehicle alone there have been two recalls for things that really shouldn`t have gone wrong and from my knowledge have not affect other models in the Toyota range – namely the spare tire cage and the automatic transmission issue.
          I agree sharing parts can cause cascading recall issues – something mooted as a possibility with the VW MQB platform, time will tell if that happens.

          As for the other big issue they had of ill fitting car mats, I don`t know another company that had such issue. My 1999 Golf Mark IV had a locking mechanism for the mat. It took Toyota a decade later, and some deaths, to figure that out. Really?

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            “As for the other big issue they had of ill fitting car mats, I don`t know another company that had such issue. My 1999 Golf Mark IV had a locking mechanism for the mat. It took Toyota a decade later, and some deaths, to figure that out. Really?”

            Toyota had locking mechanisms as far back as the early 90s on driver’s side floormats and most had them by the end of that decade as they were redesigned. Installed properly, the floormats will never move out of place.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          If the numbered of recalled vehicles was a reliability measure, then Rolls Royces would be topping the list, as its recalls are small. But it should be obvious why that sort of metric doesn’t mean much.

          Again, recalls typically involve items that could create harm if they did fail. They are recalled because of the possible consequences of failure, not necessarily because of a demonstrated high rate of failure.

          The recalls are often preemptive and voluntary; most vehicles that are recalled never experienced a component failure associated with the recall.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            I agree with you. Although I am having trouble understanding why you don`t seem to agree with the thrust of my comment which is complimentary to yours.

            Toyota has moved up the charts in number of vehicles recalled over the last few years. This corresponds to the time they themselves have admitted quality has slipped. Some of the faults are for pretty elementary items. I agree with an earlier point that part sharing will in part cause these larger numbers of vehicles recalled. But Toyota has been ahead of the industry for a long time in part sharing, so that isn`t new and should explain the post 2008 move up the charts.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            As I noted, Toyota doesn’t lead in recall events. You keep implying that it’s much worse than others, when it isn’t.

            And recalls are not necessarily related to quality. You keep insisting that recalls are a proxy measure for quality or reliability, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            I haven`t seen a list covering recall events (rather than number of vehicles recalled) so I don`t know if your comment is correct that Toyota hasn`t also moved up in that league table.

            I agree recalls are not a perfect proxy for quality, but do you consider it coincidence that the number of recalls has increased post 2008 when at the same time Toyota’s themselves have said quality has slipped. Also if someones quality was perfect they would have zero recalls and if someone’s quality was atrocious they would have a lot, so there is some relationship since a recall only occurs if some part fails.

            More data is always good to see but I can`t see how you think Toyota has not gotten worse over the past few years.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            What you don’t seem to understand is that recalls are functions of customer service policies and the regulatory environment.

            In the past, recalls were unusual because regulations were looser and the automakers weren’t eager to institute them until the complaints were numerous and they could no longer ignore them.

            These days, NHTSA is aggressive, handing out multi-million dollar fines, and automakers will recall cars after only a small number of complaints. The current administration is far more aggressive with the penalties than the prior administration, which encourages a lot of “voluntary” recalls that are initiated by the automakers themselves. Much of the stuff that is fixed under recall has never given any trouble to the average vehicle owner prior to the recall.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Toyota design rain drainage tubes that leak onto major electrical componets and PCH10 doesn’t think Toyota has a problem making cars?

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @mike978 – My 2010 F150 has floor mat anchors on the driver’s side just like my wife’s Sienna. Good idea.

        I recall (no pun intended)in the 90′s Ford having to recall cars because there were complaints of people hitting the gas pedal and brake at the same time.
        A simple problem.

        I remember cars having zero built in “safety” features. You could start your manual transmission equipped vehicle in gear and the clutch engaged.
        You could put your auto trans car in gear without having to depress the brake.
        How about NO seat belt alarms or no seat belts at all?
        There were no child proof door locks or even door chime alarms.

        Cars have been engineered to be mechanically safer but the nut loose behind the wheel cannot be engineered to be safer.

  • avatar

    My Lexus had 2 recalls. Recall #1 was that wiper arms “could” be not tightened entirely. For added irony, wiper arms *did* work themselves loose on one of my previous cars, but not on this one. This one has a recall about it, the previous one did not. Recall #2 was that the internal release handle in the trunk may break if pulled in opposite direction. I suppose if my car plunges into a lake and I chose to escape not by flooding the car and swimming out, but by folding the rear seats and out the trunk… And then panic and pull the glow-in-the-dark handle wrong way… Seems a little far-fetched, but hey, SAFETY. And there you go, 2 recalls for Toyota!

    Toyota is, of course, not infallible. The utterly bogus SUA story aside, I remember well enough how oil hoses could break on 3.5L v6 of certain vintages, and the recall was issue to replace the hose with a metal pipe. I was always wondering what kind of idiot designed an external oil path in 21st century. I mean British switched to internal galleries when Griffon replaced Merlin. It was in 1944! So yeah. Even so, Toyota seems suspiciously generous with recalls for silly, ridiculous reasons recently. Chrysler I know and love would never in a million years issue recalls for reasons like that. At best you could expect a secret TSB. Toyota though… Strange.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    As someone who had his 9-10 year old Honda in for 2 recalls, I’m not sure if it’s a bad thing that cars get recalled for having possible issues, or good thing that the manufacturer actually acknowledges the problems and fixes them for free.(apart from loosing half a days pay, because my dealer is 20 miles away…)

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Why doesn’t this seem to affect Lexus, even though they’re made by the same company? I dare say that today’s Lexus was Toyota in the late 80′s and mid 90′s in quality and reliability.

  • avatar
    susancoyotesfan

    As the current owner of a 96 Camry, and the former owner of an 07 Prius, I think I can state unequivocally that the quality standards of Toyota have gone down drastically. I will not EVER buy another Toyota unless it’s a 90′s model or earlier. Any maintenance that might need to be done is worth it in comparison with the multi-thousand dollar money pit that Prius was, up to and including a blown engine due to poor design of the oil channels and a light that failed to go off, even with regular maintenance including oil changes.

    The channels get blocked with oil residue, and though the compression will show as being fine the pressure that exerts on the oil means it’s being slowly blown out of the exhaust. Which means that at every oil change, you will be down between 1-2 quarts if you go by Toyota’s 5000 mile intervals. Another design fail was when the light never even came on when the car first began doing this, and we ran it the last probably couple hundred miles before the oil change on maybe 2 quarts rather than full. Even getting the oil changed more frequently didn’t help, by the time the engine blew I was going through about a quart a week.

    Touch screen fail, Toyota refused to honor the warranty and replace it.

    Tire sensor fail, light was on constantly though the tires are full, and replacements are over $400 for 4. They should really last longer than a couple years.

    The Camry on the other hand…nearly 200k miles and still going strong, with only regular maintenance. We’re the third owner, and I plan to drive this car until it won’t drive any more.

    • 0 avatar
      Tinker

      So Toyota manufactured your car without a dipstick? And the owner’s manual failed to say “you need to check the oil daily”? Or did you just ignore that suggestion?

      If you fail to use the product properly, its YOUR FAULT, not theirs.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “And the owner’s manual failed to say ‘you need to check the oil daily’?”

        What owner’s manual do you have that says daily oil checks are required?

        Mine all say when refueling or once a month.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Toyotas are under engineered today. You cannot buy a 1990-2005 era Toyota new today. Only with excessive maintenence do they survive like older German cars.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    We had a GM. It had issues, including the widely known (and perpetually ignored by GM) intake gasket issue.

    I would have given my left nut to have a recall to fix the numerous issues on that car.

    So yea…Toyota has recalls, but at least they are standing behind their product and fixing it….unlike GM and others over the years.

    Oh..and Toyota will recall even the slightest issue from now on because of the whole made-up Prius UA issue and subsequent fining by the NHTSA…which was part of the government…which owned GM at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      They might be a little more conservative in what to call a recall but I think it is a matter of degree from other manufacturers. I don`t think you can deduce from the past few years that the increase is solely due to them being ultra conservative. Especially when the recalls, like for my Sienna, have nothing to do with an alleged Government conspiracy.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I agree on the 90′s Toyota statement, I would prefer to buy a well cared for mid 90′s Camry than a 3 or 4 yr old one right now, people think I’m a fool cause they say “Oh, but cars have gotten so much better and safer and blah blah”, but they forget to add shittier as well.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Many people who owned Toyota products from the 80′s and early 90′s are unwilling to buy a new Toyota product.

      My BFF owns a 1989 Camry V6 which is still used daily by his grand daughter, but he won’t be buying a new Toyota product any time soon. He said the new ones are no match for the old ones.

      He did buy a new 2012 Grand Cherokee Laredo 4×4 which has held up pretty well, but he doesn’t know what his next gamble will be.

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        So he won’t buy a new Toyota, but he’ll go and buy a new Chrysler? And he says they’re no match for the old ones, yet has never bought a new one to find out???

        IIRC, you have a Tundra and a Highlander that have been serving you well. Doesn’t that kind of destroy his argument?

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    I love me some vintage Toyotas just as much as the next guy, I really do. I have several and always am turning my head when I see a clean 80s or 90s ‘yota drive by, and I like many of you do get nostalgic and wish the newer ones were more similar to the old ones.

    However, the fact of the matter is that besides losing some of the softer materials in some places in interiors, such as the bottom half of dashboard and door panels (which EVERYONE is guilty of), there is no freaking difference between the reliability of a new Toyota or an old one and statistically cars are more reliable than they’ve ever been.

    But this internet myth that the new Toyotas will suddenly fall apart because the lower dashboard isn’t soft touch plastic is ridiculous. No cars built today in those price points (aka Camry and Corolla area) is built anywhere near an ’80s or ’90s Toyota and has those materials. If you want that car, Toyota will happily sell you it today but it will say “Lexus” on it, because that’s how much a car like that will cost you. If people were willing to pay top dollar for Corollas with full leather dashboards and wood-trim, Toyota would happily build that car. Consumers have shown they care more about infotainment, safety features, Bluetooth, and fuel economy above dashboard plastic and that’s where the development money is going toward. The simple fact of the matter is that in owner satisfaction and numerous reliability and quality surveys Toyota STILL ranks at the top or damn near close to it. So, we can either list off the excuses the detractors want to list ie “those owners are lying because they’re too embarrassed to admit they made a wrong choice” or my new favorite “it’s because all of Toyota’s platforms are old and outdated” or the classic “Consumer Reports is in Toyota’s back pocket”..OR maybe, just maybe Toyota is actually building a car that well engineered to not break down and cause the owner minimal fuss.

    As for recalls, Toyota had recalls in the ’80s and ’90s too. The sky wasn’t falling then and it isn’t now.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @84Cressida – you raise some valid points. Why do people pine away for the good old days?
      JD Power still rates Toyota high in “initial” quality and in its dependability survey. Other companies like Vincentric also rate Toyota well.
      Consumer Reports was guilty of bias but aren’t we all guilty of some bias?
      I’ve gotten great service (so far) out of my 2010 Sienna and 2010 F150 and guess what? both products received good reviews from all of the sources I have just mentioned.

      I should add that no one should go on a blanket statement that certain companies have great ratings. It needs to be assessed on each individual product you look at.

      One does stand a better chance of getting a good product if you buy towards the end of a product run and the previous models have had good ratings. Car companies do not do well with change. JD Power has said so in their survey results.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Toyotas are still the most reliable make on the road, and anybody who says otherwise is mistaken. However, the overall quality of the vehicle and the fit and finish are not what they once were. And that’s a fact. In the 90′s Toyota could command a much higher transaction price than they do today. That is the result of the slide in content quality and the fact that at other competitors are just that, actual competitors. Something they really weren’t 20 years ago…

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          I think that even the most ardent Toyota fan would agree with a statement like this: While still quite reliable, Toyotas are no longer the value they once were.

          84Cressida admitted to this much by posting : No cars built today in those price points (aka Camry and Corolla area) is built anywhere near an ’80s or ’90s Toyota and has those materials. If you want that car, Toyota will happily sell you it today but it will say “Lexus” on it, because that’s how much a car like that will cost you.” And this is before we start talking about wood dashes and other luxury touches that weren’t that common in regular Toyotas back then…

          What is bad for Toyota is that many (if not all) competitors have increased their quality and newer ones have come on the scene (H/K and Fiat) in the US market since the 80′s & 90′s.

          I think the gist of people’s disappointments with Toyota’s car line (not Lexus) is that they are no longer the outstanding value they once were. Camry is no longer the standard mid sizer, same with Corolla, they now have many competitors and there are good alternative choices.

          This is a good thing. We can thank Toyota and others for forcing the others to up their quality standards.

          • 0 avatar
            fredtal

            On the other hand you can negotiate with the dealers over a Camry. It use to be they asked a premium price for them. So maybe the value is there, just shifted a bit.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    People who shine toyota’s shoes irrationally and then denigrate domestic are simply hypocrites.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I just received a card from a law firm involved in a class action suite against Toyota. They didn’t ask if I had any problems with unintended acceleration just whether or not my vehicle was on a list of affected cars. It is pathetic to see lawyers fishing for work.

  • avatar
    psychoboy

    I work for a Honda dealer, and as a parts guy and part time warranty guy, I get to see the most recalls and service bulletins that come within our reach.

    Honda will issue a recall or TSB for all sorts of random stuff, most of which are not really safety related. Recalls for Fit window switches that can burn out if you pour a soda into them. Dome/Map light bulbs. Broken sun visors in the 8th gen Civic. CRV door handles. nearly every car from the 90s that can have the key removed while the car is running. We have so many outstanding issues that our service advisers pull an inquiry on every car that comes thru, because the odds are good that some thing the customer doesn’t notice isn’t bad needs to be replaced. And that’s just the parts-needing recalls and TSBs, I’d bet half of the Hondas on the road right now ‘need’ a software update of some sort.

    This is not to suggest that real safety issues and real mechanical problems don’t exist. A local girl was killed when the inflator for her airbag grenaded and shrapnel cut her throat. We started replacing inflators within a week (was already an open recall, it went from passive to active) and we’ve been replacing them since, sometimes twice. We keep a 8th gen Civic short block in stock because they are prone to coolant leaks.

    I’m sure every other large scale manufacturer has these same stories.

    Stats like the ones expressed in this article need to be parsed better for actual informational purposes.

    How many recalls are for actual, likely, probable safety issues? (random airbag deployments, loss of brakes or steering, random fire events)

    How many of the situations actually occurred, pre- and post-recall? (three cars failed, so we recalled 700,000 and found two more with that concern)

    This can be followed up with how quickly did the manufacturer respond? (“three cars failed, so we investigated the entire batch within a month”, vs “we were sued by 80 people because our trucks burned their houses down, and after we lost one, we started trying to figure out what the problem was”)

    How many recalls are for niggling details that would not affect a ordinary driver in ordinary situations, or would only be caused by operator error? (the soda-hating window switch, the broken interior trunk release)

    I see just over 100 service bulletins issued by Honda this year. I can’t say how many of them are get-the-customer-in-right-now-and-give-him-a-loaner recalls for safety issues as compared to fix-it-when-we-see-it-again TSBs, but the ratio has to be pretty low based on the parts I hand out.

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      The best TSB/recall story I heard of was Rolls Royce. You would bring your car in and say something is wrong. They fix it and return it to you saying there is nothing wrong. “This is a Rolls Royce, the finest car ever made.”

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Good post. The bottom line here is that the average person doesn’t really understand what a “recall” is, and how that compares to “reliability.”

      Recalls and reliability are not the same thing, and although they sometimes overlap, they should not be confused with each other. Just because something has been recalled doesn’t mean that it broke frequently (which is what “reliability” measures.) Items are fixed under recall or TSB’s because of what could happen IF they did fail, not necessarily because they already have a high rate of failure.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        If Toyota is number one in recalls then why isn’t GM number in recalls based on similar sales? They share the same suppliers so the recalls should be similar? So why is Honda number two in recalls?


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