By on January 21, 2010

Toyota got hammered by another big recall today, with 2.3m vehicles called back for sticking accelerator pedals. According to Toyota’s release, this recall is

separate from the on-going recall of approximately 4.2 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles to reduce the risk of pedal entrapment by incorrect or out of place accessory floor mats. Approximately 1.7 million Toyota Division vehicles are subject to both separate recall actions.

How much more of this can Toyota take? One thing is for certain: ToMo has got to pull its current ad campaign which emphasizes the alleged quality of Toyota products. Cognitive dissonance might work in the short term but once consumers wise up they’ll never trust you again. Just ask GM.

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83 Comments on “Ask The Brightest: How Many More Recalls Before Toyota’s Quality Rep Is Dead And Buried?...”


  • avatar
    MasterOfTheJawan

    You know the old saying that when you tell a lie enough times it becomes the truth? That’s why Toyota will never abandon their simple “Toyota quality” message. Here in MA most people buy into the toyota hype, even though their quality has just been sinking since the engine sludge coverup of the 90s.

    Anyone with common sense knows this is a coverup. On ABC news tonight their reporter was able to get a toyota to accelerate out of control and said flat out on the air, the gas pedal was NOT STUCK! Ie toyota is L-Y-I-N-G !!!

    Face it, toyota today is where GM was during the Corvair coverup. It will be a long slow decline.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      On ABC news tonight their reporter was able to get a toyota to accelerate out of control and said flat out on the air, the gas pedal was NOT STUCK! Ie toyota is L-Y-I-N-G !!!

      Three words: Audi Five Thousand.

      The “unintended acceleration” that was a complete fabrication? Want more? Remember the “exploding fuel tanks” on GM pickups? The ones Dateline rigged with explosives?

      The media does not have a lot of credibility here.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Not stuck by the floormat or not stuck at all? There are photos online of the floormat holding the pedal. Seems to me like it was 2 different root causes that exhibited the same defect to the customer. Someone I know had a Venza w/ the “stuck” pedal. It wasn’t stuck on the floormat, but the pedal mechanism where the pedal pivots was stuck. He put his foot behind the pedal and was able to pull it back up to the “off throttle” position.

      Interesting that all the recalled vehicles are North American built.

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      Thanks for the tip, MasterOfTheJawan! Great video. That driver deserves a medal.

      http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/runaway-toyotas-problem-persists-recall/story?id=9618735

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Toyota has the market cap and cash flow to deal with this.

      Also, the internet has demolished the ability of so-called journalists to destroy a brand with an Audi-style 80’s hit piece.

    • 0 avatar

      I mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: even with lawers searching high an low, across untold millions of sold cars over the last decade, they were able to unearth something like 50 cases (20 with serious injuries). The whole story is clearly a media fabrication.

      BTW, lawers always dig on the “unintended acceleration”. I saw these posts on the forum for FREAKING NEONS. They try so hard. And later, on RAV4 forum, the guy who posted this drek first mentioned that he had 3 cars including the RAV (also a Chrysler of some kind and some other domestic) and successfuly sued makers of the previous 2 for product defects. Seriously, what are chances?!

      Of course now that media message is better refined, but it is the same pack of lies as always.

      If that is the extent of Toyota quality problems, I am going to buy them until I die. This campaign is pathetic.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Pete, I don’t know where you get your data, but pls keep in mind, for every issue, roughly, only about 10% ever get litigated (i.e. 90% are settled out of court, and usually subject to an NDA preventing publicity.)

      Also, in comparison to other makes and models, Toyota has had a greater reported occurrence of problems with it’s accelerator pedals …

      That said, given Toyota’s high-degree of design and component commonality, it is not unreasonable that a common cause design weakness or manufacturing non-conformance would lead to large recalls (Ford make similar headlines with an ignition switch in the 90’s and a cruise control cancel switch in the 00’s.)

      Such an issue doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a general decline in an OEM’s quality, just that a key and widely-used component was either designed or made wrong… the result being tragic consequences, customer fear, and dramatic headlines (sometimes only due to the juxtaposition of some isolated large-scale events, against a carefully-crafted and long-standing reputation for quality.)

    • 0 avatar
      Len_A

      @ihatetrees, forget about a hit piece. Toyota admitted to Associated Press that the problem is a defective gas pedal assembly, all models supplied by the same unidentified company.

  • avatar
    Syke

    It took GM twenty years to complete kill their reputation. It’ll take at least that long for Toyota.

  • avatar
    werewolf34

    I rented a Toyota Corolla overseas and the car did have a stuck accelerator issue (not floor-mat related). I had to shift the car out of gear and get it off the road.

    When I restarted the car, the issue never resurfaced.

    That said, never taking a corolla again

    • 0 avatar

      http://rav4world.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=244736#244736

      “My friend rented a Ford Mustang when he was in Hawaii last year and it was a 2009 model. He was doing some spirited driving around a curvy mountain road and suddenly, he realized he was still accelerating. He managed to turn off the car before the next sharp bend and he was really scared to drive it. He turned on the car again and the rpm’s shot straight up so he turned it off again and waited a while and then it was ok.”

      Where is Ford recall?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Do a little crawling thru the NHTSA complaint database and you won’t see that this is happening with nearly the same frequency as Toyota …

      ToMoCo even tried to spin the earlier recall, which resulted in NHTSA issuing a rare public rebuke to ToMoCo’s misleading press release.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    How much more of this can Toyota take?

    Wrong question.

    Let me put it this way: GM has never issued a recall for the plastic manifold issue. Chrysler and Ford never issued a recall for their epidemic transmission problems. Honda has never issued a recall for their V6/5AT issues.

    Auto scribes and enthusiasts can’t seem to understand this: the general public is not really bothered when they get a recall letter for their otherwise-reliable Camry. They’ll just take it in at the next oil change and be done with it. Until Camries are stranding people on the side of the road or costing them thousands of dollars to replace blown engines and transmissions, the general public will not care because these are not quality-affecting recalls.

    We get recalls for laptop batteries, child cribs, stereo power cords, coffee grinders, etc. We don’t see these are “quality issues”, either. Consumers just don’t care, and rightly so. Only enthusiasts who treat recall counts as a kind of scorecard (and the writers who play to that sentiment) are bothered by this.

    According to all objective measures, Toyotas up and and including current models are actually very reliable, teething issues on a few models excepted. Until that changes, and it shows no sign of it, Toyota’s “reputation” is not really at risk.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      +1. The Toyota tradeoff is, in exchange for a slightly higher purchase price, your Toyota will not surprise you with unexpected repairs that cost a lot of money and waste a lot of your time. Beeing boring as a virtue. The consumer can schedule these minor recalls at a reasonably convenient time. In contrast, a car dying on the side of the road is very expensive and inconvenient compared to a Toyota safety recall.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      +2 to the scorecard comment. When lots Toyota trannies take a dump, or the engines are shot at 60K, that’s when the reliability rep will be hurt – and not until. And those things aren’t going to happen in large numbers.

      That said, Toyota does have an sudden unintended acceleration problem, and it needs to get a handle on it. When the floor mat isssue was being discussed I pointed out that after market floor mats are installed in all sorts of brands, but Toyota was having be far more SUA problems than others. I also pointed out that Toyota doesn’t likely attract a higher percentage of incompetent owners than other brands.

      Though I have little respect for the mainstream media, this SUA problem isn’t a media creation. NBC is not tying bricks to the accelerators.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I totally agree. Until the evening news shows Toyotas exploding like Pintos, people won’t really care. The floormat thing rings hollow to the few people who know about it.

      People will care long-term when Toyota’s vehicles exhibit costly repairs in their youth – transmissions, head gaskets, rust through, and rattles at 50k miles. GM, F, and C became experts at this in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and Toyota still has them to kick around for awhile.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper

      As long as the average Camry or Corolla reaches 200k miles all this talk is irrelevant. Toyotas are bought for the “long service life / low operating cost / high resale value” trifecta.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Recalls are safety related when dictated by the Feds and have nothing to do with sorry “quality” of plastic air intakes or short lived transmissions. They are two different things.

      NHTSA will track product quality complaints but only issue recall orders when the defect is safety related. Not the same issue. And they decide what is a “safety related” issue, not the consumer who made the complaint who ‘thinks” it is.

    • 0 avatar
      Len_A

      @Dynamic88, -1 – Toyota’s reputation is already taking a hit with the engine oil sludge problem (1998 – 2005), and the previous generation Tundra and Tacomma irreparably rusted truck frames (also 1998 – 2005 models).

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Toyota’s reputation is already taking a hit with the engine oil sludge problem (1998 – 2005),

      The engine sludge issue was two engines, the 2.2L four and the 3.0L V6, from 1997-2001. That’s almost ten years ago. Does that really qualify as a “hit” anymore? Or are we going to be bringing this one up ten years from now, too?

      …and the previous generation Tundra and Tacomma irreparably rusted truck frames (also 1998 – 2005 models).

      The years aren’t quite right, but they did handle this one pretty well: the affected trucks were bought back above book value and the warranty was extended to fifteen years.

      They did flub the handling of the sludge issue at the outset, but from a customer-experience perspective these are being handled fairly well and it’s reflected in their customer satisfaction. Again, consumers don’t really care about recalls; they care about being stranded or harmed.

      Contrast this with VW or Daimler: while they did (or do) have serious problems, the real issue is that their warranty and recall performance is atrocious, and that’s what really pisses customers off: not a lack of materials quality or a recall notice. Warranty performance (or lack thereof) was probably the chief sin of the domestic marques in the last 30 years. Toyota, and more recently, Hyundai and Ford, have paid a lot of attention to this, to their benefit.

      Until the auto press understands this, though, we’re doomed to more of non-stories.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      psarhjinian: Let me put it this way: GM has never issued a recall for the plastic manifold issue. Chrysler and Ford never issued a recall for their epidemic transmission problems. Honda has never issued a recall for their V6/5AT issues.

      I understand your point, but those were reliability issues, not safety issues. The government can only force recalls for design defects that are a danger to the driver or passengers, not a danger to the owner’s bank account.

      And Honda was forced to extend the warranty on its faulty transmissions. I believe it was the result of a class-action suit. I had a 2001 Prelude, and I received a certified letter from Honda notifying me of the extended warranty on the transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      Len_A

      They didn’t handle the engine sludge well, and it affected more than the two engines you mention. The problem extended to some V-8 Lexus models, and was reported as a part of the overall issue by Automotive News back in 2005, but the mainstream press never picked that up. And while they handled the rusted truck frames a tiny bit better, it’s not a problem that has gone away, nor are all the owners happy about even the extended warranty or the buy back – bought back at above book value still means they took some depreciation and still had to buy a new vehicle when they never planned to.

      If one of the Detroit automakers pulls something like that, people don’t stop harping about it, but if Toyota does, the same people are uncomfortable hearing a criticism of Toyota.

      Toyota’s quality reputation isn’t 100earned or deserved. There’s a growing amount of evidence that it’s contrived and a myth. Plus there’s a class action lawsuit, where one of their attorney’s is now a witness for the plaintiffs, alleging Toyota hid evidence of vehicle defects. This is how the Firestone debacle started for Ford, and has the same potential for Toyota. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving company or group of customers.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      @ psarhjinian
      Most of GM’s sins were more than 10 years ago. Rarely do I hear how all of the MY 2000+ were all crap. But, I do hear how older models were terrible, and don’t get me wrong, they were. The point is GM is still pay for sins 20 years ago or more. Just depends on what is on your mind.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Toyota is under intense official scrutiny for quality, safety and legal lapses. Rampant value engineering and decontenting, removing or degrading standard equipment, has buried it in TSBs and recalls severely tarnishing its gold standard image for quality and integrity. It fell from first place to fifth in Consumer Reports’ annual reliability survey last year, and the V6 Camry specifically received a “Below Average” rating, a first for the popular car.

    The Detroit-3 failed because they made terrible cars and shamelessly mistreated customers for decades. Their non-stop efforts to please Wall Street, maximize executive bonuses, and buy off the union bosses looked after everybody that mattered, except the public. They pioneered planned obsolescence and value engineering, designing a product to fail prematurely, until consumers finally realized buying Asian largely avoids slipshod quality and warranty disputes.

    The domestics are paying dearly for their corner cutting blunders. Detroit has tremendous difficulty getting consumers to even look at its product offerings, let alone actually consider buying them. Toyota is not at that deplorable stage yet, but it won’t get away with producing substandard cars much longer before it catches up with them. Consumers will not tolerate crap when good alternatives are plentiful.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Toyota’s not at that stage yet but it won’t get away with producing substandard cars much longer before it catches up with them

      Toyota and Honda went through a significant cost-cutting and decontenting period after the “lost decade”. That was some time ago, and yes, they did take some quality hits for it at the time.

      Toyota and Honda have already been through that stage. They’ve come out the other side. There’s no story here. These are not the droids you’re looking for. You can go about your business. Move along.

    • 0 avatar
      dkulmacz

      @psar

      Hmmm. So there is “no story”.

      But, there is a story . . . we’ve all read the articles and seen the videos. They are reporting something.

      But if you are right, and there is no story, then the reporters and editors who are writing and approving these pieces obviously don’t perceive this fact. You could say there is a gap in their perception.

      A “perception gap”, if you will.

      Is this your claim? Cause it sounds familiar . . .

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Cue Bob Lutz!

  • avatar
    morbo

    Four more recalls.

    Maybe five on the coasts.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    At least they recall and fix the problem. Everyone has a problem and when you build 8mio cars you will have some problems.

    how often did Chrysler recall ALL of their cars because trannies fail? Or GM because their electrical system over-volts and kills bulbs? Or when did Ford recall 2″ gaps in the Mustangs?

    Toyota voluntarily purchased back the trucks with rusted frame above book value, there was no legal requirement. Toyota fixed everyone’s oil sludge engine as long as they were smart enough to lie that they changed oil every one a while. When are the big-3 buying back all their crap, replacing transmissions etc.?

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    Toyota’s reputation may not improve. I’m pretty sure its engine control modules come pre-programmed with “impromptu kamikaze” feature. (credit: Nathan).

  • avatar

    It’s interesting. Pete DeLorenzo notes that Toyota, Honda and BMW have lost their way. In his reader mail everyone agrees, including Honda and BMW enthusiasts, except for Toyota fanboys. Now TTAC addresses hits to Toyota’s quality rep, and here too people want to think even when Toyota screws up, it shows how virtuous the company is.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Peter rarely, if ever, publishes letters that disagree with his point of view. Which is fair, it’s his site and he can do what we wants, but his letters to the editor are hardly a bellwether of public opinion.

  • avatar
    skor

    It took 3 decades for GM to commit suicide by subjecting their costumers to every imaginable auto outrage. I just don’t see that with Toyota. Toyota’s downfall will come at the hands of their mainland Asian competition — Korea and China. Toyota quality @ slave labor prices.

  • avatar
    NoChryslers

    I wish I didn’t feel a perverse sense of joy at hearing about this.

  • avatar
    baldheadeddork

    Face it, toyota today is where GM was during the Corvair coverup. It will be a long slow decline.

    It took GM twenty years to complete kill their reputation. It’ll take at least that long for Toyota.

    The world moves a lot faster today. Toyota’s quality rating was already suffering before this, and their handling of the unintended acceleration claims says they don’t give a damn. That’s what kills companies.

  • avatar
    Ion

    While we’re on the subject of Toyota quality their fit and finish has been terrible these last few years and those body kits they gave the Corolla/Matrix are rice burner awful.

  • avatar
    allythom

    The list of recommended Toyotas on Consumer Reports is pretty long (19 different vehicles). A quick glance at True Delta also seems to show that they remain generally strong on the reliability front too. As long as that doesn’t change for the worse, they’ll be OK.

    As an earlier poster noted, recalls don’t seem to ding consumer confidence as much as developing a reputation for unreliability.

    What is far more troubling is the appearance that Toyota had to be dragged kicking and screaming into issuing a recall for a potentially deadly problem, something they should have done without delay.

    Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, every time a multimillion dollar corporation issues a voluntary recall, a beancounter somewhere has crunched the numbers and determined that the cost of the recall (including lost sales) is less than the potential cost of all the probable lawsuits and loss of sales due to diminished goodwill from the underlying problem. Why else would Ford deem it OK for people to have 16M potentially spontaneously combusting cars in their garages -technically making them vehicles that can potentially kill you and your family while they sleep in their beds ?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      While I wasn’t directly involved in the CC-switch recall, I suspect that the phased nature of this recall was more due to a) design differences (some designs would be more prone to failure), b) customer usage profiles, c) mean time to failure onset (this is a function of a & b), d) supplier capacity constraints (to produce replacement parts), e) and the desire to try and spread the costs over a longer time period (this not being normal business practice, but being mostly due to the bad economy and dwindling cash reserves).

      Now, that said, I can tell you that I have participated (led) several recall investigations, and have contributed to the authoring of a 14D submission to NHTSA (and subsequently managed that particular recall.)

      (In another case, based on a recommendation of mine, subsequently implemented, we were, later told, that we were the first supplier ever to voluntarily withdraw our quality award and desist from seeking new business until we resolved our issue. This besides being the right thing to do, this brought us credibility.)

      In my experience, the bean-counter argument you assert is the opposite of reality …

      I can tell you that while there was a desire to avoid an unnecessary recall (due to monitary and reputational costs), my bias was that in the absence of significant and valid evidence to prevent a recall, I would recommend for a recall, and thus we led a very professional, deep and fact-based investigation into each issue. (The greatest amount of time used was to try and gain a clear picture of what really happened, as rather than execs and bean-counters, the greatest tendency toward cover-up happened somewhere between the supervisory and plant manager levels…)

      In addition, although I was never forced to, I am confident I would have been able to put together better technical and market related arguments for justifying a recall than any bean-counter attempting to do the opposite. In the end, how the organization swings is largely dependent on the culture from the top and the mid-level opinion makers knowing that they are supported by the upper level decision (and career) makers.

      I value my reputation and like to sleep well at night, and no bean counter is ever gonna influence my recommendation on that basis.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    You need to drive a new Civic. Bad-ass little go-kart. Seriously. The 5-speed auto seems a perfect match for the engine…never the wrong cog at the wrong time. Honda got this little guy right. And I’ve never driven the Si, but if the EX does what it does so well, I can only imagine. Now if they could do that for the Accord…(debloat, PLEASE! Similar styling wouldn’t hurt, either.)
    Honda hasn’t lost a step.

  • avatar

    Porsche was selling tons of cars despite the 986/996 shaft issue killing engines, so I don’t think Toyota will be too harmed since they are fixing the problems – plus I generally believe Toyota will tear apart their production process so this never happens again.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Not all failure modes and their effects are created equal.

      While a failure mode which causes an engine to unpredictably fail to deliver the desired torque (i.e. accelerating thru traffic) is a definite safety issue, these are vastly less scary (to me at least) than a failure which causes the powertrain to unpredictably deliver unintended power (i.e. more steady state).

      Similarly, not all design or quality shortcomings rise to the level of a safety issue … which is the basis of NHTSA recalls.

  • avatar
    plee

    Watching TV this evening, within 15 minutes of each other, a Toyota reliability commercial and then a ticker running across the bottom of the screen listing all of the models including 2010’s that are being recalled for the sticking gas pedal. The advertising message was just lost, they need to change that one quickly!

  • avatar
    don1967

    Toyota’s reputation for quality will be dead and buried when the word “quality” is mentioned fewer than 46 times in the average Toyota commercial because even they don’t believe it anymore.

    In the meantime, I will continue enjoying my Hyundai.

  • avatar

    While the “unintended acceleration” issue clearly is BS, what about the rust? That one is real, isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      criminalenterprise

      It’s only “clearly” BS to you. I see the NHTSA reports for Toyotas coming in at double the rate as for any other manufacturer and I know there’s something there. Along with incidents like in the ABC video posted above where it’s safe to say there’s no driver error involved, I’m open minded enough to ignore the conventional counterfactuals.

      Toyota should have been flashing EPROMs months ago to mitigate this issue anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      What data are you basing that “clearly BS” conclusion on?

  • avatar
    flightwriter

    If I were in the market right now for a new car, I would not hesitate to drive past a Government Motors store to a Toyota dealer for a Camry. And it will take a hell of a lot more than this recall (which still strikes me as at least partially tied to driver stupidity) to change my mind.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    the general public is not really bothered when they get a recall letter for their otherwise-reliable Camry.

    I have yet to meet anyone dissuaded from buying a Toyota because of their lost quality perception. Automobiles are complex mechanisms. Every car will have some sort of recall if not several. How Toyota handles the issue is the issue – if they stumble like they did with sludging, it might hurt (but then again they recovered quite handsomely by overextending).

    I’m not much of a Toyota-man (I like my cars to have personality…), but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend one to anyone who wants a solidly reliable transportation appliance. Including my favorite aunt, who bought a Camry after 55 years of Buicks.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “If I were in the market right now for a new car, I would not hesitate to drive past a Government Motors store to a Toyota dealer for a Camry.”

    And I’m just the opposite. I’d drive by the Toyota dealership to a Chevy dealer to pick up a Malibu. I don’t think I’ll ever own a GM vehicle as wretched as the Toyota Highlander we gave away the other day. Good riddance!

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    I don’t see recalls as a big problem. The bigger questions to keep answered positively are, 1) do I regret buying this product? and 2) would I buy another one?

  • avatar
    YotaCarFan

    I think that this recall will perhaps hurt Toyota’s sales for a month or two; then people will forget all about it and worry about whatever the media happens to by hyping at the time. Think about it – the highly publicized tragic crash of the ES350 that killed 4 people due to SUA didn’t result in plummeting sales volumes. If it had, you would have heard about it here or on TV.

    While I’m thoroughly pissed at Toyota for selling me two lemons in a row (Piston slap of a $40K Lexus here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN0VA5L1b1w ), I believe that their processes have visibly improved since the new CEO took over, and this will improve quality. Case in point: They are incredibly determined to fix the SUA problem. So much so that not only are they recalling cars to install redundant protections (shorter pedal, lower carpet, electronic engine cut when brake pressed), but they are evidently also examining all of their cars for SUA failure modes beyond improperly installed floor mats. This new recall is voluntary, and is the result of Toyota discovering a defective part (accelerator pedal) by researching customer complaints and examining pedal design, predicting effects of wear, etc. Those are indicators of a quality oriented company.

    Now, their decontenting and ill-fitting interior components on recent models are definitely infuriating to customers *after* they buy the cars. But, these things are not usually noticed before the purchase, and most people thinking of buying a car will not change decision on what brand to buy b/c a friend or magazine says “although xyz brand is really reliable and will never strand you, the dashboard is a bit crooked and the fake wood looks crappy”. On the the other hand, considering there are other cheaper brands that make reliable cars and are getting close to Toyota in terms of reputation and styling that appeals to the masses (think 2011 Hyundai Sonata), Toyota’s lack of attention to cosmetic issues may allow competitors to grab market share. My guess is Toyota’s bean counters have already noticed this and are authorizing incremental increases in engineering or part expenditures to ensure their products are equal to competitors in this area.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Yotafan: “This new recall is voluntary, and is the result of Toyota discovering a defective part (accelerator pedal) by researching customer complaints and examining pedal design, predicting effects of wear, etc. Those are indicators of a quality oriented company.”

      Please keep in mind the changes in NHTSA policy a few years ago that resulted in a large number (possibly the vast majority even) of recalls as being branded as “voluntary” or as “upgrades”.

      I’m also not so sure that the 2nd half of your sentence is entirely accurate … these same behaviours, here on Toyota’s part, in light of the NHTSA policy, could very well be due to a NHTSA’s ODI completing an investigation and NHTSA threatening a mandatory recall (no way out, so shield brand image with ‘voluntary’ rather than risk it with ‘mandatory’), while other any other OEM with an already tarnished quality image would be accused of ‘running scared.’

    • 0 avatar
      rtt108

      Uh-oh … My Matrix makes that sound !? That’s piston slap, eh?

  • avatar
    50merc

    Carmakers have been installing gas pedals for about a century, so you’d think they would have gotten it right long ago. I’m curious as to why a worn Camry accelerator mechanism might bind, but not the pedal on a Scion or Lexus (according to Toyota’s press release). And shouldn’t wear make the linkage less likely to get sticky?

    I had suspected there was a problem with the computer(s) that govern accelerator (for cruise control) and transmission shifting. Wouldn’t it be strange if uncontrollable acceleration was just a corroded spot on a cable or some such?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      As mechatronics increase, such a failure mode should not be considered all that unusual or unlikely. Same can be said for software root causes.

    • 0 avatar
      YotaCarFan

      The gas pedals nowadays are different from those in the past. Instead of a metal lever on a pivot connected to a cable, they are plastic levers on a pivot connected to digital or analog rotary sensors. Therefore, a proven design from 50 years ago cannot be used today. Wear could cause binding if, for example, it results in burring of a part (e.g. a washer or sensor housing) that’s supposed to allow free rotation of something pressed against it. Not all the models of Toyotas have the problem since different models of gas pedals could be used in different cars; or, because different suppliers make them for different models’ factories.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Actually, throttles failing open used to be a pretty common problem up through the 1970s or later. Most throttle returns were simply a matter of a spring mounted to the linkage near the carburetor. Said spring was prone to rust through and/or stress crack. When the spring failed, the throttle would stay wide open. Smart drivers knew to pick the pedal up off the floor with their toe!

      Some vehicles used a dual spring inside a spring to reduce the chance of total failure.

      Replacement throttle return springs were readily available at any auto parts store counter. If they didn’t fail, they wouldn’t have been so easy to buy.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      There were also all kinds of other silly failure modes … jacketed cables with the open end exposed and able to be filled with water, in a car wash for example, which were looped or sloped in such a way as not to drain, and freezing in the winter, or corroding and jamming up at other times; cables properly positioned, yet abrading against an aircleaner housing and thus creating a new path for water ingress and the freezing/corroding problem; cables that became pinched during WOT operation for which the spring(s) were unable to return the carb or throttle body to idle; engine mounts which broke and similarly pinched cables; cables that rubbed against the jacket, or some other sharp object and became frayed; etc…

      Bear in mind, all this foot under and lifting the throttle pedal business was/is not very effective for the failure modes described above. But was/is more appropriate/effective if there was/is a carpet impingement or mat entrapment issue, or pedal pivot pin spring failure.

      In all of these cases, the driver should never be expected to diagnose and appropriately respond to any of these failure modes in real time … by pro-actively employing good engineering discipline, i.e. FMEA, each of these failure modes are predictable, avoidable and should never occur.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I’m betting that this isn’t the last of the unintended acceleration related recalls for Toyota. Just a few months ago the story was that the ONLY problem was floor mats. I didn’t believe it then, and said so in multiple comments on this site.

    I still don’t believe Toyota has really gotten to the bottom of this barrel of troubles.

  • avatar

    Perhaps it’s time to ask who’s paying to keep this “issue” alive. Cross-matching IP addresses of commenters between various Internet forums would be intertaining too, I bet.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Same could have been asked when the same reporters and bloggers were previously attacking the Big 3 for similar things …

      Same could be asked when it comes to what appear to be chauvenistic defense of Toyota despite government-mandated recalls…

      Guess the same kind of journalistic treatment can look good or bad, depending on if it is your favorite OEM-ox that is being gored…

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    I find it so strange that internet gearheads work so strenuously at slagging Toyota and Honda. I note that said gearheads don’t actually own said cars. Any data I see about reliability about either brand is about as good as it gets and any owners of said vehicles love them and buy more, myself included.

    Yes, there will be a recall and that is a good thing. Will it affect Toyota sales? Hardly a bit since people who buy the cars love them.

  • avatar

    Japan’s Nikkei: “Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) shares fell sharply Friday morning, after the automaker said overnight in the U.S. that it has submitted a plan to the local authorities to issue a recall for around 2.3 million vehicles.

    The development dealt yet another blow to the automaker’s longstanding reputation for quality control.”

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Remember what happened to the “Three Diamond Brand” in the wake of their recall cover-up scandal? I was in Japan at the time, and no one wanted these cars, even the government suspended their purchase of vehicles from this company.

      Toyota’s rep was (and probably still is) the gold standard for quality, but if too many more of these issuse crop up, and Toyota handles it more akin to how Mitsubishi did (blame the drivers, not the product, and try to spin dry it), it will have its effect, and also open space for the competition…

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    If they catch it and deal with it soon enough, no. It’s the Big 3 way of dealing with issues like Dex-Douche, plastic intake manifold leaks, random no start, oil leaking, piston slapping, transmissions exploding,oil burning, paint peeling, rack & pinion “morning sickness” and head gasket blowing that will doom Toyota, not multiple safety recalls.

    Don’t know that they’ve even come near the level of insult that Detroit managed to rack up or ever will in the future. So: no, they’ll be fine.

    {Full disclosure: have never owned a foreign made or branded car, ever}

    BTW: the Pinto was shown to be no more statistically prone to catching fire in a rear end accident as any other small car of the era, including the Dodge Colt, Gremlin and Vega.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    The outcome of this will be interesting. “Unintended acceleration” makes for attention-grabbing headlines, more so than a fire hazard due to a faulty electrical component or a vulnerable fuel tank.

    With all due respect to Audi, this is the first time that a major player in the U.S. has been under scrutiny for this type of issue.

    My sincere hope is that the breadth of this recall may allow us to get to the bottom of what causes throttles to unexpectedly stick, and that we can effect preventive measures without resorting to some sort of regulation or electromechanical nanny.

  • avatar
    Liger

    I believe unintended acceleration can happen to most cars.

    I owned a 2003 Dodge SRT-4 a few years ago. While out of town for an extended period, I parked the car in my parents driveway, and asked my dad to drive the car every few weeks to keep it from sitting.

    After being parked for a few weeks, my dad took the srt-4 out to run some errands. On the return from running errands, the car accelerator became stuck at WOT in heavy traffic. After my father safely got the car off the road, he turned it off, and then restarted the car. It was still stuck WOT, so my father shut the car off again. After opening the hood he found that a squirrel had stuffed several walnuts on the engine and one fell into the throttle cable.

    After removing the nut, the car was no longer stuck WOT.

    That could probably happen to any car with out drive by wire throttle.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      You should never have related this story. Somehow, someway, it will be attributed to Chrysler’s shabby quality control. Or spun as all Daimler’s fault. Pick either or…

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Those cagey squirrels will get you every time.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The squirrels were secret agents of Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai. Their mission is to sabotage competitors’ cars in general (and domestic cars in particular) to ruin their reliability ratings. This time they were caught, but next time…

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know how a walnut can get into the throttle assembly on a Neon, there does not seem any space. The cable runs to the throttle assembly without any intermediate linkage. However, the rocking part is a rather large bell crank, not a rocker. And it’s exposed. So, perhaps a good sized walnut can possible lodge itselve between the crank and the battery housing.

      I heard a couple of reports of throttle stuck on WOT on 1G (2L SOHC & DOHC) engines. That was caused by pretty banal sticking, not walnuts. Curiously on my own unit, throttle was sticking in the closed position (thanks to the gunk from the oxigenated gasoline in California).

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      True story: two months after I bought my Honda Fit, I lost first, third and fifth gear because a squirrel dropped denuded pine cones into the shift linkage. I was apoplectic because I got a stick-shift Fit to replace/supplement my automatic Saab 9-3, which had a habit of losing fourth and first gear for much worse, and more expensive, reasons.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      Good point, Liger…several years ago I had a ’96 Maxima that had recently had new plugs and a throttle-body cleaning. I got a phone call from my significant other telling me that the throttle was stuck (not wide open) while driving on the freeway. Since our house wasn’t far from where the incident occurred, he was able to get the car home.

      When I got home, lifted the hood and immediately saw the problem: The mechanic hadn’t fully tightened one of the hose clamps holding the air intake to the throttle-body housing, allowing the cruise control’s throttle positioner to hang on the screw of the hose clamp. One minute with a screwdriver, and all was well for another 100,000 miles. It taught me to check the throttle cable anytime my vehicles equipped with them received any sort of service that required work on the intake, including the air cleaner.

      The frequency of the Toyota problem probably indicates a far-reaching issue. But when you hear isolated horror stories about a vehicle not known for unintended acceleration (perhaps the Neon is an example), is this simply some hysterical, non-mechanical driver’s reaction to a mechanic’s simple mistake?

  • avatar
    Ralph SS

    Thank you, Robert.Walker, for some obviously well informed comments in this post. It is apparent to me (quality control for over 30 years) that you know what you are talking about. Doesn’t necessarily mean you’re always right, but you have been there, done that.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Thanks for your kind comment.

      My ego likes to think I am always right. ;O)

      Seriously, I value honesty and fairness, and for me, the truth is much more important than trying to defend a favourite, or impugn or injure a non-favourite.

      I want to learn, and teach, so I try to stick to facts, and when I digress into suppositions I try to qualify them as such and I hope others do likewise.

      (And like any boy pretending to be a fully-developed adult) I herewith welcome opposing views and kind words of correction. ;O)

  • avatar
    VerbalKint

    Still talking about floor mats? Did I miss it– the TTAC story on the the recent (within the past week or so) Chrysler recall, the one where the brakes fail? Affecting Rams, Sebrings, some Jeep POS’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Len_A

      According to comments made to AP, by a Toyota official, this is NOT floor mats. It’s a defective accelerator pedal assembly, with the affected part supplied for all the recalled vehicles by the same vendor.

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    Let’s see if this will affect sales of F-150’s

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60K5ST20100121

  • avatar
    Disaster

    Toyota’s quality rep will be “dead and buried” when it doesn’t own 3 of the top 7 spots in Consumer Reports reliability survey…When it doesn’t have more recommended cars on their list than any other manufacturer…When it doesn’t end up in the top quartile of JD Powers year after year…When it’s cars don’t routinely make it to 150-200K without major service costs.

    Much to the dismay of most of the other manufacturers, Toyota and Honda still reign in quality and making noise about a recall or two is not going to move their sorry -sses up the list. Building better cars will. Toyotas biggest concern should be Hyundai, which is producing better values every category and slowly moving up the list in quality.

  • avatar
    hurls

    I don’t really have a horse in this quality race — though both my dad and my brother have Lexus IS’s which are being/have been recalled…

    To me the problem with Toyota is as much on the decontenting side of quality as in the reliabilty side (which I suspect is still, generally, pretty damn above average if not the same as yesteryear’s “bulletproof”). I had a camry back in the early 90s, and the quality of the interior (dash, upholstery, touch surfaces, etc.) was pretty damn amazing for a $20k car. Nowadays you can still get a $20k camry and, from my rental car/friend’s car experience the interior is an utter mess of hard plastic, etc.

    Now I know some folks don’t care about that, but I think it has a lot to do with the impression of quality — something that I think is sorely lacking from recent toyotas (and mentioned in the recent venza test).

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