NHTSA Data Dive 1: 53% Of Toyota UA Complaints Filed After Mat Advisory Issued (9/30/09); All Makers' Rate Of Complaints Posted

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer
nhtsa data dive 1 53 of toyota ua complaints filed after mat advisory issued

Edmund’s has been leading the NHTSA data dives to shed light on the UA issue. I used their numbers of NHTSA complaints in our attempt to correlate the complaints to specific cars and their sales in the ’05-’10 period to determine the rate of UA complaints. Now there’s a major new wrinkle that throws that effort into question: Over half of UA complaints against Toyota since 2005 were filed after Toyota issued their On Sept. 29, 2009 consumer safety advisory regarding floormats that could trap the accelerator pedal and cause unintended acceleration. That still leaves Toyota with the highest rate (4.81 per 100k cars sold) number of complaints for UA events before that date, but only marginally ahead of Ford (3.12). That means our stab at individual car model rates is flawed, and we’ll try a Take 2 when we have more accurate sales and adjusted NHTSA complaint numbers before that cutoff date. It’s obvious that incorporating the flood of complaints against Toyota since the mat issue hit the media would just be feeding the frenzy.

The dramatically large number of Lexus complaints stands out and raises questions. Given the high degree of similarity of popular Lexus models to comparable Toyotas (ES 350 and Camry), it would seem that a higher propensity of floor mat use or different floor mat design, as well as factors of demographics have to be factored in. The physical pedal systems and their environment (floor/pedal well, etc) appear to be identical in both the Camry and ES 350.

Without the breakdown of models its difficult to ascertain precisely, but the Ford family hierarchy of Lincoln (7.88), Mercury (4.78) and Ford (2.71) reflect this same pattern. And although GM continues to be low overall, Cadillac’s rate of 1.80 is triple that of Chevrolet (0.62). Infiniti’s rate is also over twice that of Nissan’s brand.

We identified the Jeep problem in our previous breakout, with very high rates for the Grand Cherokee and Commander, which have a high degree of communality.

As soon as these adjusted complaint number are available per vehicle model, we will use them in our revised attempt to correlate them to their (more accurate) sale numbers. Stay tuned.

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  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Mar 02, 2010

    Hi Paul, this article from IHT: "Data Shows Not-Recalled Camrys Also Had Problems", should help to cut thru some of the "domestic vs. transplants" bias some posters were claiming existed here on ttac. ..analysis of government documents shows that many Toyota Camrys built before 2007, which were not subject to recalls, have been linked to a comparable number of speed-control problems as recalled Camrys." "In Japan, The Times examined all the reports of Toyota malfunctions brought to the transport ministry since 2001, about 3,700 in all, and, for comparison, all comparable reports on Honda over the same period, about 2,400. The examination found 99 cases of sudden acceleration or engine surge in Toyotas, compared with 18 reports of similar problems in Hondas. The transport ministry received a sudden acceleration report for every 150k Toyotas sold. This compares with one report for about every 300k Hondas sold. Although Toyota sold 1.35M cars and trucks in Japan last year, that many reports “is not a small number,” said Tetsuo Taniguchi, a chief researcher at the Japanese government-affiliated National Traffic Safety and Environment Laboratory. “If pedals or floor mats are not the problem in Japan, it’s time for Toyota to investigate what is.” (Here is the part I like, in part, because it substantiates my earlier posting that not all incidents will be reported to a NHTSA because some drivers will only report to dealer, or OEM, or both, but not go further, and without standardized reporting questionaires and integration of dealer/OEM/government reporting systems, a complete picture of what is happening is more difficult to obtain. But mostly, it is a good illustration of the conflict-of-interest that an OEM has in minimizing and slowing down an investigation versus timely reporting and performing a comprehensive recall.) Ministry officials note that a small fraction of incidents make their way to the ministry because most drivers report auto malfunctions to their dealers. And in Japan dealers and manufacturers are under no obligation to give that information to the government, unless the company believes it failed to comply with national safety standards. For the government to order a recall, it must have proof of a potentially dangerous defect, which is difficult to find without cooperation from the automaker." Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/02/business/02toyota.html?ref=global-home Graphic: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2010/03/02/business/global/02toyotaGraphic.html p.s. re. your cut&paste reply above. ah, I understand, it's ok. thanks.

  • Charles Barnett Charles Barnett on Mar 02, 2010

    Toyota should have came forward with a full disclosure. Instead of waiting for a huge media blitz and tons of public pressure. I never seen so many car companies having recalls all at the same time. I had no idea my car was affected until I searched on http://www.carpedalrecall.com and found I had a bad Anti Lock control unit on my 2008 Pontiac G8 , So be careful

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