Toyota Does Finds Fault In Man-Machine Interface

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Since becoming Toyota’s CQO (Chief Quality Officer) in March, Steve St. Angelo couldn’t complain about a shortage of work. Sticky accelerators have been fixed on 1.5m vehicles. 1.3m Toyotas were zip-tied to keep floor mats under control. Brake software on 110,000 Priuses has been flashed. There is more to do, and “we’re getting them fixed as fast as we can,” St. Angelo said to Bloomberg.

He also found a new, and heretofore unknown failure: A failure to communicate features of the car. Which can lead to tragic misunderstandings …

Toyota engineers noticed complaints that resulted from customers that were not familiar with a feature of the car. For instance, they mistook the handywork of a radar cruise control as sudden acceleration or deceleration.

So in addition to fixing pedals and zipping carpets, “we really need to improve communication and education to our customers,” St. Angelo said. “As our cars become more sophisticated, people are not as familiar with how they work.” Toyota must do driver’s ed.

Ah, and the dreaded event data recorder readout device shortage has been addressed. From supposedly one solitary device in existence in January, the number of available readers grew to 150. Ten of them were given to NHTSA, to be used in their investigations. Another communication problem that has been addressed.

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  • Findude Findude on May 05, 2010

    Video: 7 seconds in. The tech/mechanic is tightening the wheel bolts clockwise rather than star fashion (as I was taught). Is there something about pneumatic wrenches I should know, or should I just avoid that Toyota dealer?

    • See 3 previous
    • JimC JimC on May 05, 2010

      "Tech/mechanic" is being generous. When I bought a [starts with an "H" but you can insert any brand... let's be realistic] a few years ago, the sales manager tried the hard sell for the dealer service plan (which I didn't buy), droning on and on about his factory trained techs. Later on I found some of my splash pan clips (really simple ones too) and a couple bolts were damaged or missing because of the factory trained idiots. I was mad but somehow not surprised. All companies have a mix of good, bad, and bottom of the barrel dealer mechanics.

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on May 05, 2010

    Years back at VW, we had this rash of malfunctioning car radios. Their volume control was broken. The dealers exchanged the radio under warranty. The problem came back. Exchanged again. And so forth. After a while, very angry customers (several workshop visits, no resolution) and high warranty costs (those car radios weren't cheap.) Until it dawned on someone that is was a new feature: The volume went up and down with the speed of the car to adjust to the noise. It took a great effort to get this under control ....

    • Cstoc Cstoc on May 05, 2010

      This must be why radios with this feature now allow it to be disabled.

  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on May 05, 2010

    When I am done buying the car, there is no way that I am going to spend 30 more seconds with the sales people. I have to run home and take a shower before their slime makes me break out.

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    • Joeaverage Joeaverage on May 07, 2010

      I know good sales people are out there but unfortunately I have not found one yet. The local Honda parts counter guy here is good though. After buying a vehicle I'm in a rush out of the door too. The time spent with the sales people was painful enough not to stay around another second. Heck they might realize 30 mins into the vehicle tutorial that they need to try to add another $900 worth of fees on to the transaction. Would be like the guys that I've heard about that call several days after the transaction claiming there was a problem. The trade in vehicle is long gone and if the customer doesn't come up with more money the new vehicle will have to be repossessed.

  • Lolcopterpilot Lolcopterpilot on May 05, 2010

    Getting people to sit in a dealership and learn how to drive their cars is not going to be very popular, as commentators have noted above. I try to avoid dealerships as much as possible. I had to go to one today because a family member's car needed an oil change, and they insist on paying more for dealer service. If there is only one word I could use to describe the atmosphere in the building, it would be "dehumanizing."