By on May 5, 2010

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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19 Comments on “Toyota Does Finds Fault In Man-Machine Interface...”

  • avatar

    Toyota and all auto companies need to do this…..starting with the sales people. My gf totally freaked when I activated the hill assist on her ’10 Prius and there was a beep and the indicator light came on…..after I explained it to her she was OK. The thing is, this was not something pointed out at the dealer and she obviously didn’t look at the manual.

    When I was shopping for my Miata in 96, I asked for a test drive of the floor car. The battery was dead so the eager salesman went and got jumper cables. After watching him poke around the engine bay for about 2 minutes with some assistance from another sales idiot, I informed him that the battery was in the trunk and he need not bother since I was not going to buy from a dealer that didn’t know the car. I was berated quite nastily as I walked out.

    I think it’s a good idea from a sales point of view for a salesperson or a tech to walk through critical items with a buyer, especially with new tech like push-button starts, active cruise, etc….

    • 0 avatar

      No no no! It’s been a long time since either my wife or I has bought a car from a dealer but once it was time to take home our new purchase they always want to train us on it. This usually conists of an insipid lecture and demo of obvious and trivial features with us fidgeting and glancing at our watches the whole time. Especially after asking a question that’s relatively advanced and quickly learning that beyond the very basics the salesman is clueless. Total waste of time.

    • 0 avatar

      Eleven years ago when we bought our CR-V the sales people knew very little about the product they were selling. As we shopped around we encountered a salesman that did not know there were 5 speed AWD versions (our preference), another told me that the cabin filter would catch skunk smells, another did not know about the rear seat folding bed thing (that we’ve used once for a nap in 11 years).

      The folks around me generally know much of anything about their vehicle. Park, drive, a/c and heat controls are all they worry about in some cases. Maybe wipers. HAHA. My parents spent $XXK on a Corvette and have never even turned on the GPS. Don’t want to.

      No wonder Detroit sells the kinds of watered down products they do. They have a significant number of customers whose expectations are pretty basic.

  • avatar

    Dang! Put it in neutral! I would have never thought of that! I would have thought calling 911 would produce much better results!

    • 0 avatar

      You might want to read the posts of other TTAC readers (who have, far as i know, not crashed their Toyotas) about how difficult it is to get their Toyota shift to find N … and how difficult it is to tell exactly where the N position is … (obviously this does not apply to all Toyotas, but that it applies to some means there are some design shortcomings.)

    • 0 avatar

      I read, on the weekend, that Ford’s still do not allow this on their PRNDL without the detent released. I foresee someone over shooting into R or P on Fords.

    • 0 avatar

      You might want to read the posts of other TTAC readers (who have, far as i know, not crashed their Toyotas) about how difficult it is to get their Toyota shift to find N

      Really? I can very easily push my Sienna into N. Possibly too easily.

    • 0 avatar

      In every lexus that I have driven since 2007 or so…

      Neutral is one bump up to the right if you are in D and two bumps up to the to right if you are in sequential shift mode…

      If that is too hard to find you are either not qualified to drive on the roads, too dunk, or a little of both.

  • avatar

    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?

    • 0 avatar

      Possibly avoid. Tighten them in a star fashion so it mounts flush. Tighten them in a circle and you’re asking for a lopsided assembly.

      Edit: On second thought, the tech may be using a torque limited impact wrench to tighten the lug nuts to ~40-50 ftlb and the tech will use a torque wrench for the final tightening of ~75-90 ftlb. When you get a flat and can’t get the lug nuts off…you know the tech over torqued those lug nuts.

    • 0 avatar

      Nope, star-pattern tightening applies to air tools, too. I’d hate to see how they torque cylinder heads.

    • 0 avatar

      Pneumatic guns are also good for galling the mating surfaces on the cone-surface of the bolt and its counterpart interface on the rim … this (as well as the over-torque) make it more difficult to remove the bolt with a hand-tool…

    • 0 avatar

      “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.

  • avatar

    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 ….

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      As an honest, caring, and hardworking sales consultant I take exception to your comment. Quite frankly, if you are content to buy from someone you didnt like then you deserve whatever you received. I might also add that there have been many times I have washed my hands after shaking hands with a slimy ignorant consumer!

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar

    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.”

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