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Toyota on the mend?

Toyota's legendary quality may be falling victim to record production volume.

Vehicle recalls in 2005 compared to 2004.

Toyota +100%
Ford +20%
Chrysler -87%
GM -63%

Link to complete article at:


  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,075
    ...really IS on its way to becoming the next GM.
  • That is a bit misleading. A more meaningful statistic would be recalls as a percentage of total vehicles produced from year to year.

    For example, if in year 1, production=100 vehicles and recalls=20, and in year 2, production=500 and recalls =60, the quality actually went up, but this statistic would indicate a 3x increase in recalls!
    Anything to sell a paper, I guess!

    And yes, Toyota is opening a truck plant this year and is slated to overcome GM as the number 1 automaker in the world.
  • From the article:

    'Analysts agree the number of recalls could be a function of Toyota's rapid development.

    "It's really a factor of the rate of expansion, the speed at which they're growing right now," said Erich Merkle, director of forecasting for IRN, a automotive consulting firm. Anytime an auto manufacturer opens plants and ramps up production, "you open yourself up for some quality issues." '
  • reddogsreddogs Posts: 353
    or their Empire might collapse from all these recalls.... ;)
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,599
    a recall is meaningless without more info. Are these major recalls or minor ones? And are these cars getting recalled mainly because inspectors are going over them with a fine-toothed comb? Are they voluntary recalls that Toyota initiated themselves, to try to keep in good standing, or are they recalls the government forced them to perform?

    Remember, cars can be recalled for the stupidest little things. My Intrepid was recalled twice. Once because the bolts holding the seatback in place could break, and once because, of all things, they forgot to put instructions in the owner's manual on how to install a child car seat! :confuse:
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    Toyota's recalls this year were that minor, though. The Prius thing was a software glitch that caused some cars to cut out the gas engine and run only on electrics while in motion at high speeds where that wasn't supposed to happen.

    The recall for "older trucks" affected my previous 4Runner - they replaced the tie rods, don't know why. The old ones went 220K miles without a problem. :-P

    None of these recalls this year have been for owner's manuals. Some were relatively minor, like the earlier one (mostly affecting cars outside the U.S.) on Corolla headlights where they would malfunction. But they were all for functional problems, to the best of my knowledge.

    It is now generally accepted that the rattles and squeaks in first year models of the current Camry and Corolla were the result of rapidly expanding production that coincided with the retirement of a number of key old-school managers from Toyota Japan (which caused QC to drop off, I guess). That was the first time Toyota's rapid expansion bit them in the butt and cost them some empty circles in the Consumer Reports, and I doubt it will be the last. On the flip side, Toyota is a company that learns from all its mistakes, usually fairly quickly, and I am sure they will be making more of an effort to nip problems like this in the bud, especially in relation to bringing San Antonio on-line next summer.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    They'll have to be careful, obviously. My coworker's new Corolla had a bad third-brake-light bulb and the foglights weren't well aligned. Minor stuff, but noticeable; the kind of thing that affects customer satisfaction.

    Honda's had similar troubles too.

    Speaking to mechanics, I've heard that Toyota is no longer overengineering some of its parts, so that they all fail at about the same time (no point in half the car lasting 500,000 miles if the other half can't). I don't think that's part of this issue though.

    The question is, how much emphasis should they be putting on rapid re-designs, and how much of a price premium can they afford for higher quality parts and slower production?
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    "Martha Voss, a Toyota spokeswoman, said that with the increased volume, ``it would be normal to expect that recalls would increase.'' She noted the federal TREAD Act, enacted in 2000 in response to the recall of more than 10 million Firestone tires, required more minor issues to be reported. She noted that one of the recalls dealt with older pickups and SUVs that involved a rod linking the steering wheel and the tires, and did not reflect current production."

    IF Ford lives by "Quality is Job One" then Toyota's quality comparatively is AWESOME. Vehicles recalled this year:

    Toyota - 2 million vehicles
    Ford - 6 million vehicles
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,599
    "If Quality is Job One, then I hate to think what the lesser jobs are!"
  • mirthmirth Posts: 1,212's okay for Toyota to have 2 million recalls because Ford was way worse? Pretty weak.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    Is there any reason to think recalls in general directly correlate to reliability and quality?

    There are way too many variables to even try figure it out, and even you could find a direct correlation, the margin of error would be huge.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    with the Toyota recalls is not the number compared to other manufacturers, but rather compared to itself in years past. They are increasing in number FAST.

    I did wonder why they would have to recall a group of trucks that were 10-16 years old though: almost all would be over 100K miles by now, and many would be much much higher (like my previous truck, which was under that recall, and which I had performed at almost 220K miles). If the flaw subject to recall takes THAT LONG to manifest itself, at what point do we say the manufacturer is no longer on the hook, and it is reasonable that it is the owner's responsibility?

    Toyota has done service bulletins and extended warranties on some things like head gaskets in the past, which could reasonably be expected to last the life of the engine, but something like the tie rods in that recall are subject to punishment by the road, and 100K is already a whole lot of miles for the manufacturer to still be on the hook if they then start to fail.

    Not that I minded the gift from Toyota of free new tie rods and an alignment at 220K miles! :shades:

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • You are right: Toyota made its reputation using overengineered parts that lasted and lasted.

    I remember reading in the 1990s that "the 4 wheel drive components on Toyota's small 1/2 ton trucks are rugged enough for use on a 1 ton truck - they should go almost indefinitely."

    I think that mindset is changing at Toyota.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    of the best made cars EVER.

    About that time, Japan learned from Detroit that "if you build cars that last forever, you will sell fewer new cars" and since that time, corners have been cut for the sake of the bottom line.

    In the case of Toyota, that bottom line means 30-40 billion dollars in the bank and soon the rank as #1 car company in sales.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    "Any fool can make a building stand up, but it takes an engineer to make it barely stand up."
  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    I think Toyota still makes a quality car. However Toyota has had the following issues with the following cars: I got this reliability out of CR. Suspension Problems with 98-99 Avalon, 99 and 04 Solara(first year models for both of those Solara's.) Body Integrity issues with the 02 4 Runner, and 02-03 Solara(last years of that model in that bodystyle for the Solara) and 04 Solara(first year model.) Paint/Trim problems: with 04 and 05 Matrix and 01 and 02 Tacoma. braking problems with 01-03 Sequoia and 02 and 03 Sienna. A pre-02 Sienna has less braking issues the 02-03 models. Remember that Sienna ran from 98-03 in that particular bodystyle. Maybe Toyota was maybe going for cheaper suppliers that got them with the braking issues.

    Cr rated in these Trouble spots with these cars either under average or much worse than average in trouble spots like Body integity and paint/trim. I think Toyota has had problems in the past 3-5 years with body integrity and suspensions as well. What amazes me is an 02 Solara has more body integrity issues than than an 00 Solara. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? A 1998 4 Runner has much less body integrity issues than an 02 4 Runner.

    In my opinion particularly during the 02-03 model year Toyota's plant in Kentucky was not constructing their cars in the proper manner or else Toyota wouldn't have all these body integrity issues. The suspension issues are alarming. I think Toyota soft handling cars are maybe sensitive to these suspension problems. However all these cars with suspension problems, paint/trim, braking and body integity issues that I just named are still are still either much better than average in reliability or better than average in reliability overall The 03 Seqioua is just average in reliability overall however.

    I don't know about Toyota stopping overengineering their parts. I mean Toyota has always prided themselves on making a quality product. Toyota cannot slip up on Body Integrity again though. The 02 and some 03 Camry's I have heard about sqeauking/rattling but I think Toyota did fix that problem somewhere in the production of the 03 Camry. I think Body integrity was part of the reason that the Camry temporariliy slipped to average in reliability for a short while in CR when the 02 Camry first came onto the market.

    BTW, I have heard about tranny problems with 02+ ES300/330 on these. CR even shows the tranny problem with the 02+ Es300/330. From 1998-2001 Cr ranked the trouble spot for "tranny" as excellent reliability for the last generation Es300(97-01.) With the 02+ ES 300/330 the trouble spot for tranny is just average with a white circle. The current Es300/330 ranks above average in reliability where as the the 98-01 Es 300 ranks much better than average reliability. The drop in reliability is marginal but I think Toyota's plant in Japan didn't work out the bugs with the 5 speed auto in the 02+ Es300/330.

    I also have seen drops in Lexus's ratings in CR. Cr ranks the 04 LS 430 under average for reliability in the trouble spot "tranny". For 05 though they ranks the 05 LS 430 in the tranny trouble as excellent. Remember 05 models ranked in reliability by CR have only 3,000 miles on them. However the tranny problem with the LS 430 dropped the 04 LS 430 to just average in reliability overall where as the 98-03 models were ranked excellent in reliability overall. Lastly the 05 SC has dropped to average overall in reliability. The 02-04 SC's ranked excellent in reliability. The 05 SC ranked under average in the trouble spot "paint/trim". Toyota's Lexus's plant in Japan having paint/ trim issues? That is shocking.

    I'm surprised about Lexus having some reliability bugs with their cars of late more than US built Toyota's having issues. Toyota Lexus's plant is among the best plants in the world at constructing a car in my opinion.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,075
    ...had a few trouble spots - notably the power steering pump and the electroluminescent instrument cluster.
  • for everyone once they pass GM in sales.

    Everyone admired Microsoft while they were overtaking IBM: same for Wal Mart against K Mart and Sears.

    But - once you hit the top of the heap the crowd wants to see you displaced.
  • mirthmirth Posts: 1,212
    Is there any reason to think recalls in general directly correlate to reliability and quality?

    There are way too many variables to even try figure it out, and even you could find a direct correlation, the margin of error would be huge.

    If that's true, then we shouldn't worry about Ford's recalls then either, right?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    are for the most part not a good thing! Anyone who thinks they may not correlate directly to reliability issues that inconvenience the consumer may have a point, but only a minor one at best. Even a recall that does not affect the operation of the vehicle usually causes the customer lost time in going to get the recall taken care of. That is annoyance no-one needs.

    And many recalls are more serious than that - either resulting in diminishing of the vehicle's usefulness or a safety risk. The tie rods on my truck were a safety thing, although I still question how much of a risk that was given that they had already gone 220K miles without a problem. To me, that is going the extra mile for a recall.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

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