Updates: More Toyota recall information

2010 Toyota Matrix XRS

So, overnight a lot happened with concern to Toyota.  While there are several things going on, I’m going to boil it down to a manageable amount of information for you to digest.  If you’d like, skip to the end of the post to read my synopsis of what’s currently going with Toyota, but in short, not much of it is good, and some of it is very bad.  We haven’t seen this much bad PR for a car maker since the Ford/Firestone fiasco ten years ago, and that recall affected far fewer vehicles.

2010 Toyota Highlander

First things first, what is going on?  Toyota apparently upped their 3.8-million recall to 4.3 million, last week.  Now they’re adding another 1.1 million vehicles, for a grand total of 5.4 million vehicles.  For those of you keeping score at home, that’s about half of what new car sales were for 2009.  That’s a lot of cars.  Add to that the statement by NHTSA head David Strickland, saying that the NHTSA informed Toyota of their legal responsibility to halt sales of vehicles affected by this latest recall, and Toyota’s statement that they voluntarily are suspending sales, and it just adds up to bad press.

Newly-affected models:

2008-2010 Highlander
2009-2010 Corolla
2009-2010 Venza
2009-2010 Matrix

This also includes the Pontiac Vibe, as I reported yesterday.  Why add these cars?  Apparently, Toyota got a report from the federal government that gas pedals were sticking on the above-listed models with secured floor mats. That’s even worse than the original recall, if you ask me – the orginal recall was for loose floor mats.

2010 Toyota Corolla S

Second, CTS Corporation, also from yesterday’s post, is saying that it built the pedal assemblies to Toyota’s specifications, and is unaware of accidents or injuries occurring because of their products.   CTS also says that it’s gotten reports of “fewer than a dozen instances where this condition has occurred, and in no instance did the accelerator actually become stuck in a partially depressed condition.”

2010 Toyota Venza

Third, Toyota has extended the recall for sticking gas pedals to Europe.  This is going to affect us, but since no real solution, short of replacing the pedal assembly, has been announced, it’s hard to know just how.

Fourth, and this just hit the wire, is that CTS Corp. now says it’s ramping up production at 3 of its manufacturing facilities, in order to meet demand at Toyota’s factories in the United States.  There’s no word on what the new capacity is, but CTS says it’s “putting additional production lines to ramp up faster-than-normal production.”  That’s good news, but what about the cars already on the road?  Toyota says it’s working with CTS to develop a “sleeve” to fix the problem on already-built cars.  So what caused the issue in the first place?  Before today, Toyota said it was still working with CTS to figure that out, but now they’re saying that condensation causes the problem to get worse over time.  My take on it is that condensation could cause the lubrication on the joints in the pedal assembly to break down, come off over time, or even worse – it could cause rust on the metal, which would cause the joint to work stiffly, if at all.

Synopsis:

Toyota should give its own State of the Union address, to get out in front of all this bad PR.  They are in the midst of a hurricane of bad press since the California State Trooper’s tragic accident last year.  They’re doing some good in addressing cars sold overseas, since we now know that it is Toyota’s design, not CTS Corporation’s, but that doesn’t really help us in the U.S..  This also means that cars built in factories other than those in the United States could be affected if they used Toyota’s design to manufacture the pedal assemblies, and apparently Toyota really doesn’t want to replace gas pedals in these cars.  Just like where they are reshaping the gas pedals in cars for their other recall, they want to put some “sleeve” on the pedal assemblies in order to prevent condensation from causing sticky gas pedals.  How well that solution will work over time is anyone’s guess.  This whole fiasco goes to show that even the Japanese car companies aren’t perfect, and as the size of your business grows, your Quality Control department needs to grow right along with it!

One final bit of information I picked up: Toyota apparently passed on a script to dealers, for when customers ask questions about the latest pedal recall.  One of the Q&A’s goes like this:

Q. Have there been any accidents reported?

A. The number of accidents are still under investigation.

While the answer is technically true, it omits that there have been accidents because of the gas pedal problem.

We will keep you updated as the latest news hits, so follow us on Twitter or friend us on Facebook for updates when new posts are published.

by John Suit

Source: Automotive News, Toyota

2008-10 Highlanders and 2009-2010 Corollas, Venzas, and Matrixes

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