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Old 12-02-2005, 02:19 PM
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Recalls Fall but Toyota Sees Increase

Recalls Fall but Toyota Sees Increase
The Detroit News

By Jeff Plungis and Christine Tierney

Dec. 2, 2005

WASHINGTON After a record-breaking year for safety recalls in 2004, the auto industry has improved dramatically in 2005 with the notable exception of quality stalwart Toyota Motor Corp., whose recalls more than doubled.

According to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Toyota's recalls jumped to 2.2 million through November, compared with 1.1 million for all of 2004.

The recalls at Toyota, the fourth-leading manufacturer in the U. S. market with a reputation for quality-built cars and trucks, stand in sharp contrast to an overall decline in industry recalls.

Following a record 30.8 million vehicles recalled last year, only 16.6 million have been recalled through November. At this point last year, 27.7 million vehicles had been recalled.

The industry is on pace to recall fewer vehicles than in other recent years as well. The average number of annual recalls during the previous 10 years, 1995 through 2004, is 19.3 million vehicles a year.

Toyota's 2005 recalls were driven up by two recalls in particular:

A steering-linkage problem covering 978,000 1989-1995 pickups and 1990-1995 4Runner SUVs

A ball-joint repair for 768,000 4Runner, Tacoma and Sequoia light trucks dating back to 2001.

Toyota officials say the government is more aggressive in requiring companies to report potential safety issues under the TREAD Act, the law Congress passed following the Firestone tire recall. Toyota, like other companies, also has become more proactive about fixing what used to seem like minor problems.

"We're fallible," said Dennis Cuneo, senior vice president of Toyota Motor North America. "We take those opportunities to try to find the root causes, get to it and fix it."

Another factor driving up recalls: An increase in common parts used among different car and light truck models. As a result, a problem part that might in the past have had an impact on a few thousand vehicles can now lead to a recall of more than a million vehicles.

Among Detroit manufacturers, only Ford Motor Co. has seen an increase in recalled vehicles this year, 6 million through Nov. 17, up from 5 million for all of 2004.

General Motors Corp. has recalled 4.1 million vehicles through Nov. 17, down significantly from 10.8 million for 2004. DaimlerChrysler AG has recalled 749,000 vehicles in the United States this year, down from 5.8 million in 2004.

The latest comparable data from trade publication Warranty Week shows that GM's warranty costs worldwide stood at 3.2 percent of automotive sales as of March 31 while Ford's costs were around 2.5 percent. DaimlerChrysler's warranty costs were 5.2 percent, while Toyota's were 1.2 percent, according to Warranty Week, which cautions that the figures might not be entirely comparable because of different accounting systems and currencies.

Toyota is grappling to ensure its big expansion plans do not undercut its reputation for quality. Besides the steering linkage and ball-joint problems affecting trucks and SUVs, Toyota suffered an embarrassing recall of its heralded Prius hybrid in October, when consumers complained that a software glitch could leave them stranded on the road.

Toyota Chief Executive Katsuaki Watanabe and Executive Vice President Yoshimi Inaba stressed recently the company wanted to attack weaknesses, not hide them or ignore them.

In an interview with The Detroit News in January, Inaba said his biggest fear was problems might go undetected that could cause injury or worse to consumers, he said. Japanese automakers have been rattled by Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s deep troubles stemming from years-long cover-ups of vehicle defects.

Chance Parker, executive director for product research at J.D. Power and Associates, said his firm has not detected any rise in the severity of problems reported by Toyota customers.

"If the customer doesn't actually experience the problem, we don't see much of a relationship between the number of recalls and customer-reported quality," Parker said. "The industry continues to get better every year (on quality), though the number of recalls have generally been increasing."

In a recent report on Toyota, Ron Tadross, auto analyst at Banc of America Securities, noted Toyota's recalls have increased but said money set aside to cover repairs had not risen. "Toyota's warranty accruals per vehicle are $200, or 40 percent below GM and Ford. Although it appears that Toyota has had more recalls, this is attributable to the sheer number of Toyota vehicles on the road."
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  #2  
Old 12-03-2005, 12:47 PM
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I been saying they're garbage for years, maybe now everyone will listen to me!
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Old 12-03-2005, 07:17 PM
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I understand the notion of getting it right the first time, but the # of recalls has never struck me as a reliable indicator. How many recalls did the Yugo have?

I don't know the answer, but let's say it was ZERO.

Does this make it a high quality product, or is it a piece of junk (YES) built by a dishonest organization?

I'd rather Toyota/GM/Ford/DCX/whoever admit there is a problem, in writing, and correct it than, say the quiet "secret warranty" as found with the rod-bending 350SDL.
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Old 12-03-2005, 09:26 PM
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I fail to see how a linkage problem they discovered and are correcting on vehicles, the newest of which is 10 years old up to 16 years, is truely a black mark gainst them as a company. After 10-15 years cars made by their competition are in a condition that they are written off if they run out of gas.
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