Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'd Buy One Tomorrow

While I am not downplaying what appear to be legitimate engineering troubles at Toyota, I am also amused at anybody who wants to engage in Toyota bashing.

I have typically been more of a Honda guy (Accords, Acura TL's) than Toyota, but I have always held their product quality in the highest esteem. My one foray to their side of the Japanese car aisle, was quite enjoyable.

I owned one of the original Lexus IS300's and it was absolutely orgasmic in terms of driving fun. Never had a problem with it either.

So yeah, I'd buy a new Toyota or Lexus tomorrow despite all of the recall stuff going on.

Roy Exum writes an excellent piece in the about Toyota's issues, and how Congress has been piling on. Writes Exum...

Right now Toyota is processing 50,000 recalled vehicles a day, somewhat easily, too, I might add. To do so, their dealers are loaning cars while repairs are being made, paying rental fees and even taxi receipts. The simple fact is that never in the history of the auto industry has there been such an intense response. General Motors, on the other hand, will not offer a similar assistance program to the 1.3 million owners in this latest recall because, quite frankly, it doesn't have the clout nor the "want to" that Toyota does right now.

Listen to this - J.D. Power has just announced the best luxury car in the world right now is a Lexus, the premium brand of Toyota that just dominated four of J.D. Power's five main categories. This week Consumer Reports, not a government agency but one of the most respected quality-assurance sources in our country, returned eight different Toyota models to its "recommended" list. Go ahead, look it up. While you're at it, buy the Consumer Reports' car annual; you'll see for yourself Toyota is a tight No. 3 overall while GM and Chrysler are solidly "dead last."

Even if you aren't a big fan of the Toyota-Lexus brand, it's hard not to notice what a push Hyundai has made in terms of quality - and yes, luxury - vehicles.

Shame, because I am damn sure that American know-how is still quite capable of making great cars. In fact, Ford, which passed on the bailout money, finally pulled its head out its truck-obsessed ass and put some ooomph into re-launching Taurus brand.

From what I've read, the new Taurus is nothing short of awesome. A higher-end sports sedan that has all the bells and whistles, and competes quite nicely with my current Acura TL.

Do I expect GM to ever put out a car (not truck) that pushes foreign competitors in the same vehicle class? Um, nah.

Congress has been shameless as well, but then again, that's what they do.

Frank Ahrens of the Washington Post, wrote a good, long piece that pretty well explained why finding quick, easy answers to these problems, is damn near impossible.

It was made painfully clear at the hearings that a number of lawmakers do not understand the process. An exchange between Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Toyota President Akio Toyoda illustrated the problem.

Toyoda said that when his company gets a complaint about a mechanical problem, engineers set to work trying to duplicate the problem in their labs to find out what went wrong.

Norton said: "Your answer -- we'll wait to see if this is duplicated -- is very troublesome." Norton asked Toyoda why his company waited until a problem recurred to try to diagnose it, which is exactly what he was not saying.

Members of Congress are generally lawyers and politicians, not engineers. But they are launching investigations and creating policies that have a direct impact on the designers and builders of incredibly complex vehicles -- there are 20,000 parts in a modern car -- so there are some basics they should understand. Chief among them: The only way to credibly figure out why something fails is to attempt to duplicate the failure under observable conditions. This is the engineering method.

If you put a lot of parts together to form a complex electromechanical machine and make it talk to itself via software, it can behave, sometimes, in ways you cannot anticipate. It can fail for reasons you cannot anticipate.

That's the problem Toyota faces. And, after thorough testing by Toyota, NHTSA and garage mechanics trying to win the $1 million prize, no single answer may be found. Obviously, this will not stop juries from awarding damages in the liability lawsuits already filed.

Finally, Toyota can't say this, but I can: Some of the cases of runaway acceleration could have been caused by driver error. Think about the times you've been in an accident, a near-miss or -- more to the point -- a distracted-driving situation that almost veered out of control. You remember the white-hot spike of fear that shot up your spine. You remember the shakes afterward. But do you remember what you did during those few seconds of panic? Do you remember where your feet and hands and eyes went?

Too true, but nobody at Toyota can possibly hint at this because of the hell that it would invoke. And, probably, there is an underlying mechanical failure at fault in some of the cases.

But am I afraid of Toyotas? Hell, no. Damn fine car. And yes, the company is going to be just fine. In fact, I'm rooting for them.


  1. My biggest concern is that the recall will not fix the problem...just by time. I believe the peeps at Toyota know exactly whats wrong with their cars, (electronics) not the gas pedal. I bet this gets ugly fast

  2. This has all the characteristics of US car lobbyists spewing as much dirt through pain-staking research on every - however minute - problem Toyota has had. The lobbyists are trying to resuscitate the union-burdened US car companies since their being paid by DC to do so. You can dig dirt on any big company, and this was their solution.

  3. I will never own a car that is not a Chevy or a Ford. I do not even like getting in other cars.

  4. "Do I expect GM to ever put out a car (not truck) that pushes foreign competitors in the same vehicle class? Um, nah."

    C'mon Czabe, stop being a Japanese shill. Just off the top of my head - Buick LaCrosse > Lexus Camr...ES350.

    Also, anyone in the automotive industry knows what a joke CR is. Toasters,, not so much. Look it up.

  5. I've driven plenty of Ford, Chrysler, and GM cars. All pretty crappy. Once me and wifey bought a Honda, we've never gone back. Rock solid reliability, built in Ohio, and the resale value is excellent. I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Toyota either. Except a Prius. Way too gay.
    What is the $1 million challenge mentioned in the article?

  6. "Do I expect GM to ever put out a car (not truck) that pushes foreign competitors in the same vehicle class? Um, nah."

    Ever heard of a Cadillac CTS-V? See what Car and Driver have to say about it. Perhaps will change your mind.

    Also, ever driven a Corvette? Where else can you find that level of performance for the cost?

    Stick to the ball sports, Czabe.

  7. Great article Czabe. Toyota quality has slipped a bit when they made the big push to be the world's largest car maker that being said, when producing the total number of cars they do, problems are going to happen. I'm not saying this is trivial, in fact there have been very serious ramifications from these problems, but Toyota have stood up and taken their lumps and are attempting to resolve the problem. Remember the Ford Explorer, no, of course it wasn't our fault, it was Firestone! While there were issues with the tires, rather than trying to fix the car, they took the easy way out and blamed the tire manufacturer. At least Toyota is not pointing fingers at anyone else.

    And as far as GM producing a good vehicle goes, the Vette and the Vette Z06 are quite nice but other than that, for a "normal" car, the only good ones they produce are in Europe. Unfortunately they have not been able to replicate the quality and fun of those cars on this side of the pond.

  8. GM uses a lot of crap parts in their vehicles and then charges you up the ass to get it fixed when it breaks. They charge you $500 bucks to fix power windows that break when you can get the parts after market and do it yourself for under a $100 including shipping.
    I have a 4WD GMC Sierra that had an issue with a sensor on the 4WD that prevents the push button activation from engaging the 4WD. First time they fixed it under warranty. The next time they wanted $600. I got the mechanic to do it on his time and it only cost me $130 including parts.

  9. Czabe you are right on the money. I have owned seven different Toyota vehicles over the years, put over 100,000 miles on each of them and never did anything more than change the oil, rotate the tires and drive the hell out of them. One of my old Tundra's had 136,000 miles on it when I traded it in for a new one and I still got $14,000 out of it.

    I hope the U.S. auto makers can make a stride toward improvement in their dependability...especially now when they can strike while the iron is hot and Toyota is down, but Toyota will return soon and will I just hope the big bosses of the Big Three don't set on their collective asses and think Toyota won't rebound.

    By the way, I drove the new 2010 Taurus and it is freekin awesome.....holy smoke that bitch will fly and it has all of the bells and whistles. A little expensive, but damn if it ain't a great car.

  10. Way to go morons. Look at the big picture and not just your selfishness. Your supporting a foreign company over American companies. I wonder why our country is in the toilet. And to critize the American Government for going after the enemy as far as car companies go. I wonder how many of you people out there are driving Jap cars, and are crying because you're out of work. Wake Up Dipsh_ts, your the problem. American cars are just fine, keep the money,products,and jobs here for our people, not them.

  11. I just bought a Ford Taurus SHO fully loaded and picked it over the....Acura TL. The Taurus is a much bigger car, but Czabe is right, it has all the bells and whistles, not just the electronics, but also a very powerful (yet fuel efficient) twin turbo "Ecoboost" engine. We are no doubt an Acura family (already with an RL, MDX, and TSX in the family) but it was time to really take a look at the NEW Ford. Awesome car...unbelievable styling, quality, fit and finish, etc. Did I mention it has massaging seats? Czabe, it's time to trade in the TL!

  12. Since this matter has gotten white-hot media attention, does anybody think that Toyota would sell a cheap and ineffective fix with a lie? This is the company that has - steadily for the last 40 years - made a consistently excellent product and has punched the American auto industry in the nose and taken its lunch money. I'm willing to bet Toyota knows what it's talking about.

  13. Hey Joseph, I bought "American" cars for years. They screwed me with junk. My Honda was built in Marysville, Ohio, by americans. Your so-called "American" car is built with the majority of the parts coming from foreign countries.
    Chomp on that.
    Greedy unions are the downfall of the big 3.

  14. Joseph, perhaps a brief history lesson would serve you well before you spout off at the mouth about all the morons and dipsh*ts. You may need a good look in the mirror.

    In the post WWII era, nobody had any desire to purchase foreign products, partly out of a sense of great patriotism, but mostly because the foreign stuff was cheap junk.

    However, when few people stateside wanted to listen to an innovative statistician (W.E. Deming), he took his ideas to the people of Japan.

    Thanks in large part to his ideas and contributions to Japanese industry, a generation later, those imports were the quality products that everyone wanted, and the sloppily made American products produced under the banner of arrogant complacency, corporate greed, and the complete and utter inefficiency of labor unions had become the junk that nobody wanted.

    Don't blame people for not wanting to spend their hard earned dollars on overpriced, unreliable crap.

  15. I have owed a Ford Ranger, never had any issues with that, I had to get rid of it because and Idiot who hit me. My Chevy which is assembled in Lordstown Ohio, is a great car. I have had no issues and the money from it stayed in the United States and did not go over seas.

  16. Czabe, I may be loyal to a fault but I will never buy a car that is not built by an American company. The unions and government are not only killing our car companies, they are killing our country. Bottom line is we should support our own companies when ever we can. An America that does not build cars is a weaker country. Think WWII. How would that outcome have changed if those companies did not build planes, tanks and jeeps, guns ect...
    Stick to your sports next time you think about dissing your own.

  17. Hey Guys, To all you union haters out there, You need to stop listening to Rush, and all the Republican politions out there. Try (I know its hard), but try to think for yourself for once in your life, and I don't mean listen to the Dems either, because there not worth a pinch of sh_t themselves. If the Japs had regulations like we do here inthe states there labor costs would be much higher, But they don't. People work in unsafe situations (bare feet, dirt floors, etc). They make about on average .38 cents an hour, not to mention the tax that the American government put on this foreign companies is nothing. You say its all the unions, your wrong. Flat out wrong. Japs sell this cars at the price they do because of there so called low overhead (labor costs and such). The problem is the politions in this country, selling us all out. Union employees don't make the $50-$100 per hour like you may think. Try more like $17-$25 per hour. Yes the pension and health benefits add to that, but not that much. Maybe an additional $10 per hour. You union haters out ther should be glad we have unions. They've done alot more than you know for the working people in this country. Not just the 40 hour work week either. They've given the employee a say so. Wats wrong with that? I'll be the first to agree there not perfect, they have plenty of problems them selves, but whats wrong we someone making a good wage with benefits and a pension? Nothing.

  18. YES! We have a winner. Whenever defeated with logic,just pull out the old "Rush Limbaugh" card.
    Quit watching Colbert so much. Yes I know it's hard.

  19. Sorry joseph, but Rush told me to put your posts through a bit of an edit before appearing so gap-toothed. He also told me to laugh my arse off over the $10 estimate for all the health and pension costs of UAW workers.

  20. Hate to break it to you Joseph, but most Toyotas sold here are assembled here by American workers and they make good money doing it.

  21. Rudy,John, Till, and Biolerpip, Get a clue. Like I said before,Let Rush tell you how to think, maybe if all you guys would put your heads together you would have the capacity of one brain. As far as Rudy goes yes there assembled here, but the majority of the money still goes back to the Japs, good move. Till you compared Rush to colbert, do you know the differnce between the to shows. Colbert is a comedy, wait so is Rush, sorry. Hey John the $10 per hour for health and pension benefits is pretty close, do a little research on your own and you may learn a little something, but dont work the knoggen to hard I wouldn't want you to hurt yourself. Boilerpip, You bring up Deming What a great American this guy was giving ideas to the Japs to help there industialism. You said it yourself. People who were loyal to this country,(unlike yourselves) through Great Patriotism bought this countries products because of pride not greed. You guys shouldn't be using the computer without your parents permission. Or at least until you become teenagers. Thanks guys for the great laugh. Take Care

  22. Keep paying those union dues, buddy. They're doing a heck of job for you. (to you) LMAO!

  23. Thanks Till, You keep working for nothing. Just think in 20-30 years, your gonna be begging for those democratic programs to take care of you. Keep that open mind,and take care

  24. Thanks for the good wishes. I don't need government to take care of me, though.

  25. Joe, I have no idea what purpose you're trying to serve by rambling on about Rush. I tried listening to the guy for about a week in the mid 90s, and he just wasn't my cup of tea. I wasn't particularly a fan of Bill Clinton, but I really had no need to hear somebody make fun of the guy for three hours every day.

    This may come as a shock, but some of us can think for ourselves. We don't need or desire the government babysitting us every moment of every day. Perhaps you're the one who could use a little introspective analysis. There's more to life than the spoon fed mantra of "blame Reagan, blame Rush, blame Hannity...repeat cycle daily."

    As far as the Deming thing goes, my point clearly sailed right over your head. The point was not that he was an American who went and gave ideas to the Japanese, the likes of which helped industry there thrive. The point was that nobody here really gave a damn about what the guy had to say, so he took his ideas and innovations elsewhere. If you take issue with a guy who merely took his professional services where they were wanted, then that's your prerogative, but I'm not in the business of passing that sort of judgment.