Toyota Corolla Is Now Focus of Federal Safety Regulators

More bad news on the quality front for Toyota

Brendan Moore

12.07.2009

Toyota logo-smallAlready beleaguered by several safety and quality issues in their new vehicle lineup, Toyota can now add the 2006 model year Toyota Corolla and the 2006 model year Toyota Matrix to the list.

The Matrix is a Corolla in a tall hatchback configuration.

United States federal safety regulators are investigating complaints of engine stalling from owners of the vehicles in question.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reviewing 397,000 cars sold in the U.S. after receiving 26 complaints regarding stalling in cars equipped with Toyota’s IZZ-FE four cylinder engines. The complaints allege that the cars in question stall at random moments, whether that is when traveling at highway speeds or at an intersection, and many of the reports indicate that the motorists subsequently have trouble re-starting the car.

It is important to emphasize that the NHTSA is merely in the first stages of a preliminary review of the situation regarding stalling – no recall of the cars has been issued, and, in fact, a recall may not occur, depending on the outcome of the review.

Still, it is more evidence of a troubling recent trend for Toyota. The company recently issued a recall on 110,000 Tundra pickup trucks for a frame rust issue. Toyota has also recalled 3.8 million vehicles for an unintended acceleration problem, which has been blamed for several deaths in their cars. Toyota has also been trying to resolve customer complaints about transmission problems with the Camry, engine sludge problems with one of their engines, and, issues with headlamps in their Prius model.

But, fortunately for Toyota, none of this has affected sales of Toyotas at this time. Toyota owners are an incredibly loyal bunch and are sticking with their brand, seeing these issues as merely hiccups in Toyota’s long reign as one of the top-quality brands sold in the United States. They shrug off the quality lapses as temporary and are certain that Toyota will address these lapses and come back even stronger in the area of vehicle quality.

Detractors say that the bloom is off the rose at Toyota, and that their millions of fans are simply behind the reality that their icon has slipped badly due to the company’s tremendous growth in the North American market. The people that are currently throwing brickbats at the company point out that people don’t buy Toyotas for their looks or their performance; only their quality. If the quality goes away, their critics say, what does Toyota have left?

As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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10 Comments

  1. Who would buy a Toyota for it’s looks?!?!

    No one! Or, mostly no one, anyway. I guess there is always someone who is going to surprise you with their complete lack of style.

    But damn, the number of people who think Toyotas look good probably couldn’t fill up a couple of Camrys.

  2. Hyundai is the new Toyota

  3. You Toyota-haters must feel good, but don’t worry, they’ll always be the best OVERALL no matter what small issues happen here and there.

  4. 3fg let us know how that works for you when you can’t stop your run away car

  5. I guess “love is blind” if some buyers still flocks to Toyota (unless Avis, Tilden or Hertz decided to get more Toyotas in their fleet rental). As for those “hiccups”, it might be the ransom of the glory.

    But Toyota might face a bigger challenge ahead: their buyers demographic, when most of their buyers are over 50, not yet into Buick territory but Toyota begins get the image of “grand’pa car” and the absence of the Celica, Supra, MR-2 didn’t help to the situation, will the upcoming “Toybaru” (or “Subyota”) sports car will reverse the trend?

  6. Toyota still has the most models in the JDPower top 10 rankings. That says almost all Toyota owners are very, very happy with their Toyota’s quality.

  7. The congregation of the Church of Toyota suddenly feels a chilly wind…

  8. So difficult not to feel some sense of payback is being carried out

  9. You stall out on the interstate and you may not live to file a complaint.

  10. Toyota buyers “are sticking with their brand, seeing these issues as merely hiccups in Toyota’s long reign as one of the top-quality brands sold in the United States.” About 30 years ago, GM buyers fit the same mold. Toyota, like most sentient life-forms, is of course smarter than Roger Smith-era GM, so I expect they’ll solve their quality ills relatively quickly. They expanded too fast, and seemingly have abandoned the younger segment of the market. This latter factor may be more of an issue in coming years. Few people want to drive what their grandparents drive. And it can take a lot of effort to overcome that perception–Buick is a case in point.

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