Featured Post

Engine failures in MR2 Spyders

6/11/2014 - Updated the original post by entering direct links to reference material, and added remarks about the legal issues involved with...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dealer opposed Toyota secrecy

Toyota objected - of course - to the public finding out, but now we know the Recall King paid $10 million to settle the high profile, runaway Lexus tragedy that put the media spotlight on sudden, unintended acceleration. Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that one of Toyota's own dealers argued in favor of making things public. Seems to be no love lost between Bob Baker Toyota and the folks in Torrance. Apparently, their relationship soured after the two of 'em became co-defendants in the Saylor suit, which Baker has yet to settle.

Whatever the dealer's motives, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas made a strong case for making the settlement public. Rackauckas - he's already filed racketeering charges against the Recall King - said the Saylor case relates to public safety and the public has a right to know how much Toyota paid to settle. Can't fault the logic, especially with Toyota - just over the past year - agreeing to pay three safety related government fines, which, incidentally, many people think are way too low.

Based on my experience, Toyota's yen for secrecy is no surprise. Which brings to mind that old adage, "If you don't have anything to hide, then don't hide it." Good advice. Especially for a company at odds with one of its own dealers.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Toyota takes it on the... wrist. Again.

Toyota gets two more cozy deals:  Drop-in-the-bucket fines, and an agreement allowing the Recall King to fork over the money without admitting any violations of U.S. law.  And the issues are far from minor.  We're talking about the likelihood of injuries and deaths resulting from delays in reporting defects. 

Without steeper fines, expect more such delays in the future.  And there probably won't be any steeper fines.  Proposed safety legislation - itself prompted by Toyota's issues with sudden, unintended acceleration - has been blocked, which brings us back to the crux of the matter.  Ol' Uncle Sam - imbued with the best system money can buy - isn't really all that interested in reigning in an automaker like Toyota, regardless of how flagrant the violations.

Its important to note that the focus so far has been primarily on safety related issues.  Given Toyota's disasterous showing in that regard, why hasn't there been a closer look at Toyota's response - or lack thereof - to so-called "non-safety" related issues?  Over three thousand customers have signed a petition alleging continuing problems with oil sludge, and two major car clubs have been screaming for years about engine failures in MR2 Spyders.  Three fines in one year, racketeering charges, lawsuits galore alleging fraud, a federal grand jury investigation, record setting recalls, and... well, you get the picture. 

Its time for more than a few slaps on the wrist.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dealership employees behavin' badly

Toyota is getting quite a bit of headline grabbin' publicity for bad behavior on the part of employees at dealerships.  It seemed to start with a theft, etc. caught on video and turned over to news media.  More recently, a dealership's website praised a filthy video critical of Prius drivers, an employee at a North Carolina dealership pled guilty to embezzlement, and now we have a general manager charged with an assortment of offences ranging from driving without a license to public intoxication.

Based on my experiences, (click the label "thuggery"), such stories are not surprising.  Nonetheless, these developments are noteworthy given the dealerships' association with a company that's currently facing racketeering charges, lawsuits galore alleging fraud, and a grand jury investigation for a delay in reporting defective steering rods.

Let's face it.  You can't blame anyone for not trusting Toyota.

Update 12/31/10 The general manager has pleaded guilty to an August OWI charge, but the December charges are still pending.
Update 1/5/10 An ex-worker is suing a Toyota dealer, claiming he was fired for uncovering insurance fraud re a Lexus that was given to a football coach.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bad fix for recalls has Toyota spinnin'

Apparently, Toyota is having trouble repairing their recalls.  I guess that's to be expected when an automaker has over 11 million in one year, but in Toyota's case, its the company's response that should raise eyebrows. 

Toyota seems to have a problem with admitting a problem.  Even when said problem is obvious and verifiable.  Hence, when word got out that their technicians had botched accelerator repairs on recalled Camrys and Avalons, Toyota dug their heels in, and instead of simply acknowledging the situation, attempted to "spin" the story, offering the kind of sheer blabber that insults people's intelligence.  A prime example of the sort of thing that's been a big contributor to Toyota's continuing downfall, especially in the U.S. market.

Here's the deal, Toyota.  The kind of double-talkin' nonsense you've so blatently displayed is prima facie evidence that your company hasn't changed and has no intentions of doing so.  Listen up, currently-charged-with-racketeering Toyota:  Honesty is still the best policy.

Botched repairs revealed:  http://www.insideline.com/toyota/camry/glitch-pops-up-in-toyota-camry-recall.html

Toyota responds:  http://www.autospies.com/news/Toyota-Issues-Statement-Over-TSB-On-Recall-Repairs-59774/