Be Vigilant of Car Recalls: Lessons For Car Owners

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2010-02-0335

How vigilant are you of car recalls?

I’m one of those people who finds it hard to trust after a betrayal of sorts, especially when it comes to one’s security and safety. Once I find that the credibility of something (or someone) is shot, I start giving it (him/her) a wide berth — especially when it comes to my family’s safety. Given that I’m a big ball of paranoia, as people I know will attest, then the way I react to any news that calls products into question should be pretty understandable and expected.

Take for instance the story of a beleaguered car company that hit the air waves. I’m talking about the news on Toyota recalls.

From a personal standpoint, I think Toyota is toast. At least for my family. I actually have relatives who work at Toyota, but even if I’m extended a friend or family discount (which hasn’t happened), it will be a while before I consider their products for purchase or use. The Toyota safety recalls have done a lot of damage to this auto manufacturing company (at least, for the time being) and if my sentiments are any indication of what general consumers feel, it will be a while for them to gain back consumer trust.

Of course, Consumer Reports put more fuel to the fire with their safety risk assessment of the Lexus GX 460. The basic problem:

The SUV’s electronic stability control program failed to keep the vehicle in line during a severe handling maneuver, allowing it to slide almost completely sideways. This could lead to a rollover.

The problem with the Lexus’ ESC (electronic stability control) became apparent during tests designed to detect a specific emergency handling problem. The GX’s ESC system did not become active until the SUV had already skidded dangerously.

While there are Toyota fans who may remain skeptical of these criticisms, probably even claiming that Toyota is under unparalleled scrutiny, the rest of the car buying public may have more than just second thoughts. It’s a shame, since I wanted to own a Lexus one day!

I am a big fan of Japanese imports and am shameless about only driving imports. My car purchase record will show that. Aside from our beloved Hondas, we’ve strongly considered Toyota models in the past, given their then good name and record. Sad to hear all the flak they’ve been receiving, but the obvious question here is: how much damage has been done and would YOU buy a new Toyota today or anytime soon?

For most of my life, I’ve had the long-standing belief that “foreign” cars are supposed to be well-made, especially compared to their American counterparts. But maybe we should take a closer look at what it really means to be American vs “Foreign Made”: when you look under the hood, you’ll realize that there’s a lot more in common between those designations.

Now with the matter of a massive recall, we see that it’s given one of the big reputable car manufacturers a black eye. So maybe it’s time to ask: are car imports really supposedly better than American cars? And who exactly is making a high quality car these days? I’d love to hear you sound off on this!

car recalls

Be Vigilant of Car Recalls: Lessons For Car Owners

That said, here are some interesting tips from The Huffington Post, which tell us how to minimize or avoid experiencing problems with our vehicles:

  • Make sure you always properly service your car.
  • Do proper maintenance on your vehicle, such as rotating your tires and changing your brake pads.
  • If your accelerator sticks, put your car in neutral, then brake firmly. If this does not work, turn your ignition off and coast to the side of the road.
  • Keep in touch with your dealer if possible (so they know where to reach you about any issues).
  • Register with to get news about your car (e.g. recalls, etc); this site also provides you with service notifications and alerts to help you keep with your maintenance schedule.
  • When buying a car, take a look at car sites like and Check out Experian’s service called and/or check out, which offers free vehicle history reports.
  • If you plan to drive your car to the ground like I do, then you’ll need to be watchful and proactive about your car’s health!

Be a smart and safe consumer when it comes to making those big purchases!

Copyright © 2010 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

driver detective February 4, 2010 at 5:39 am

Hi, I live in Turin – Italy, the FIAT city. The car industry here is also having problems, with car sales going down along with high unemployment like in Detroit. But drivers prefer smaller cars in Europe.

Saving Money Today February 4, 2010 at 7:11 am

I’m really surprised at how Toyota has handled the situation. They seem to be very reactive instead of proactively getting in front of the problem.

I just heard on the news this morning that there is a software problem with new Prius models that can cause a problem with anti-lock brakes and there have been over 100 incidents reported. Apparently they’ve solved the problem in the factory so newly constructed cars won’t be affected. But they haven’t figured out how to fix it on cars already sold so they’re hesitant to inform the owners.

That doesn’t sound like good business to let your customers continue driving a potentially unsafe vehicle when you know there is a problem.

Kosmo @ The Casual Observer February 4, 2010 at 9:35 am

“But they haven’t figured out how to fix it on cars already sold so they’re hesitant to inform the owners. ”

Certainly, they have figured out how to fix it on cars already sold. REPLACE the problem parts.

However, they probably haven’t figured out how to fix it in a cost-effective manner (repair rather than replace).

Credit Girl February 4, 2010 at 9:57 am

It’s unfortunate to see all these recalls from a brand that we trusted and thought was high quality but I guess it’s really time to re-evaluate this notion. I don’t really know which companies are good now…

TimR February 5, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Toyota has been having some problems for years, finally the news media caught on. Toyota has had problems with engine sludge, recalled 1 Million cars world wide for a steering shaft problem including the Prius. For some reason the mainsteam media missed these. Another issue, truck frames rusting so bad that the spare tire carrier has fallen off (on trucks that are only a few years old). Also there are several other truck recalls for problems that could cause loss of steering. Mainstream media, nope missed it again.

Here’s a list I check from time to time. Notice all the big automakers are on it.

I don’t hate Toyota, I currently drive a ’04 Honda accord but I’m glad to see that now that they have gotten to be one of the biggest the media is no longer giving them a pass. We put our trust in our vehicles to get us safely where we want to go and all car safety problems should be front page news.

Gwen @ February 6, 2010 at 11:04 am

I’ve owned Toyotas (Corolla, Echo and Matrix) for 20 years. I love them. Great cars and great service. I think the media is making a big deal of this. A friend of mine used to sell parts to the Big 3 and Toyota. None of the defective parts ever came back from the Big 3 but if there was even a glimmer of a problem with a part, Toyota would return it for a replacement.

шлюхи дешевые в москве February 9, 2010 at 5:59 am

Toyota = brands!

Pam February 10, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Thanks for the advice and for the site resources. My husband did a lot of research before deciding to purchase a Toyota Corolla a couple of years ago. We have been fairly happy with it and I think overall Toyota vehicles are good quality. It’s unfortunate what has happened recently but I think more than just Toyota will be getting their hand slapped as other car companies are being exposed too. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

damien April 13, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I understand your position and seeing a lot of recalls lately. I am not sure why.

2 Cents @ Balance Junkie April 13, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Wow. What a timely post. I’m not in the market for a new car, but I do think differently about Toyota than I did a year ago.

Ryan@TheFinancialStudent April 13, 2010 at 7:17 pm

I have mixed feelings about the Lexus problem.

From the video, I wouldn’t expect an SUV NOT to slide at that speed and angle. I drive a Ford Explorer and there are simply things you can’t get away with like you can in a small car.

I would have liked to see a video from another SUV doing the same test to compare, one with ESC and without.

For me, the issue is that they advertise ESC, but it isn’t working correctly. But then again, you shouldn’t be operating a vehicle differently because you have ESC so what difference does it make?

Lindsay von April 13, 2010 at 7:20 pm

I’ll buy a Toyota again in a heartbeat, actually given the incentives they have and what I’m sure will be coming up we are looking at moving up that time table.

CB April 13, 2010 at 10:10 pm

I was considering a Prius, but no more. My 1988 Honda Prelude is still excellent, although I use it as a fun ride and a backup. My main drive is a used Volvo I bought from my brother. A friend bought a new Toyota made in Fremont, and it was junkier than any American car during the planned obsolescence phase (decades). I directed her to a used Honda, which served her well.

I will never buy a Toyota.

Beth April 14, 2010 at 5:29 am

Oh PUH-LEASE! Enough with the Toyota bashing in the media already. As if other manufacturers don’t have unsafe models? As if no one else has the same problems — especially since many of the systems and parts that Toyota uses are also used by other major automotive companies?

I think we need to be smart about the cars we buy, and that involves not letting fear influence our decisions.

The Biz of Life April 14, 2010 at 6:15 am

I’d consider buying a Toyota over GM or Chrysler. The Lexus brand is too pricey for a cheapskate like me. My first choice would be Honda. We’ve had very good luck with the Honda’s we’ve own, and not much luck with the GM cars.

Doctor S April 14, 2010 at 6:29 am

This last year changed my total perspective on purchasing a car. Even the smallest issue with a vehicle is going to turn me off from even considering it because safety is the primary focus. First the Prius…. and now a Lexus? This is a snowball effect that is just getting started IMO.

Chris April 14, 2010 at 7:44 am

I think the negative press that Toyota is getting now vastly understates the problems that multiple American car manufacturers have had for years. I have always driven Japanese cars, but my family hasn’t. My parents had a slew of Dodge’s, Plymouth’s, Chevrolet’s, and Ford’s before my dad finally bought a Honda in the late 90′s. It was his best decision ever.

I rarely meet anyone who is truly satisfied with their American made automobile, and those who are accept the fact that they are less reliable, require more maintenance, and break down well before their time. I remember my mom’s old Dodge Caravan – a 1995 model that was on its last legs by 2002, with only 110,000 miles!! I traded in my Nissan Pathfinder last year when it was 11 years old with 168,000 miles, but only because I was rear ended and the car was totalled. Otherwise, I have full confidence I would be driving it today.

Sure, my experience is anecdotal, but after driving a Toyota 4Runner for over a year now, I am completely satisfied with my Toyota. The general public is misinformed, has a relatively short term memory, and too easily submits to the opinions and blather of a visceral media. Seriously, do some research and you will be hard pressed to find a manufacturer with a more sterling LONG TERM record.

Criminal Justice Degree April 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I love my Honda. It has lasted me 12 years so far without any major issues. I follow Consumer Reports very closely when I’m considering a large purchase and if there is even a slight warning, I’m instantly paranoid about the product. I don’t think I’ll buy a Toyota any time soon. I prefer safety to looks and even cost.

Stella April 14, 2010 at 2:08 pm

It amazes me how Toyota has managed to severely damage their sterling reputation. There are probably many people who used to tout the superiority of foreign (specifically Japanese) made vehicles–a perception which no doubt impacted the meltdown of the American automaker (Adieu, Detroit!). I bet they’re singing a different tune now…

(FWIW, I own a 17 year-old Mazda and I’d buy another in a heartbeat…)

James April 15, 2010 at 8:15 am

Hopefully Toyota fix the problems. I think i’ll buy a Kia or a Chevy as my next car.

Credit Girl April 15, 2010 at 9:30 am

Honestly, I’d probably wait a couple of years before I buy a Toyota. I mean the ones that I’ve had don’t have many problems and are generally still pretty reliable compared to other cars but with all these recalls, I’d feel very unsafe driving a Toyota.

Sarah T April 16, 2010 at 10:54 am

I currently own a 2009 Corolla that I bought new back in 2008. I’m the most disappointed with not the recalls itself, but the time it’s taking Toyota to recall my car. I just got a recall warning notice last week in the mail saying to expect my car to be recalled soon over the floor mat accelerator issue. This is the 3rd recall on the car. As I’m getting close to the parts warranty, I’m seriously considering getting a new ‘used’ car within the next year with someone other than Toyota. Hopefully years down the road they’ll regain my confidence, but I won’t buy one now.

I’ll probably look at Suburu, Honda, Nissan or Mazda next time. I’ve owned 2 Nissans and those were very reliable till they were well worn out. Even with all the Toyota recalls, the 94 Ford Mercury Sable by far was the worse and unsafe car I ever owned (ie. shutting off its engine at stop lights) and I’m still hesitant to buy another Ford.

Silicon Valley Blogger April 16, 2010 at 11:22 am

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, so I would expect that any kind of negative coverage Toyota is receiving now must mean something is up and we need to be extra wary of them for a while. If any other car manufacturers are in this boat, I’d love to hear about it. Appreciate the feedback here (although I realize it’s all anecdotal).

SharonK April 16, 2010 at 4:01 pm

I continue to hear, from many sources, to “be smart” about the cars we buy, and not to let fear influence our decisions. I’m still trying to discern exactly what ‘being smart’ means. Please elaborate.

I’m asking because my husband and I are in the market for a new car and after completing a mountain of research, we’ve choosen a 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe. It satisfies our main criteria but I don’t want to miss any critical selection factors.

a) The Santa Fe has easy access and egress for me. I need a vehicle with elevated seats because I have mobility issues. A car is not feasible; seats are too low and I have great difficulty getting in and out.
b) The safety rating is good and the safety features meet our standards.
c) Mileage is acceptable.
d) Handling is easy.
e) Features meet our crtieria.
f) There’s room in the back for our dog.
g) JDPower rates it well. Our neighbour has one and likes it because theirs has had no maintenance issues. Consumer Report just rated it as its #1 mid-size SUV.

The one drawback is that the visibility out the back is a bit difficult but it also is on our 6-year-old GMC Rendezvous.

Oh, and we can finance it, if we choose, at 0% interest over 60 months. (Ontario, Canada).

These are my opinions, only. I have no connection with the company.

I welcome any feedback. Are we missing important information?

ConsumerMiser April 16, 2010 at 10:47 pm

I agree with Silicon Valley Blogger’s comment that where there is smoke there is fire, we need to be extra cautious. Toyota should be embarrassed for not addressing this problem sooner and being more proactive. I understand they did NOT have the financial incentive to do so even when lives were/are at stake, but its time for some company to act in the best interest of their customers and not themselves (I know this is idealistic and maybe unreasonable to expect, but I do believe it is possible). It’s a good thing that we have regulations, standards and reports like Consumer Reports to keep companies honest. We as consumers need to show that this is unacceptable. Toyota and other car companies need to feel it in the bottom line, but they should be informed that the main reason for shifting our hard earned money to other companies is not due just to the problems with their cars, but with how they addressed the problems with their cars and how they insulted us by not valuing our lives enough to communicate to us promptly and with transparency.

Kelvin April 17, 2010 at 5:24 am

I am an owner of a GX 460. I am totally disgusted by Government motors secretive plot to sabotage the reputation of Japanese automakers. They obviously started from the top and chose the top manufacturer, Toyota. This is of course my humble opinion, however, I feel that the timing and coincidence of the top three Detroit losers that almost all needed bailouts because they made inferior products out of greed by lazy union workers and now currently OWNED by the government is obviously behind ALL of this.

They tried their hardest to roll it over and could not and labeled it unsafe? This is such a joke. If anything, I have MORE faith in the car’s abilities than before and I’m sure after the FIX it will be even better. Domestic cars could not hold a candle next to a Lexus, a car made with pride and meticulous care in a culture that values hard work and prides itself in the quality and craftsmanship of its products, whatever their nationality or skin color is.

30 years of a impeccable history of reliability and quality will not be so easily tarnished in my mind. The fact that so many people are so gullible and easily influenced is saddening. They might have made a few mistakes but the fact remains, they are STILL far more reliable and built far superior to most domestics.

I think Toyota will come out of this even better than before and this will benefit the loyal owners out here. They will be an even stronger ,superior company after they weather this storm of B.S.

Silicon Valley Blogger April 17, 2010 at 8:26 am

I can imagine just how hard this development has been on Toyota owners and loyal supporters of this brand. But can’t take stock in these conspiracy theories given that Toyota itself will be recalling Toyota Siennas. They’re doing this on their own accord, thus taking accountability.

Also I doubt very much that the government is in cahoots with the private organization behind Consumer Reports with the express aim to bring down Japanese car manufacturers. Especially since a lot of models made by “import” manufacturers are actually made in American factories. I’ve seen a list of import models that are “made in America” (includes a number of Toyota models), but it’s unverified.

Funny about Money April 18, 2010 at 6:26 am

I’m pretty disappointed myself. The whole point in buying a Toyota is to get a safer, more reliable car than what you get with Detroit iron. My ten-year-old Sienna–which was my third Toyota–is among those in the latest recall. I don’t feel much concern because we don’t have ice and salt on the roads and so the cable in question probably is free of rust…but still…

It’s annoying. It’s alarming. Years ago Toyota allowed its service to turn into American-style service, and so I’ve used an independent mechanic forever. But now they’ve turned the product into American-style junk, too. If you can’t buy a decent car from foreign manufacturers known for building a superior product, you might as well pay less and drive a U.S. car engineered to fall apart in short order. {sigh}

I very much doubt that I’ll buy another Toyota. Next car may have four legs and hooves…

EUGENE April 19, 2010 at 4:06 pm

CR compares the GX460 to a 4runner which is actually 3 inches shorter. Are they kidding? In the video the GX460 does NOT rollover and ESC does kick in and prevents a rollover. Even a sports car will flip if it “hits a curb” at that speed. It’s actually impressive that a vehicle that high is able to just drift without even tipping. That is one SAFE SUV.

I have a 2007 Lexus ES350 that was recalled for a problem I never had. I never even had ONE little problem with that Lexus ever, while my previous brand new BMW 330 had all kinds of problems from DAY ONE. From all sorts of electronic sensor problems, to tires, to seat-belt chime that wouldn’t stop. And what a bummer a bimmer is when you get in your car after work to go home and your damn new BMW doesn’t even start.

The recall numbers are large because Toyota sells so many cars. Overall Toyota/Lexus are far more reliable cars compare to any other domestic or foreign brands out there. I will buy another Lexus soon.

Silicon Valley Blogger April 19, 2010 at 4:48 pm

It wasn’t going to be long before the Lexus GX 460 would be recalled as well. Here’s the latest on this. Can’t imagine how big a pain in the arse this is for Toyota owners.

Ajay April 22, 2010 at 7:16 am

Problems with engine sludge, recalled 1 Million cars world wide for a steering shaft problem including the Prius.

Chuck April 25, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Toyota is over as we know it.

Brain @ Toyota Prius June 25, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I’ll drive any flip-a-dee-doo-da vehicle that Toyota makes and risk my life before I’m caught driving a Prius, those are for the douchebags who think they’re saving the world.

Ryan October 26, 2010 at 6:47 pm

i hate Toyotas anyway.

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