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Should you trade in your Toyota?

The company is taking a beating right now, but the recalled cars will likely regain value.

By Karen Datko Feb 4, 2010 7:59PM

Everyone we can think of who has had a Toyota loved that vehicle. We loved ours too -- a used four-cylinder 4Runner that took us places we’d never have gone without it, including a boulder-encrusted, switch-backing, cliff-hugging strip of dirt imitating a road in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. (Our knuckles were white.)


Years later, when we sold that rig to a DIY mechanic type, we cried as it drove away.


So, like many who’ve considered Toyota a more-than-dependable brand, we’re amazed at its sudden fall from grace -- massive recalls for gas pedals and dangerous floor mats, and now concerns about brakes in the 2010 Prius. And we wonder, if you own one of the millions of recalled Toyotas, should you trade it in and buy a different vehicle? Clearly, other automakers are willing to deal.


Here’s what the experts say:


Not so fast. Not only has all the bad Toyota news caused its stock to fall, but the value of the vehicles themselves has taken a beating -- losing 5% or more. “Right now would be the very worst time to make any kind of resale move,” Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor at told The New York Times Bucks blog. The Kelley Blue Book people agreed.


But what about the $1,000 incentive offered to Toyota owners by other dealerships, including Ford, GM and Hyundai? Still a bad idea, experts say. The value of your recalled and repaired Toyota will climb again. Getting rid of it now would be like selling low in the stock market.  “I would strongly caution anybody against responding to those incentives,” Reed said.


What to do in the meantime? Find out if your Toyota has been recalled, make an appointment to get the vehicle to the dealership for the fix, and also get documentation that the work was done. If you still want to get rid of it, wait three or four months and see if it has recovered its value.  

The New York Times has an excellent Q&A about Toyota recalls for floor mats and sticking accelerators, and also the Prius’ brake problems. Here’s our brief recap:


Dangerous floor mats. We didn’t really grasp how a floor mat could ensnare the accelerator until we watched this video at Consumer Reports. CR strongly urges that you remove these faulty mats immediately. Toyota will provide a replacement.

Sticking gas pedals. “A sticking accelerator, which is the subject of Toyota's latest recall, is something that comes on gradually over time,” Consumer Reports said. It may be harder to press or slower to return to its normal position. If the accelerator of your Toyota doesn’t seem right, get it to a dealer as soon as possible. And if your vehicle suddenly accelerates on its own, press firmly on the brakes, shift into neutral, and pull over to a safe place.

Meanwhile, keep reading the news. This story is still a moving target. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into whether brakes on the 2010 Prius stop working momentarily when the car travels over a bump or pothole. A news report from Japan says Toyota plans to recall 270,000 Prius hybrids.


Related reading:

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