Toyota recall no reason to panic

The recently announced power window glitch puts the automaker in good company with Honda, Ford and GM.

By Jason Notte Oct 10, 2012 3:57PM

Toyota (TM) has recalled 7.4 million vehicles for a power window glitch that could be a fire hazard, but there's a big difference between a recall and The Biggest Catastrophe In The Automotive World Ever.

On Wednesday, the automaker said that certain models in its Camry, Corolla, RAV4 and Matrix series have a power window switch on the driver's side that may feel sticky during use. The company blames an uneven application of grease for the problem and says the issue could result in a fire in some cases, but that it hasn't caused any accidents or deaths.

It's a big recall, to be sure, but it's far less than the 8 million to 11 million vehicles recalled by Toyota in 2009 and 2010 that forced the company to halt sales of eight models and cost it precious ground in the U.S. market. The troublesome floor mats and sticky accelerators were a far more immediate threat to drivers than lube-deprived power window switches, but will the American public or its automotive press ever be able to distinguish between the two and save its "We're all gonna die!" outrage for the most dire situations?

The reaction to the latest recall implies we're not quite there yet. Some outlets went with the narrative that Toyota's latest recall was the world's largest in 16 years, though even Toyota's front office could tell them it wasn't even the company's biggest in the last half decade.

Meanwhile, Honda (HMC) caught earlier this month a similar driver-side power window problem that forced it to recall nearly 500,000 CR-V crossover vehicles, another fire issue that affected 573,000 Accords and Acura TLs and a headlight issue on 820,000 Civics and Pilots. That's no small matter for the auto company that led the market in recalls last year, but Wall Street Journal blogger Joseph B. White implied that the Toyota and Honda recalls put a dent in each company's reliability, diminished their vehicles' value and made them more vulnerable U.S.-based competitors.

As another well-known Joey -- "Blossom" star Joey Lawrence -- once said, whoa.

First off, recalls happen. Manufacturing flaws occur at every major automaker and cars are brought back in for repairs made free of charge. To call them a detriment to a vehicle's reliability represents a fundamental misunderstanding of reliability. If a vehicle doesn't force its owner to keep it in the shop for day-long stints or to pay out for costly repairs, that's a reliable car.

Secondly, though Toyota's 2009 and 2010 recalls showed what factory flaws and lost sales can do to a company's bottom line, it wasn't alone in recalling cars this year. For example, back in August, the National Highway Transit Safety Administration reported that General Motors (GM) had to recall Chevrolet Impala police cruisers from 2008 through 2012 because parts of the suspension could fracture, which can cause a driver to lose control of a vehicle and crash. Will that put GM's government fleet sales in the tank?

Los Angeles, Calif., traffic on Interstate 405 -- VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm/Digital Vision/Getty ImagesAlso in August, GM also had to recall the 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT and GMC Envoy XL and 2006-2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, SAAB 9-7x, and Isuzu Ascender vehicles because a fluid leak could cause a fire hazard similar to that in the Toyota and Honda recalls. Is GM's U.S. market lead in danger? Also in August, Ford (F) had to recall 2011 and 2012 Transit Connect vans because their wiper arms could break off and leave drivers defenseless against the rain. Are they now out of the running for florists' vehicles of choice?

Absolutely not, and the American car buyer is increasingly aware of it. Despite the recalls in recent years, Toyota and Honda sales are up 32% and 24% year to date, compared to 3% and 5% growth for GM and Ford, respectively. Last month, Toyota's 14.5% market share came within a whisper of Ford's 14.7%. Combined, Toyota and Honda make four of the top 10 best-selling cars in the U.S., matching Ford and GM's totals, and six of the top 15.

Recalls are inconvenient and troublesome, but in the U.S. they're slowly becoming a reasonable expectation rather than a reason to run to the hills.

Tags: FgmHMCTM
Oct 10, 2012 4:45PM
I have one of these cars - already had to deal with the gas pedal recall.  This was my 3rd Toyota purchase but now we are looking for a new car, and I think it will be a Honda.  I do not have an issue with the recalls - often times things are overlooked.  What concerns me is that in both cases, Toyota tried to say that there wasn't a need for recall and that it wasn't a serious issue.  When people are looking for a new car, they can deal with a manufacturer that has had to recall cars - even on the level as this recall - as long as the company is up front and concerned about the customers.  By trying to say that there wasn't a need for recall or that it wasn't a serious issue, what they are saying is that they don't think their customers merit being told there may be a problem with their cars.  THAT is something I take issue with.
Oct 10, 2012 5:17PM

I wish Toyota would handle their sudden acceleration issue first.

Our 2009 Lexus ES350 went through an event on August 6th of 2012

only to hear, someone must have had their feet on both pedals.  REALLY"???


Toyota will never admit they have an issue until hundreds more die.



Oct 10, 2012 6:21PM
toyota has had more recalls on their great cars than anybody.and you tell people not to worry about it,if it was ford or gm you would be calling them should move to japan.
Oct 10, 2012 7:58PM
"O What A Feeling Another Broken Toyota"
Oct 11, 2012 2:56AM
My husband has a camry and I have a Honda, both great cars with no issues. All of you people that are bashing others for buying foreign, why don't you look at the labels on your clothes, appliances and household products and tell me they're all American made?! I will never understand the anger and hatred people display.
Oct 10, 2012 9:41PM
Toyota.......Moving forward because our gas pedals stick and our brakes dont work.......OH WHAT A FEELING!  LMAO.
Oct 10, 2012 5:05PM

Toyota has major quality issues. DONT BUY ONE.

Oct 10, 2012 5:02PM
Buy American !!!! Even though last time I said this many disapproved, I guess you cannot be patriotic in your own country. Pay more and get less, that is what you get.
Oct 11, 2012 12:34AM
What bothers me is it seems people are being "loyal" to foreign manufacturers even when they are in crisis. American cars did have their problems.... but that has been fixed and they are consistently selling better and being rated better than their japanese counterparts. It is time to give America the benefit of the doubt and switch your loyalty to where you live. AMERICA
Oct 11, 2012 11:59AM
Toyota Rocks below is obviously either delusional or a Toyota employee in some way.
All that i can say is good for you poor suckers that bought that Jap crap to start with. Kill our economy a liitle more you morons...The same year Obama bailed out GM ,Toyota reported a PROFIT close to the same amount,,,Not because they are bnuilt here.Because the Profits don't stay here.. So get your **** burned when the window/door starts to fire up,,and oooops let us not forget the gas pedel problems
Oct 11, 2012 11:58AM
What an inane headline and article ... of course it's a reason to panic and without question yet another big reason not to buy Toyota's. They have had ten of millions of cars recalled now globally over the last several years. Come on people ... the cars can catch on fire. They say they have high quality and safety. What a joke! No reputation now.  
Oct 10, 2012 11:16PM

I recently replaced a Toyota T100 4x4 SR5 ExtraCab that I bought new in June 1998, and put over 310,000 miles on. The most serious mechanical problems I had included a power steering unit that had to be replaced, a HVAC switch that was loose, and a broken driver's side electric window switch. I could be mistaken, but I don't beleive a Ford, GM, or Dodge truck would have done as well.


I would like to buy American, of course, but the plain truth is that at this time, Toyota trucks are superior to American trucks. My family is in no financial position to "buy American" when that would mean spending more money on truck maintenance and replacing it sooner due to major mechanical issues like engine or transmission problems.


If someone who has ACTUALLY OWNED an American truck and has had as good luck with it's reliability as I  had with my Toyota, I would like to hear about it.


And yes, I bought another Toyota truck.



Oct 11, 2012 12:07PM
The cold hard facts for Toyota is that they have had FAR MORE (multi-millions more) quality and safety recalls than any other manufacturer here in the US including GM and Ford. Their cars resale values are now definitely below other manufacturers including Camry vs. say Fusion. They are now not a high quality manufacturer. FACT. They have always been kind of boring cars stylistically but people bought them for quality and resale. If you are buying a new car now and you are actually concerned about quality and safety, given all of the quality car options out there, I don't know how any serious car buyer could possibly consider a Toyota. Not now ...
Oct 10, 2012 7:56PM
Toyota is the best car is the world, and very car manufacturer in the world knows it. It was proven by NASA the acceleration problems people were having with their vehicles was due to stacking all weather mats on top of their regular mats and not giving enough ground to petal clearance. I am American and love my country but sadly American made cars are horrible. Fords, consistently break down and stop running. While Chevy's hold no retail value what so ever, and most basic level Chevy's do not even come with ABS braking. So get your fact straight.
Oct 10, 2012 9:50PM

If this was an American maker all you would hear is typical American garbage.  Its Japanese so all you hear i oh dont worry its just them being proative and taking care of their customers.


If you buy and drive Japanese you should be tried and hung for treason against the USA.  Just remember when your taxes go up its because you buy foreign and the government isnt getting enough tax revenue on corporate profits.

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