Toyota has lived up to a 2010 promise on quality by recalling almost three million cars with cooling and steering problems.
The recall is seen as part of the company’s commitment to quality control championed by Toyota’s top man, Akio Toyoda, at a U.S. Congress appearance in early 2010. During an inquiry into the company’s
unintended-acceleration recall, Toyoda promised that the company would place the highest priority on quality.
While the current recall may deliver a financial and public relations hit, analysts are suggesting the move will create an environment of goodwill for the Japanese car manufacturer in the long term.
Last month Toyota recalled almost 7.5 million cars around the world after identifying the possibility that switches in their power-windows could automatically combust if the wrong lubrication was used.
Water and Wheels
The steering recall, made on Wednesday November 14th 2012, involves a problem with intermediate shafts made by for Toyota by fellow Japanese company Jtekt. The shafts were not built robustly enough. As a result, ridges can form creating noisy steering and, in the most extreme cases, locking to the left or right.
The water pump recall was made on the same day. Electric pumps drive water around the Prius to cool the hybrid system and batteries. If the water pump fails, the Prius’ ‘check engine’ system initiates to avoid overheating and the powertrain can shut down, causing the car to stall.
There has yet to be a report of any sort of accident, incident or emergency created by either flaw.
Suggestions are abound that problems are due to ‘quality fade’ which pre-dated Toyoda’s Congress appearance. Quality fade is when, after the first build, in order to retain margins, manufacturers reduce quality control and inferior parts make their way into the market.
Toyota has recalled nine models, including the Toyota Corolla and Camry, though most of the recalls affect Prius hybrids built between August 2003 and March 2009. Toyota spokesperson Brian Lyons has confirmed that the Prius built before or after that period are not affected.