Big Toyota Recall, While Corollas Conquer Afghanistan

August 27th, 2010

2007 Corolla

Toyota just issued a recall for 1.33 million Corollas, Matrix hatchbacks, and Pontiac Vibes of the 2005-2008 model years (2007 Corolla above). The problem is in an engine control module that can cause stalls or failure to start.

NHTSA has reported six crashes and no deaths, and is stepping up its investigations into Corollas. Some 1.13 million of these cars are in the U.S.; 200,000 are in Canada. Toyota’s total recall numbers: 12.3 million since November 2009; 10.5 million in the U.S.

So, it’s another day, another recall for the beleaguered TMC. The last one was in July for steering defects (453,000 cars) and, as we said then, it’s hard to be sympathetic when a company puts this many unsafe cars on the road and stonewalls investigations.

However, an intrepid Washington Post reporter wrote yesterday that Afghanistan, that “museum of old cars,” is gobbling up old Corollas—which make up 90 percent (!) of passenger vehicles in Kabul, the capital. And if that ain’t good PR news for Toyota, we don’t know what is.

Corolla in AfghanistanThey can’t sell many new Corollas there, apparently, because cheap used ones from Japan, Germany, Canada, and the U.S. keep flooding the country. Even cars with more than 200,000 miles on the odometer are selling and polluting the clear Afghan air. Ahmad Murid, a Kabul dealer,

was selling a 1990 model with a dingy interior and 292,213 kilometers on the dash for $4,000. How long could someone expect to drive the clunker?

“Ten years,” Murid suggested.

And after that?

“You can sell it back to me,” he said with a grin.

Murid’s own car, a red 1993 Corolla, was parked next to his sale inventory. If the price were right, he said, he would sell it on the spot.

Some 40 years ago, there were American Chevys, German Benzes, Russian Volgas—and Japanese Toyotas—in the country. After the Russian occupation, during which Volgas naturally predominated, Toyota’s famed quality asserted itself, their cars took over, and a “cottage industry” of mechanics emerged to keep them running.

It’s a lucrative business, supplying parts and repairs to the 500,000 cars registered in Kabul. We would assume that most of their owners won’t respond to any recall notices.

Are used Corollas in demand in the U.S.? Would you buy one?

—jgoods

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Used Toyota Corolla
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  1. August 29th, 2010 at 13:34 | #1

    Ah, this saddens me. I don’t understand why the Toyotas seem to be losing their quality edge. Not that the Corolla is the prettiest of cars, but as you can see, there are consumer groups which make great use of it. If only it weren’t for the repeated recalls.
    As for the recall notices, it all depends on the willingness of Toyota to actually reach their customers. I think the Afghani will have less time to chase around their dealers and sue them for their broken cars. But if Toyota offered to sponsor their repairs proactively, they would surely take advantage of it.

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