NASA Findings Could Salvage Toyota’s Reputation

Toyota dealership

Good news, Toyota fans: Your beloved carmaker is officially, mostly, off the hook.

After a 10-month study, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with the assistance of NASA engineers, has found nothing wrong with Toyota’s electronic throttle in connection with the cases of unintended acceleration.

This isn’t to say that the government has released Toyota of all fault. It did find issues with the already known, and repaired, mechanical problems: the sticky accelerator and the bulky floor mats.

Will that be enough proof to restore Toyota’s reputation?

The mechanical problems are what led to Toyota’s recall of 12 million vehicles since 2009, a two-year sales slump and untold damage to the carmaker’s previously squeaky-clean reputation for quality.

According to the New York Times:

[Transportation Secretary Ray] LaHood said NASA engineers ‘rigorously examined’ nine Toyotas driven by consumers who complained of unintended acceleration. NASA reviewed 280,000 lines of software code to look for flaws that could cause the acceleration. Investigators tested mechanical components in Toyotas that could lead to the problem and bombarded vehicles with electro-magnetic radiation to see whether it could make the electronics cause the cars to speed up.

Despite finding no trace of any electronic problems, LaHood and the NHTSA are still considering adding new safety features to all cars, including brake override systems and requiring event data recorders.

If that happens, I foresee an uptick in the used market.

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I’m in the market for a car again, I won’t be looking at one that has mandated event data recorders. Even brake override systems seem pretty pointless, especially now that rocket scientists couldn’t even find anything wrong with the current system. The added cost to new cars just might be enough to convince people to look to DealFinder instead of the showroom.

After all, we know that used cars, even Toyotas, are perfectly safe.

Will the Fed’s findings do anything to restore Toyota’s reputation?

-tgriffith

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1 Comment

  1. Not in the long run. As the Car Connection said today (http://www.thecarconnection.com/marty-blog/1055031_nhtsa-investigation-concludes-no-electronic-flaws-in-recalled-toyotas):

    “Toyota, however, will take the result as cold comfort: the damage to its reputation has been done. The mechanical issues with its pedals and floor mats, after all, remain as the root factor in what eventually became a record recall of over 12 million vehicles around the world and over 5 million here in the U.S. Toyota was eventually fined $48.8 million for its treatment of the recalls.”

    And the study examined something like nine cars out of millions of susceptible vehicles. It don’t make sense to me, man.

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