After ‘sudden acceleration’ scandal, Toyota takes no chances

At one time or another, every auto company will experience either manufacturing problems or defective parts that require a product recall. Although recalls may be expensive and are often inconvenient for both car companies and car owners, a well-handled recall will not significantly damage a company’s reputation or diminish customer loyalty.

But when companies try to downplay problems or delay an auto recall, it can be a recipe for disaster. Americans learned this lesson from the Toyota “sudden acceleration” scandal a few years ago. The company is still facing the financial and legal consequences of waiting too long to recall dangerous and defective vehicles.

Perhaps in an attempt to show that it has learned from past mistakes, Toyota is seemingly taking no chances in response to complaints about more recent vehicle defects. The automaker has issued a global recall affecting nearly 2 million Prius hybrids with model years between 2010 and 2014.

The vehicles may suffer from a reported software glitch that could cause the car to generate heat and damage certain circuits. The defect may also cause some vehicles to shut down while being driven, which could result in a dangerous stall.

So far, the identified defect does not seem to have caused any crashes or injuries. But it is arguably far better for an automaker to issue a recall out of an abundance of caution than to wait and see what happens.

Toyota has long been associated with high quality and reliability. If it continues to be proactive in issuing recalls and responding to potential safety issues, the company may be able to win back even the most skeptical consumers.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Toyota recalls Prius hybrid over glitch that can cause stalling,” Jerry Hirsch, Feb. 12, 2014