Opinion: Toyota Losin' for a Reason

The notion that Toyota's damaged reputation is simply the result of growing “too big too fast” must have come from the Recall King's marketing department. Defective products - in and of themselves - cannot possibly account for the barrage of government fines, criminal charges, lawsuits, and investigations.

After the engine blew apart in my MR2 Spyder, I discovered that the same thing had been goin’ on with other Spyder owners. Two major car clubs - one in America and one in Europe - had been screamin’ bloody murder about the issue for years. Horror stories from Spyder owners were posted all over the Internet. I was shocked. How can an automaker simply refuse to address such a situation? I had a lot to learn about Toyota.

Producing a defective product is one thing. Stonewalling about it is something else. After Toyota and their dealerships refused to refund my money - $8,500 for a new engine and exhaust system - I posted my story on the Center for Auto Safety website and was soon contacted by someone who was suing Toyota because of an oil-sludged engine. She told me about an online petition signed by thousands of customers complaining of continuing problems with oil sludge. I contacted the person who originated the petition - longtime consumer advocate Charlene Blake - and got an earful regarding Toyota. The company settled a class action lawsuit regarding oil sludge, but thousands of customers - the list continues to grow - still feel cheated, maintaining that Toyota is not complying with the terms of the settlement.

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