Friday, February 5, 2010

Me and my Toyota Camry, Part II

Here’s the problem straight away: When I come up to a stop sign or stop light, there are times when my car lurches forward as if to say, “I’m in charge, woman, and I say GO.” That’s a little worrying.

There have been a couple times when I think I may be meeting the person in the car in front of me, but I have never had the car accelerate so much that I thought I might shortly be meeting my Savior.

Not that I would mind meeting him, his being what he is to me. I’m just sort of feeling really young these days, you know? Like I plan to meet him sometime after I turn 96, but that’s another post.

Back to my car. That whole floor mat thing? I don’t get that for my car. My floor mat is properly anchored down by the little clip that Toyota provided when they made the car. Like a little birthmark, it sits in the bottom of my side of the car and I only think about it when I want to remove the mat to run my sweeper over it.

Yes, I do that, don’t you? I smack it around to remove big stuff, but then I bring out my inside vacuum cleaner and do it up right. That’s when that little plastic thingy does its job so well it is easily the more irritating piece of plastic in the entire car because it won’t loosen up and let me budge the car mat. I wrestle and tug and pull until the floor mat breaks free and I land on my rear end in the driveway.

Folks, my point is this: My floor mat doesn’t move around. I am also very odd about floor mats and I look at mine before I get in my car. That habit is even more ingrained these days because obviously I don’t want my floor mat to kill me.

What’s more is that my accelerator pedal and my floor mat are inches apart. So anyway, all that to say that ain’t it for my car.

Deep down in my Toyota-owning heart, I believe this is electronic- or software-related. Like a good girl, I took my car to the dealership that treats me politely. I did that last Monday. I knew what they'd say and I was correct:

“Hi, your car is ready. We really couldn’t duplicate what you were talking about, so your car is fine.”

What’s amazing about that statement is that they added the “your car is fine” when my car is SO totally not fine. Now and then I mash down on the brakes when I stop. If it gets worse, I will take it back and if it really comes down to it, I suppose the dealership will get sick of me sitting in their showroom.

Here’s what I don’t like about how this is being handled:

1. Toyota is being incredibly stupid about this. They are creating their own public relations hell. They are already handling this in such a way that all the PR professors in all the colleges and universities around the world have now quickly slipped this into their list of powerful case studies so students learn how NOT to fix a problem.

2. Toyota seems to be shifty, stonewalling and maybe lying about things. When this many people have a problem, it doesn’t make sense to stand and defend your product’s safety. Who believes you if you are being so shify? I’ll leave it to that. Personal opinion here.

3. Why in the world would Toyota have taken my car and tried to duplicate something that is an anomaly in the routine use of the car and then go one step further and pronounce my car to be healthy? I take that as a symptom of an overall problem with Toyota on an international level: I suspect employees are being told everything is fine. That is to say I suspect the employees aren’t getting the truth, either. Could be wrong. Personal opinion.

4. I still owe roughly $15,000 on a car that may not be safe in the years to come if the problem becomes persistent. Also, I will likely never be able to sell my car. Ever. What about that legendary Toyota resale value even for old cars? So in 12 years when I sell this car, if it hasn’t wrecked with me in it, who’s gonna give me the $3,000 that I should be able to get for it?

5. I have been loyal to Toyota and while there are always other cars to buy, who’s to say that all this cost-cutting in the pursuit of higher profit isn’t going to hit the fan for other car makers 2 years after I buy one of those cars?

That's my take on the Toyota situation as a Toyota owner. I love my hybrid, I really do. No one has paid me to say any of this or, for that matter, paid me not to say any of it either. If anyone did approach me to offer me money for my opinion, I'd have to charge oh, let's say...about $15,000.

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