Matt Greenop on motoring

Matt Greenop is editor of Driven magazine

Matt Greenop: Toyota recall - don't panic

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Toyota Yaris models produced between 2005 and 2010 are being recalled for a problem with their seat rails. Photo / Supplied
Toyota Yaris models produced between 2005 and 2010 are being recalled for a problem with their seat rails. Photo / Supplied

Toyota is conducting a massive recall in New Zealand that covers more than 40,000 cars, more than a quarter of the number of new cars sold in this country each year.

But despite the enormity of the recall, it is not a serious as some car owners may think.
Car companies, like any manufacturer, adopt a 'better safe than sorry' approach. If a vehicle is recalled, it doesn't mean that the potential fault applies to every single vehicle - in reality it's usually a minuscule percentage.

As New Zealand's largest car company and producer of some of the vehicles we see most on our roads, Toyota takes its position extremely seriously.

Keeping customers safe - and happy - is more important than anything for car companies.

Consumer laws means that companies are required to recall products that may or may not be faulty when a potentially isolated problem is found.

Toyota New Zealand's customer service manager Spencer Morris told me earlier today that they're not even looking for faults, instead it's replacing all the parts in question on all the vehicles because there is something better available.

The company isn't obligated to do this by law, but feels obligated to do the right thing by its customers.

Modern cars have huge numbers of sensors, safety systems that need to work flawlessly in a split second and computers that control how fast each wheel spins to keep maximum traction.

As multiple models get built on the same platforms, parts sharing can complicate things even further. Huge testing regimes are in place, but with the millions of components, things can potentially slip through the net.

Every single one of these vehicle systems need to be running perfectly - and there are even times that car owners themselves are to blame.

Your home PC won't work well for long without correct maintenance, and that's the same with cars. Many don't ever get washed, let alone serviced properly - and that's generally asking for trouble.

Some companies have taken the 'fingers crossed' approach when they've found faults and, as GM's new president Mary Barra found out recently, coming clean is even harder. When it's discovered that people have actually died as a result of these faults, forgiveness won't be forthcoming, although monumental lawsuits certainly will.

- NZ Herald

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