Beliefnet
Rod Dreher

Things just keep getting worse for Toyota. Now there’s a problem with the brakes on some Priuses. Do you drive a Toyota affected by the recall? If so, how are you dealing with it? It seems to me that the chances of your Toyota falling victim to a bad brake pedal is vanishingly small … but still, if I drove one of the affected models, I’d feel pretty skittish these days. Especially if my wife drove the kids around in one.
What are the lessons for Toyota here? I heard a radio report the other day saying Toyota may turn out to be a victim of its own success, in that demand for its cars caused the company to outsource its parts business to other countries to remain competitive. When its parts were coming from Japanese manufacturers (the theory goes), it was easier to Toyota to maintain quality control.
Toyota has got to know that the black eye it’s receiving in all this won’t soon go away. As I’ve written before, I first started paying attention to cars as a teenager circa 1979. American cars were awful then — and Japanese cars, by comparison, gained their reputation for awesome reliability. I’ve driven nothing but Japanese cars since I was old enough to buy my own (with the brief exception of a used Mercedes, which I loved, but which turned out to be something of a clunker), and I’ve been very satisfied. My wife drives a Ford minivan, which has not been without its problems. I’ve noticed that every time something goes wrong on that thing, I’m emotionally back to 1979, and feeling like a chump for trusting the American auto industry. It’s almost certainly irrational, but my emotional impressions of cars were formed during the Detroit pits, and it’s hard to overcome those feelings — and they certainly affect buying decisions. As Toyota will no doubt discover in the years to come.

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