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Podcast 42: Toyota Recalls, Frugal Valentine’s Day

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Today we talk with Jeff Bartlett, Autos Deputy Editor at Consumer Reports about the recent Toyota recalls. For updated information on Toyota recalls, see Consumer Reports’ unintended acceleration guide.

Also in today’s episode, Flexo discusses money saving tips for Valentine’s Day.

Production Number: S02E16
Segment Numbers: 60, 57

To listen, use the player above (Adobe Flash required), download the podcast here, subscribe to the podcast RSS feed, or use the iTunes link. Note: open links in a new window (Ctrl-click or Command-click) to avoid interrupting the podcast.

[00:00] Introduction from Tom Dziubek
[00:34] Interview with Jeff Bartlett
[01:25] Two separate Toyota recalls
[02:45] Lexus, Ford and Pontiac recalls
[05:06] List of affected cars
[07:10] Urgency of fixing a sticky accelerator
[08:10] Shifting a car into neutral
[09:49] Brake system failures and software malfunctions
[13:25] Suspension of Consumer Reports recommendations
[16:27] How Consumer Reports will handle future Toyota ratings
[17:58] Toyota’s handling of the recalls
[21:01] Challenges facing Toyota dealerships in handling the recalls
[24:21] Interview with Flexo
[25:31] How people plan on spending money on Valentine’s Day
[26:42] Making your own greeting card
[29:39] Skipping the chocolate
[30:49] Avoiding gifts of sensual clothing
[32:18] Turning off the electrical appliances
[33:39] Skipping the gourmet dinner
[34:30] Spending time together
[36:14] End

We always welcome feedback from listeners. If you have any comments for this episode or for any other, or if you have suggestions for future episodes, please leave us comments here or email us at podcast at this domain name.

Updated May 7, 2014 and originally published February 7, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Mrpushrod

The Consumer Reports auto department is in desperate need of a major reorganization. You really cannot blame the auto testers who carry out the nitty gritty daily routine i.e. following dated procedures and survey methods. What do they know about odds/statistics and collecting data? Face the facts, there needs to be a top down change organizational change @ CR. The testing methodology, surveys, format and delivery of vehicle reviews is not only obsolete it is a breeding ground for bugs. The test methodology invites manipulation amongst CRs auto testers by allowing them to put final rating score on each vehicle without showing their work. It is the same process used when CR only tested vehicles from the big 3 in the old days. It is the same procedure that allows Jon Linkov (Consumer Reports) to lie on camera on ABC’s Good Morning. I QUOTE John: “the Lexus LS460L goes through avoidance maneuver very well (The LS460L posted the slowest speed in CRs avoidance maneuver in realty). It is the same archaic process that allowed the biased Consumer Reports to rate the Corolla “very good”. You know, the vehicle with the dangerous cruise ship handling that owners want Toyota to recall. And as far as the reliability surveys, how can an organization as large as Consumer Reports think they can obtain reliable survey data from a targeted (cult like) demographic like subscribers to a biased CR magazine. CR staffers do not even realize they are leading the witness. Let me give a couple of simple analogies that I have been posting for years now. I have many friends that like domestic vehicles and have had good luck with them. A lot of them do not subscribe to Consumer reports because they believe the magazine is strongly biased toward the other big three (Toyota, Nissan, Honda). As a matter of fact they badmouth CR every chance they can. If they filled out Consumer Reports reliability survey it would favor domestics, but they don’t. I personally subscribe to CR (30 years now) for auto information but as a car buff I gather auto information from every source I can. If I did fill out CRs auto survey it too would be favorable to domestics as I have had many great reliable domestic vehicles. I do fill out J. D. Powers’s surveys but pass on CR’s because I do not want to help CR brag about the number of surveys their cult members completed.

Another analogy: I use AOL.com for my home page. Whenever there is a political survey, data is always tainted pro republican. Furthermore, the political survey results on AOL never correlate with national random surveys. If you followed the AOL polls during the elections you would swear Obama was losing. Another example is: some people filter and listen to only what they want to hear and then repeat what they believe is true. They be the people that only watch FOX news or on the other hand CNN. I typically watch or listen to it all FOX, CNN, CNBC, NPR talk radio, etc. The Consumer Reports clan (employees and customers) like Honda’s, Toyota’s and Nissans and that is why their data (survey results) is tainted or pushed into that arena. Vehicles such as the Cadillac CTS fair a lot better in fair (random) surveys. Survey data that CR collects is not useless it is just very biased (When compared to fair reputable random surveys) just like CR’s vehicle test results are biased. This keeps the church standing. CR caters to their audience to sell more magazines.

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avatar Mrpushrod

Should Consumer Reports customers been turned off had they read CRs review on the Corolla. On the contrary, CR states the following about the Corolla: Overall Rating 72=Very Good, CR’s owner (cult) satisfaction=74=Very Good The review states: “Corolla is a good small sedan” “Handling is sound and secure” “pleasant and refined Corolla” “Corolla is one of the best riding small cars” “The steering is a bit light and rather vague on center” “Corolla was secure at its handling limits thanks to its optional ESC, but it posted just a modest speed in our avoidance maneuver”
To say CR didn’t adequately describe the Corolla’s vague steering is a huge understatement. I have been after the biased Consumer Reports for years now for recommending (and top rating) the poorest handling vehicles on the road (Toyota/Lexus brand). Consumer Reports, a supposed authority on vehicle testing and reviews sold their customers down the River to play into the perception game. Selling magazines is job #1 @ CR. Who in their right minds would recommend a vehicle to a friend or family member that has really vague steering??? Just read some of the online complaints. The Corolla wanders and many drivers overcompensate (dangerously) when trying to correct. Furthermore, I personally drove both a 2009 Corolla and a 2010 Focus (CR vehicle rating only 65). The Focus was a fairly well composed vehicle with a good on center feel, adequate feedback and fine tracking abilities; Again, Consumer Reports has no business recommending vehicles like the Corolla to their customers even if it is the biased CR’s GEM Toyota brand. CR derives the overall vehicle test score out of thin air. The test plan allows and encourages data manipulation amongst the staffers because the data behind the final score is not shown (results and weight of each individual test). Was the Focus rated 9 points below the Corolla because it was noisy? CRs final test score in the Focus/Corolla comparison also suggest CR is not applying common sense in deriving the number. CR’s testers get away with manipulation because high level management at CR has been complacent for many years.. The testing, scoring and report format has not changed in and is hardly adequate. Toyota had to tell CR their vehicles were not safe before CR stopped recommending them. Toyota’s safety woes have been public knowledge for years now. I find CRs reporting of the Toyota’s woes a little arrogant? This is a magazine that ignored all of Toyota’s safety issues for years to comply with the perception of their customer base and now that the cat is out of the bag, they are citing Toyota for poor quality and mistakes. Is this what CRs forefathers had in mind? Why isn’t CR apologizing to their customer base for preposterous recommendations? Why isn’t somebody at a high level taking charge and reorganizing? In the end I hope CR suffers financially for the out of control, hap hazard, poor quality work being done by their auto department?
As far as the Prius goes, a newscaster on CNN was able to reproduce the brake issue over and over on her Prius on camera. All she had to do is apply the brakes while going over a bumpy road @ 35mph. CR should get her to ru

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avatar Mrpushrod

There is an American Company that cares less about the safety of their customers than Toyota (if you can believe that). Consumer Reports (a biased magazine) built their reputation and customer base by steering Americans away from domestic autos. For years now they have recommended Toyota’s regardless of performance and safety. They built almost a cult following customer base that blindly believed the big three (Toyota, Honda & Nissan) were the only manufacturer that produced safe reliable vehicles. Consumer Reports fed their cult following to sell more magazines. They trashed Ford, GM & Chrysler every opportunity and put Toyota on a pedestal. If you read CRs forums you would understand this is exactly what CR’s customer base (cult) wanted to hear. Consumer Reports has long ignored the safety of Toyota vehicles. For example: CR’s two highest scoring (score derived by auto testers) vehicles (Lexus LS460 & Toyota Avalon) actually posted the lowest scores on CR’s accident avoidance test. The LS460 actually obtained CRs highest test score @ 99 out of a 100 yet it is not capable of avoiding an accident. To add further insult to the domestics, CR’s reliability surveys were only sent to CRs customer base and not a random audience like reputable surveys such as J. D. Powers. CR’s survey leads the witness. Therefore CRs reliability survey data does not correlate with data taken from random surveys. Consumer Reports auto testers were well aware of Toyota’s safety issues for years now. They ignored the data and recommended every single Toyota product until days after Toyota issued the recall and stopped selling vehicles. CR is well aware of Toyota’s woes (Tundra is plagued with rotted brakelines, rotted frames, bad ball joints and failing camshaft, sticking gas pedals, poorly designed gas pedals, engine sludge issues dangerous engine hesitations, poor accident avoidance speeds, an electronic module that can cause unexplained acceleration, faulty brakes and much more). We should hold CR liable for the deaths since they recommended Toyota’s to their customers even though they knew about their safety issues for years now.

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