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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration got a wee bit busier this year. As of December 14th, the agency reported that it had received over 64,000 complaints. Edmunds' calculations, which remove duplicates, pegs the figure at more than 40,000 complaints – thanks in no small part to the spate of massive recalls from Toyota.

In fact, NHTSA reports that it received 87 complaints for every 100,000 vehicles sold by Toyota in 2010, more than double the Japanese automaker's performance from the previous year and the highest percentage of any company selling cars in the United States.

Not that other automakers fared that much better. Nissan came in with the second highest ratio at 62 complaints per 100,000 vehicles and Volkswagen nabbed third place with 58. The industry average of 47 complaints per 100,000 vehicles was up from fewer than 30 in 2009. For what it's worth, Ford and Honda had the lowest ratios of complaints, and there was little difference between American and Japanese manufacturers.

These complaints are a good thing, says NHTSA, as the agency can then determine if a customer's problem is singular or part of a larger issue that affects multiple vehicles, possibly prompting an inspection or safety recall. So don't quit yer' complaining!

[Source: LA Times | Image: Alex Wong/Getty Images]


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  • 26 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think perception has a lot to do with this.

      Some people now think that their Toyota's have problems because the year of recalls has them questioning when they might not have before, while those jumping on the Ford bandwagon suddenly believe that they're the most reliable vehicles on the road due to Ford's import bashing marketing along with the fact that FoMoCo is now building solid vehicles for the first time in a long time.

      But yeah, how VW is not topping this list is a mystery to me.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Bingo!

        Add to that the fact that Big 3 dealers usually threaten to void the warranty on cars if they call the NHTSA (which means only a small fraction of owners dare call them) and it's no surprise.

        Toyota's spike was due to the 24/7 coverage of the unintended acceleration witch hunt (proven to be driver error by the NHTSA, Nasa, Toyota and 3rd party engineering firms) when all the news outlets were urging Toyota owners to call the NHTSA (with their phone number plastered on the screen) if they even THOUHT they had a problem with their Toyota.
        • 4 Years Ago
        FT, I've read some tall stories on this blog over the years, yours ranks in the top two.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @FT If true may I ask why you let it happen and didn't call the Better Business Bureau or blow the whistle in some other way? If you witnessed something that shady and didn't do anything then that makes you just as guilty as the dealers you supposedly worked with.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @FT
        "Add to that the fact that Big 3 dealers usually threaten to void the warranty on cars if they call the NHTSA (which means only a small fraction of owners dare call them) and it's no surprise."

        That is a pretty serious accusation. Care to back that up with some proof? If not let me just say that for every happy gay couple in the world Sarah Palin shoots a baby from a helicopter. Because its totally true and I don't need to give proof.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Amen. VW/Audi problems with their LCD screen on the instrument cluster is legendary and go back to early 100/200 cars in the 80's. VW/Audi upper control arm failures, as well as BMW fuel pumps on the x35 series twin turbos...

        But lousy consumer maintenance, low tire pressures, etc., shouldn't be cause for recalls. Idiots/cretins/morons who cannot tell a brake pedal from an accelerator pedal, ancient Old People who cannot see above the steering wheel much less drive a foot back from the steering wheel and who pose a clear and present danger to the driving public, chronic drunken drivers, and just plain incompetents are a much bigger danger.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good for Honda, and great for Ford!!!!

      Hondas are typically bulletproof and Fords quality has improved so much over the past couple of years. They both deserve that.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I haven't been back to the dealer once since I bought my 2008 Yaris...flawless car.
        davidricardo86
        • 4 Years Ago
        I was recently t-boned, driver's side door, and my side or curtain air bags did not deploy. I've checked the 2009 Toyota Yaris repair manual for the location of the airbag sensors and where i was hit, you would think it would have triggered the airbags. I will be in contact with my lawyer shortly to consult this issue.

        Other than this issue, my Toyota Yaris also performed flawlessly.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I work for the AA and we have the 2010 Ford Fiestas as our company vehicle. I have only been with them for 6 months and have gone through two vehicles already, the problems range from defective dials to the glove box just falling off when I open it! The current car's problem consist of the interior light not working no matter what i do, plastic trim around the steering wheel falling off when full locking, Airbag light coming on and reverse gear only selecting when IT wants! Unfortunately I cant get a replacement as many other workers have applied for a replacement before me! So it makes me laugh when people think Fords are better built then Toyotas!

      Anyone watched the North pole episode of TOPGEAR? Oh what did they drive again......oh right a TOYOTA LAND CRUISER, not a FORD EXPLORER as they would have just broke down and froze to death, if the car even started!

      Of course this is a witch hunt, I am in UK and no one even knows about this unintended crap! As the government here has no domestic car makers so they dont have to resort to these childish tactics of making up lies of opponents to discredit them! Funny how they boast that Toyota was at fault all over the press, THEN when its all out they do their RESEARCH to find it was HUMAN ERROR!

      God people need to use their own brains, it was so obvious even from when I read the first article about this!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Until Toyota's troubles, their customers were going to the dealers, many did not know they could call the NHTSA. Many times when owners went to the dealer, there was no satisfaction and were lead to believe their problem was isolated, and many paid for the fix themselves. The unintended acceleration problems brought light into the dark corners Toyota's operations, and their secretive way of dealing with customer problems. Their quality was a mirage, smoke and mirrors, now their customers know. If no one knows of your faults they naturally believe you to be an great person. Then someone digs up some bones and the bulldozers move in, Oh what a feeling.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The "floor mat entrapment" was due to people putting floor mats designed for different vehicles. NHTSA preliminary results thus far (as well as numerous other studies) are, by the vast majority, driver error. The preliminary findings in that original Lexus crash was that floormats from a different vehicle were placed in the loaner car and not hooked in either, therefore increasing the possibility of pedal entrapment. Later findings show possible electronic errors, however that hasn't been proven whereas the floormats were. How about you read some facts first.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually, the unintended acceleration issue just showed how the typical American won't take responsibility for something that is more likely than not their own fault and doesn't mind suing about it, either.

        The increase in complaints is most likely customers that think their car has a problem when their car actually doesn't have a problem. Mass hysteria is often fueled by "If someone with the same stuff has problems, then that means I have problems, too. If I can gain something out of this, then hell yeah I'm complaining".
        • 4 Years Ago
        @imsl,
        So all the people that are calling to complain about their Toyotas are nuts, now I've have heard it all. I suppose you believe the people that died in those death traps while Toyota lied, are just playing possum. Just keep driving your Toyota, or I should say, keep letting Toyota drive you.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Can anyone say "toyota is awful"?
      Honestly, I hope they fail
      • 4 Years Ago
      Can anyone say "mass hysteria"?
      • 4 Years Ago
      If anything about the Toyota saga, it made the general public aware of: the NHTSA

      No individual car company is getting a free pass with their vehicle issues now and that will translate into safer and more reliable cars for all.

      Keep on complaining!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Toyota must be relieved that 2010 is almost over.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well the Jeep engine should be better, but the transmission might be a different story!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow, Nissan BEAT Volkswagen for complaints ratio? Based on my experience with VW, remind me NEVER to buy a Nissan...
        • 4 Years Ago
        I thought that was odd as well.

        But given two of my coworkers experiences with their CVT in their Rogue and Maxima, I am not that surprised.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If you're still here after an accident like that, then the hit wasn't hard enough to trigger the airbags, that's all.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sounds reasonable. However, most people are not reasonable when it comes to stuff like this.
        FWIW, our 2K4.2A6 Audi was also T-boned driver's side when a Jeep ran a red light on a left hand turn--lots of damage but air bags didn't go off.

        AFAIK there is no way to test these suckers other than to blow them off...and that just says they MIGHT have worked.

        Next accident if any airbags go off the car is totalled...these explosive devices (and there are what, 8-10 of them on the car?) cost too much to replace.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @CoupeDeBill You'd be surprised how many people don't realize that the airbags aren't supposed to go off with just any accident. If you didn't break the bones in your face by smashing it into the steering wheel then the airbags most likely were correct in not going off. Airbags aren't soft and cuddly balloons, they're a high pressure explosive device that pack quite a punch, and totally screw up visibility because the discharge results in white smoke filling the cabin. Getting smacked in the face with an airbag is not something you want to occur in an accident unless it's absolutely necessary.
        Basically, if you didn't smash your head/chest into the steering wheel it means that the seatbelt was sufficient so the car did the right thing not firing the airbag.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Maybe, just maybe the airbag didn't work because it was defective. How do you know how hard this person was hit, good grief you Toyota people can be ...........oh forget it, Toyota can do no harm, Toyota's are wonderful, Toyota invented greatness, Toyota will save the planet.
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