News arrived today that Toyota are set to recall 6.4 million vehicles globally. This includes 35,124 UK vehicles, though reportedly Toyota originally had the figure at nearer 50,000 which Toyota say will be updated, (at the time of writing the page required on the official website was unavailable).
In the UK, this current recall affects the RAV4, Yaris and Urban Cruiser and addresses five separate issues; problems with the steering column bracket (760,000 vehicles worldwide), seat rails (2.3 million), airbags (3.5 million), windscreen wiper motors (160,000) and an engine starter mechanical issue involving the motor relay.
The engine starter issue may, in extreme circumstances, result in fire and Toyota has confirmed a number of fires that have already been related to this particular issue. The starter motor problem accounts for 20,000 vehicles worldwide.
Toyota is one of the biggest selling car manufacturers in the world and in 2013 came 5th in WhatCar’s Reliability Rating out of 38 – an impressive result (Honda and Suzuki were the top two incidentally).
In the top twenty car sales for the same year, the Toyota Yaris comes in at 14 while Toyota themselves sit at a healthy 9th out of 46 manufacturers based on SMMT figures which includes a placing for “other” manufacturers not in the top echelon and imports (to give a full perspective of the findings).
So clearly on the surface it would seem that Toyota have little to worry about on this front and it could be seen by many that recalling vehicles is a sign of responsible behaviour. Although in truth, recalls are actually governed by a code of practice overlooked by the Vehicle Safety Branch which is applicable to any vehicle that doesn’t comply with safety standards.
It might appear that Toyota seem to be issuing recalls more than any other manufacturer at first site – indeed it was only February this year that the car giant issued a recall for the third generation Prius over a software problem which in itself was mere weeks after US production was interrupted by a problem with faulty seat heaters.
Figures for vehicle recalls as a whole seem to hover around the 8,500 mark year on year with 868,605 recalls being submitted in 2013 over 843,000 in the previous year.
One reason for this is undoubtedly the ever-increasing sophistication of modern cars – put more technology into anything and it will inevitably increase the chances of failure (my all singing, all toasting Bosch toaster is proof of that) while in real terms, vehicle safety continues to improve year on year – your car is much safer now than it was twenty years ago.
The most recalled model of 2013 was not a Toyota though; it was the Honda Jazz with 171, 394 models recalled.
So who are the worst culprits for having to issue recalls then? Well Japanese brands take the dubious honours here with Toyota, Nissan and Honda between them recalling 514,000 cars in 2013. Surprisingly, the Nissan Micra – always proud of its boast that it hardly ever breaks down – came second with the aforementioned Honda Jazz taking the top spot.
In part, thanks to the Micra issue, Nissan were the manufacturer that suffered having the most recalls in 2013 with Honda coming second, followed by Toyota then Hyundai.
Though if we take a look at the top cars recalled it shows a slightly different picture:
Top of the list is, as we now know, the Honda Jazz while second is the Nissan Micra but third will come as a surprise – the BMW 3 Series. In fact, Toyota models don’t feature in the top ten at all, although the Toyota-owned Lexus RX 400h comes in at number 8. Interestingly, Subaru, Smart and Chevrolet issued no recalls at all in 2013.
So what should we make of all this then, are Toyota worse than everyone else? Well according to these figures, no – but they could do better. It remains a fact though that Toyota have now recalled over 25 million vehicles in less than 3 years.
Car manufacturers argue that recalls show a commitment to vehicle safety and should be seen in that positive light rather than any other way. Which is fair enough – as long as you don’t own any of the models currently being recalled.