Manufacturing Quality Control: Toyota Recalls 242,000 Vehicles

If you bought a car four years ago and suddenly got a notice that it was being recalled because of a manufacturing defect, how would you feel? Unfortunately for about 242,000 owners of Toyota Prius and Lexus HS 250h hybrid vehicles manufactured in 2009, they’re about to find out.

Toyota Motor Corporation recently announced a recall of the vehicles due to a brake design flaw which might increase the likelihood that the vehicles in question would require a longer distance to stop. According to company spokesman Shino Yamada, the piece of equipment with the design flaw is a brake pressure accumulator, which could crack and cause nitrogen gas to mix with brake fluid, thus causing the brakes to be less responsive. Toyota announced it will replace that part on the vehicles recalled.

Luckily for the company, no accidents related to the defect had been reported. But the recall itself, combined with a similar 2010 recall of 433,000 vehicles, raises the question of whether the car manufacturing juggernaut has proper manufacturing quality control in place.

Purchasing a car is a major decision for most consumers, and news of repeated product recalls is not something one would expect would help drive future sales. We want our cars to be reliable, but more importantly, we want our cars to be safe. Companies that develop a reputation for recalling their vehicles will likely see their sales dip.

Rather than discovering potential problems after products go to market, implementing proper manufacturing quality control standards and procedures ensures that problems are spotted sooner than later. It also saves companies from bad publicity while protecting them from potential litigation which could result from a situation where someone is injured because of negligence. Companies should aim to put their best efforts out into the market, not only to save themselves from potential disastrous situations, but also to save money in the long haul by doing everything right the first time.

It’s likely that at least some fraction of those who got their cars recalled won’t be looking at a Toyota when they need to buy their next car. By having strong manufacturing quality control processes in place, that might not be the case.

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