Monday, November 15, 2010 04:44
When you find a story that makes you think, it’s not always the story that matters. In this case, a brief overview of the confluence of Toyota and Honda recalls spurs some serious manufacturing and OEM thoughts that affect anyone who buys a new car.
The article is titled “Honda Joins Toyota in Brake System Recall. 472K Cars Affected.” Read it for yourself. Its nothing special, describing a Honda recall of about a half-million cars and minivans, and how the same simple brake system part – a seal in the master cylinder being broken down by brake fluid – just caused a mill-five recall for Toyota.
There are questions and thinking left after flitting through this story. Honda says, “Certain types of brake fluid could affect the seal” – what does “affect” mean? What kind of fluid? If it wasn’t an approved brake fluid, then it would void parts warranties, and Honda (and Toyota) wouldn’t bother with a recall, which means this seal (probably part of the plunger in the master cylinder), is being destroyed by brake fluids that the manufacturer has recommended. Whoops.
Toyota and Honda are probably the best mass automakers, and their reputations have been earned. This said, parts in the brake master cylinder are not supposed to be vulnerable to brake fluid. Who’s testing these parts? A seal, gasket or poly-based part should be of a specific material that’s been evaluated for its resistance to the chemicals it’s going to meet while at work.
A recall of almost two million vehicles means that cars were sent to the dealerships, and the consumer has taken the role of beta-tester for the manufacturers. Sure, it sounds like a singular piece that’s failing, and it could have been manufactured defectively, but two million of them? How do you like being a part of the experiment instead of buying a finished product?
I wasn’t aware that Toyota and Honda shared parts manufacturers to this extent (if the matching recall indicates this). Do American manufacturers do this? I know the Europeans do...
Recalls like this seem to be happening more and more, don’t they? Could be more media attention on the high-speed whiplash news cycle. See? More questions.