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Made by Monkeys

Toyota’s Catastrophe of Cool Features

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Dave Palmer
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Platinum
Great story
Dave Palmer   8/9/2013 7:30:06 PM
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Wayne, that's a great fix.  A weakness that many engineers are subject to is that we can easily get carried away by "cool features" that are not so "cool" to anyone but ourselves.   That being said, it seems strange that nobody at Toyota would have caught on to the fact that wires can fail by fatigue.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: Great story
Rob Spiegel   8/9/2013 8:05:36 PM
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I agree, Dave. Back then, I thought Toyota was known for quality circles that should have caught something like this. It would be interesting to know if this design was repeated on subsequent models.

Wayne Eleazer
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Gold
Re: Great story
Wayne Eleazer   8/10/2013 3:55:01 PM
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Yes, I found the experience with the Corona to be atypical of Toyota. In the same timeframe that I was working on the Corona I was also dealing with my new 1978 Celica. I found the Celica to be very well designed both in terms of reliability and maintenance; in fact, I still own it. Soon after I bought the car I was working under the dash to install a cassette tape deck. I was puzzled to see that one connector was wrapped with foam rubber. Then I realized that if the foam had not been there the connector likely would have knocked against something and made some noise while driving. I realized then that the people who built the car been both clever and concerned about even minor issues. Another clever, cool, but problematic feature on my Mom’s Corona was the annunciator panel built into the roof just to the right of the driver. It flashed a “master caution light” (as NASA would describe it) if any measurement went out of whack, and one of these was, believe it or not, the electrolyte level in the battery! Now, for some unaccountable reason sensor wires do not like being immersed in sulfuric acid. When that wire wore down, as it did in a very few years, simply accelerating away from a stop was enough to cause slosh of the battery acid and unporting of the wire. In response, the Master Caution warning light started flashing, telling you to eject or abort the lunar landing, or whatever. We finally just tied that wire to the positive terminal of the battery. Wayne

Battar
User Rank
Platinum
1995
Battar   8/12/2013 8:44:44 AM
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Wayne,

           You do realize, I suppose, that a 1976 Toyota was not designed to last or be useful beyond 1995?  If Toyota designed the car to last another 10 years, you couldn't afford it. If you want a vehicle to last for 37 years, call EMD and ask them about their diesel locomotives.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Great story
OLD_CURMUDGEON   8/12/2013 8:52:48 AM
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Wayne, etal: I'm VERY releived to hear all those wonderful stories about your CORONA & CELICA.  I had a 1976 CELICA fastback, the one that looked like a baby MUSTANG.  At any rate, it was a disaster.  It was a 4-speed manual w/ the 20R engine, and never got good gas mileage.  Had a lot of mechanical problems w/ it, and even though it was garage-kept, the weld lip that served to tie the roof structure to the rear side panels & serve as a mounting flange for the rubber gasket of the rear hatch lid, completely rusted out after two years.  I used some GE silicone seal to fasten it in place when I traded it in for my 1980 DATSUN......  I also had a good friend whose wife had a 1974 CELICA sedan..... engine blew w/ less than 50K miles.  We replaced it w/ a used engine from the junkers.  I swore I'd never buy another TOYOTA, and didn't for several decades, but now have gone through 3 CAMRYs...... TOYOTA sure has changed for the better in the past 40 years, no doubt about that.  I'd buy another CAMRY in a heartbeat.  My only caveat is that they're embedding TOO MUCH "intelligence" into them....... I want to be in control, NOT some darn microprocessor!

ADIOS!

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: 1995
tekochip   8/12/2013 10:26:11 AM
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Or a Cessna 172M, still in the air after forty plus years.

 

I have to agree, I don't think the monkeys were at work.

Herb_the_Engineer
User Rank
Iron
Re: 1995
Herb_the_Engineer   8/12/2013 11:13:31 AM
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Folks are right:  Toyota improved a lot over the years.  The 1985 Camry, my first Toyota, lasted 27 years.  It had only two major repairs:  the clutch failed at 98K mile and again at 100K miles.   I reluctantly parted with it when the little nuisance repairs (a switch here, a  knob there, the wiper motor, ...) became too much to deal with at 230K miles.  My 2007 Camry has been in more for its highly publicized floor mats than everything else combined.

Analog Bill
User Rank
Gold
"Cool" versus Function
Analog Bill   8/12/2013 1:14:31 PM
What gripes me most about many products is that common-sense and functionality seem to go out the window when the artsy-fartsy industrial designer gets his (or her) hands on a product. Just one example, how many times have you seen dark gray legends on a black panel ... especially on something like a DVD player that is normally used in a semi-darkened room?  What are these people smoking?  Do they ever imagine themselves as a user of the product they've made look so "cool"?

Dave Palmer
User Rank
Platinum
Re: "Cool" versus Function
Dave Palmer   8/12/2013 1:43:19 PM
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@Analog Bill: When engineers and industrial designers are able to work together effectively, you get products that look good and are functional.  The problems arise when industrial designers throw something over the fence and engineers are expected to "make it work"... or when engineers throw something over the fence and the designers are expected to "make it pretty." Usually, you will get neither.

Battar
User Rank
Platinum
Re: "Cool" versus Function
Battar   8/13/2013 1:33:10 AM
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Bill,

     "Cool" sells. It doesn't matter what the product looks like in your living room, what matters is what it looks like in the shop/showroom, because thats where you open your wallet. My company doesn't make money from designing easy-to-use products. We make money from selling products that (sometimes) clueless customers think are "cool". We can't always combine "cool" and "functional".  And no, we don't smoke.

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