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Toyota’s Catastrophe of Cool Features

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Dave Palmer
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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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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

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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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!

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Blogger
Re: Great story
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   8/15/2013 10:24:49 AM
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I got my first Driver's License in 1976 and dreamed of this car.  Never did get one ,,,, But I loved your comment " ,,,,looked like a Baby Mustang"  So this one's for you:76 Celica

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Platinum
Re: Great story
OLD_CURMUDGEON   8/15/2013 11:03:15 AM
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JimT:  AS Bob Hope often ended his shows, "THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!"  Yes!, you hit the nail on the head.... that is a foto of my old CELICA, except mine was a burnt orange exterior paint w/ a saddle tan interior color.  In fact, it seemed that TOYOTA went through great pains to make the interior plastic the same color as the interior cloth (headliner, seat material, etc.), producing a very bland & boring result.  While this was NOT my first new vehicle, it was a huge disappointment after about the 2nd year of ownership.  The gasket I referred to in my previous post is the large gasket which surrounds the opening for that hatchback.  IF the accompanying foto is current, then it's a testament to the wonderful climate in Washington State.... that a vehicle can survive for almost 40 years & be in the condition that this one seems to be in......  Looks like all it needs is a good washing, some light rubbing compound & a BLUE CORRAL wax job, and it will be ready for the show circuit.....

ADIOS! 

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Great story
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   8/15/2013 11:26:23 AM
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Looks like this License plate reads '09, and the date of image I captured was 2010.  So, even as a 3-year-old picture, it still depicts at least a 34 year old car!     For more fun memories, go to www.oldparkedcars.com

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Great story
Charles Murray   8/13/2013 6:19:22 PM
Dave, an addendum to your point is the number of car buyers who get carried away by "cool" features. I would think most buyers need their cars for practical reasons, not for coolness. For my money, the best single selling-point of any car is its reliability.

Dave Palmer
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Platinum
Re: Great story
Dave Palmer   8/13/2013 9:01:34 PM
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@Charles: Actually, I'm glad that so many car buyers are carried away by "cool" features.  It means that the bare-bones model with no extras (which is what I want) is almost always cheap, because dealers can't get them off their lots.

Amclaussen
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Platinum
Re: Bad Ultrabook computer design.
Amclaussen   6/5/2014 1:29:23 PM
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Last February I gave a new Ultrabook portable computer to my wife as a birthday gift. Soon after we started to use the Toshiba Ultrabook, it started to fail to light the display (a touch sensitive 12.5" display that slides towards the upper part to reveal the keyboard (like some old cellphones) and then turns up to achieve a Lap-top like position. It was designed like that to be used as a Tablet or convert to a Laptop.

It turned out that the mechanism that passes the signals to the display is faulty, and breaks down soon.  This is a case of BAD design, since the flexible cable that conducts the signals to the screen is always used every time the computer is opened or closed, so that it soon fatigues and fails.  I've seen other, much more costly units from Dell that have a totally wireless transmission of signals to the rotatable screen, that probably solves the fatigue problems completely, but the cost is more than twice.  And the Toshiba unit is a very good computer aside from the screen problem: connected to a 20" LG brand LCD TV trough a MIDI cable, the results are very good since the Solid State hard Disk is tremendously fast and the little computer performs much better than a large desktop unit supposedly more powerful. It has a Core i5 processor and 4 GB RAM, but the performance is incredibly fast, it is a pity the design is flawed.  I haven't yet taken it to service as I am using it with the external monitor perfectly, but I can see that even repairing the damaged link it will still be susceptible to fail again soon (unless I keep the screen fixed to prevent the flexible harness from fatiguing again!.   Monkeys are hard working at Toshiba! Amclausssen.

Battar
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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.

tekochip
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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.

etmax
User Rank
Gold
Re: 1995
etmax   8/13/2013 5:00:00 AM
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I bought a Toyota 2008 model which has been the subject of a monkey report for various design deficiencies. They seem to have another problem when used south of the equator, all of the door trimmings etc.  suffer UV rot after a few years. Also where as I've had several GM vehicles that have had water ingress and were fine after drying out, my Toyota had the carpets rot from getting wet once. I think the only thing they do very well is make reliable drivetrains and don't seem to rust easily, but all of the other stuff just seems to fall off or apart after a while.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Platinum
Re: 1995
OLD_CURMUDGEON   8/15/2013 11:13:44 AM
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That's very interesting!  You say, "south of the border", and so I assume your in the subtropical or tropical climate.  Well, we're in FLA, NOT EXACTLY the coolest or driest area either, and our 2008 CAMRY w/ apprx 85K miles is doing OK mechanically & aesthetically.  No major OR minor problems to report, EXCEPT that darn air dam under the front bumper.  It keeps getting caught on those pesky concrete parking lot stop barriers.  WHY CAN'T TOYOTA change the design or something so that the inadvertent action doesn't cause it to become dislodged from the mounting???

 

etmax
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Gold
Re: 1995
etmax   8/15/2013 11:44:45 AM
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Way south of the border, in Australia. We have some of the highest UV levels on the globe. I spent 1 week walking around Singapore in a T-Shirt and had no sunburn yet here I get sunburnt in 15 minutes from about 10 in the morning until around 4 in the afternoon. Believe me, most foreign made cars have perishing plastic here.

Analog Bill
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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
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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.

etmax
User Rank
Gold
Re: "Cool" versus Function
etmax   8/13/2013 5:04:03 AM
Will that happen in my lifetime? I've seen it head in the opposite direction as far as I can remember. I'm beginning to think that industrial design degrees come out of a cornflakes packet. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are some out there that know there stuff, I'm just saying I've seen very little if any examples

Debera Harward
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Silver
Re: "Cool" versus Function
Debera Harward   8/13/2013 6:44:34 AM
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Dave, i  totally agree with you designers and engineers should work hand in hand with mutual consent than the product will be successfull otherwise its not possible to produce a hit product .Because its very difficult for someone to get the outline and make the product or to get the product and beatify . if this happens the  result usually is a failed product .

Battar
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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.

Debera Harward
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Silver
Re: "Cool" versus Function
Debera Harward   8/13/2013 6:48:56 AM
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Yes, people just watch the produt in the show room and pay for it  and what i beleive is 90 percent it happens that after  purchasing the product it doesnot look that good in your living room or anywhere depending on the product you want . This is a natural phenomeno that manufacturers doesnt care about the looks   of the product in the living room .One of the biggest example of this is of our humans only whenever we plan to go outsude  or to visit someone we take extra care of getting ready however in our living rooms we dont bother to  dress up as well.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Platinum
Re: "Cool" versus Function
OLD_CURMUDGEON   8/15/2013 11:09:35 AM
And, you applaud that philosophy????  To me that is disturbing.  It's good that many retailers have fairly easy return privileges in place.

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Elegant?
Cadman-LT   8/15/2013 9:15:26 AM
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Really??? Was that thing ever elegant? those cars were not much to look at even new. as a friend of an owner I know

loadster
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Gold
How PHEV will drive this train
loadster   8/26/2013 11:44:14 AM
I think it should be clear to the speculative gray cells that cars with huge battery arrays have built-in obsolescence will not drive the manufacturers to build with longevity as a design goal. More of the bells and whistles like phone interface, USB connectivity and wireless will be unsupported in a decade. How can we expect them to build hardware that will last beyond 20 years when the software and firmware and hardware are obsolete way before. I have a 1996 GMC vortec engine and no dealer or service has ever said, "we've got a software patch for that." So I"m expecting my 2011 center console LCD touch control screen to be unsupported likewise. Built Ford tough is a slogan not a future.

I've come to the conclusion there are two types of people. People that use and throw away and those that use carefully and fix when things fracture. There are hybrids of these types but the car industry is based on disposal. Search on "vintage car auction Nebraska" ; even the dealers knew and know it.

Cabe Atwell
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Blogger
Re: How PHEV will drive this train
Cabe Atwell   8/27/2013 2:02:04 PM
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Toyota's have indeed progressed over the years in reducing the amount of horribly engineered devices. Their truck series, especially their Tacoma SR5s, are built to last and have been 'adopted' by the military for use on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

loadster
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Gold
Re: How PHEV will drive this train
loadster   8/27/2013 2:34:43 PM
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You cite the exception; not the rule. I had a Toy truck and it had a marvelous KISS drivetrain and dash low on breakable amenities. Heck, the sierra tangos riding around in the middle east with an arsenal of RPGs and plating in that cute lil'back bed love those things. They're like VW bus. Carry alot, go forever and mindless to fix. May be the very reason the car makers don't want to make that variety, bad for sustainable market.

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