Have Truck Quality Expectations Changed Unfairly?

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One of the interesting evolutions in the past decade is how our expectations of truck quality have changed. It used to be if you got 100k miles out of a truck, you were doing good. Now days, things have escalated to the point where every item is a mark on the entire truck’s quality. Is this fair or unfair?

Have Truck Quality Expectations Changed Unfairly?

Every owner’s truck experience varies, but this owner’s response is a bit overboard in our opinion.

I don’t know the back story on the picture above and I’m not really that interested to know. Why? My thinking is if someone is willing to do that to their truck, they obviously are acting irrationally and it is hard to take anything they say for certain. Essentially, this destroys their credibility for me.

However, this isn’t to say they don’t have a valid issue. For me, it is how you define “valid.”

For me, I think of major powertrain issues as reasons for something to be a lemon. That is an expensive repair and is what I would consider major. Other issues liking door latches not working, replacing engine parts or interior trim/seat issues, just aren’t that high for me. Everybody is different, but all of those items can be fixed or replaced at low cost.

Now, I do agree we all see things differently. For example, when Toyota was developing the 2014 model, I remember their team relaying the story about a focus group of non-Toyota owners they had assembled. One lady stood out by saying she loved her pickup and how reliable it was.

“I’m only on my third transmission,” she said as Toyota’s PR told me. “Its been a really great truck!”

Toyota engineers were floored by her response. Yet, again, people perceive things differently.

What about customers like NO QDR Tundra?

I think NO QDR Tundra is another example of people’s different expectations. He has been a long-time supporter of THQ and a major commenter. Unfortunately, he owns a truck that he doesn’t feel has great QDR (Quality, Reliability, Durability). Yet, when I look over his issues, I have a different opinion. Let’s look over them here and people can weigh in.

The list:

Now, let’s remove all the TSB items since TSB repairs are common on any vehicle these days and really no manufacture has complete control over that. They try to, but when you have hundreds of parts and dozens of suppliers, things are just going to happen. It would be like calling out Honda’s quality due to Takata air bags. We just don’t do that.

Then, let’s remove the items that aren’t related to Toyota – the bug shield. This is an aftermarket addition.

Finally, let’s remove all the items covered under warranty since these were no cost to the owner. Sure, the owner had to take the truck to a dealer, but every truck out there has an issue here and there including the Million Mile Tundra.

Let’s look at the paired down list:

The rest of the items were either covered under warranty or of minimal expense. For example, the rear axle seal was $12.50.

Now, the paint issue was a warranty issue that the owner declined to have the dealer fix.

The Heater Box Evaporator is a true issue. I’ll give the owner that. It cost $1062.59 to replace.

However, I know he has an extended warranty through his discussions with Toyota and I’m not sure why that part isn’t covered.

I spoke with Sweers about the No QDR site at a dinner a while back. He response was one of surprise and after going through the list, he verbally commented with either TSB or not Toyota. I tend to agree with Sweers. Looking over the list I don’t see many issues that aren’t either a TSB or a non-Toyota problem. Also, the other items should have been warranty items.

Now, to be fair, NoQDR has valid points on the amount of times he has been in for service – 12 in 3 1/2 years. No argument there.

Recall Explosion to Blame?

GM Wins Ignition-Switch Lawsuit Shield, Hides Behind Old GM

Remember when this was a big issue?

Something I openly wonder these days is whether all the recalls are to blame for changing expectations. Remember last year when GM was recalled trucks for all sorts of issues. Like a bolt wasn’t tightened a quarter turn and they would issue a recall!

This, in my opinion, was a great way to cover up the fact they were dealing with the massive ignition switch issue. But, did it also create a world where we hold vehicles up to a higher standard? Do we know expect vehicles to be without any issues ever coming off the assembly line?

I grew up in Michigan and I vividly remember hearing my friends say product X has a Y problem that will go out at Z miles and you will have to fix it. Like we knew exactly when the odometer hit a certain mileage that a part would fail. Seems a bit absurd now to think that way, but we did.

At the end of the day, these trucks are filled with thousands of parts, safety equipment and technology. The fact they turn over everyday should be a miracle with all the moving parts.

Is Toyota’s Quality Going Downhill?

Yes, I realize this is opening a can of worms, yet let’s look at the facts. Toyota consistently wins quality awards and is still (for the most part) well thought of for quality. In fact, looking at Toyota Tundra owners list of complaints on CarComplaints.com, we can see out of the three “worst problems,” two of them are covered under TSBs. The other, premature transmission failure, has been reported by 2 people and this issue is covered under warranty. Over the past 3 model years, the Toyota Tundra has 22 reported complaints. Is that a lot?

Have Truck Quality Expectations Changed Unfairly?

Let’s compare:

  • Ford F-150 – 211 complaints
  • Chevy Silverado 1500 – 120 complaints
  • GMC Sierra 1500 – 194 complaints
  • Ram 1500 – 226 complaints
  • Nissan Titan – 3 complaints

Again, the Toyota Tundra had 22 complaints during the same time period.

Truck Prices to Blame?

The final point to be made is about truck prices. Is there escalation causing us to hold trucks to a higher standard? Is that fair or unfair? Seems like if trucks were cheaper, maybe we would let more things go? Consider NO QDR who states in his opening paragraph the truck’s price and how he feels he hasn’t gotten his money worth. Are the high prices causing this unintended by-product?

Your turn to sound off. What do you think? Are we fair or unfair when we look at quality? Is the price really to blame?

 

 

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  1. Jack Weber says:

    I think escalating truck prices are at least partially to blame. When you pay $40-50K for a product and it does not perform it’s intended function reliably there is a certain amount of betrayal. I don’t think the Tundra is a unreliable truck. As a matter of fact I’ve been pretty happy with the performance of my 2015. I switched over from Ford specifically because of the “little problems” your talking about. Now being on my 5th Toyota truck I can say with certainty that Toyotas just don’t break as much, especially if well maintained. I’ve had very few problems with my Tundra and I assure you, I AM PICKY. However when I buy a Toyota I expect “drama free transportation” and when it doesn’t deliver I do get let down. Why? Because Toyotas (new or used)cost more than a similarly equipped domestic. If I can buy a good used Cessna for $50K that won’t fall out of the sky, then why can’t I buy a pickup truck for $50K that can go down the road and not break?

  2. Don says:

    Is it wrong of me to call a electrician and not expect a quality fix? There is no non toyota item, you sell the truck like that ..then you cover it. Maybe that lemon Ram was that persons only form of transportation. He has the right to protest unless some type legal action surfaces against him by Ram Truck attorneys.

    Does Toyota or Ford or Chevy expect us to pay 50k to 60k on a decked out half ton and not expect quality??? Not me..I expect quality and service from the dealer. I think the Tundra or my Tundra demonstrated good truck quality for almost 9 year BUT Toyota is NOT turning out 200,000 Tundra trucks a year so things like a cam tower leak to me are unacceptable for Toyota regardless of what few complaints they get or what management recites. Lets see…powerstroke, cummins, duramax all costing 8 to 10000 dollars add on cost to the truck so once again I expect quality. will I get it? Who knows, just like the RV Industry get the customers money and let them fight for good service if systems and parts go south.

  3. GoBig says:

    I expect certain things to wear out, and don’t mind replacing them. What grinds my gears is the outrageous prices Toyota charges for OEM parts. (they are not alone)

    I needed to replace the slave cylinder on my clutch. I don’t have a problem with that since I have 225,000 miles on the truck.

    What chaps my ass is that a trip to the Toyota parts counter, and it’s $212. Every aftermarket supplier in the world charges between $16 and $30.

    Some things just make you say C’mon man. Buying my truck at the parts counter once piece at a time would cost about $800,000.

  4. Thank you for highlighting the problems I had with my Tundra and especially for asking Mike Sweers about them and sharing his response.
    In hind sight I made two mistakes.
    The first was having higher expectations for Toyota’s Tundra. This came about from a few different sources. The first was JD Powers and Associates awarding the Tundra for dependability seven times, back in 2011, and stellar reviews by product reviewers (Consumer Reports for example) for the Tundra’s QDR. The second is marketing. I watched and studied the “Tundra Deconstrutcted” series. I thought a two year rugged and unsupervised test was legit and had real merit from experienced truck owners who were skeptical about Toyota trucks. The third is the reputation Toyota had built over very many years for its hard earned QDR.
    The second mistake was summing the chronic repairs as atypical. I honestly thought I got a statistically anomaly.
    If the repairs my Tundra had fall outside of Toyota’s definition of QDR, then what is the standard for QDR? When Bill Fay states that all Toyota vehicles have QDR in their DNA, what is a Toyota buyer to expect?
    This article and especially Mike Sweers’ comment about the problems my Tundra had being a TSB or “not Toyota” proves my point, which is the Toyota Tundra is not any better in terms of QDR than Ford, GM, or RAM. It also implies that luck has more to do with QDR than Toyota’s quality control.

  5. mendonsy says:

    I think that another issue which contributes to this is that trucks (and all other vehicles) have become so complex that the owner can no longer do repairs so they are at the mercy of the dealers. Things that were once a relatively simple repair now require the vehicle to be disassembled just to get at the components and most require proprietary diagnostic tools to work on them. In many cases this leaves the consumer stuck with a vehicle that they cannot repair and the dealer will not repair.

  6. Randy says:

    Tim,

    I think you did an excellent job in responding to and summarizing an intelligent response to NoQDRTundra. I sort of had “my own reply”, by automatically eliminating the “non” Toyota items, and that alone established the credibility quotient. Honestly I never felt it was necessary to create another diatribe, so I never participated.

    Truck Prices to Blame? Well not really; that is not possible. If there is any “one” person to blame for truck prices it would be Woodrow Wilson and what has happened in the years that have followed. Because it is a politically created component I will stop there. More importantly in the final analysis Price does not equal Quality. Put another way, there are very low priced cars with excellent quality and there are very high priced cars with completely unacceptable quality.

    Based on my own personal experience and about a hundred friends, the Tundra is the best made half ton made today and has been for about 10 years now. I have way too many friends with all three of the other brands that have way too many repeating “major” problems to come to any other conclusion. My first Ford was a 1964 F100 that went over 200,000 miles before it was traded in. Just tires, batteries, brakes, and a couple of water pumps. The following 8 Fords went down in quality in a big way. By the 90’s quality was getting extremely low. After the turn of the century and attempting to “live” with a 5.4 gasser, then the famous 6.0 diesel, followed by super extremely famous EcoBoost; I will never be in another Ford again. Those three vehicles alone were by far the lowest quality vehicles ever made and completely unreliable. I see no reason to simply throw money away.

    Do not get me wrong; the Tundra is in no way perfect.
    Many are very familiar with the complete lack of quality in the initial batch of 2014 JBL Entune. Mr. Sweers can sit in and drive my truck today and confirm the Navigation system does not work, just like my dealer has, and yet there is apparently “no solution”. It has not mattered how many new head units they put in; it still does not work. So yes, it is disappointing to “pay extra” for Navigation that is 100% useless. It is equally disappointing to have numerous attempts by the dealer over three years to fix it and still no Navigation. Who knows maybe someday they will fix it? By the way I have been in at least a dozen Toyota’s and the Navigation works fine and with no problems. As I see it, in my particular case there is a lack of “quality support” from Toyota through to and including the Dealer that has created the “no solution” that “I” have. So far I have been completely unable to find the right “minds” at Toyota/Dealer to get my Navigation system fixed and working. Another way to highlight this issue for Toyota: Toyota is relying too heavily on the Dealers to arrive at solutions for complex electronic components. Dealers are simply not equipped to address the advanced electronic problems. In many cases “quality service” could be improved by a more direct approach from Toyota to the Customer; starting with firmware updates (just one example).

    With that said, the Tundra is still the best truck I have ever owned. The truck has not failed yet. I have had no engine, transmission, brakes, steering, HVAC, bodywork or frame, or any other major component failures. That has not been the case with the other brands, not even close.

    Thank you San Antonio for making the best half ton made.

    Randy

  7. Hemi345 says:

    Good article, thanks for posting it. What would be helpful is the number of trucks sold during that time period vs the number of complaints to get a ratio. Yeah it wouldn’t be totally accurate because the complaints could have come from 2+ year old trucks but it would be interesting. Thanks.

  8. @Mike Sweers: Do the repairs made to my Tundra meet Toyota’s definition of QDR? Yes or No

    • Jack says:

      In defense of Toyota and their QDR, I challenge you to purchase and utilize a non-warrantied 6.0L Ford Powerstroke Diesel for two years. Twenty five days of your truck at the dealer with a loaner will seem like a good weekend in Vegas. I owned one of these fabulous hunks of crap for 2 yrs and a solid 3 months of this time the truck was sitting in a dealer parking lot waiting to be repaired. No loaner car BTW. Not one repair bill was less than $1K and there was a lot of them. Constant injector failures, turbo failures, oil leaks, engine pulls, Flash issues…you name it. And a lot of guys had it worse than me. This truck turned me to Toyota, I guess that was the only good thing about it.

      • So, what you’re saying is if I had an Ford Super Duty with the 6.0 diesel and experienced the problems you’ve outlined then bought a Tundra and experienced the problems I had, then the Tundra repairs are acceptable? I raise your challenge by challenging you to pit it with Toyota’s core values, which can be found here: http://www.tundratalk.net/foru.....a-qdr.html

        • Jack says:

          Well obviously I believe in Toyota’s core values and I believe that the company follows them. My wife have owned 7 Toyota vehicles between us and all have either met or exceeded my expectations. I have had Toyota vehicles not be “perfect” but Toyota Corp and their dealers have made the repair process as painless as possible. You simply will not get the same kind of product support you get from Toyota from a domestic company. My sincere belief is either you got a statistical anomaly or you stay on internet forums looking for things that “might” go wrong on your truck.
          If you are unhappy with your Toyota product then by all means please buy the domestic of your choice and save your money for when the warranty expires. Because I guarantee you they’re not going to fix anything for free once it hits 60,001 miles. When Toyota recognizes a rampant problem with their vehicles they extend the warranty on that component ie: Tundra AIP, Camry dashes, 2AZ-FE oil consumption. My above post was mostly to highlight that all things considered your problems may have been excessive by Toyota standards but in no way approach what can happen with a domestic.
          Seriously if I bought a toaster and it broke after 2 months I would go buy a new toaster but a different brand. I wouldn’t spend an inordinate amount of time building a web site to document my toasters failure and contact the President of the company that made the toaster to ask him what the core values were. Dude if you unhappy with your toaster sell it, buy another toaster and move on with your life.
          I like my toaster so I’m gonna keep making toast with it.

          • Comparing a $34K vehicle purchase to a toaster? Really?

            Hmm, things that might have went wrong? I posted copies of the receipts…

            Was my truck a statistically anomaly? Only Toyota knows, but judging from the response from Mike Sweers, it’s hard to tell.

  9. @Tim and Mike: Do companies that attempt to measure vehicle quaility in terms of the number of repairs exclude those attributed to TSBs?

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      If the problem was experienced by an owner and impacted their satisfaction of ownership, then it is included. If the TSB was identified by the dealership and repaired during a normal routine maintenance visit or if it was a recall prompting the owner to bring their vehicle in them no. This is my interpretation of J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability study – http://www.jdpower.com/resourc.....lity-study

      My explanation of excluding yours is simple – no money out of your pocket beyond the inconvenience of making the visit. As a vehicle owner, if I took my truck in for service on a item that was failing to discover their was a repair in place for it, I would be satisfied with that response and, as the article’s author, that was the basis upon which I wrote it.

      -Tim

      • CZ-75guy says:

        Shouldn’t Toyota have addressed the cam tower leaks within a year or two of the issue cropping up? Why is it ongoing?

        I think back to the Toyota’s my family has owned over the last few decades, oil leaking from the engine is something we’d poke fun at Ford and GM guys for. Yet now it seems the attitude has changed and we see it as being OK that Toyota sells vehicles that leak oil at 16k miles, even years after the design/manufacturing problem is identified.

        And for the sake of fairness, you shouldn’t simply compare number of transmission complaints. You’re ignoring that fact that Ford and GM, for example, have sold 656% and 637% more full-size trucks than Toyota (via Goodcarbadcar). It seems logical that they would have roughly 6 times the number of complaints. It’s also important to look at the nature of the complaint. Glancing through the list, many of the GM and Ford complaints are for hard downshifts or early downshifts. There are some failures, but there aren’t 211 Ford transmission failure complaints. It’s all very misleading.

  10. T says:

    What happened to my post?

  11. For the record, none of the repairs were discovered by a dealer during a routine maintenance visit as I completed the routine maintenance–and yes, I do have receipts.
    Also, it’s clear that it impacted my satisfaction of ownership.

    So your dismissing the repairs you’ve outlined because they were covered by the standard warranty?

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Not dismissing and I agree those numerous repairs impacted your ownership satisfaction.

      I wonder about something. Do you think a different dealer would have caught the TSB issues or helped improve your ownership satisfaction?

      -Tim

      • That is an excellent and fair question. The dealership I worked with did an outstanding job addressing the repairs. The best evidence I can give is the email I forwarded to you a short time ago, which is a copy of the email thread between myself and Toyota where I gave praise to the dealership and service I worked with.

        I hope it’s becoming clear I did everything I could to make my ownership experience better than it turned out to be.

  12. @Mike Sweers: In your opinion, do you think Victor Sheppard would have stayed in his ’07 Tundra if spent 25 days at a dealership for repairs in the first three years of ownership?

  13. hemi lol says:

    Its interesting to me that several of these “issues” are only typical of certain years of trucks…… I kinda feel like someone is internet surfing and “searching” for problems. I’m not saying non of these have happened however. BUT…………….

    my 2008 Tundra:
    I had my front diff done under TSB for front end growl at ZERO cost to me. most of those who had this were 2007 and 2008 models…. I have NEVER heard of anyone in my service dept. with this issue on a 2011.
    I decided on a new package in 2010 and with 40k on the truck I got my next one…..
    Total: 1 issue fixed under TSB cost me NOTHING

    My 2010 Tundra
    I owned this truck from april 2010 till sept. 2015 with 72,000 miles at trade. I towed 17,600lbs with this truck several times!!!! the ONLY time my check engine light ever came on in this truck was because “I” over oiled my K&N filter! I never had any issue with this truck ever and I USED it………

    my 2015 Tundra
    currently 20k on this truck and nothing has been an issue, period… and this one is over 500hp…..

    simply put I believe he had a complete anomaly OR the internet has OFFICIALLY caused people to have issues with their vehicles THAT ARENT ISSUES! people are searching the web for issues to create a problem with their vehicle and in my opinion in an effort to become “relevant” or famous…… sorry just my opinion. you blast someone online in hopes that you will become famous for it for personal gain. This is one of the reasons social media has changed the landscape of our country.

    • I’m not sure how you can question the validity of the repairs, especially since Tim and Mike have not.

      That’s a valid question, were the many repairs in first 60K miles an anomaly? Only Toyota knows for sure. A second certainty is the lack of QDR with my Tundra was not addressed–as we can clearly see; I contacted Toyota a few times about it, including two certified letters “asking how am I’m going to get the QDR I paid for?”.

      • hemi lol says:

        So when you bought the Tundra and paid LESS for it than you would have for a ford, ram, or gm you feel like you paid for more QDR? I’m really confused by that statement “how do I get the QDR I paid for”……….

        Again I believe some of your issues weren’t really issues. I feel that you were SEARCHING for problems after reading on forums. this is a problem with social media. if one person posts a genuine issue 100 more read it and try to find the same issue on their truck. You have people creating issues that aren’t because someone on a media site is telling of a genuine issue.

        If you don’t like your truck you’ll be super happy to know that they command a HUGE resale value because the rest of the market disagrees with your lack of QDR claim. I really believe if you TRULY have just had these issues, and you weren’t searching for a problem then you sir have unfortunately found an anomaly and I’m truly sorry to hear of it. Best thing you could do (if you still like the truck) is to trade it for a new one. in most states you only pay taxes on the difference when you purchase new and they are worth a ton of money even with 150k miles. I am at a Toyota dealer and have Never had one single customer that I have sold a tundra too have multiple issues (almost all have had none) in my entire 10 years at my store. Hopefully this will provide a little confidence for you. I would contact your local dealer and salesperson to see if they would help get you some extra for your truck to get you a new one. If you trade it in the high resale value is how you extract the QDR you paid for. any other product will be worth several THOUSAND less in trade in value than your Tundra.

        • So when you bought the Tundra and paid LESS for it than you would have for a ford, ram, or gm you feel like you paid for more QDR? I’m really confused by that statement “how do I get the QDR I paid for”……….

          Answer: You’re confused? It’s Toyota that says QDR is built into EVERY Toyota vehicle’s DNA. You’re implying that my Tundra had QDR, really?

          You still question the repairs I posted receipts for and that Mike Sweers did not refute? And now you advise that I should have considered trading in my Tundra for a new one? Have you every heard of the saying “Fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on you”?

          If I truly had an anomaly, then why did Mike Sweers, the chief engineer—I’ll repeat, the chief engineer—say so? His response was “Not ours or TSB”. I get impression he can explain but won’t.

          • hemi lol says:

            If you say fool me once………. then why bother wasting your time on a tundra site? clearly you don’t want another one by your above comment.

            And YES I believe you exaggerated issues because you read about them online. And YES I believe if you really had all these problems its an anomaly.

            He didn’t refute them because they wont say what I am to you. I think your searching for monetary compensation for your hundreds of hours surfing the web to find an issue with a vehicle and even possible that another manufacturer paid you to do it……

            I have NEVER seen half the issues you have listed on ANY truck at a dealer that services 40,000 vehicles a year. Furthermore I have NEVER seen a single Tundra have a list of issues anything like yours. so i’ll say it, your FULL of it or you simply have the worst luck. either way WHY ARE YOU ON THIS SITE OTHER THAN TO TROLL

  14. breathing borla says:

    cam tower leak and AIP are big ones for the tundra.

    I hope I don’t have either of those with mine.

  15. Hey, it’s the 1980’s Russian Gymnast! 🙂

    The cam tower leak model years that I know of occurred from 2010 to 2014, may be 2015, and came on early in the vehicle life, around 25K miles or less (17K for me). For higher mileage vehicles, it was more of a seep than leak, which is not nearly as bad. If you have the leak, you’ll know it as oil will make its way to the exhaust heat shield. Check out the picture of the leak I had for my Tundra on my web site. What’s unusual about this is the years it occurred; it happened about 3 to 4 years into production. Two other facts about this are: there is no TSB for it and Toyota assembles the engine. Supposedly not enough FIPG was applied to the Cam Tower Mating surfaces; that was the explanation of the cause noted on the repair order for my fix.

    The AIP, as we’re all familiar with, has an extended warranty since its emission related; 10 yrs/150K miles, which ever occurs first. This seems to affect vehicles from ’07 up to ’10, may be some newer years following this time period, but not nearly as often. I believe this fix for this was to reprogram the ECM thingy to cycle activation of the pumps more frequently to help remove moisture build up.

  16. @Tim: Remember the name calling you’ve asked us to reframe from?

  17. @HemiLOL: You’re in denial; don’t you see you’re the only person here putting my claims into question?

    • hemi lol says:

      People don’t tend to argue when they don’t know facts. I understand them not calling you out…… But I know better. And I will call you out because I see them EVERYDAY. I’ve owned 3 of them. I’m the tech help to everyone at the store I’m at for all things weird that no one else cares to learn about these trucks. When I see as many as I do I have the FACTS in front of me on a daily basis and can say for sure what I said above. Have a good one 🙂 your not fooling everyone just know that.

  18. So how was I able to post receipts for all the work done to my Tundra?

  19. My expectation for the Tundra’s QDR, was at a minimum, to be as good as the light trucks I’ve purchased in the past (3 GMs and one Dodge 2500 with the 5.9 Cummins). All three trucks I bought used with a minimum of 65K miles on the odometer. Now, lets toss in another couple of facts that the Tundra has won awards for QDR and Toyota boasts about it by claiming that it’s in EVERY Toyota. So I ask why is it even fair to think that my quality expectations should be less when I bought new?

  20. @ Mike Sweers: Why has Toyota’s position on the Tundra gone from “the truck that is changing it all” to the truck that’s Not Changing At All”?

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