Culture and the recall of Toyotas built in Canada and the US.

I am 74. I have been a Chevy man until I bought my first Honda in 82 and a Toyota shortly after. I switched from American cars to Japanese cars in the eighties because my Impala, Malibu and Cutlass Supreme were not performing to my satisfaction and I read that American cars had six times more visits to the repair shop than the Japanese. Being a professor who taught psychology to America Honda employees, I was skeptical about their ability to adopt strict  Japanese discipline on the assembly line, feel pride in building Japanese cars, or get in the US the absolute job security that workers get in Japan.

For the next 30 years I alternated between buying Honda and Toyota imported from Japan only, with parts supplied by Japanese manufacturers only. Although the search for car purity was getting difficult, I did not touch Honda or Toyota assembled in the US or Canada with any part from local suppliers. Friends who owned American or Japanese cars commented that my psychological theory about the importance (and difficulty) of matching workers from one culture with product manufacturing from another culture, is, to say the least, not “politically correct” to express. One industrial psychologist friend said that I was a  Japanophile. Dealers, sales persons and family members didn’t understand what my fuss was all about.

I love my problem-free Toyota Avalon, all made and assembled in Japan. I read that most of the 10,000,000.00 Japanese cars recalled were assembled in Canada or the US. Honestly, I still don’t know if my theory is valid. There has never been research comparing the performance of Toyota made in Japan or elsewhere. My psychological theory about the importance of matching culture and product manufacturing is still just a theory, to be researched by a future PhD candidate in Industrial Psychology (call Dr. Kinarthy). Meantime, I drive cars that are trouble-free and I check under the hood after every service appointment.

Here are the cultural problems I experienced over the years of servicing my Japanese cars in the US and Canada: A missing or not tightened enough cap on the engine top,  a very small oil leak on the bottom of the oil tank (the mechanic overlooked the need for a new gasket, or not tightened it enough), a missing oil change sticker (a common neglect), not all fluid levels are topped off or checked as required, and a new air filter installed before one was needed. These are very small neglects easy to fix – but they are sometimes overlooked. I attribute it to culture!


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