Last post on Aug 26, 2007 at 12:51 PM
You are in the Toyota Avalon
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Toyota Avalon, Audio, Entertainment System, Navigation System, Sedan
#21 of 41 Toyota Avalon Defective GPS Page 4
Jul 10, 2006 (9:36 am)
As stated, Toyota has an alliance with XM radio. However, the dealership I purchased this vehicle from is owned by (what I learned) a Roger Pensky (yes, the racing legend) and I was told he is a major stockholder in Sirius. While they offered both XM and Sirius as options, it made sense that his dealerships were pushing Sirius were offering it for free (although the monthly service charges were not included). As stated, I asked if the Sirius tuner would operate with full functionality on a system that was designed for XM and was given an affirmative, albeit wrong answer.
Jumping forward, after returning the Avalon and later test driving a Lexus that included a Sirius radio (Lexus, like its parent Toyota, has an alliance with XM), I learned from the salesperson that other than its existing inventory, they were to no longer offer Sirius as an option. I can only assume that XM was enforcing its agreement with Toyota and Lexus. As we already know, with all the hoopla surrounding the arrival of Howard Stern to the satellite airwaves, Sirius has become synonymous and the preferred choice for those seeking satellite radio. To be perfectly honest, I would consider a purchase of a Lexus LS, but after my experience from its parent Toyota, it would have to be one of those offers I couldn't refuse. Now, back to the story of the satellite radio.
Those who already own a satellite radio know that one of the features is the deliver of text. For example, if you are listening to a talk show, the name of the hosts is displayed along with a toll free number to call if you care to participate. Another application is the display of a song title and artist. However, the Sirius interface included on the Avalon only delivered up to ten characters of text per line. If you do the math, you'll realize that it was not capable of delivering all of the text information. This is what happens when a product is retrofitted and does not meet factory specifications.
One factor you have to understand is that my 2004 Lincoln Navigator was purchased with both the factory installed GPS and Sirius satellite radio and operated flawlessly. Because technology is supposed to get better and less expensive year after year, you can see that although the Avalon's electronic systems were two years advanced, they were light years behind. Maybe the simple answers is that American car manufacturers understand electronic interfaces and the American consumer better than the foreign automakers. I guess this means that all those dollars (or yen) spent on marketing research were a waste.
With More Tech Options Available Than Ever Before, A Higher Level Of Training Should Be A Requirement
These problems could have been avoided if the salespeople were properly trained. Since today's vehicles are loaded with new technologies, a new breed of automotive salespeople are needed to insure a high level of after the sale customer satisfaction. After my experience, I decided to visit other dealers of various automakers to ask numerous questions about these high priced, high-tech offerings and it should be no surprise that I could not find a single salesperson who could properly explain these features.
Why is this important? The automotive industry is currently under scrutiny as sales of all but the lower priced gas sippers are rapidly falling. While the manufacturers have been blamed for these losses, I'm starting to believe that they are not totally at fault and the blame can be more accurately directed to the management of local dealerships.
My question is, whose responsibility is it to properly train automotive salespeople? Is it the responsibility of the manufacturer or the individual dealer? This problem falls even deeper and it is based on the vast availability of product information to consumers via the Internet.
When I was asking all these questions prior to purchase and it became evident that the salesperson at Palm Beach Toyota did not know the answers and I was not accepting her condescending answers, she handed me a binder that had all the answers that I was seeking. Why was it not a requirement for any salesperson to do their homework and learn about the products they were selling? Instead of just criticizing them, I have a solution.
Since it's evident that the salespeople are not taking the time to read the provided materials, as an alternative, why don't the manufacturers take the time to produce training DVDs that can provide demonstrations not only focusing on the various options, but showing the salespeople how to properly demonstrate and explain the various add-on features? Sounds simple for these multi-billion dollar corporations, huh?
Educated Consumers Are A Seller's Worst Nighmare
A smart consumer is a retailers worst nightmare. Whether we're trying to buy a flat screen TV from Best Buy or an automobile from a dealership, a smart consumer can quickly become frustrated in the purchasing process when they take the time to research a potential purchase prior to entering a retail establishment. How many times have you had a salesperson spend more time trying to sell you an extended warranty than he/she does trying to explain the features of the desired product? Today, whether it's an HDTV or an automobile, it seems the salesperson seems to spend more time attempting to sell you these add-ons than they do the product itself. The answer is simpler than you may think. The reason they focus on selling you the extended warranties, under coatings and the like, is that they carry a higher profit margin than the product themselves. Like anything else, if you want to get to the root of a problem, "Follow the Money."
In the early 1990s, I purchased a Jeep Cherokee from a very knowledgeable dealer and was given probably the best advice I have ever received from a car salesman.
Upon the final walkthrough, prior to driving off the lot, the salesperson reached in the glove compartment and handed me the operators manual. He told me to take the book home and read it cover to cover as it was the best way to understand the capabilities of the vehicle. In his words, "You just paid $25,000 for this book...now read it!"
#22 of 41 Toyota Avalon Defective GPS Page 5
Jul 10, 2006 (9:37 am)
Today, with all the high-tech offerings found in cars, this advise is even more important as you may never know the capabilities of all it can do unless you read the manual. One of my pet peeves is a well written instruction booklet as it can minimize returns to the service department. Why electronics companies don't spend more time creating a well written instruction book is well beyond my comprehension. If you think about it, the cost to re-write a booklet such as those found in the glove compartment is probably less than the price of a single network commercial. And we all know, they don't hesitate when spending money on advertising.
Things are different today as a smart consumer may opt to start a quest for a new vehicle online as opposed to kicking tires in a dealership. Typically, the information delivered from a manufacturer's website will contain all the specifications needed to make an educated purchase. The only information a website cannot deliver is the feeling of the test drive. But, herein lies the big problem.
After visiting a number of dealerships armed with information from the Internet, when I was given poor information, or blatantly incorrect information, the common answer received was that the salesperson had a full line of cars to sell and it's virtually impossible to know all the features of a specific vehicle. This is a lame, but common answer.
I can only remember when I worked for Panasonic early in my career. The sales staff had literally hundreds of products with various specifications to learn. These products were constantly rotating, making education an ongoing process. Panasonic provided product specialists to educate the sales staff who in turn educated the buyers. Better decisions were made and product returns were reduced.
When I hear a car salesperson that has a mere six to eight...maybe even as many as a dozen models to sell, delivering an answer such as this, I can only wonder why the dealership does not take the time to properly educate it's personnel. After all, while base vehicles carry smaller profit margins, the big profits are made by up selling the purchaser with numerous options. Purchasing a new car is a major decision and financial commitment for most of us. Training a salesperson to deliver honest information should be a priority by a dealership's management.
Needless to say, I have little empathy with the manufacturer's and dealership's falling profits when today's automobiles are typically a much higher quality and more reliable than anytime in our history. Yes, the car salesperson has been the brunt of many poor jokes. With my recent experience in numerous dealerships, I have to say that these jokes are understated.
My major problem is, prior to entering a dealership, I'll go to the manufacturer's website and take a half an hour reading all the available information. If I can do this, why can't a car salesperson do the same and deliver to the customer good, honest information?
While I truly liked the ride and feel of the Avalon, I had to return it to the dealership as they could not and would not even attempt to fix the failing electronics. The worse part was, they wasted three weeks of my time with daily, lengthy phone calls attempting to break my soul and force me to simply live with the fact that the car was defective...and be happy with it. Like it or lump it.
Not all people have the experience I have in the world of electronics. I will quickly admit that I know basically nothing about transmissions, but I know when a consumer electronic product is poorly designed or blatantly defective. What really bothers me is that a company as large and profitable as Toyota will knowingly allow these defective components to leave their factory. Even worse, when I was able to properly explain to various customer support representatives the exact problems, they had little desire to help or compensate for the problems. It appeared to me very quickly all they wanted was to wear me down so that I would walk away. All they wanted was to avoid the publicity and expense of a recall. I still cannot believe that with Toyota knowing of these deficiencies, they will not be providing a fix in their soon to be released 2007 models.
After the three frustrating weeks, I was able to return the car. But, being The Gadget Guru, I would be doing a disservice to simply walk away.
#23 of 41 Toyota Avalon Defective GPS Page 6
Jul 10, 2006 (9:38 am)
Car Surveys Are Our Only Weapon
The only way to make a change is to let your feelings be known. While every car salesperson will tell you the importance of filling out the soon to come customer surveys with all "excellents" (good is not good enough), I will never have this opportunity because since my car was returned and my sale negated, my survey will not be tabulated.
The movie Network said it best, "I am mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." Neither should you. An educated consumer is any retailers worst enemy. No matter what you are purchasing, do you homework. Go to the Internet and read about the products you are considering purchasing before you hand over your credit card. Be a smart consumer and let's force the manufacturers and retailers to do its part by simply educating its salespeople.
I don't know about you, but I get excited when make a major purchase. It should be an exciting time and a pleasant experience. Working together, if we demand more by being prepared, not only will we make smarter purchases, we will let the sellers know that if they don't take the time to learn the products they are selling, they cannot and will not earn our business. If a manufacturer cannot and will not fix a defective item, don't live with it, return it. I read the Florida Lemon Law pamphlet that by law, had to be included at deliver of the vehicle. There is a simple sentence in there that states that if a defect adversely affects the "Value" of the vehicle, it could be considered a lemon. In my mind, non working electronics do affect the value of a vehicle.
If I would have kept this car and later sold or traded it, would I have a moral or legal obligation to disclose the defects when they weren't disclosed to me prior to purchase?
Food for thought.
#24 of 41 "why not train salespeople"
Jul 10, 2006 (9:52 am)
Iwould rather research the car myself because if the dealers ever start training the salespeople properly,we will end up paying more for the car,I can see it on the
invoice now,"sales training fee". BTW there is a website
called "my new avalon" it explains the features of the car.
#26 of 41 air condition works intermittently
Jul 15, 2006 (1:18 pm)
Since last October my air conditoning quits about once a month. I can still feel slight cool, but the fan does't work. It is first noticeble when the outside temp light goes out. It still says "outside" but no number. The lights for settings are on, but not ac light, circulate light or outside air light. It stopped working yesterday, but today it is working again. At 90+ degrees I don't like to take my chances, but of course it works right after I call for a repair appointment.
#27 of 41 Re: Toyota Avalon Defective GPS Page 3 [thegadgetguru]
Jul 19, 2006 (8:12 am)
oh my.....I will try to keep it short here, as I have owned an 02 Avalon since fall 2001. If you have to write numerous pages about the electronics, after paying for their flagship, something should tip you off that you are in fact going down the wrong road.
I just bought a large PRINT, 2006 Atlas from AAA yesterday, cost be maybe $6. I had installed XM stereo Delphi unit with the antenna located on the backside of the roofline, hardly ever loosing the signal, and oh I forgot bought a AAA compass when I bought the vehicle and placed it on the dash in an area that did not interfere with any viewing of the dashboard.
The car is almost 6 years old with 83K on it, and amazing, not of the things above do not function. All too, on a XL, not an XLS.
I also own a BMW 04 325ci 5 speed coupe with the least amount of electronic gagetry on it possible. Just the sports suspension and the upgraded stereo. No even a sunroof to leak.
Bottom Line IMHO, is if you lease these vehicles, who cares, but if you are paying for them out of your own pocket, leaving these vehicles in a NON heated garage, and expecting all the electronics that you pay a premium for to work and then for the dealerships to figure it out, all while you don't have a loaner car, seems a bit short sighted.
Jul 21, 2006 (9:03 am)
Sometimes it works. On a trip to Phila. it didn't recognize a major thoroughfare. Going from Maine to Boston it took me off the Hwy had me make a series of turns that brought me back to the starting point. On a straight run up a Hwy, it wanted me to go east at every oportunity rather stay on the Hwy that is straight to my house. This would have added 40 miles to the trip. The manufactures's response to an email was that as an OEM it is Toyota's problem. Toyota is not doing anything about this. It's a software fix. This 2005 Limited Avalon as opposed to an Avalon Limited is my 3rd Avalon. Love the car.
#29 of 41 Re: Defective Electronics in Toyota Avalon [thegadgetguru]
Jul 23, 2006 (1:58 pm)
I own a 2006 and agree. My GPS is a joke. This thing could not find its way home if I was able to program the streets for it. Toyota tells me there is a problem but they are not working on a fix! Amazing. And I spent almost $2000 of my money for this mickey mouse GPS.
The dealership I bought it from in Houston is at Highway 290 and West road. West road was extended on the other side of the freeway from the dealership a number of years back but my GPS does not have that section of the road! It takes me to the next road west, Eldridge, and then sends me back south to intersect West when I give it directions to go home. There are other roads I have found that were built years ago that it does not have in the memory either. And they want me to buy an updated dvd each year. How about giving me the dvd that is current to the date that I bought the car?
This thing never can find the REAL shortest route or quickest route. It maps a convoluted and out of the way track whenever I choose to use it.
I use it for amusement now not guidance.
Heaven help the person that is in need and uses this to get somewhere. It will eventually get you there but you will drive a lot farther than you need to.
The transmission is also problematic. At under about 20 mph it constantly shifts up and down, does not seem to be able to find out where it should be.
The ventilated seats are also not worth it. In Houston heat I find that my legs and seat are still hot because unless I lift myself off the seat the cool air does not flow out. My back still sweats with the ventilation for the seat turned on.
The heater on the seats is another story. It works and is welcome the two times I use it in a Houston winter!
Overall, I enjoy the car but unless Toyato fixes this or gives me a credit I will not be buying a car with a GPS in it from Toyota.
Bottom line is:
I would recommend an Avalon WITHOUT the GPS system. Total waste of money.
#30 of 41 Re: Defective Electronics in Toyota Avalon [boone6]
Aug 03, 2006 (12:25 pm)
I have to say, it takes a big person to admit this and to share this with the forum. Very very nice. Buying these gizmos, without years of testing, just does not make sense. I realize they have to sell cars, new cars, or else they will go under (look at Ford and Chrysler sales this quarter) but it is still just a car. What burns me is that they don't really give you any more for your money. These new Toyotas aren't the same quality as the old ones. They aren't really made to last 200K, especially with all of these electronics, espceially if you are not fortunate to have a heated garage, etc.
Most of the vehicles I buy, now, I try to get the basic vehicle without alot of gizmos and in the end it seems there is less to break and I am happier when the car is older. Maybe because I am older but that is what I see. Toyota should put there money into the quality of the parts and product it pumps out, and looking at most of the forums, there are plenty of unhappy customers, after the initial purchase fades. In addition, if you look at CR Annual, the Avalon(including my own 02) gets a good, not very good or excellent reliability rating. One of the losest rating of the Toyota models.
Using the heater in a Houston winter seems like an oxymoron. For two times of use even in a single season, how could one substantiate it. Good to know about the "ventilated seats" It is almost as bad as Mercedes 4 zone climate control!!! In a car, or 4000 sqaure foot home??? Never one, I am interested in paying for.