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
#10 of 41 Re: "defective GPS" [oilcan2]
Jul 08, 2006 (6:55 pm)
Oilcan2, When the problems became apparant on the drive home from the dealership, and I immediately notified the General Sales Manager, we made a deal. I would put the absolute minimum miles on the car until they figured out the fix. (I have multiple cars so this seemed fair). In turn, he would hold my car until the final decision was made. I was originally led to believe it would be days, but Toyota dragged it out...even after they agreed it was defective...for a total of more than three weeks. After three weeks, I returned the Avalon with 185 miles and in pefect conditon, received my money back and my car. I was told my car was reconditioned (It was an excellent condition 2004 Lincoln Navigation with low miles...approximately 10K miles.) When I picked up my Lincoln, it had accumulatated an additional 1,180 miles. I was told the GSM let the used car manager take it home each night...approximately 1.5 hours each way. Now, who was living by the rules and who got screwed? Shame on Palm Beach Toyota.
#11 of 41 Defective Electronics in Toyota Avalon
Jul 09, 2006 (8:12 am)
I have posted a full review of all the defects in the Toyota Avalon's GPS and Satellite Radio systems. The report is longer than what is allowed in this forum. Feel free to check it out at my personal website.
#12 of 41 GPS and Satellite Problems in 2006 Toyota Avalon
Jul 09, 2006 (8:18 am)
I recently purchased and returned a 2006 Toyota Avalon Limited that was fully loaded. While going through the Customer Service ladder took three weeks of lengthy daily calls, Toyota is aware of the defects and can do nothing to fix it. They buy the GPS/Radio System from Nippon Denso and evidently no one from Toyota tested the electronics prior to placing them in its vehicle. I have documented the full experience and while it's too long (very detailed) to put in this forum, I have posted it on my personal website. Feel free to check it out. I would like to see if others have had similiar issues. Click Here To View The Full Review. (Please note that my website is a personal website and is not for profit nor do I accept any advertising). I took the time to document my experience for the benefit of future purchasers.
#13 of 41 Responses to Defective Electronics...
Jul 09, 2006 (10:36 am)
Thanks to all who responded to my posts about the poor GPS and the constant drop-outs experienced in the new Toyota Avalon.
Allow me to make this fact very clear. For the three weeks I owned this vehicle, I really liked the car and it was a fantastic value. It was comfortable, delivered a smooth ride and had acceptable handling characteristics for a FWD vehicle of this wheelbase size. This is what pains me most about having to return the Avalon Limited due to the defective GPS and poor satellite reception. I read complaints about the lack of comfort of the perforated seating, but since I put very few miles on my Avalon, I never experienced any discomfort whatsoever. I loved the inflatable leg extension and for someone my size, it was one of the best comfort features of the car.
I will say this about the seating, the salesperson was adamant that the seating was Heated and Air Conditioned. I tried to explain to her that it was not truly Air Conditioned, it was Ventilated. There is a difference. She did not grasp this concept. Maybe I'm being too detailed, but what would you do if you went to Best Buy or Circuit City to buy an HDTV and was told it was 1080i, only to learn later it was the lower 720p?
This points to the lack of knowledge from car sales people in general. Last week I test drove a Cadillac DTS and having spent 15 minutes on the Cadillac website, I knew more about the vehicle than the salesperson. All he cared about was, "What's it going to take for you to buy this car today?" To me, I would haggle less on price if I was gaining good, honest information and was made to feel very comfortable about my purchase. When you spend so much time questioning the facts obtained from car salespeople, it's difficult to separate fact from fiction.
Since cars are major purchases for many of us, I truly think it is reasonable to expect honest information from a salesperson. After my experiences with Toyota (and Cadillac) I think the fault is with both the dealership and the Toyota. It seems that Toyota provides little if any training to the sales staff and feels it is the responsibility of the sales management. The dealership does basically nothing in terms of training. The materials provided to prospective purchasers are designed by ad agencies and are nothing more than pretty pictures. Have you seen the brochure for the Lexus LS? It talks more about vineyards than it does about the car.
At Palm Beach Toyota, each salesperson has these large binders that contain many more facts about the vehicle than what is available to the consumer. The problem is, the average salesperson does not take the time to read them and it collects dust on shelf.
One suggestion I might make is to have the manufacturer provide a DVD of all the information contained in those binders and require that all salespeople watch it. If they aren't reading the materials supplied by the manufacturer, maybe they will watch a DVD.
I spoke to the General Sales Manager of the Toyota Dealership and he told me that after the misinformation I was given, he was going to start having training seminars (with incentives) for the salespeople. The sad part is, although his intention and demeanor was good, I truly doubt that this plan will ever be executed as they are more concerned about quantity than quality.
Car dealerships have had a bad reputation for as long as I remember. But in this era of information, consumers such as us are more educated than ever. An educated consumer, is becoming a car dealership's worst enemy. We can't blame them as we allow them to take advantage of us.
It's forums such as these found here at Edmunds that allow us to trade stories and obtain information, both good and bad, that could someday force dealer management to take the high road provide for more pleasant purchase experiences. If it wasn't for the JD Powers surveys, dealers really wouldn't care how we felt about our purchases.
When GM's Saturn was first introduced, many (such as myself) thought that the one-price, no haggle purchase policy was the road map to the future of car buying. After all, nobody wants to know that their neighbor got a better deal than they did on the same vehicle. Sadly, this concept was not welcomed by other manufacturers.
Much of the problem today lies in all those dealer and advertising fees that are tacked on at the end of the sales process. Since when did we as consumers become responsible for these expenses?
#14 of 41 Re: Responses to Defective Electronics... [thegadgetguru]
Jul 09, 2006 (2:39 pm)
Maybe that saleslady was a bit smarter than you think...
Suppose there is an air conditioning air outflow duct under the seat and the seat fan/blower is just picking up that CHILLED airflow and passing it up through the seat.
I'm quite sure there is such a duct to carry CHILLED airflow for the rear seat passengers.
#15 of 41 Re: Responses to Defective Electronics... [wwest]
Jul 09, 2006 (7:39 pm)
I did my homework. On the Avalon there are two circulatory fans...one on the seatback and one under the seat. (This is probably why many purchasers of the Avalon with this feature are reporting discomfort on long drives...as they are feeling the edges of the fan casing). This is a ventilated system. The Navigator on the other hand, along with Mercedes, BMW and others actually have an A/C vent plumbed to the fans. The Avalon does not. Even on Toyota's website they are careful to say the seats are Heated and Ventilated...not Air Conditioned.
#16 of 41 Re: Responses to Defective Electronics... [thegadgetguru]
Jul 10, 2006 (5:16 am)
sales people would be less important to know a little something extra about the Avalon than the service depts.- which is where, I have found Toyota's non-existent training most apparent.
Mine an early '05 - and from being sold the wrong oil filters, no knowledge of actual oil capacity, having to show the service manager what our wiper blades really looked like, and multiple trips to repair an oil leak (TSB 12-23-05) - have certainly felt that the service folks, while nice enough, were learning on my car.
Most surprising to me, because Toyota knew this drivetrain was to become the basis of several hundred thousand of the Toyota/Lexus vehicles they sell - not just the hundred grand or so of Avs they sell per year. But, as you note, don't think this is unusual with any manufacturer/dealers combination that brings a truly new car to market.
#17 of 41 Service Departments...
Jul 10, 2006 (8:20 am)
The problem lies in the fact that the Service Manager, the person who probably know the most about specific funtions, is not involved in the sales process. In my case, when he got involved, it was not a pleasant customer experience.
The other question is, when there is an apparant problem that appears in a run of vehicles, are the sales people required to tell you about the defect before you buy, or do they have to wait until a recall? There is an ethical dilemma here.
#18 of 41 Toyota Avalon Defective GPS Page 1
Jul 10, 2006 (9:34 am)
2006 Toyota Avalon
Great Car, Substandard Electronics
Buying a car today can be as complicated as deciding which flat screen TV format is right for your home and wallet.
That's because today's automobiles are more than just basic transportation, they are best compared as an extension of our mobile lifestyle. It comes as no surprise that carmakers today are including more technology than ever before with offerings ranging from communication and navigation devices to entertainment systems that keep the entire family entertained even on the longest of journeys.
Like buying a flat screen TV or an entire home entertainment system, if you rely solely on the information provided at store level, you could end up being greatly disappointed with your purchase as many times the salespeople either don't know the product they are selling or don't take the time to assist you in selecting the product that matches your usage and lifestyle. Even with the abundance of information provided on manufacturer's websites, many of us don't take the time to do a bit of research prior to entering a retail establishment. Today, purchasing a car can be more complicated than purchasing a computer. Simply stated, that's because most buyers admit upfront they don't know much about computers and succumb to the information provided at retail. With cars on the other hand, it's difficult to find an individual who will admit they know nothing about what they are looking for in a new vehicle.
Today's Automobiles Are Loaded With Gadgets,
Complicating the Purchase Process
Complicating this matter, today's batch of automobiles contain more than just efficient engines and comfortable seats, they are loaded with more gadgets today than ever before. Trying to decipher all the offerings are made even more complicated as many of the tech offerings are offered in bundles, meaning that although there are some features you might not mind paying for, they are bundled with many gadgets you would never consider or have no need to purchase. It used to be that you would walk into a dealership, select a model, sit down with a salesperson and select the desired options. The car would then be ordered to your specifications and delivered in approximately six weeks.
This has changed as today dealers are trying to increase sales and most carry a heavy inventory of vehicles that fall into two classes: Base and Fully Loaded. The problem herein is that the dealership management is predicting upfront what features its customers will be demanding. Granted, few if any dealers in South Florida get request for features such as Heated Windshield Washers as this is a feature we will most likely never use.
Having spent as lifetime as a technology reporter, I am one of those buyers that enjoys automobiles loaded with the latest and greatest electronic features. I have to admit that I'm not the typical buyer as I truly do my homework prior to entering a dealership. Many times I find myself knowing more about an individual automobile than the person selling it as I enjoy spending countless hours performing research on new purchases.
Avalon: Diamond or Lemon?
Recently, I thought I found a diamond in the rough in Toyota's flagship Avalon. From information gathered from Toyota's website, I was able to configure this car with the exact features and functions I desired. While I put more "seat time" in my golf cart than my automobile these days, and drive fewer than 5,000 miles per year, all I was looking for was a smooth, comfortable ride and a lot of technology for a very competitive price. This car seemed to fit this bill. Available in four configurations, I decided to go with its top of the line Limited model and loaded it up with technology. The offerings that I consider necessities for myself are GPS Navigation, Bluetooth (for safety purposes, this should be a requirement, not an option, on every vehicle sold as it allows for hands free, cell phone usage), Adaptive Cruise Control, Rain Sensing Wipers, Heated/Ventilated Seats, Satellite Radio, Park Assist and a Smart Keyless Entry System. Yes, many of these items are frivolous, but having spent more than 20 years as a leading technology reporter, these creature comforts are necessities for my lifestyle. After all, I'm not a hypocrite as I practice what I preach.
Another aspect that captured my attention after test driving the Avalon was that it delivered a smooth ride with very comfortable seating and carried a price tag, even loaded with all the aforementioned technology, around half the price of a comparable Lexus. (Lexus is owned by Toyota). All would have been perfect and I would have felt that I truly found the diamond in the rough, if only these features would have operated as promised. This is where my perfect "diamond in the rough" automobile purchase turned into the most sour of lemons.
Sales Personnel Receive Limited Training On New Technologies
Since the dealership, Palm Beach Toyota, did not have a test vehicle with many of these items available prior to purchase, nor did any other Toyota dealership in the South Florida area, I asked numerous questions about the performance of the tech items and was assured that all worked as promised. I can tell you upfront, this was not the case and from countless conversations with both dealer and Toyota factory personnel after the problems were identified, I was led to believe that less than 5% of purchasers of Toyota's flagship Avalon opted for its top of the line Limited model delivered fully loaded. Was this just an excuse?
Based on information from Toyota's website as well as information derived from the sales staff, I made the plunge and ordered the aforementioned vehicle. Although it was evident that the sales staff at Palm Beach Toyota had received little if any training whatsoever, as long as the "gadgets" worked as promised, I would have been a happy customer. While I was initially promised delivery in about two weeks, it was closer to five weeks when it arrived. It appears that while Avalon is a good seller for Toyota, the vast majority of its buyers opted for the base model and my selection had to come from the factory in Kentucky and make a stop in the privately-owned S.E.T. (South East Toyota) in Jacksonville for further installations.
#19 of 41 Toyota Avalon Defective GPS Page 2
Jul 10, 2006 (9:34 am)
While initially the car looked perfect, other than a few blemishes that were missed in the "preparation detailing" process (that's what those exorbitant "dealer fees" are supposed to cover), it was on my 45 minute drive home that I quickly realized all was not perfect when its GPS and Satellite Radio systems failed to operate properly. While I entered the information to route me to my home from the dealership using the quickest method (which should have been the Florida Turnpike), it wanted to guide me home via 441. I can only estimate the true time difference between these two routes to be around a half an hour. When you look at a map and see the road it wanted to send me (441) ran parallel to my desired road (the Florida Turnpike), it was a 45 mph route that had numerous stop lights. My desired routing would have me traveling at 70mph with no slowdowns until I reached my exit.
Sales Personnel Should Be Required To Read Instruction Manuals
Upon arriving home, I removed the instruction book from the glove compartment and read it cover to cover. Written in translated Japan/English (with numerous typographical errors), I tried other input methods for the GPS and quickly realized that for some strange reason, it consistently wanted to send me down those slower, scenic routes even when numerous other faster, shorter routes were available.
Within hours of delivery and realizing this problem, I contacted the dealer and they said they would look into it. When they realized there was a potential problem and that I was serious about having it followed-up, they said they would hold my old car until everything was resolved.
Manufacturer Customer Support Nightmare
I was given a number to call for Toyota Customer Service. It took numerous calls and countless hours to properly explain and have the operator understand the issues. As with most customer support situations, it took a few calls to get it escalated. As I awaited a phone call from a higher-level Toyota Customer Support Agent, I took the time to further explore the GPS software. It didn't take long to find yet another fluke that was a victim of poor software design.
This one was centered around it's POI (Points of Interest) feature. POI is a highly promoted and desirable feature of GPS as it allows you to find just about anything (restaurants, gas stations, recreational destinations, etc.,) with the press of a few buttons. Allow me to note that the Avalon did not feature the desirable Touch Screen and used a flimsy rocker switch that many times jumped more steps than desired, making data entry a bit frustrating and very time consuming. While I knew prior to purchase of the lack of a "touch screen," due to the low price, the "joystick" seemed to be a fair trade off. Here's an example of how the Avalon GPS POI function would operate:
I was searching for a Sushi restaurant, so I navigated through a series of menus starting with Destinations and then to the POI screen. Then I scrolled to Restaurants then to Japanese. I then had to enter my city (didn't this GPS system already know where I was located?) and saw there were 18 Sushi restaurants in the search area. Per the book's instructions, I was to press "List" and be able to view the listings either by "closest" or "alphabetically." This List button failed to appear and was dimmed - meaning it was inoperable. My only option was to press the letters of the alphabet to view the list. Please note that only a few letters were available for entry and each one only contained the names of the restaurants that started with that letter. The first active letter was B and when pressed, only a few restaurants were displayed. So, I pressed the back button to go back to the keyboard to select the next letter in the alphabet. The software wouldn't let me do this and made me start all over. This is the ultimate in software glitches and was so profound that this malfunction was tantamount to some of the faults found from the great minds of Microsoft. However, unlike the numerous faults found in Microsoft's software, there was no way to download a fix, nor did the manufacturer offer a method to correct these problems. Although the book described the proper operation, and I followed the steps exactly as published, I was given the option from Toyota personnel best described as "like it, or lump it."
It was at that point where my request for support was escalated and after reviewing the entire process with yet another Toyota Tech and waiting a few days for answers, then asked the same questions repeatedly, days later I was escalated to yet another Toyota Tech. This was supposedly the guy who knew everything there was to know about this GPS system. Of course, although this tech had a full report of my findings, I had to start all over from the beginning. This was a very time consuming process and each conversation took around 90 minutes. It was quickly confirmed that my GPS unit was not defective, every GPS included in an Avalon would behave in the same manner. Although its instruction book confirmed my findings that it was not operating properly, after three weeks of daily interviews by Toyota's technical representatives and the exhaustive repeating of the problems, there was no fix for the apparent bugs. Much to my surprise, even the product managers of this device was aware of these issues. I found this very difficult to believe. The only offer was to send me a free DVD upgrade when it was available.