New Survey Shows Toyota Recalls Taking Toll

05/15/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A new survey is casting light on the extent of consumer wariness in the wake of the ongoing Toyota recalls. Almost three out of every four Americans now trust the Toyota brand less because of the recent recalls and negative publicity according to the survey commissioned by

While there has been widespread speculation that Toyota was taking serious knocks due to the unrelenting tide of recalls on some of its most significant models, the extent of the damage had not been quantified. The new survey shows that the brand has indeed been damaged. Of the 74% who now trust the brand less there was consistency across ages and other demographics although slightly more women than men (76% vs. 71%) have experienced a dip in their trust of Toyota. The numbers are a sobering reminder that Toyota has work to do if it is going to restore people's trust in the brand.

If there is a silver lining it is that 69% of car owners have been motivated to pay more attention to their own car's maintenance. Much recent data shows that people need to keep their cars longer. And yet, most people are not performing the most basic maintenance like following the manufacturer's recommended service schedule or rotating their tires. If the recent Toyota issues can get a larger percentage of the population to focus on preventative car maintenance, then it would be a positive development.

As for Toyota, there are a number of recent developments that cast some doubt on Toyota's detractors. Questions about the Prius driver in San Diego, questions about the accuracy of the recent coverage of the recalls on television, etc. may spell the turning point for this crisis. It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out and what the ultimate impact is. A very similar scandal almost killed Audi in the 1980's only to be proven driver error. It took Audi ten years to recover but I suspect that Toyota will be back in the driver's seat much sooner than that.

To see the full results of the Toyota perception survey, click here.