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Toyota’s Secret: The A3 Report

How Toyota solves problems, creates plans, and gets new things done while developing an organization of thinking problem-solvers.

While much has been written about Toyota Motor Corp.’s production system, little has captured the way the company manages people to achieve operational learning. At Toyota, there exists a way to solve problems that generates knowledge and helps people doing the work learn how to learn. Company managers use a tool called the A3 (named after the international paper size on which it fits) as a key tactic in sharing a deeper method of thinking that lies at the heart of Toyota’s sustained success.

A3s are deceptively simple. An A3 is composed of a sequence of boxes (seven in the example) arrayed in a template. Inside the boxes the A3’s “author” attempts, in the following order, to: (1) establish the business context and importance of a specific problem or issue; (2) describe the current conditions of the problem; (3) identify the desired outcome; (4) analyze the situation to establish causality; (5) propose countermeasures; (6) prescribe an action plan for getting it done; and (7) map out the follow-up process.

The leading question

Toyota has designed a two-page mechanism for attacking problems. What can we learn from it?

However, A3 reports — and more importantly the underlying thinking — play more than a purely practical role; they also embody a more critical core strength of a lean company. A3s serve as mechanisms for managers to mentor others in root-cause analysis and scientific thinking, while also aligning the interests of individuals and departments throughout the organization by encouraging productive dialogue and helping people learn from one another. A3 management is a system based on building structured opportunities for people to learn in the manner that comes most naturally to them: through experience, by learning from mistakes and through plan-based trial and error.

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About the Author

John Shook is an industrial anthropologist and senior advisor to the Lean Enterprise Institute, where he works with companies and individuals to help them understand and implement lean production. He is author of Managing to Learn: Using the A3 Management Process to Solve Problems, Gain Agreement, Mentor, and Lead (Lean Enterprise Institute), and coauthor of Learning to See (Lean Enterprise Institute). He worked with Toyota for 10 years, helping it transfer its production, engineering and management systems from Japan to its overseas affiliates and suppliers.

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Sheila colinlak, patrick doyle, acta de constitución de proyecto ágil, un elemento diferenciador. | agilia, dave whaley, william harrod, howard s weinberg, systemental.

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Toyota’s Recall Crisis: What Have We Learned?

In August, 2009, the improper installation of an all-weather floor mat from an SUV into a loaner Lexus sedan by a dealer led to the vehicle’s accelerator getting stuck, causing a tragic, fatal accident and launching the most challenging crisis in Toyota’s history. This iconic company, synonymous with safety and quality, was vilified by the […]

In August, 2009, the improper installation of an all-weather floor mat from an SUV into a loaner Lexus sedan by a dealer led to the vehicle’s accelerator getting stuck, causing a tragic, fatal accident and launching the most challenging crisis in Toyota’s history . This iconic company , synonymous with safety and quality, was vilified by the American press , the government, and expert witnesses to plaintiff lawyers. Details usually unworthy of public attention, such as internal memos disagreeing over public relations strategy, became smoking guns that convinced the press and the public that Toyota vehicles had electronic problems causing runaway vehicles — and that the company was hiding this from the public.

The National Highway Transportation Authority (NHTSA) , the government arm responsible for enforcing auto safety, came under attack for being too soft on Toyota. So they did what any good American organization does when they are attacked: They got tough and became enforcers. Ray LaHood , Secretary of Transportation, was the toughest, accusing Toyota of being “safety deaf” and vowing to get to the bottom of all Toyota defects that could endanger American citizens. He got help by paying NASA taxpayer dollars to conduct a study that dragged on for 10 months to study Toyota electronics.

What did we learn on February 8, 2011 when the report came out? That there is absolutely no evidence of sudden unintended acceleration caused by electronic problems in Toyota vehicles. The only causes NASA found were improperly installed floor mats and sticky gas pedals that can be slow to return. There has been only one documented accident caused by the floor mats — the one involving the loaner Lexus, where the dealer had used the wrong floor mat and failed to attach it properly with the provided restraining clips — and there have been no documented cases of accidents caused by the very small number of sticky pedals. Most accidents have been attributed to driver error .

We also learned that the NHTSA knew all along that the only problems were floor mats and sticky pedals, but they had to go ahead with the NASA study to convince members of Congress who believed electronics were the cause of sudden acceleration despite a total lack of evidence to support that belief. Toyota’s name was dragged through the mud for over a year, $1.5 million in taxpayer money was spent , and some of the brightest minds in American engineering were occupied for 10 months — just so that NHTSA could prove they were right all along.

So who won in this debacle? Journalists who wrote speculative and poorly researched sensational articles got a lot of internet hits. NHTSA got a lot of attention, a larger budget, and a reputation for toughness. It remains to be seen whether the lawyers suing Toyota will get anything. American drivers got a paranoid auto industry that will recall vehicles at the drop of a hat. There will be some positive safety policies relating to how runaway cars are shut off in an emergency, and we all may get “black boxes” that record our recent driving actions. And Toyota got a crisis that drove it to reflect intensively and to make dramatic changes to improve its responsiveness to customer concerns, so likely will emerge stronger — but lost billions of dollars of value in the process.

It’s hard to believe that our roads are any safer at the end of this extended saga. For that to happen, we would have to rethink the way we deal with safety in the U.S. A first step might be the government and the media learning something from Toyota’s systematic approach to problem solving . It starts with some patience in getting all the facts, then prioritizing problems, then looking at them objectively to determine root causes, and finally developing solutions based on the real problems. The NHTSA took a positive step by objectively looking at the NASA data, concluding there was no evidence of electronics problems in Toyota vehicles, and shifting its focus to the important problems of distracted driving and pedal misapplication.

Jeffrey K. Liker is a professor of industrial and operations engineering at the University of Michigan and is author, with Timothy N. Ogden, of Toyota Under Fire (2011).

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Partner Center

How to use Toyota’s legendary A3 problem-solving technique

Georgina Guthrie

Georgina Guthrie

February 21, 2020

If you came home one day and found your kitchen taps on full-blast and your house full of water, what’s the first thing you’d do? Grab a bucket and start scooping — or turn off the tap?

When it comes to problem-solving, many of us take a rushed, reactionary approach rather than fixing the issue at the source. So in other words, we see the water, panic, and start scooping. If this sounds like something you’ve done recently, then don’t feel too bad: when the pressure’s high, we often jump towards the quickest fix, as opposed to the most effective one.

This is where the A3 technique comes in. It’s a problem-solving approach designed to efficiently address the root cause of issues.

What is the A3 technique?

The A3 technique is a structured way to solve problems. It’s part of the Lean methodology , developed by Toyota back in the mid-’40s. This doesn’t mean you need to implement a Lean way of working to take advantage of this process — it can work as a standalone exercise.

Granted, A3 isn’t an inspiring name, but the story of its origins is actually pretty interesting. Rumour has it that Taiichi Ohno, inventor of the Toyota Production System, refused to read past the first page of any report. In response, his team created A3 address and summarize problem-solving on one side of A3-sized paper. The A3 technique played a huge part in Toyota’s success and all kinds of industries have since adopted it. Here’s how to get started.

How to solve a problem with A3

The first thing to remember is this: A3 is collaborative and relies on good communication. It’s not something you should do by yourself.

There are three main roles involved:

As you’ve probably guessed, these aren’t roles that already exist in your company; you must create them for the purpose of this process. Here’s what they mean.

The owner is responsible for leading the exercise. They are the lynchpin between the two other roles, fostering good communication and keeping documents up to date. It’s tempting to think of the owner as the head of this trio, but that’s not true: everyone is equal here.

The mentor is someone with solid  problem-solving experience. It’s their job to coach the owner and steer them towards finding a solution. It’s not their job to find the answers themselves.

And finally, there are the  responders . This is someone (or a group of people) who have a vested interest in the outcome of the A3 project. Responders might include the client, stakeholders, or managers. A potential problem here is gaining access to them: if you work somewhere with a strict hierarchy — and you’re somewhere near the bottom of that structure — you may face challenges. There’s no easy way around this. Essentially, you need your organization to support this way of working and make it easy for you to access those at the top if needed.

How to create an A3 report

True to its origins, the A3 report is a one-page document. It typically contains 5-7 sections that systematically lead you towards a solution. These are the most commonly used steps, but feel free to modify them.

Final thoughts

A3 is an efficient, methodical way to solve problems at their source. When issues rear their head, rising stress can lead people to panic. Having a clearly designed system in place to guide you towards a solution minimizes the chances of people settling for a ‘quick fix’ or failing to act altogether.

Beyond being a guiding light in times of pressure, A3 is a great team-building exercise because it encourages individuals to work together towards a common goal — across all areas of the organization. Combine this with collaborative tools designed to help teams track progress and work together more effectively, and you’ll be unstoppable.

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Toyota Problems and Solutions

What problem happened in Toyota? How was it solved? This essay provides answers to questions regarding Toyota problems and solutions, such as a recall.


Bureaucracy, overconfidence, weak management, the fallout.


How can a company that has been calling the shots in the automobile market succumb to problems and criticism brought about by mistakes that could otherwise have been avoided? Why would a company release faulty cars into the market?

Well, the Japanese owned Toyota Motor Corporation has recently succumbed to severe operational malfunctions. As a result, the company has incurred a loss of consumer confidence in their products and poor sales.

This happened despite Toyota being ranked the world’s largest car manufacturer after out-pacing American owned general motors. It is noteworthy that most of the problems the company is currently undergoing could have been foreseen and avoided as they are considered human errors.

The company president, Mr. Akio Toyoda, came out and apologized for the mistakes committed by the company. However, he seemed not aware of the exact problems his company was enduring and how to solve them.

Most importantly, for Toyota to recover from the current crisis, it must address the main problems exist, ting within its management structure.

In as much as the problems faced by Toyota Motor Corporation are numerous, it is necessary to explore the most distinct which are bureaucracy, overconfidence, weak management and fall out.

It is noteworthy that problems involving bureaucracy have taken a center stage in Toyota Motors Corporation. Thus, the Japanese carmaker has been dealing with emerging problems instead of concentrating on the smooth running of the company.

There are numerous avoidable bureaucracy problems that have engulfed Toyota Motor Corporation; as a result, it has led to company criticism and reduction of sales. One of these problems involved its expansion into the United States market.

It is evident the two operating stations in the United States reported to the headquarters in Japan as different entities. Thus, in the implementation of the United States expansion program, the bureaucracy arrangement was not well structured.

Holstein further affirms that James Press, Toyota’s highest-ranking U.S executive managed to establish Toyota Motor North America with its de facto headquarters in New York.

Also, he ascended in the company’s management portfolio as he was appointed a member of the board of directors in Japan. This branded him the only non-Japanese in Toyota’s board of directors. In an apparent turn of events, Press quit Toyota in 2007 and went ahead to join Chrysler.

As a result, he was replaced by executives from Japan who had no experience in the United States automobile market. This was the onset for Toyota problems in the U.S.

Most importantly, the departure of press disjointed the informed bridge between Toyota management in Japan and its subsidiaries in the United States. Thus, the company could not ensure a quick response in case of a crisis.

Toyota Motor Corporation has to make quick solutions to this problem to continue making profits and make customers regain trust in its products. The bureaucracy problem should be solved from a professional perspective.

Thus, the company should assign the management of the U.S market to competent and experienced individuals.

This should probably be individuals with experience in the United States motor vehicle industry and are fully aware of the challenges and requirements of the market. This solution is in line with Max Weber’s key characteristics of bureaucracy.

The other bureaucracy problem that surrounded the Toyota expansion program in the United States was the failure in the implementation of effective teamwork.

This came about as the 400 workers in its United States plant were assembling and distributing 250,000 parts in a day to the local centers in the United States. Hence, it was considered a team-oriented facility.

Unfortunately, it started its operation before adequate team training was completed. Thus, the management had the pressure to supply parts on time, resulting in the adoption of a traditional bureaucratic arrangement.

This arrangement was in such a way that 13 supervisors were making decisions for large work units. As a result, the regional centers were not happy as they had been promised a team-based work environment and criticized the management for not fulfilling their promise.

Guffey suggests that this problem is best solved through consideration of Max Weber’s characteristics of a bureaucracy which insists on job specification that constitutes obligations, detailed rights, the scope of authority and responsibilities.

Thus, Toyota has to establish a team-based working environment by putting into place the concept of job specification with consideration to obligations, detailed rights, the scope of authority and responsibilities.

This will facilitate teamwork and cooperation; thus, the workers and the local centers will be comfortable as they will be involved in the decision-making processes, in the company.

Implementation of this solution will also result in increased production and supply of the vehicle parts and their distribution in the United States regional centers.

Recently Toyota experienced a bureaucracy problem that led to the recall of automobiles around the world.

Toyota president, Akio Toyoda took two weeks before admitting that the company was undergoing a crisis, moreover in his brief to the media he seemed not aware of the problem in his company.

As a result, some analysts said that this slow response was related to Japanese work behavior and the way decisions are made in Japanese companies.

However, other analysts differed and maintained that the slow response was not related to the Japanese culture, but the consequence of a company whose cooperate bureaucracy grew too large as it made all efforts to become the world’s largest automobile manufacturer.

Analysts at the Citigroup global markets stated that Toyota’s bureaucracy enlarged with time and the in-house communications slowed because it was racing up to replace general motors, as the largest automobile manufacturer in the world.

Lincoln, as a result, reveals that in solving the problem of the slow response by management to the company crisis like this one, Toyota has to establish a more elaborate unity of command.

Thus, the structure will ensure the management comes out in time and responds to any controversy surrounding the company especially one of this magnitude. It is evident that the company president came out to brief the public about the crisis but still did not know the main problem in his company.

Hence, he seemed not well briefed by the parties concerned within the company as the system of command amongst the management had no unity. In accomplishing this solution, it might lead to the taking of severe measures on the size of the bureaucracy.

Thus, streamlining of the command chain is essential with some being dropped and others being assigned more responsibility.

The other problem in Toyota is overconfidence. It is noteworthy that Toyota is a secretive organization. This is because what goes on inside this organization is not easily discussed outside the company.

Also, the employees are forbidden to talk about the company procedures and strategy to any other person. The company believes it is the best and thus does not need to share information with any other organization.

An American employee once confided that working for the company with the level of secrecy involved equals working for the central intelligence agency. This is because the information is shared on a need to know basis and not any other time.

Also, it was always difficult to get information about the company from the management or employees.

It is a fact that Toyota has automobile publications, but all the information contained in the publications in general and mainly overviews. Sharing of organization ideas is essential as it facilitates the realization of the targeted goals.

For many years, Toyota was considered an underdog when compared to Ford motors and general motors; however, it recently developed secrecy in its operations when it started out doing its American rivals in worldwide sales.

At this time, Toyota motors did not need any loan or grants to develop products and marketing strategies to sell its vehicles. It is noteworthy that the company had all the resources it needed to produce and push through their products independently without outside assistance.

Most importantly, the feedback from its consumers gave the brand praise. As a result, Toyota adopted the notion that it did not need a strong public relation strategy to promote its brands.

The company contended that the response it was getting from its customers was enough to propel the sale of its products. Also, it failed to recognize that market challenges on the leading player were more as compared to other players.

Thus, the company did not prepare for the current reduction in sales and consumer complains triggered by faulty productions.

Additionally, these problems seem difficult for Toyota to solve as it does not interact with the other players to find out how they solve such problems. Overconfidence blinds an organization and makes it fail to notice its shortcomings.

It is a fact that overconfidence in Toyota motors made it fail to collect its competitor’s information. As a result, it is paying heavily for the current problems surrounding the company’s operations.

It is evident that the moment Toyota attained the number one spot as the worlds leading automobile manufacturer it entered into a comfort zone and seized to recognize the strategies its competitors were employing.

Also, Toyota took so long to acknowledge its problems as overconfidence had engulfed its operations. The company’s president Mr. Akio Toyoda came out and apologized for the current production faults which he related to overconfidence.

This problem has contributed to the downfall of many companies around the world and Toyota had a chance of learning from the example of such companies and avoid being caught in such a situation.

It is evident that Toyota overestimated its actual performance which in the end fell short of the expectation.

According to Schwartz, overconfidence is the root cause of recurring company problems as it results in laxity. In Toyota Motor Corporation, overconfidence has resulted in the decline of sales and loss of consumer trust.

Thus, it is a problem that has to be eliminated from within the company. In solving this problem, the company should consider interacting with other market players and share ideas. Most importantly, the company should attend corporate events organized by different corporate partners.

This will eliminate the problem of secrecy within Toyota and enable it to share its problems with the corporate partners. As a result, the relationship will be mutual, and the company will eliminate overconfidence and be aware of its shortcomings way before they emerge in its operations.

Cooperate events have proved to yield positive results when it comes to solving the problem of overconfidence. Also, interaction results in the identification of weaknesses; thus appropriate measures are taken to ensure these weaknesses do not interfere with the company operations.

The other way that appropriately solves this problem is for Toyota to embark on a networking exercise and create several links with other corporate companies to broaden its opinion sources. Additionally, the company will gain more confidence in the networking structures.

McKenna affirms that a well-coordinated networking process will ensure that Toyota motor corporation maintains constant and reliable feedback on the efficiency of its products.

Thus, Toyota will realize its strengths and weaknesses; as a result, it will be easy to avoid a crisis like the one that made it recall close to 8.7 million vehicles that had mechanical faults.

Most importantly, effective and well-coordinated networking structures will act as a shield against the unexpected organizational crisis.

Toyota will have to appoint a team to monitor this process to give out warnings whenever a crisis is looming while basing on the feedback from the networked structures.

It is also essential that Toyota adapts a standard and more reliable strategy of evaluation to avoid overestimation of the company’s outcome and operations. Thus, Toyota will be able to identify potential problems either in the company’s products or the market setting.

In the end, appropriate measures will be taken to prevent the company from getting into a situation like the present one. Furthermore, Toyota overestimated its operations based on three main factors, i.e., the quality of its products, the response from customers and the ability of its competitors.

The company was focused on being the leading car manufacturer and forgot about the basic elements of the business.

Thus, a standard and effective evaluation strategy as Kreitner divulges are appropriate as it will enable Toyota to accurately perform an evaluation process basing on the current market condition.

As a result, the problem of overconfidence will be curbed as the actual market outcome will be portrayed. An effective evaluation strategy has been evident to enable organizations to avoid overconfidence as the weaknesses identified always keep the management on toes.

Stahl & Grigsby depict that the problem of weak management in an organization has always been considered a recipe for disaster. Thus, it is essential to strengthening management whenever this is detected.

In recent times, Toyota has experienced numerous problems linked to weak management strategy. It is evident that Toyota for many years has been managed by a series of professionals.

Hence, it managed to attain its success and assumed the number one spot as the world’s biggest automobile manufacturer. Last summer grandson of the founder, Akio Toyoda, took over as the company’s chief executive.

This prompted a mixed reaction from analysts and observers both in Japan and the United States of America. Many analysts and observers stated that Akio Toyoda was not ready to manage such a world-class company.

With consideration to the current happening at Toyota, it is clear that truly he was not ready. Analysts argued that the management of a company in the class off Toyota needs an individual who is aggressive and independent in making his decisions.

Akio, they say do not have any of these qualities as he is not aggressive in his ventures and always seek the opinion of his family while making decisions concerning the company.

When he took over the job, Akio promised the world that he would manage by walking around; thus, he would go where the problem was.

However, he contradicted this statement during the safety flap crisis, as he failed to come out promptly and explain to the world the cause of the problem and how Toyota motor was going to solve it.

Promptness in response was what any manager in his shoes would have done. Instead, he chose to travel to Switzerland and attend the annual gathering of world leaders. Furthermore, he delegated the management of the predicament to the head of Toyota motor sales, James E. Lenz III.

This resulted in the criticism of his style of management with some analyst suggesting that he was supposed to be the one dealing with that crisis directly.

As the icon of the company, Toyoda had the responsibility of coming out boldly and accept responsibility for the crisis while revealing the next step to be taken by the company.

The problem of weak management is also being portrayed in Toyota because the Japanese company has not yet gotten to the root cause of the problem. Similarly, the management seems to be covering up the mistakes made by its employees.

Since the revelation of the safety flap, no one in Toyota has been held responsible. It is evident that in Toyota the management structure results in poor communication amongst the employees.

As a result, the company activities are marred by errors and blunders that no one is ready to take responsibility for; thus, managers and employees are not held responsible.

Additionally, the management brings out a culture that stifles individualism. This is because; the company does not share its proceedings with other companies. They believe sharing of such information will give its competitors an upper hand against it.

Toyota has been known to have invented the asking of “the five whys.” Thus, in case of any problem in the company, the five whys were used to get to the root cause of the problem.

In solving the problem of weak management in any organization, it entails undertaking severe measures that might target individuals. However, a good recovery program results in improvement.

For the case of Toyota, the management model should be restructured in a way that facilitates easy flow of communication. A good communication channel will improve the relations within and outside the company.

It is evident that the present Toyota management structure has resulted in poor communication among the existing departments. Toyota Motor Corporation has to adopt a team-oriented working environment that will ensure the workers contribute to each task to improve working relations.

As a result, the management and employees will be held accountable for each task assigned. It is noteworthy that the lack of accountability was blamed for a slow response to the safety flap crisis.

The president had no one to brief him on the happenings as every employee seemed to distance himself from the problem. It is argued that weak management in Toyota Motor Corporation has eliminated the possibility of collective responsibility among the employees and management.

Thus, a well-facilitated communication channel will enhance collective responsibility and accountability.

Weak management can be curbed when the president of Toyota Motor Corporation Mr. Akio Toyoda leads from the front in times of company crisis. Thus, such an act will instill consumer confidence in him and Toyota products.

It was so unfortunate that, during the recent safety flap crisis in the company, Mr. Toyoda decided to delegate the duties of dealing with the crisis to the head of sales.

As the company president, it is his responsibility to ensure he briefs the clients and potential customers on the happenings at Toyota Motor Corporation.

Stahl & Grigsby insist that the aggressiveness of any company CEO during a crisis is evident as the only tool that best ensures damage control. Weak management as a result of laxity by the head of the company at times is best solved by the replacement of the top management.

Thus, for Toyota to curb the problem of weak management the top company executives including the president Mr. Toyoda, should be fired and their place was taken by other qualified individuals.

Toyota Motor Corporation has to consider professionalism when appointing the company executives. It was noted that Toyota appointed Mr. Akio Toyoda as the company president because he had family ties with the founder of the company.

Thus, they failed to consider the qualifications that come with the position of the company president as Mr. Toyoda is a qualified banker and a rally enthusiast but does not pose any management qualification.

In solving this problem, the company must replace Mr. Toyoda with a more qualified individual with experience in the management of a world-class company in the status of Toyota Motor Corporation. The company must avoid involving family ties in the running of the company.

Furthermore, it has also been noticed that Toyota’s board of directors and other high ranking executives in the company are mostly Japanese. This, as a result, has contributed to the presence of weak management in the company, as unqualified Japanese individuals are appointed as executives.

Although the company is entitled to the provision of employment opportunities to the home population, it must consider adopting a global outlook by the inclusion of non-Japanese in the company board of directors and executives who are more qualified to manage the company.

Cusumano divulges that Toyota problem-solving mechanism seems to have broken down this is about the recent set of crisis that has engulfed the Japanese car manufacturer.

During the recent safety flap crisis, the company announced that the floor mats were faulty then after some time it said it was the gas pedal. The gas pedals were supplied from an Indiana company. Thus Toyota claimed that the only U.S made vehicles were faulty.

However, this version of Toyota did not hold up as a Lexus manufactured in Japan bearing the same mechanical fault was involved in an accident, in California. As a result, Toyota described it as a software problem.

At the moment, the company has stated that the problem is related to faulty software used in breaking and acceleration vehicle operations.

Also, it is not clear how long Toyota will take to formulate the problem, as they already suggested that it will not be quick. Safety measures have thus been established to control this problem but not to eliminate it.

The company president is said to have compounded the crisis facing his organization. Additionally, he failed to address the problem adequately when he appeared for the press briefing.

Everything seems to have fallen apart as his proposal to form a quality committee and welcome experts’ opinion from outside the company was not well presented.

Previously, Toyota was known for quickly correcting mistakes, as evident when it introduced its first car model in the U.S market and got laughed out but came back with an improved model. Also, its Lexus model has given big names like Mercedes, Cadillac, and BMW a run for their money.

At the moment, the company faces lawsuits filed by victims or family of victims involved in accidents while driving faulty Toyota automobiles. Moreover, the company faces scrutiny from various legal organizations and governments especially in the United States of America.

Most importantly, Toyota is on the spot, and it is not clear when it will come out of the problem.

In solving this problem, Toyota needs a complete makeover from management to workers. The main factor that led to fall out in Toyota is its inefficient Human Resource department.

This problem is solved through the structuring of the human resource department to improve the working conditions. Thus, the company should consider rewarding employees in a way to appreciate their efforts.

Most importantly, it has to recognize the employees who facilitate quick action in case of a looming crisis.

To avoid the currently occurring faults in their vehicles, Toyota must implement a training program, for employees to enable them to acquire the necessary skills and capabilities to solve the challenges they might encounter in their workplace.

These employees should be able to avoid ignorance of external safety information.

It is noteworthy that Toyota needs to implement an effective recruitment strategy to bring on board individuals with a high level of skills and capabilities to tackle the present crisis professionally.

Also, solving this problem involves establishing a performance management process that will enhance frequent monitoring of performance and, as a result, help identify problems before they get out of hand.

It is also essential that Toyota develops a corporate culture that will make the employees identify themselves with the company. Hence, they will be committed to the company resulting in an excellent production.

The leaders should undergo a development and succession program; as a result, they will learn and gain experience to navigate the company through the rapidly growing automobile industry.

Most importantly, the success of Toyota after recovery from the present crisis will depend on the established risk management strategy.

An effective strategy will enable it to forge forward through identification and to solve or avoiding risks involved in both management and production processes.

The problems Toyota is facing currently are not as a result of an individual’s isolated mistake, but a collective company mistakes linked to one another. A number of the company’s corporate functions were involved. Thus, the crisis in Toyota was as a result of a failure in its system of management.

Most importantly, the lesson the other market players should learn is that a good management and production process requires frequent evaluation of performance. This helps in the prevention of crisis caused by avoidable billion-dollar errors.

Cusumano, Michael. Staying Power: Six Enduring Principles for Managing Strategy and Innovation in an Uncertain World (Lessons from Toyota, MicrosoftIntel, Apple, Google, and More). New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010..

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Holstein, William. Toyota recall highlights deep organizational failures . BNET, 2010. Web.

Kreitner, Robert. Management . Massachusetts, MA. Cengage Learning, 2008.

Lincoln, Edward. Arthritic Japan: the slow pace of economic reform . Washington D.C: Brookings Institution Press, 2001.

McKenna, Eugene. Business psychology and organizational behavior . Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press Ltd, 2000.

Schwartz, David. Encyclopedia of knowledge management. Philadelphia, PA: Idea Group Inc (IGI), 2006.

Stahl, Michael, Grigsby, David. Strategic management: total quality and global competition . Massachusetts, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 1997.

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Problem Solving the Toyota Way

More than solving problems, every problem is an improvement opportunity, telling the problem-solving story.

The Toyota Way seeks to identify and remove obstacles on the path to perfection. This philosophy is rooted in the Japanese cultural desire to seek perfection in every activity. As we discussed earlier in the book, the Toyota Way is a cyclical process of achieving stability, standardizing practices, and then continually squeezing the process in order to expose the obstacles (seen as system weakness). Human beings tend to seek comfort and avoid discomfort. The Toyota Way is not a natural behavior. The Toyota philosophy relies on the “system,” and adhering to its concepts will force people supporting the system into uncomfortable situations. The choices presented then are to either remove the obstacles or to fail. For this reason, possessing the skills of solving problems and the ability to continuously improve are crucial to survival.

This process serves as the framework for most other aspects of the Toyota Production System (TPS) and its product development system, and is largely responsible for Toyota’s tremendous success. Toyota can generate greater results, with less effort, in a shorter period of time, more consistently than any of its competitors. This process provides a structure to align resources effectively, to ensure mutual understanding of the significance of the issue, to clearly outline the necessity and benefit of resolving the issue, and, with a high degree of accuracy, to predict the actual result.

The problem-solving methodology is a skill that runs deep and strong at all levels of the organization within Toyota and across all functions, from manufacturing to purchasing to sales and the rest of Toyota. The basic method is learned in training classes, but the real learning comes from daily practical application, continued use, and evaluation by others in the organization. Technically, the methodology is fairly simple and does not require complex statistical analysis tools. Because of it’s simplicity the method can be embraced and executed by all Toyota personnel regardless of education or previous experience. Toyota uses advanced statistical analysis in certain situations, but the day-to-day use of problem-solving is straightforward. This method may appear too simplistic to individuals trained as Black Belts in the Six Sigma process, but there is an elegant beauty to it. For one thing, the issues encountered by most associates on a daily basis require only basic analytical skills. More complex techniques are unnecessary and often confuse people who have a problem but are not trained in the methods. In addition, the process at Toyota can be applied rapidly, while Six Sigma and other similar processes tend to be lengthy and laborious.

This process may occur in a very short time frame (less than one minute) or may take months or even years. From the moment an operator discovers a problem on the line and signals the need for support (by pulling the andon cord, as described in Chapter 8), until the problem is controlled and corrected, may be less than one minute. At the other end of the spectrum is long-term strategy development, preparing a new product launch, process improvement, and policy deployment.

Calling this process “problem solving” may be a misnomer, since the process goes well beyond the basics of solving problems. This method encompasses a critical and logical thinking process. It requires thorough evaluation and reflection (genchi genbutsu and hansei), careful consideration of various options, and a carefully considered course of action, all leading toward measurable and sustainable goals.

With repeated use and practice, this process becomes second nature and is used in virtually every situation in which improvement is desired, when new or modified processes are added, and even as a framework for the development of a lean implementation process. Here are just a few of the situations for which this process can be used:

The inverse of a problem is an opportunity. This has become a cliché and often means we don’t want to deal with the fact that we have problems. It becomes real only when the organizational culture focuses on continuous improvement. Within all organizations, including Toyota, there is a virtually endless supply of problems, and thus opportunities. We may also commonly refer to these problems as “issues,” and they fall into three broad categories: Large, Medium, and Small (Figure 13-1).

Many organizations fail to develop an effective process for capturing opportunity from all three categories. Quite often the Small category is overlooked entirely because these opportunities are viewed as “insignificant” or offering “not enough bang for the buck.” In addition, the Medium and Large categories are not fully exploited due to the small number of people being trained or qualified to resolve issues (Figure 13-2). In this structure, the primary impetus for improvement is management-directed and management-controlled. In this case change occurs from outside the process. This continues to foster the traditional we/they thinking, which implies that only management or specific individuals are responsible for improvement, and that the workers wait for “them” to correct issues. Individual efforts are not encouraged for various reasons, but primarily because there is no structure in place to support them and because managers fear a loss of control.

Figure 13-1. Typical quantities of opportunities available

Figure 13-2. Opportunities captured by typical companies

Also, in most organizations problems are not viewed as opportunities for improvement, but as failures, and thus are hidden rather than addressed.

Toyota is able to maximize its performance using two tactics:

The Toyota Way divides the categories and utilizes the resources appropriately for all three levels. Larger issues are generally addressed through managementdirected and management-controlled activities such as Management Kaizen Training [also referred to as Practical Kaizen Training, or jishuken activities (Figure 13-3)]. It is also management’s responsibility to establish expectations for the organization, to identify weak points in the system, and to apply the appropriate resources. Mid-level opportunities are generally initiated by the supervisor, the team, or by an individual. These items may be based on overall company objectives for improvement or on issues of particular challenge to the group affected. Finally, Toyota is able to capture a huge opportunity by facilitating the individual efforts toward improvement. The individual or small team nearly always initiates these efforts. Each person understands the process of continuous improvement and pursues that objective in his or her daily activities.

In fact, continuous improvement is so important that changes to processes are made up to the last day of production in a product cycle. This seems paradoxical until it is understood that the idea of continuous improvement truly means continuous—never ending. If people believe that improvements are only desired under the “correct” conditions, they will, in effect, not make improvements because the conditions may never be correct. We’ve often heard people state that a product or process will “go away” in six months, so it is not practical to spend time and money improving it. The Toyota Way suggests that a small improvement with minor effort yielding perhaps one second of time or one cent per piece saved over the six-month period is, in fact, a practical idea. It facilitates the idea that improvement must occur at all times at all levels by all individuals. Any rules suggesting appropriate times and conditions for improvement will kill the spirit of continuous improvement.

Management Kaizen

Cross-functional Team

Quality Circle

Individual Daily Kaizen

Figure 13-3. Toyota leverages opportunities at all levels

In addition, Toyota teaches basic problem-solving skills to all employees so that everyone becomes a problem solver. With thousands of people solving problems on a daily basis, Toyota can effectively leverage its people resource. For most issues encountered daily, the basic methods are sufficient. More complex techniques are unnecessary and often confuse people dealing directly with the problem. Problems of a more complex nature require a higher degree of skill, and members of management are trained via Management Kaizen events. The case at the end of this chapter on the Toyota Georgetown, Kentucky Plant illustrates the breadth and depth of kaizen activities across the organization.

Tables 13-1 through 13-3 summarize the characteristics of the three levels of issues, the typical scope of the specific issue, examples of each, and implementation methods.

Table 13-1. Toyota Approach to Large Issues

Table 13-2. Toyota Approach to Medium Issues

Table 13-3. Toyota Approach to Small Issues

Toyota associates learn that the problem-solving process is like telling a story. Every good story has an introduction or lead-in, character development and substance in the middle, a conclusion, and perhaps a hint of a sequel . The problem-solving process has distinct chapters or steps. And like a good story, a good problem-solving process will flow smoothly between each step, with a clear connection from one to the other. The completion of one step will lead to the next step, and there will be no break in the continuity. Here are the “chapters” of the problem-solving story:

Develop a thorough understanding of the current situation and define the problem.

Complete a thorough root cause analysis.

Thoroughly consider alternative solutions while building consensus.

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA):

Reflect and learn from the process.

There may be additional information contained in the story, but it will generally fall under one of these categories. As with good stories, each problem-solving process is somewhat different, but overall, the basic structure of the process is the same.

In Chapters 14 through 17, we’ll go into detail about each chapter of the problem-solving story and developing a thorough understanding of PDCA. You will notice that Chapter 14, which focuses on understanding the current situation and defining the problem, is the longest, and subsequent chapters get shorter. This reflects the importance and level of effort in each of these phases. Getting the problem right is the most important and should be where most of the effort is made, since doing a great job of solving the wrong problem has little longterm impact. Yet in most problem-solving activities we have noticed, people are more than happy to accept a superficial definition of the problem and launch into brainstorming solutions. This brainstorming is the fun and exciting part, so we want to get to that quickly, but it’s also the easiest part. Toyota’s practical problem-solving methodology is a disciplined process and does not always come naturally. It requires stepping back and thinking deeply before charging into solutions and implementation.

Case Study: Kaizen at the Toyota Georgetown Plant

Toyota’s first wholly owned assembly plant outside of Japan in Georgetown, Kentucky originally built only the Camry and has expanded greatly. This plant became the site of thousands of pilgrimages to see true TPS right here in our own backyard. The plant from the start began racking up J.D. Power awards that hang from the rafters, practically hiding the ceiling.

Georgetown started out as a large site, building engines, stamping, welding, painting, molding plastic bumpers and instrument panels, and assembling cars. It grew quickly as the Avalon and Sienna minivan were added, then the minivan was moved out and the Solara coupe was moved in. Through volume changes, model changes, equipment changes (e.g., a completely new body shop), and growth, it has been a busy place with little time to catch a breath. Combined with the fact that it is a favorite recruiting ground for companies that want to hire away Toyota-trained employees, it has been a challenge to maintain the lofty expectations of the plant. By 2004 the site was up to 7,800 employees, which managers felt was beyond the size where communication is truly effective. They had to switch from thinking of it as a town to thinking of it as a big city with a lot of little neighborhoods.

The growth and losing managers led to tremendous pressure by 2000, as the J.D. Power awards became few and far between and cost pressure from the low-wage countries China and Korea pushed the plant into radical kaizen. While kaizen was part of the culture of the plant, they were used to continuous problem solving punctuated by the big changes associated with model launches and new equipment. The new competitive challenge required kaikaku (radical kaizen). Added to this was the pressure of becoming self-sufficient, since Toyota in Japan was spread thin, supporting plants throughout the world, and unable to afford sending additional Japanese engineers and coordinators. Georgetown had to figure things out largely with Americans.

Table 13-2, above, shows a variety of different approaches that Toyota uses for process improvement projects, including various types of crossfunctional teams, Quality Circles, and work groups under a group leader. The need for radical improvement at Georgetown taxed all of these approaches and more.

There are some common characteristics of these process improvement activities at Georgetown, and Toyota generally:

1. Process improvement projects in individual areas are driven by hoshin kanri (policy deployment) objectives for the site that are linked to improvement objectives for North America, which are linked to improvement objectives all the way up to annual goals of the president of Toyota. 2. The process improvement project follows the steps described in Chapters 13 through 17. Ultimately it will look like the problemsolving A3 report described in Chapter 18. It may be displayed on a board, a wall, or on an A3 report, but all the elements will be included (e.g., problem statement, improvement objectives, alternatives considered, selected alternatives, justification, results, additional actions to be taken). 3. It will follow the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. 4. It will be part of an organizational learning process, with any key learning shared across the organization.

To support these dramatic improvements, which were needed in many Toyota facilities, Toyota established the Global Production Center (GPC) in Japan. In the past, Georgetown had a mother-child relationship with the Tsutsumi plant in Japan, which also made Camrys. The Georgetown engine plant learned from the Kamigo engine plant in Japan. They “child” plant learned some specific traits of this parent. Now Toyota wanted a global common system and developed GPC to spread TPS in a uniform way. Originally, Japanese coordinators came to each plant in North America and mentored managers one on one. It was a learningby-doing approach. But now, with sites outnumbering coordinators, GPC had to rely on more formal training materials to spread TPS concepts. Georgetown also had the opportunity to learn from the Operations Management Development Division (OMDD) in the United States, which taught TPS to suppliers but now was a resource internally as well. Georgetown employees can engage in a twoto three-year rotation in OMDD, doing projects at suppliers to deeply learn TPS.

One way Georgetown used OMDD was to require all managers, even at the highest levels, to lead shorter kaizen projects at suppliers and get their hands dirty in a new environment with painfully honest critiques from OMDD’s TPS masters. They did a one-week process-level kaizen and then a two-week systems-level-material-and-information-flow kaizen. Managers who led the supplier kaizen activities were expected to lead four similar activities per year in their own areas back at Georgetown. To develop in-house knowledge, Georgetown set up an Operations Development Group (ODG) internally. Group leaders, area managers, and managers could rotate through for two to three years to get indepth TPS experience doing kaizen projects in the plant. Each area of the plant has a TPS specialist who has direct experience or mentored expertise from this group assigned to work on medium-sized projects.

Through hoshin kanri, aggressive goals were set for each plant in 2003. For example, to become globally competitive on price, the engine plant set a target of reducing total cost by 40 percent by 2007. Through kaizen, the engine plant had reduced the workforce size from 1,017 to 930 people between 2000 and 2003. But cutting direct labor was not going to get a 40 percent cost reduction. That required a major analysis of all costs, for labor, depreciation, maintenance, indirect materials, facilities, and purchased parts and materials. Cost targets were established in each area, adding up to 40 percent when achieved. To make it more challenging, the engine plant had similarly aggressive targets in safety, quality, and product launches.

The 2005 hoshin kanri was to be the best in North America at efficiency and effectiveness. This required breakthrough kaizen and a rededication to the Toyota Way. The Georgetown plants had the benefit of benchmarking their sister plants in Japan, which were already considerably ahead on these metrics. The engine plant could benchmark the Kamigo plant, note the significant gaps, study the root cause of the gaps, and develop specific action plans to close the gap. Each plant at Georgetown used benchmarking in this way. Some of the approaches taken at the engine plant were:

Minimize machine complexity through some new developments in machining technology at Toyota. This would increase operational availability.

Use the “cabbage patch” approach to make operations more visual. This included a review of machined scrapped parts, laying out all

the scrapped parts each day. Actual cost due to scrap is charted and a deep Five-Why analysis done. A daily board shows what the problem is, the root cause, shortand long-term countermeasures, who is responsible, and the status of the project every day.

Make the line more compact through line compression. Moving operations closer together reduces waste and allows operators to add tasks in their work cycle, without adding overburden, as well as reducing travel distance to respond to andon calls.

Bring subassembly operations in line with the main assembly to compress lines.

Bring in a new engine on new breakthrough machining technology (Global Engine Line) that is far more flexible and at the same time simpler and easier to maintain.

More local sourcing of materials and tooling to reduce shipping costs and take advantage of lower costs in America than Japan (tooling locally cut costs 30 percent).

Long–term, the objective was to merge the sixand four-cylinder lines into one flexible line that would greatly reduce capital costs and provide flexibility to level the schedule as demand patterns change for one versus the other engine.

There were many small kaizen activities in the engine plant. Here are a few examples:

Comparison to Kamigo showed that Georgetown was using significantly more labor. So many small projects were done using yamazumi (balance) charts and analysis using the Standard Work Combination Table discussed in Chapter 6. In one project a team under the group leader was able to reduce one process out of three in this way. Spread across all of the teams in the plant, this begins to add up. (Note: eliminating a “process” in many companies equates to eliminating a person’s job but at Toyota the person is not let go but moved to another position. Through attrition, early retirement, and reducing temporary employees this will ultimately lead to higher labor productivity).

A Quality Circle activity on tooling wear done by a team that saved 16 cents per unit.

One machine was hidden from view by curtains, and uncovering it to see what was going on revealed problems of how metal chips were building up and coolant was overflowing. A better preventive maintenance system was put in place, and scrap and operational availability were charted and improved.

There were so many changes occurring all over the Georgetown site to meet these aggressive targets that it’s hard to do justice to the magnitude of the improvement effort. Each improvement project used the same rigorous problem-solving approach, with specific measurable objectives to achieve the goals set at the next level up in the hoshin kanri. Here are a few examples:

Each of the six areas has a portion of the wall to display information and project status. J.D. Power publishes results twice per year, and companies can get in-depth versions of the study comparing themselves to other companies. Toyota paid for an additional level, which gives monthly customer survey data, including verbatim descriptions of the problem and the actual Vehicle Identification Numbers of problem cars. The complete problem-solving process described in this section was followed from the problem definition to identifying alternative solutions to developing detailed action plans with what, who, and when. All of this was on the storyboards.

As an example, a detailed investigation of a steering pull problem led to some significant reengineering, while a quicker problem involved the keyless entry system, because people found it to easy to push the trunk release button unintentionally. Many of these problems cut across the company, involving corporate quality, product development, suppliers, and engineering in Japan, since there are Camry models for Europe and Japan. Georgetown took a leadership role coordinating all the activity, since they are the last line of attack and build the cars customers experience.

These aggressive kaizen projects are being done at all levels and for big, medium, and small projects. They are being done cross-functionally and from the manager to the team associate level. Why would hourly team associates and team leaders participate in this when many of these projects lead to process reductions, which imply labor reductions? The reason is simple. Since the opening of the Georgetown plant, no fulltime team associates have involuntarily lost their jobs. Those “kaizened” out are reassigned and eventually, through attrition and by reducing the use of temporary workers, the employee levels are adjusted. More recently Georgetown began to offer early retirement packages and voluntary severance packages. The drivers for these aggressive process improvements include pressure to compete in cost with China and Korea, a target to become self-sufficient from Japan, and aggressive quality improvement targets. This is constantly communicated. The goal is to be competitive and healthy for the long term.

Reflect and Learn from the Process

The ability to identify and correct problems quickly and effectively is at the heart of Toyota’s success. Many aspects of the Toyota Production System are designed to surface problems quickly and at times harshly. The ability to solve these problems must exist at all levels of your organization so continuous improvement is possible. Reflect on the following questions to determine what steps

will be necessary to improve the problem-solving ability within your company.

1.Evaluate the cultural mind-set toward problems within your company. a.Do people generally prefer to keep problems hidden or suppressed? b.When problems occur, are people supported in the effort to find solutions, or are they blamed for making mistakes? c.Does your organization promote we/they thinking because there is a cultural mind-set and structure such that some people have problems and others are designated to solve them? d.Identify specific steps that will shift your culture to one that views the surfacing and solving of problems to be critical to the success of the company.

2.Evaluate the problem-solving ability in your company. a.Are problems easily identified and resolved? (If problems continually recur, they are not being resolved effectively.) b.Is there a defined methodology to guide the problem-solving process? c.What steps are needed to change your organization so it solves problems at all three levels? d.What specific training will be necessary to develop problem-solving skills?

3.Evaluate your organization’s ability to focus resources effectively. a.Does your organization leverage resources to resolve issues on all three levels? b.Are the efforts of your people focused effectively on the most critical issues? How do you know? c.Are you able to evaluate the effectiveness of your problemsolving efforts quantitatively? Can you verify that you’re not spending one dollar to solve a five-cent problem?

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Toyota Electric Power Steering Problems (Solved & Explained) 

Toyota electric power steering problems

Several common problems could affect a Toyota vehicle’s electric power steering. These issues are a difficult to maneuver steering wheel, high pitch sound coming from the steering gear, and a drifting vehicle, and a few other issues.

What causes electric power steering problems?

Electric power steering systems or EPS systems are far more efficient and power-saving than other types of power steering. Instead of using a system of hydraulics to move the tires in the direction of the steering wheel, it uses electricity.

But that doesn’t mean an EPS system is perfect and will have no issues. The EPS system develops its own unique problems. It is important for drivers to learn the signs of a malfunctioning EPS system.

Many of these issues are because of the electric motor. If the motor gets too hot, it can fail and make the vehicle harder to manipulate and move.

Also, poor sensor data, dirt or contaminants, and tire pressure issues can cause additional issues in the EPS system.

There are a few signs that will let you know if your vehicle has an issue with its power steering along with their solutions:

The steering wheel is much more difficult to manipulate.  It should be easy to move your steering wheel. But if you notice you have to use some elbow grease every time you want to make a u-turn or make a sharp left or right, then there is an issue.

To fix a sluggish steering wheel, first, check the pressure in the tires. Low tire pressure would make it harder to steer tires.

When you turn your steering wheel, you hear a squeaky or high-pitched sound.  The sound goes away when your steering wheel is back in its original position. The squealing sound could become higher if you turn at a higher speed.

Here, the wire harness would cause a squeaking sound. The harness is rubbing up against the steering column seal. The two parts must have become loose and started rubbing up against each other. They must be placed back in their proper positions.

The vehicle keeps drifting to one side as you drive . It is normal for a vehicle to drift slightly when you take your hands off of the steering wheel.

But if the drift is sharper than usual or you have to hold your steering wheel in place to prevent drifting, then that is an issue that needs to be checked.

When the vehicle drifts sharply to the side, there is an issue with the steering gear and it is too loose. Loose steering must be taken apart, cleaned, and then tightened.

Some parts may need to be repaired as they are worn down and no longer stay in place.

The signs of issues with the steering gear are that the vehicle keeps drifting to one side, the steering wheel is hard to control, and there are high-pitched sounds coming from the steering wheel when you try to turn it.

One common issue with electric power steering systems is that one side of the wheels is receiving more power than the other side. When this occurs, it is known as an issue with the alignment. 

First, check the alignment and have it straightened out. You want to visit your mechanic who can straighten out your alignment and find any other alignment issues that could be developing.

But if the alignment is perfectly fine, then the issue could be with sensors. Since it is an electric power steering system and not a hydraulic power steering system, the issue is most likely with one or more faulty sensors.

The sensors are not providing the right data to the ECU. The sensors must be checked, reset, or replaced.

The power assist is not working in situations where it normally would.

Toyota’s Recent Power Steering Failures

If you have noticed that your power steering continues to develop problems and fail, you may think that you drove a dead vehicle off of a lot.

But what if I were to tell you that many Toyota customers have found that the power steering in their vehicle has multiple problems? 

It seems that the issues with the power steering are not just affecting a handful of cars. The problem seems to be a manufacturing issue. The number of Toyota vehicles affected by power steering is now suspected to be in the tens of thousands.

Toyota has recently come under fire by the organizations and government bodies that regulate vehicle manufacturing. As a result of the high level of complaints and an investigation, Toyota has had to recall over 100,000 cars in the US alone. 

Not all of these cars had power steering or electric drivetrain issues, but they were all made with the same parts that are causing the power issues in some vehicles.

Over 100,000 cars have been found to randomly shut down their electric power steering. 

The issue seems to be caused by the circuit boards in the power steering layout. The vehicles that had to be recalled are the RAV4 from 2014 and 2015 as well as the 2015 Camry and the 2015 Highlander. 

Any vehicle that also was a hybrid edition of these four vehicles had to be recalled as well. The vehicles were either recalled from dealerships or the dealership had to inform customers that had already purchased these vehicles and driven them off the lot.

This is not the first time that Toyota has been investigated by government bodies. There was a large investigation from 2009 to 2010.

The investigation was also centered around issues with power steering. There was only one type of vehicle affected and that was the Toyota Corolla.

Rather than using a hydraulic power steering system, Toyota favors using electric power steering systems for their vehicles, but they have their own problems. 

Over the past two decades, the Toyota company has come under Fire from manufacturers and customers about issues with their vehicles’ power steering.

Over 100,000 cars have had to be recalled in the past couple of years and the company was forced to pay out money to a class action lawsuit.


I'm chief editor of Daily Car Tips. I wrote articles in the automotive industry for more than 10 years, published in Asia, Europe and the USA. We want to share our auto knowledge with you.

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What is Problem Solving – 8 Steps of Toyota.

The video I created with my Patrons on Problem Solving.

Join us:\leanvlog

Here the transcript of the video:

Toyota’s 8 Step Problem Solving Approach.

When do you need a Problem Solving tool?

How to go about doing it?

What are the steps to follow?

What tools can be useful during this process?

What to look out for?

What tips and advice should you take care of?

This is what this video is all about …

So lets’ START!

When do you need to use a good Problem Solving approach?

When you have a problem?!

It’s not just that?!

It’s when your current actual measures are not achieving your targets.

And this is evident and will sure pop-up during your regular performance meetings.

One more thing.

Make sure you are measuring the right KPIs.

How to go about solving a problem?

Well here’s Toyota’s 8 Steps for Problem Solving:

Toyota’s 8 Step Problem Solving Approach:

· Step 1: Clarify the Problem. Why am I looking at this Problem?

· step 2: breakdown of the problem. what is the size of the problem, · step 3: set the target. what outcome do i want, · step 4: analyze the root cause. identify root causes, use fishbone diagrams, use 5 why analysis., · step 5: develop countermeasures. identify an effective countermeasure that directly addresses the root cause., · step 6: implement countermeasure select the most appropriate countermeasures and start implementation., · step 7: monitor results and process. monitor progress, learn from mistakes, keep doing iterations, never give up., · step 8: standardize and share success. documents the new process and set it as a new standard. celebrate success, # conclusion.

Make sure you practice enough and then coach others on this technique.

Learn lean Manufacturing Faster

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  → Radical Improvement (Kaikaku) : KoRe 10 Tips

The 7-step Problem Solving Process at Toyota

Innovative → problem solving has helped → Toyota become one of the most successful automakers in the world. Toyota can confidently distribute a tremendous amount of responsibility to the people who actually do the work, from the most senior, experienced member of the organization to the most junior. This is accomplished because of the tremendous emphasis on teaching everyone how to be a skillful problem solver .

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Home > Back to Basics: Problem Solving at Toyota

Back to Basics: Problem Solving at Toyota

19th November 2014 - Lean Enterprise Academy

As Lean practitioners, we all know how to problem solve – don’t we? This is surely basic Lean stuff? Well, the answer may be that we think we do.

in toyota problems are solved by

But often, it isn’t done well and in many cases may not fix the actual problem we set out to. In many organisations the problem solving process is rushed, focusing on finding the quickest, easiest solution rather than the one that is the most value adding. Toyota, on the other hand, uses a systematic problem solving process which carefully frames the problem, finds true root cause and uses experiments to test countermeasures to ensure the problem is fixed once and for all. This is a fundamental building block of Toyota’s success and is practised by all employees at all levels.

Toyota’s 8 Step Problem Solving

In a practice-based workshop, Mark Davies, Senior Manager at Toyota Lean Management Centre UK, took us through the 8 step problem solving process :-

1 – Clarify the problem 2 – Breakdown the problem 3 – Set a target 4 – Analyse the root cause 5 – Develop countermeasures 6 – See countermeasures through 7 – Monitor the process and results 8 – Standardise successful processes

Toyota understands that stages 1 – 4 are key to ensuring the right problem is tackled and in the right way. Problems can get messy and convoluted so it’s often confusing to teams as to which specific aspect of a problem to focus on. Step 1 and 2 are important to stratify data, often using Pareto to breakdown the problem. Asking what, when, where and who helps to highlight the top issue to be tackled. It then becomes easier to set SMART targets for improvement. Stage 4 and the identification of root cause is, arguably, the most difficult and the most poorly executed. Here Mark took us through a detailed process to move from the prioritised problem to possible direct causes. The mistakes are to jump in and prescribe possible direct causes to the problems without going to Gemba to confirm the facts. Here direct cause – observed causes of the problem – and root cause – the actual end cause we are trying to identify – are often confused. And then the use of the ‘5 whys’ , a simple tool, which is so effective in drilling down the causality chain to the true root causes.

So going through a case study to practise these steps, how did we do? Well, we didn’t get everything right! And the point here is, if we, as Lean practitioners, aren’t able to problem solve in a systematic way, how can we expect to coach and lead others to do the same?

Back to basics methinks.

An Update: Problem Solving 2021

Bringing this post up to date, we’ve developed the Lean Learning Journey on-line platform so you can hone your skills. We have a range of Practical Problem Solving materials to help you become self reliant on your lean journey. The complementary Level 1 Practical Problem Solving materials aim to provide knowledge around the subject area. The Level 2 Practical Problem Solving course develops your understanding.

Problem solving is the number 1 lean skill. Even seasoned lean thinkers need to practice. Click on the image or button below to access our complementary course materials and learn more.

in toyota problems are solved by

First slide

Practical Problem Solving

Many organisations often struggle with effective problem solving and find that the best they can achieve is to merely contain the existing problems by introducing more waste into the organisation. For example an unreliable machine will be managed by adding in more stock to protect supply to the customer or through the acquisition of a second machine to ensure throughput. Real problem solving countermeasures the root cause of an issue preventing it from reoccurring and in doing so creates stability with the least amount of waste.

Toyota A3 Problem Solving is not a skill reserved for engineers and managers, if you truly desire to harness the creativity and innovation of your employees then it should be seen as a fundamental skill possessed by everyone.

Key Study Areas

All levels of an organisation.

Problem Solving Course Information

This course can be delivered at Deeside or at a client's site. Undertaking the course at your own facility will allow for a real problem to be tackled.

This course is available in two versions:

One day version which will teach you the theory and challange you to apply your knowledge on a case study.

Two day version where, in addition to the above, we will support you to apply the principles to an area within your own organisation.

Customer Comments

"As a six sigma green belt I was sceptical about how this would compare. I was amazed at what Toyota are achieving with this approach." - 13/11/19

Engine Patrol

Toyota Yaris: 12 Common Problems (Solution Guide)

The Yaris is one of the most popular subcompacts cars of all time.

And despite their excellent reliability, the Yaris has its share of issues.

In this article, we’ll help you get to the bottom of the most common problems.

Table of Contents

in toyota problems are solved by

1. Toyota Yaris Alarm Keeps Going Off 

The most common reason for a Toyota Yaris alarm going off randomly is due to a defective hood switch or faulty door switch. Another common cause is that the 12V battery is about to die.  

If your Yaris car alarm keeps going off randomly without something obvious triggering it, the anti-theft system is not working as intended.

Categorized below are the most likely reasons why your alarm going off at random: 

Faulty Hood Switch/Door Switch 

Hood and door switches are responsible for triggering the alarm in the event of someone trying to forcibly enter your vehicle. 

When the vehicle is locked with the fob, the anti-theft system is armed.

Thus, if the door or the hood is opened or unlocked by force while the system is armed, it will trigger the alarm.

A faulty hood switch or door switch can cause the alarm to go off even when the door/hood is not being opened. 

It could also be the rubber cap has deteriorated far enough so as to not allow full depression of the switch.

It’s important to remember that the hood latch and door latches should be cleaned, lubricated (WD-40), and free of debris.

If the hood/doors are not closing properly, it could cause the switch to trigger the alarm. 

Note: This is a very common cause across numerous Toyota models.

12V Battery  

The first thing to check when dealing with this issue, is the anti-theft system’s power source, which is the 12V battery.

A battery that is on the brink of failure or running low on voltage can cause the alarm to go off.

This is because the anti-theft system triggers the alarm when power is interrupted while the system is armed. 

So, having the battery tested and replaced if necessary, is always the best place to start when dealing with this concern. 

You can always check with a voltmeter, by measuring the voltage across the battery’s terminals. If it’s under 11V then this is causing the problem.

If you’ve had the battery for more than 3 years it might be time for a new one.

Also, ensure your battery connections are tight and clean and free from corrosion.

Glass Breakage Sensor (GBS) ECU 

The Yaris security system comes equipped with a glass breakage sensor.  

This sensor can detect tapping or breakage of the glass, which then sounds the alarm. 

The sensor is controlled by an electronic control unit (ECU) which is located behind the glovebox. On the GBS ECU, there is an adjustment screw to control the sensitivity of the system. 

It is possible the sensitivity is set too high, causing the alarm to be triggered by occurrences such as thunderstorms or big gusts of wind. 

Always follow Toyota’s recommendation when setting the sensitivity.

Related: Toyota Yaris Alarm Going Off? (14 Causes & Solutions)

2. Toyota Yaris Keeps Beeping

Many Yaris owners found their vehicle was beeping because the parking brake was slightly engaged, or they set something on the passenger’s seat (such as a bag of groceries). Other problems could be defective door switches or park assist sensors. 

The Toyota Yaris can beep at you for many different reasons – but when it is seemingly at random or unprompted, it can leave owners frustrated.

Parking Brake

If the parking brake is engaged while the vehicle is in motion, the Yaris will try to indicate the driver to release it by beeping.

Rightfully so, as driving with the parking brake engaged will wear out brake pads and make them less effective, it’s also not very safe. 

Weight on Passengers Seat

Another incident that can cause beeping, is objects placed on the passenger’s seat. 

The seat has weight sensors used to determine if the airbag should be deployed or not, and used to activate the passenger’s seatbelt indicator.  

If the seat weight sensors detects a load on the passenger’s seat but the seatbelt is disconnected, an audible chime will follow.

If you wish to place items on the passenger seat while driving without the beeping, simply connect the passenger seatbelt.

Also be sure to check all the doors and the rear hatch are closed properly. 

Faulty Door Switch

If all of these conditions are met, the problem could lie in a defective door switch, leading the Yaris electronic system to think a door is open while the vehicle is in motion. 

A park assist sensor could also be to blame.

Toyota’s park assist sensors are sensitive, and a small amount of dirt, moisture, or damage could cause them to chime continuously, though it will most likely display it on the Multi-Information Display (MID).

Related: Toyota Yaris Beeping? (11 Common Causes)

3. Toyota Yaris Keeps Cutting Out 

If your Toyota Yaris keeps cutting out, it is likely due to an electrical problem in the main battery/ignition circuit. This electrical problem could be caused by a loose or corroded ground cable, a faulty ignition relay, or poor contact between battery terminals and  posts. 

Yaris owners have reported that their car would suddenly lose all electrical and engine power abruptly. 

This adverse situation can leave drivers without power steering,  power brakes, acceleration, exterior lights, driver assists, etc.

This issue can take extensive diagnosis, and finding the root cause can be tricky. Therefore, labor costs will vary depending on how easily your mechanic can locate the source of the problem. 

However, according to our research, the main causes of this complaint were:

Due to the technical nature of this concern, we recommend leaving your vehicle in the hands of a trained professional, specifically an auto-electrician.

4. Toyota Yaris Glove Box Keeps Opening 

When the glove box of your Yaris keeps popping open, it is usually caused by a broken latch. Unfortunately, latches cannot be replaced individually, so the entire glove box will need to be replaced. Before buying one though, ensure nothing is jammed in the way of the latch or the sides of the glove box. 

When this problem occurs, owners should check to ensure the box is not overloaded, and the mechanisms (such as the hinges or latch) are not jammed by an item.

But if this is not the case, then a latch may have gone bad. When the latch breaks they are no longer able to support the weight of the box and keep the glove compartment closed. 

The latches cannot be replaced individually, so the whole glove box will have to be interchanged. 

On a light note, this repair is relatively easy, which is why “DIYers” should have no issue attempting this repair so long as they have some basic hand tools.

The box itself can be pricey though, sometimes ranging into the hundreds of dollars.

For those on a tight budget a used one might be a better option. 

You can find a full price breakdown of Yaris ownership costs here.  

5. Toyota Yaris Headlights Keep Burning Out 

Headlight bulbs should not require frequent replacement. If you find the bulbs burn out all too often on your Yaris, check your alternator output,  or for moisture inside the headlight. It’s also important to wear gloves when installing bulbs, oil from fingers can decrease bulb life. 

A common cause of decreased headlight bulb longevity lies in the installer not wearing gloves. 

This is because the oil on your hands disrupts the uniform heating process.

But if you always wear gloves when changing bulbs, then it may be caused by moisture in the headlight assembly itself. 

Headlight assemblies should be sealed and free of any moisture. If not, this moisture can cause the bulb to fail prematurely. 

Lastly, the alternator output voltage should be checked.

If the voltage regulator in the charging system fails, excessive voltage can be sent to the headlights causing them to overheat and burn out. 

6. Toyota Yaris Clicking Noise, But Won’t Start 

Some Toyota Yaris owners experienced their vehicle making a clicking noise but not starting. This problem is largely caused by a weak battery.  Alternatively, a malfunctioning starter motor could be to blame. The starter solenoid is not the issue though, as it is the source of the clicking noise. 

A vehicle clicking and failing to start is a common problem that is by no means exclusive to the Yaris.

The majority of issues stem from a weak or defective battery.

A battery without enough power to start the vehicle will cause a no-start, yet solenoids or relays may still make a clicking noise. 

Always have the battery tested first, and confirm connections are clean and tight. Corrosion or poor connections can cause the battery to behave as if it is weak. 

Damaged battery cables could also be the root cause, and almost always exhibit the same symptoms as a failing battery. 

If the vehicle’s 12V battery passes a test, then the next likely cause is the starter motor. 

The starter motor is an electric motor that functions by electrical current from the 12V battery. The motor spins a gear to turn the engine over. It is engaged by a solenoid. 

When the motor wears out, it fails to turn the engine and get it started.  However, the solenoid still functions, which is the cause of the clicking noise. 

For the Toyota Yaris starter replacement, RepairPal estimates labor costs are between $62 and $78, while parts are priced between $219  and $418 on average. 

7. Toyota Yaris Windows Keeps Going Down

Some Yaris owners have noticed that their driver’s window goes down after they’ve turned off their vehicle and walked away, fortunately this is an easy fix and it is usually caused by slamming the door too hard.

If you feel comfortable removing the door panel, this might be easier although you’ll have to deal with a lot of clips.

8. Toyota Yaris Won’t Lock 

Usually when the Yaris won’t lock, the cause of concern lies in a fob being left in the vehicle, or the doors not being closed all the way.  However, if this is not the case, it may be caused by a dead key fob battery, worn-out door lock actuator, or blown fuse.

Toyota implements Power Lock and Smart Entry systems in their new vehicles however they are not without their share of problems. 

Here’s a list of what to look out for when researching why your Yaris won’t lock: 

Fob In the Vehicle / Doors Not Closed 

If your Yaris has a push-button start, it uses proximity sensors to determine how close the fob is to the vehicle, and whether or not it is in the cabin. 

The Yaris comes off the lot with two key fobs – meaning one could be left inside the vehicle as you try to lock it with another. 

If a key fob is inside the vehicle, it simply will not lock, especially a smart key. 

If you cannot find the key fob anywhere but suspect there still might be one in the cabin of your Yaris, simply try to start it with no known keys inside the vehicle.

If it starts, there must be a key fob inside. 

Also ensure all doors (including rear hatch) are closed. If not, the door lock system will refuse to operate.

Key Fob Battery Dead 

Like many electronic gadgets, the key fob has a battery.

This battery is known as a CR2032 battery, it is widely available and only costs around $5. 

If the battery in the fob goes dead, it needs to be replaced.

A relatively easy task with minimal tools required, and some dealerships may even replace it for you, free of labor charges. 

Blown Door Lock Fuse 

Even though blown door lock fuses are uncommon, they are not unheard of. 

If the door lock fuse blows, it will prevent the entire door lock system from functioning. 

Fuses can be easily accessed and inspected by pulling them out of the fuse box. 

A blown fuse is usually caused by an electrical short though – this occurs due to exposed or damaged wires or connections.

So if you find a blown door lock fuse and replace it, it may continually blow until the wiring fault is rectified. 

You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Toyota Yaris Last?

Defective Door Lock Actuator

The door lock actuator is an electrical device responsible for moving the lock mechanism when a lock signal from the key fob is detected. 

A defective door lock actuator typically only causes one door lock to fail,  rather than all doors. 

This component requires testing, and checking for supply voltage and ground presence in the harness connected to the actuator. 

We recommend leaving a door lock actuator diagnosis and repair to a  professional automotive technician due to the technical nature of the problem.

9. Toyota Yaris Won’t Start When Hot 

If you find your Yaris won’t start when hot, more often than not it is caused by a bad starter. This is because as heat increases, the starter motor windings resistance increase. Some Yaris owners with this issue fit a 2.2KW starter instead of the 1.6KW starter. 

Assuming your vehicle’s battery has been tested and is fully charged (if it isn’t, start there) the problem lies in a weak starter motor.  

When starter motors get too hot, they tend to act up. This is because the copper windings inside the motor increase in resistance, making it harder to spin the engine. 

If you lack knowledge with car repair, always consult a  professional. 

10. Toyota Yaris Won’t Start When Cold 

If you find your Yaris won’t start when cold, this is often caused by a defective battery.

A battery has two different ratings, cranking amps and cold cranking amps.  

Cold-cranking amps are the battery’s ability to start and turn the engine over when it is cold.

It is easier to start an engine in a warm environment than in a cold one

So it may have enough cranking capacity to start the vehicle when it is warm, but when it’s cold, it just isn’t enough to turn the engine over anymore.

Battery cells degrade over time and most 12V car batteries will last around 3-4 years.

11. Yaris Won’t Connect To iPhone 

When your Yaris won’t connect to your iPhone, you need to confirm the Bluetooth setting are enabled first, both on the vehicle and on the phone. Also, the system can only hold a max of 5 phones. Delete a device if you have too many. Lastly, check for updates, and check your phone’s compatibility.

Phone connectivity is a common issue for Yaris owners, and iPhone users are no exception.

However, there are a number of quick checks you should perform before you rush it into the service department. 

In the Yaris settings, be sure that your Bluetooth settings are enabled.

The same goes for your phone’s Bluetooth settings.

It may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked. 

Understand that most Toyotas (including the Yaris) only allow a max of 5  phones registered.

If you already have 5, you’ll have to delete one if you want to pair a new one. 

It never hurts to reboot the system, and/or clear the cache.

Just be sure you don’t completely reset or reformat either your phone or the Yaris – you may lose all of your data in the process. 

Some devices simply are not compatible with Entune.

There’s a list of compatible devices on Toyota’s website .

Always make sure your iPhone is running the latest iOS software, this can often be the root cause of a number of iPhone related issues.

If all else fails, you may want to contact your local dealer and check for any software updates.

There may be one available for your vehicle, or they may be able to pinpoint why your phone is not connecting.

Related: 9 Most Common Toyota Yaris Problems (Solved & Explained)

12. Toyota Yaris Bluetooth Keeps Disconnecting 

When Bluetooth keeps disconnecting from the Yaris, owners found the easiest fix was to delete their phone from the Yaris Bluetooth device list, and pair the device again. If this does not work, confirm your phone is compatible with your vehicle, and confirm your Yaris has the latest software update. 

If your phone continually disconnects from your Yaris, it’s always best to try a few simple things first before you hand over any money to a technician. 

Firstly, delete the device from your Yaris’s Bluetooth device list.

Delete the Yaris from your device’s Bluetooth list as well if needed. 

If possible, clear the cache or perform a soft reset as well.

Key the vehicle off and back on again, and perform the pairing process. This method fixed the majority of owner’s problems with Bluetooth disconnecting. 

Always check your phone for the latest software updates.

Additionally, check with your dealership to confirm your Yaris has the latest update.

Toyota is always updating the software on their vehicles to fix glitches and bugs. 

If this does not help, check to ensure your device is compatible. A list of compatible devices can be found on the Toyota website .

Related: 14 Best & Worst Toyota Yaris Years (With Facts & Stats)

Kaizen News

Eight Steps To Practical Problem Solving

Problem solving

Table of Contents

The Toyota Way To Problem Solving

The art of problem solving is constantly trying to evolve and be re-branded by folks in various industries. While the new way might very well be an effective method in certain applications. A tried and true way of identifying and solving problems is the eight steps to practical problem solving developed by Toyota, years ago. The system is structured, but simple and practical enough to handle problems of the smallest nature, to the most complex issues.

Using a fundamental and strategic way to solve problems creates consistency within an organization. When you base your results off facts, experience and common sense, the results form in a rational and sustainable way.

Problem Solving Solution

The Eight Step Problem Solving Process

The eight steps to practical problem solving also include the Plan, Do, Check and Act (PDCA) cycle. Steps one through five are the planning process. The doing is found in step six. Step seven is the checking . Step eight involves acting out the results of the new standard.

This practical problem solving can be powerful tool to issues facing your organization. It allows organizations to have a common understanding of what defines a problem and what steps are going to be taken in order to overcome the problem efficiently.

The Eight Steps Broken Down:

Step 1: clarify the problem.

A problem can be defined in one of three ways. The first being, anything that is a deviation from the standard. The second could be the gap between the actual condition and the desired condition. With the third being an unfilled customer need.

In order to best clarify the problem, you have to see the problem with your own eyes. This gives you the details and hands-on experience that will allow you to move forward in the process.

Step 2: Breakdown the Problem

Once you’ve seen the problem first hand, you can begin to breakdown the problem into more detailed and specific problems. Remember, as you breakdown your problem you still need to see the smaller, individual problems with your own eyes. This is also a good time to study and analyze the different inputs and outputs  of the process so that you can effectively prioritize your efforts. It is much more effective to manage and solve a bunch of micro-problems one at a time, rather than try and tackle a big problem with no direction.

Step 3: Set the Target

setting goals, root cause analysis

Step three is all about commitment and focus. Your attention should now turn towards focusing on what is needed to complete the project and how long it will take to finish. You should set targets that are challenging, but within limits and don’t put a strain on the organization that would hinder the improvement process.

Step 4: Analyze the Root Cause

This is a vital step when problem solving, because it will help you identify the actual factors that caused the issue in the first place. More often than not, there are multiple root causes to analyze. Make sure you are considering all potential root causes and addressing them properly. A proper root cause analysis, again involves you actually going to the cause itself instead of simply relying on reports.

Step 5: Develop Countermeasures

Once you’ve established your root causes, you can use that information to develop the countermeasures needed to remove the root causes. Your team should develop as many countermeasures needed to directly address any and all root causes. Once you’ve developed your countermeasures, you can begin to narrow them down to the most practical and effective based off your target.

Step 6: Implement Countermeasures

Now that you have developed your countermeasures and narrowed them down, it is time to see them through in a timely manner. Communication is extremely important in step six. You’ll want to seek ideas from the team and continue to work back through the PDCA cycle to ensure nothing is being missed along the way. Consider implementing one countermeasure at a time to monitor the effectiveness of each.

You will certainly make mistakes in throughout your problem solving processes, but your persistence is key, especially in step six.

Step 7: Monitor Results and Process

As mistakes happen and countermeasures fail, you need a system in place to review and modify them to get the intended result. You can also determine if the intended outcome was the result of the action of the countermeasure, or was it just a fluke? There is always room for improvement in the problem solving process, but you need to be able to recognize it when it comes to your attention.

Step 8: Standardize and Share Success

Now that you’ve encountered success along your problem solving path, it is time to set the new processes as the new standard within the organization and share them throughout the organization. It is also a good time to reflect on what you’ve learned and address any possible unresolved issues or troubles you have along the way. Ignoring unresolved issues will only lead to more problems down the road.

Finally, because you are a true Lean organization who believes continuous improvement never stops, it is time to tackle the next problem. Start the problem solving process over again and continue to work towards perfection.

Additional Resources

Related posts:

7 Common Toyota Problems and How to Address Them

7 Common Toyota Problems and How to Address Them

Toyota is one of the most popular car manufacturing companies worldwide. Serving as one of the leaders, the company reported more than ten million vehicles sold. The last nine years have seen the company listed as the number one retail brand. But popularity doesn’t make them infallible, and issues with Toyotas are well-documented. Car maintenance is always crucial, but there are a few issues you should anticipate with Toyota. Read on for seven of the most common Toyota issues.

Table of Contents

1. Brake Problems

7 Common Toyota Problems and How to Address Them

One of the most common issues to have with a Toyota is the brakes. This is especially the case in the Toyota Corolla, but many vehicles made by Toyota will suffer from this problem. The Corolla itself has had two separate recalls since 2000 due to brake issues. Most of these issues have been solved in newer models, so you may not have much to worry about. Still, bring it to one of the best auto repair shops you can find to make sure the brakes are working. You don’t want to find out the brakes are faulty when you’re on the highway.

2. Suspension Issues

7 Common Toyota Problems and How to Address Them

Suspension issues are also one of the most common Toyota problems. The suspension’s front struts and anti-roll bar both have a habit of failing quicker than other parts. Sometimes, these parts can fail in as quick as a year, depending on how you treat your vehicle. One of the best ways to see that this is the case is by taking your vehicle on a test drive. A faulty suspension often leads to a very notable clanging issue while driving, especially at bumps. If you fail to notice and already own the car, this isn’t too awful to repair expense-wise.

3. Faulty Water Pumps

7 Common Toyota Problems and How to Address Them

One of the newer Toyota problems to crop up is a faulty water pump. This is, again, more common with the Toyota Corolla than other lines, but still, something to keep in mind with all Toyota vehicles. You can tell if this is an issue by checking your engine temperature light, but this may fail to turn on. This problem can cause damage to your entire engine through leaked water and high temperatures. If you see steam coming through your hood, make sure that you get your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible. Otherwise, you run the risk of a complete engine failure, which can practically total your vehicle.

4. Common Fuel Pump Failures

7 Common Toyota Problems and How to Address Them

Many Toyota vehicles have issues with the fuel pump, especially on injection. You’ll notice a jerky acceleration or a failure to accelerate at all from the pump injecting too much or too little fuel into your engine. However, don’t take this behavior as a guarantee that your vehicle has a faulty fuel pump. Faulty clutches can also cause this problem. You’ll especially notice this if your vehicle revs to a much greater extent than usual before catching. This can cause a wide variety of issues that are likely to lead to an accident, so make sure to bring your vehicle in for maintenance if you spot this problem. Your vehicle failing to start can also be caused by a faulty fuel pump. It may fail to inject enough fuel to start engine combustion from a clogged or failed pump. Either way, searching “mechanic near me” is likely to find you someone that can fix this simple problem.

5. Oil Sludge in Engines

7 Common Toyota Problems and How to Address Them

One of the more long-term issues that you’ll notice can be oil sludge in your engines. Toyota engines are known to have a build-up of sludge. Keep an eye on your oil’s life and perform proper car maintenance, so you know when it’s time for an oil change. This is primarily prominent in Toyota vehicles from 1997 to 2005. The problem was so widespread that it actually led to Toyota settling a class-action lawsuit in 2007, which covered roughly five  million vehicles. Tune-ups can often be all it takes to fix this issue, so keep up with proper car maintenance.

6. Forced Acceleration

7 Common Toyota Problems and How to Address Them

If you’ve ever been driving a car and found yourself with forced acceleration, you know it’s one of the most alarming experiences you can have. Many Toyota vehicles have suffered from forced acceleration over the years. Even slamming on the brakes can sometimes fail to have the effect needed, especially in traffic. However, it’s important to state that this isn’t always the fault of Toyota or the vehicles. Toyota has stated that the issue can be a pedal getting stuck on a floor mat that’s been moved or replaced. Gas pedals may get stuck as well, which can often be a manufacturing issue. That said, the NASA Engineering and Safety Center once investigated the issue at the request of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NASA concluded that the issue of floor mats, as Toyota had claimed, was likely the issue. The other explanation was that operators of the vehicles simply pressed the wrong pedal.

7. Poor Air Conditioning Conditions

7 Common Toyota Problems and How to Address Them

The last issue to cover is that Toyota vehicles sometimes have issues with their air conditioning. Specifically, many users have complained about a musty, moldy scent. This is an issue that can be fixed with tune-ups and proper car maintenance. As far as Toyota problems go, it’s far from as drastic as failed clutches or forced acceleration. Still, a Toyota mechanic or general service location is likely to be able to remedy this issue. At ATL Columbus Total Car Care we offer Dealership quality work at an affordable price.

Common Toyota Problems

7 Common Toyota Problems and How to Address Them

Despite there being a common list of Toyota problems, the manufacturer is still reputable and well-loved. It’s likely that you’ll be finding yourself behind the wheel of a Toyota at some point, so keep these issues at heart. Most can be fixed with car maintenance, so don’t fret if you see any of them. For more information on Toyota problems and vehicles in general, contact us . Feel free to explore our informative blog as well!

7 Common Toyota Problems and How to Address Them

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7 Common Toyota Problems and How to Address Them


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7 Common Toyota Problems and How to Address Them

10 Glaring Problems With Toyota Cars Everyone Ignores

When it comes to reliability, few carmakers come close to Toyota. But even Toyota gets it wrong at times.

When it comes to Japanese cars, only a handful can rival the popularity of Toyota. The company’s history dates all the way back to 1937 when Toyota Motor, Co. Ltd. was established. Since then, it has grown into a global corporation that enjoys a dominant presence in the Asian and North American automotive industry.

Indeed, Toyota cars are popular among car buyers. After all, they’ve got everything from  SUVs  to  pickup trucks  and even electric vehicles. However, that doesn’t mean they are not without issues. Here are some problems associated with Toyota cars over the years:

10 Wipers That Refuse To Operate

This problem is specific to the 2010 Rav4 and Rav4 EV. At first, the windshield wipers would operate normally. Over time, however, the water dripping onto it would cause wear and corrosion at the wiper’s motor link joint. Because of this, the wiper motor crank arm and wiper link may eventually separate from each other.

When this happens, the windshield wipers will no longer become operational. As a result, the driver may experience significantly reduced visibility while driving the vehicle in the middle of the rain. This can also increase the likelihood of a road accident or crash.

9 Melting Power Window Master Switch

This problem is said to be caused by insufficient lubrication in the sliding electrical module of the car’s Power Window Master Switch. As you continue to operate the affected vehicle normally, a short circuit may occur between the contact points. When this happens, the switch assembly may proceed to overheat and melt.

Even worse, the melting switch may also start a fire. The affected cars include specific year models of the Rav4, Sequoia, Camry, Camry Hybrid, Corolla , Corolla Matrix, Highlander, Highlander Hybrid, Yaris, and Tundra.

RELATED:  The Truth Behind The Engine Hiding In The 2021 Toyota Supra

8 Side Curtain Airbags That Deploy Without Warning

As a car owner, it’s always nice to know that your car has more than enough airbags to protect you and your passengers in case of a crash. That said, no one ever expects these airbags to deploy when there is no collision.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what can happen in certain year models of the Tundra, Land Cruiser , 4Runner, and Sequoia. According to the filed safety recall report, there was a problem with the programming of the airbag system in the affected cars’ Airbag Sensor Assembly.

7 An Accelerator Pedal That Can Get Stuck In Open Position

This is a problem that affects different year models of the Highlander , Corolla, Matrix, Venza, according to records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

This issue is caused by a possibly incompatible or unsecured floor mat that can get the accelerator pedal stuck while the car is being driven. If this occurs, the car may suddenly travel at very high speeds while the driver is struggling to stop the vehicle. It is believed that more than 1.1 million vehicles were affected by this issue.

RELATED:  Toyota Tundrasine SEMA Concept Shows All-New F-150 How It’s Done

6 Sticky Accelerator Pedal

This problem is caused by the way that the sliding surface of the accelerator pedal in the pedal sensor assembly and friction lever interacts with each other. If condensation on the surface occurs while the pedal assembly is cold, friction may increase as the pedal as the driver operates the accelerator pedal.

As this happens, there is a chance that the pedal would become hard to press or even be slower to return. It is also possible for the pedal to become stuck in a partially depressed position. This would make the affected car much harder to operate.

5 Inverter Failure That Can Cause An Engine Stall

The inverter assembly can be found in the hybrid system used in the affected 2006 to 2010 Highlander Hybrid cars. According to a copy of the defect notice , the Insulated-Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBT) that can be found in the inverter’s Intelligent Power Module may be submitted to higher operating temperatures than what is considered allowable.

Because of this, the solder could decorate and the IGBTs can suffer from heat damage. In a worst-case scenario, the fuse in the car’s power supply circuit could blow and the hybrid system would shut down, making the car inoperable.

RELATED:  Toyota Tundra Vs Ford F-150: Which Is The Better Off-Road Truck?

4 Sliding Doors That Open While The Car Is Moving

This problem was found to be present in the 2011 to 2016 models of the Sienna . Under certain conditions that impede the opening of the sliding door, its motor can stall when the door is operated. As it stalls, the door motor circuit can generate high current and operate the fuse for the door motor.

If the fuse is operated in an unlatched position with the sliding door latch mechanism, there is a possibility that the door would open while the minivan is being driven. This could pose a serious danger for any child or adult passenger in the vehicle.

3 Fuel Pumps That Can Possibly Fail

In this case, the fuel pumps contain impeller that can possibly deform as a result of excessive fuel absorption. If deformation should occur, this impeller may also interfere with the fuel pump body. Because of this, the car may experience rough engine running. Even worse, there is also a chance that the engine would refuse to start.

The vehicle may also stall while being driven at high speeds, which can possibly cause a road accident. The affected vehicles include certain year models of the Camry, Corolla, FJ Cruiser , Avalon, 4Runner, Land Cruiser, Sequoia, Tacoma, Sienna, Tundra, and Highlander.

RELATED:  Toyota Unveils 2021 Corolla Hatchback Special Edition

2 Seats That Can’t Be Locked In Place

According to a copy of the defect notice , there is a chance for the springs that are used to lock the seat rails to break if the seat is adjusted forward or rearward regularly. If this happens, it would be no longer be possible to lock the seat in position. And in the case of a crash, the seat could suddenly move since the seat rail spring is already broken.

The Toyota cars affected by this issue include the 2006 to 2010 models of the Yaris . As part of the company’s corrective repair action, it offered to change the affected seat rails free of charge.

1 Seat Heaters That Can Burn You

Especially during the winter, seat warmers can be really comforting to the driver and his or her passengers. In some Toyota cars, however, it turns out that seat heaters can also give you serious burns. According to a copy of the owner notification letter , this can occur when the seat cushion experiences significant compression.

When this happens, the electrical writing of the heaters gets damaged and a short circuit can occur. This, in turn, could burn a hole in the affected seat cover. The affected cars include certain year models of the 4Runner, Avalon, FJ Cruiser, Venza, Corolla, and more.

NEXT:  Here Are The Glaring Problems With Toyota’s Sports Cars

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Dangerous Problems In Toyota

in toyota problems are solved by

Japanese car manufacturers were late bloomers compared to their rival competitors in the US and European automobile industry but despite being late in the bandwagon, the automotive industry from the Land of the Rising Sun has surpassed its rivals with a much broader market base and reputation.

Toyota cars are a common sight on British roads and American lanes and there might be only a few people who haven’t ever heard of a Toyota automobile. In fact, as of 2016, Toyota were the world’s largest car manufacturer and putting together more than 10 million vehicles per year. The company has been manufacturing vehicles since the 1930s and has also secured the title of the most trusted market leader in sales of  hybrid electric vehicles  (mainly its successful model, Toyota Prius). Moreover, as of September 2018, the company has secured the title of the sixth biggest company in the world by revenue.

While the Toyota Motor Corporation has secured its place at the high esteems of the automotive marketplace, not all of its models are successful. Let’s be honest, no car is perfect and the same holds double for Toyota. With new technologies comes new challenges, and a similar problem happened to Toyota first in 2011.

In a highly publicized series of the first ever recalls of Toyota in the US, consumers were astonished when Toyota announced its recalls of the Toyota motor vehicles. The Toyota Motor Corporation cited a potential problem where poorly placed or incorrectly placed floor mats under the driver’s seat could lead to uncontrolled acceleration in a range of models which led to a massive recall of 3.8 million vehicles. The announcement by Toyota took place after a controversial report, triggered by a fiery crash in California, where the accelerator of a Lexus sedan got stuck due to the poorly placed floor mat, which ultimately led to the driver’s death.

To car enthusiasts and mid-range car buyers and students, Toyota is a go-to automotive company. It’s vehicles are a class in itself, long known, even revered, for its sterling quality. In a 2013 survey by Telegraph, the Toyota Motor corporation reclaimed the  top spot  for car manufacturers and secured the 9th place for dependability. Yet this position has deteriorated due to the long list of problems among Toyota automobiles. This article discusses some of the common problems in Toyota and how it may impact the drivers.

Toyota Corolla – Airbag Issues

Toyota Corolla – Airbag Issues

The Toyota Corolla automobile is a name that echoes family compatibility and feasibility. With its first model rolling out in 1966, the Corolla became the bestselling Toyota car in the motoring industry in 1997 – recording a whopping 40 million sales by July 2013. Unfortunately, even the mighty bestselling model could not get rid of the airbag problems which plagued in some other Corolla problems in 2007. This happened when more than one million vehicles, a majority of Corolla cars, were recalled because their airbags could rupture when deployed, putting the drivers and passengers at risk of accidents and/or injury.

Toyota Hilux – Even Faultier Airbags 

Toyota Hilux – Even Faultier Airbags

While the Toyota airbags problem skyrocketed in 2007, it was hardly the first time or the last, for that,  that the airbags had caused Toyota a problem. In 2014, the company was forced to recall thousands of vehicles, which unfortunately also included the Hilux models built between 2004 and 2010. A minor defect in the electrical wiring system in the car led to a fault which led to the airbags being deactivated. As if this wasn’t enough, the Hilux being the first choice of adventurers and travel enthusiasts, which consisted of a huge market for Hilux, downgraded, hence a major PR disaster for Toyota. The faulty airbags deactivating on their own is a huge security risk in a high end car such as Hilux as this involves major implications such as dangerous accidents on highway speeds, or high impact crashes in emergency braking such as on slippery roads.

Wipers Refusing to Cooperate

Wipers Refusing To Cooperate

This problem is fortunately not very common among popular Toyota cars. However, it was very recurring in the 2010 models of Toyota Rav4 and Rav4 EV. While the wipers cooperated normally in the beginning, eventually the water dripping from the windshield leads to wear and corrosion at the wiper’s motor joint link. Due to the wear and erosion, the wiper’s crank arm and link eventually separate from each other. While minor wiper problems may not be a big problem, the recurring problems such as this are a headache for the drivers in the long-term. Firstly, each time the wipers get stuck the driver is bound to a visit to the mechanic for a quick fix which also doesn’t last long due to the recurrent wear and corrosion in the wiper’s motor link joint. Secondly, stuck wipers are a great security issue to the driver’s especially on highway speeds and during rain periods. This greatly increases the likelihood of a road accident or a crash.

Accelerator Pedals Stuck

Accelerator pedals stuck

Remember we discussed how the incompatible floor mats led to uncontrolled acceleration leading to accidents. This issue could get the accelerator pedal stuck while the driver is driving the car. This problem affected the later year models of some of the famous Toyota cars i.e., Highlander, Corolla, Matrix, Venza, according to records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) affected.

This problem, if occurred suddenly, could make the car travel at very high speeds while the driver struggles to stop the vehicle or make an emergency escape from traffic. According to a report, approximately 1.1 million recalls were made due to this issue.

Engine Stalls 

Engine stalls

A small manufacturing error leading to a potential crack forming in the engine led to reportedly 40,000 recalls by Toyota. The engine problem occurs due to coolant or oil leaking from the crack  and could potentially lead to the engines stalling, overheating, or possibly catching fire. This engine stalling occurs mainly in 2.5 liter, four cylinder engine for the models 2020 Camry, Camry hybrid, Avalon hybrid, 2019 and 2020 RAV4 and RAV4 hybrid, and the 2020 Lexus ES300H for the builds between September and December 2019. This problem, although not very frequent, if occurred has ultimately dangerous consequences for the driver. This issue could lead to engine noise, engine smokes, warning lights flickering on and off and/or engine overheating. This problem costs the driver not only frequent visits to the car dealership/warehouse or mechanics but also the mechanic fee that is associated with each visit. Since Toyota was not able to pinpoint the exact cause of the engines fracturing, the drivers had to face huge amounts of repair costs to keep their cars running on the lanes. The repair costs may be upto $450 for each engine repair visit.

In addition to the repairing costs, sometimes the dealers may also suggest completely replacing the engines which could cost between $3000 to $5000 depending on the model. This means an additional cost if the replacement is not covered by warranty.

Moreover, the frequent overheating of the engine, flickering of warning lights without there being a genuine cause for the warning, unpleasant engine noises and engine smokes may mean extremely uncomfortable experiences for the driver. This also means uncalled for surprises on the road and security issues – for instance, an engine overheating leading to engine smoke forcing the driver to stop the car in the middle of nowhere on a highway, or an emergency escape through heavy traffic due to a potential engine fire.

In addition to the problems discussed, the Toyota owners have also complained about various other problems with different models. These include:

Overall the Toyota is a reliable brand, however, every automobile model lacks in some place or the other, regardless of the manufacturer. This doubles for mid-range compact vehicles. Hence, there are some problems in some models while some others may have other problems as discussed above. While many of the problems are covered under warranty but some problems may overgrow the warranty period and cost the driver large amounts in fixation costs for these car problems. Some other non technical problems such as little or no complimentary maintenance can also be another uncalled for expenditure for the driver.

If you are a Toyota owner and need help filing for a claim for your vehicle damage/problems caused by any of the above problems/issues in your Toyota car, our lemon law attorneys are here to help. You may seek out counsel of our legal attorneys for help in your lemon law claims for your Toyota.

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Toyota A3 Report Example [video]

By OpEx Learning Team , Last Updated March 12, 2007

Go here to see a video explanation of the A3 and also to get a Toyota A3 Template Download for Free . This article is about the Lean A3 Problem Solving Method , or sometimes called the Toyota A3 Report. Other articles on Lean Manufacturing can be found below. Continue past the Toyota House to read the rest of this article on the Toyota A3 Report.

Most problems are dealt with in superficial ways.  Very few people and organizations actually arrive at the root cause of their problems.  At Toyota, they employ Root Cause analysis in almost everything they do.  One problem solving approach they employ is the Lean A3 Problem Solving Method.

A3 is a paper size, typically 11″ x 17″.  There are actually several A3-type paper sizes, and Toyota believes that when you structure your problem solving around 1 page of paper, then your thinking is focused and structured.

Below are the steps of the A3 process, followed by a real-world example of an A3 collaborative problem solving that I was a part of while I spent a short time at Toyota.  The steps below are taken from Dr. Durward Sobek’s very informative site 1 :

Identify Problem or Need

Whenever the way work happens is not ideal, or when a goal or objective is not being met, you have a problem (or, if you prefer, a need). The best problems to work on are those that arise in day-to-day work and prevent you from doing your best.

Understand Current Situation

Before a problem can be properly addressed, one must have a firm grasp of the current situation. To do this, Toyota suggests that problem-solvers:

Root Cause Analysis

Once you have a good understanding of how the process (i.e., the one that needs to be fixed) currently works, it’s time to figure out what the root causes are to the errors or inefficiency. To accomplish this, first make a list of the main problem(s). Next, ask the appropriate why? questions until you reach the root cause. A good rule-of-thumb is that you haven’t reached the root cause until you’ve asked why? at least five times in series.

in toyota problems are solved by

Main Components of an Ishikawa Diagram

People Equipment Material Information Methods/Procedures Measurement Environment

After completing your Fishbone Diagram excercise as a group, it is helpful to test your logic by working the bones: top-down OR bottom-up like:

this happens because of g; g happens because of f; f happens because of e; e happens because of d; d happens because of c; c happens because of b; b happens because of a.

The excercise above is crucially important ” you must test your logic so that it makes pragmatic sense and that the atomic root cause is actionable ” that is, you can do something to correct it, reduce it, or eliminate the root cause.

Once you or your team arrive at a root cause for a specific capstone, then you typically cloud it to identify it as a root cause. A good rule is that there is typically *NOT* 1 root cause for a problem, but potentially several. Below is a diagram of one fishbone, decomposed:

in toyota problems are solved by


Once the current situation is fully understood and the root cause(s) for the main problem(s) has been unveiled, it’s time to devise some countermeasures. Countermeasures are the changes to be made to the work processes that will move the organization closer to ideal, or make the process more efficient, by addressing root causes. Generally speaking, we recommend that countermeasures help the process conform to three rules borrowed from Steven Spear and Kent Bowen and slightly expanded:

Develop the Target State

The countermeasure(s) addressing the root cause(s) of the problem will lead to new ways of getting the work done, what we call the target condition or target state. It describes how the work will get done with the proposed countermeasures in place. In the A3 report, the target condition should be a diagram (similar to the current condition) that illustrates how the new proposed process will work. The specific countermeasures should be noted or listed, and the expected improvement should be predicted specifically and quantitatively.

Implementation Plan

In order to reach the target state, one needs a well thought-out and workable implementation plan. The implementation plan should include a list of the actions that need to be done to get the countermeasures in place and realize the target condition, along with the individual responsible for each task and a due date. Other relevant items, such as cost, may also be added.

Below is an example from an A3 project.  The context for the A3 Report below is around the question “Why was the end-of-shift clean-up not being completed?”  This question drove the team to follow the A3 method and subsequent root cause analysis to arrive at the root causes and implement solutions.  This activity below was done proactively done by the team with full support from management.

Toyota A3 Transcript and Show Notes

My name is Chris Schrandt. I worked for Toyota for just over nine years, from the years of 1988 to 1997.

I worked at the Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant. My position at the plant was I was originally hired in as a quality engineer and then ended up being one of four quality engineering managers.

My favorite lean tool or TPS tool, that’s probably, of all the questions, the most difficult, because there so many, right? Again, the elimination of waste is what it’s all about. So if you consider the tool of recognizing what are the wastes of a process, that’s very powerful, but then using the value stream mapping tool to uncover those wastes. Once you uncover them, then the tools of built in quality, of course, quality being my background, is one of my favorites. But then, also, standardization, extremely powerful in solving the problems that you uncover with the value stream mapping. And then, of course, without teamwork and 5S, none of that’s possible. So that’s a tough one. Favorite tool, all of them.

The answer to this one, how does Toyota implement the idea of continuous improvement? And there’s three other questions, how about 5S and how about . . . ? At Toyota, I don’t ever recall thinking about them as a tool. It’s how we did the work. It was always that thinking of how we will do things better. I mean, of course, the word Kaizen was used quite a bit. But again, it was just the culture. It wasn’t something that taught as a tool. It’s how you did the business. Same as 5S, it’s how you did your work.

The idea of respect for people, the concept of respect for people is most evident in the fact that everyone is empowered. Everyone’s opinion matters. Everyone is expected to participate in continuous improvement, in doing their own job, how can I do my job better? So again, part of the culture. You were always treated well. Fujitsu [Fujio] Cho, who is now the current or was the CEO of global Toyota, was our first plant manager there. And he would hold the door open for an hourly worker the same as he would for anyone else. I mean it was just tremendous amount of respect for each other. And then again, you were not only empowered, but expected to participate in the process of continuous improvement.

Before Toyota, I worked for a defense contractor making parts to launch nuclear weapons. It wasn’t very rewarding. But what was interesting is is that I used to regulate-, it was a union factory, okay? And it was my first job after college. And so I was always in trouble at that plant because I was doing things against their policies. Well, it turns out I didn’t realize it was completely in line with how Toyota works of go and see and involve people involved in the project. So that was very interesting to learn that the things that I was always in trouble for at a union facility was completely the right way to behave at Toyota.

Well, in there I had many senseis. We had a very interesting system there of . . . When I first joined, we were fairly small organization. And every single person had what they called coordinator was the name for the Japanese sensei. Then of course, as we grew, we couldn’t have someone there as your sensei. But finally, every manager level would always have a sensei.

So again, I had many there. Unfortunately, it’s a very tragic story of the gentleman who was my sensei the longest. He’d been my sensei for a period of two years and then was gone for two years and came back. And then when he was at his second stint there, he was killed in a plane crash in Detroit on his way to the Detroit Auto Show. His name was Keita Takanami. And again, very strong personality, we fought all the time. It really wasn’t until years later trying to teach others what he taught me that I understood the brilliance of what he was teaching me. I was always butting heads with him. But again, it was like unbelievable what I learned from him.

Again, it was a lot about discipline. I learned everything about the A3 and problem-solving from him and tricks to do a good A3. Oh my gosh, one time, we worked on an A3 probably for a month non-stop, till we got it just right. And again, things that I thought were just nitpicky had a very strong meaning behind them of being concise and not using words. Use diagrams, use charts, use pictures, things like that. Again, I just thought he didn’t like English because he couldn’t read English. No, it was because it made the presentation, the A3, much better for anyone to understand it without a lot of words. Just one small example really.

I would say this. Technology is secondary at Toyota. And recently, I read or saw an article that’ll express this much better than I do. But again, it’s a tool and they’re not interested in what’s the latest and greatest. Technology needs to support the people, and it needs to be proven before you implement it. An example is in five years after we had opened up the first plant, Phase 1, we built a second plant, okay, double the capacity of the plant. And I was part of the team responsible for getting all of the test equipment, all of the end-of-the-line complete vehicle testing equipment. I was part of the team to pick who provided it, what was provided, etc.

Well, we’d go to the local Detroit manufacturers who supplied Fords and GMs. And they’d want to sell us on all the latest technology that everyone was using. And we were like, “No, we don’t want that. We want this old stuff, because it was proven,” and that we knew it was reliable and we knew it would work. So it was very interesting. It was like, “Why aren’t we using the latest and the best now?” It wasn’t the case.

And I think, again, there are some things that the technology made the parts of the tools of TPS work, like making Single Minute Exchange of Die, requires a great deal of technology to make that happen, okay? But you don’t need to automate everything. The assembly process was virtually un-automated. And then even since I’ve left, I know that they have gotten away from even putting too many robots in the body shop, because they have more flexibility with people. So again, lot of words to say. It’s secondary. It’s not all about robotics. It’s not all about the latest technology.

Again, teamwork, 5S, continuous improvement, it’s just the way you work. Teamwork is used sometimes as a positive as well as a pressure, right? It’s peer pressure also. You have teams where you have on-the-line groups, where you have five or six team members and one team leader and you don’t have a replacement pool. So there is a team, and we all work as a team. But it’s also if someone’s not there, right, someone else in the team, like the team leader, has to fill in for them. And that puts a lot of pressure on the rest of the team. So it’s a combination of, “Okay, we’re one group. We understand each other’s work. We have good cross-training.” But it’s peer pressure also to come to work and be on time and do your job properly.

The Toyota training process is . . . I witnessed many different evolutions of it and many examples of it. When I first joined Toyota as a engineer, a salary employee, I was sent to Japan for four weeks and received extensive training there. Then again, when I came back to the U.S., I had my sensei. I had my coordinator with me for six months, who was full-time, right? Well, that was just that first year when we got started. Later on, of course, we didn’t have the resource to have that kind of training.

But I heard stories about how when the salary employee in Japan was hired, the first thing they would do is go six months, they would go door-to-door and sell Toyotas, right? How incredibly powerful is that to have to go and sell the vehicle? And then when they would come back from that, they would go and work on the shop floor for six months, right? The most we could ever do training like that was for a couple of days to get an engineer out there. And in a union facility like General Motors, of course, we couldn’t do that at all. But I tell you what, you gain respect for what the people are doing.

Now, regards to how training evolved at Georgetown for the hourly workers, at first, we would have two weeks of training, and you were on the line. Well, what happened? We ended up with carpal tunnel, a lot of problems with that. And now again, I left 12 years ago. How they do it now, I’m not sure. But it ended up being a six-month program where, hire, you would have classroom training, what’s Toyota production system. But it was also exercises and stretching and strength so that you could go to the line and be able to do the job. Again, mainly is a response to so many carpel tunnel issues.

So it was a demonstration really of continuous improvement. They started out. They hired a lot of young kids from high school. And everything was fine. But five years into it, wow, everybody’s got carpal tunnel. So what do we do? And they learned and expanded the training program.

What is Toyota’s greatest strength? To be honest, it just comes back to discipline and hard work. They took great ideas. Some of them they developed their own. Of course, some they took from Deming, some they took from Ford Motor Company. But they had the discipline to say, “We are embracing these ideas, and we’re really going to do it. And it’s not just today, and it’s just not tomorrow. It’s continuously having the discipline to follow those rules, those tools, that culture, okay? And it’s hard work. I mean it is a lot of work through the work ethic.

I teach people that the Toyota production system, you can use it in any culture. There’s no reason one culture is more able to implement it than another. However, the work ethic in Japan was much different. There, someone to work 12 hours a day as a salary employee was the norm and expected, okay?

So the second part of it, discipline was the hard work. I mean it really was hard work. There was no magic. There was no just these are great ideas, or we just easily design great vehicles, and they go together easily. It was a lot of hard work. So really, discipline, hard work, that they apply to all of the good thinking methods that they have.

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Reader Interactions

robert thompson says

March 13, 2007 at 10:19 am

A nice summary of the A3 approach. I think that the A3 approach offers a structure to view a problem through the eyes of the customer and forces an understanding the current condition before jumping to a solution. I discuss how the A3 approach can be integrated with the DMAIC framework on my blog.

Mark Graban says

March 13, 2007 at 1:57 pm

On my blog, I posted a link to the recent WSJ article that showed Toyota showing the LAPD to use an A3 report.

There was no copyright on the A3 ppt that they had for download, so here is the direct link…

March 14, 2007 at 10:09 am

Good stuff. I still have an A3 from our tour of the parts distribution center and often refer to it.

Linda M says

February 1, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Hello – I would like the A-3 form in a Word document so we can use it as a template. Where could I find that…not a pdf or .xls

March 6, 2008 at 8:49 am

[link redacted by site owner] there is 2 downloads one is a word doc. hope this helps.

July 22, 2009 at 8:25 am

Great article!

I’ve seen 5-Why’s and Fishbone diagrams used before but never heard about the rest of the A3 process.

I definitely like the “Understand the Current Process” portion of the process but I still believe the root cause analysis portion (5-Whys of Fishbone Diagrams) is fatally flawed. For a discussion of the reasons why, see:

[link redacted by site owner]

Thanks again for the great article.

May 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm

This is excellent. You explain the Toyota problem solving process in a simple way. Great work and excellent site on Lean Training and Lean Manufacturing!

Pele de Brasil says

May 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm

In Brasil my home town, there are many practitioners of Lean Manufacturing. I have worked in 3 different factories and I saw Lean process in each one, but they were done differently but the same. In some, A3 was used. In others, just Kaizen newspapers. But same output.

Pete Abilla says

May 23, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Yes, you’re right. The important thing with the A3 is that it is rigorously followed and that it becomes a means of communication as well as a vehicle for learning (and communicating). Thanks much.

May 23, 2011 at 9:27 pm

A3 is great for lean and makes lean training easier to do. But, in some countries (like India for me), printing on an 11×17 size paper is not practical. Any advice on how to do A3 without having to print such big paper?

May 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm

The A3 is both a method and a means of communication. The actual paper size of 11×17 is really not that important. What is important is that the A3 process is followed – a teacher with a student – and that each of the steps is rigorously followed. Reporting the results at the end – that actual 11×17 printout is the very last thing you should worry about. The ability to see all the information and approach on 1 sheet of paper is very beneficial, but where it’s not feasible, then adjust.

Thanks for reading shmula.

Carlos Scholz says

August 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Pretty good article, you cover the basics of the A3 concept as a problem solving methodology that has to be followed rigorously (although A3 can also be used for other things, not only Problem Solving). One thing about the video though, is that it’s missing a key ingredient of A3, which is the Gap/Root Cause Analisys. You can’t go from Target State to Action Plan, even if this is a Proposal A3… that’s my point of view at least.

August 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Pete, the video is missing a key ingredient: Gap / Root Cause Analysis. You can’t jump from target state to action plan without knowing your root causes, even if it’s only a Proposal A3. That’s my point of view at least.

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An A3 Report is a Toyota-pioneered practice of getting the problem, the analysis, the corrective actions, and the action plan down on a single sheet of large (A3) paper, often with the use of graphics. At Toyota, A3 reports have evolved into a standard method for summarizing problem-solving exercises, status reports, and planning exercises like value-stream mapping.

But it is much more than a sheet a paper with facts and figures. It is a management process  learned through dialogue about concrete problems. It does this by means of a dialogue between a lean manager and a subordinate who learns lean management and leadership as she solves an important problem.

This process of solving problems while creating better employees—A3 analysis—is core to the Toyota management system. An A3 report guides the dialogue and analysis. It identifies the current situation, the nature of the issue, the range of possible counter- measures, the best countermeasure, the means (who will do what when) to put it into practice, and the evidence that the issue has actually been addressed.

The lean leader’s job is to develop people. If the worker hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught. Training Within Industry Report (Washington, DC: War Manpower Commission, Bureau of Training, 1945).

Effective use of the A3 process can facilitate the shift from a  debate  about who owns what (an authority-focused debate) to a  dialogue  around  what is the right thing to do  (a responsibility-focused conversation). This shift has a radical impact on the way decisions are made. Individuals earn the authority to take action through the manner in which they frame the issue. They form consensus and get decisions made by focusing relentlessly on indisputable facts that they and their peers derive from the gemba.

As a result, A3 management can best be understood as neither “top-down” nor “bottom-up.” The process clarifies responsibility by placing ownership squarely on the shoulders of the author-owner of the A3, the individual whose initials appear in the upper right-hand corner of the paper. This person may not have direct authority over every aspect of the proposal. Yet this owner is clearly identified as the person who has taken or accepted responsibility  to get decisions made and implemented .

Example A3s

Complete A3 about solving an administrative problem in translation.

The Many Facets of A3

A large yellow block inviting you to download an eBook about A3.

Additional Resources

Generic image

How Do I Start My A3?

When asked “where do I start to write my A3,” David Verble responds “don’t start by writing.” His piece, the first in a series about getting started, offers lessons he has learned about the nature of thinking, and a productive way to start the A3 by recognzing it as a thinking process. 

Zoomed-in A3 with red circles and arrows.

Don’t Present Your A3: Share Your A3

When asked “where do I start to write my A3,” David Verble responds “don’t start by writing.” His piece, the first in a series about getting started, offers lessons he has learned about the nature of thinking, and a productive way to start by recognizing it as a thinking process. 

Related Books

Managing to Learn: Using the A3 management process

Related Online Courses

The 5 Why Funnel

Intro to Problem Solving

Problem-solving is critical to every position in every industry. In this course, you will learn to grasp the situation at the gemba (where the work is done) and use all of your senses to understand what is truly happening.

See: Value Stream Mapping

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Toyota Kata

What is a kata.

A kata is a small, well-structured protocol or routine that becomes second nature through practice, and brings about the development of a particular skill. The point of the kata is not the memorization of the routines, but rather is the habits of thought and action that practicing them leaves behind.

In other words, a kata is a means for the acquisition of new cognitive and behavioral skills, such as process improvement. Furthermore, a kata make these skills transferable to others - an essential part of developing a sustained culture of continuous improvement within an organization.

How does Toyota use kata?

Toyota’s improvement processes arise from two fundamental kata - the first is for improvement or problem solving, the second for coaching.

The Toyota Problem Solving Kata

A common, but flawed, strategy for problem solving involves taking on complex problems and tackling many issues simultaneously. This approach makes it difficult to understand which strategies and techniques worked and which did not, as too many changes are made simultaneously.

Conversely, the Toyota problem solving kata encourages working on single issues and single countermeasures in rapid succession. Operating this way increases the organization’s profound knowledge and understanding of that process.

The goals here are twofold:

1.  Learn about the system itself and come to fully understand the situation

2.  Observe the situation, applying only one countermeasure at a time so that cause and effect becomes apparent.

What's more, as each countermeasure is applied, it reveals the next problem and the improvement process can quickly proceed.

The Toyota Coaching Kata

Most companies have some version of a performance management system in which a team member develops a set of goals with his supervisor and is evaluated at the end of the time period on his performance in meeting those goals. However, this is more authoritarian than collaborative, leading with pressure rather than coaching.

At Toyota, a process of mentoring replaces this outdated leadership style. Leaders offer guidance for solving problems in the correct ways, helping to develop employees’ problem solving skills. In this way, it is the team members, not the supervisors, who find the solutions to problems.

With the Toyota coaching kata , most improvement efforts are “bottom up,” relying on and improving upon each employee’s knowledge base. Additionally, the entire operation is reliant on problems being flagged immediately. This allows most problems to be discovered and solved when they are still small, rather than waiting until they set off a chain of failures and subsequent problems.

There are two main duties of a leader under these kata:

See how KaiNexus customer Michael Lombard uses the Toyota Kata in his organization:

Michael lombard.

Director of Operational Excellence at a Hospital in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Area

In this video, Michael says... 

When I came in as Director, we were kind of starting with a blank slate, so we had the opportunity to do some research. We started looking at some videos by John Shook of the Lean Enterprise Institute, and he talks about two pillars of CI: one being process improvement, the other being developing the capacity of your organization - giving them skills and competencies, and you want to be able to do both at the same time.

We came across the Toyota Kata method to continuous improvement, and it really does help fulfill both of these pillars at the same time. So we adopted that about a year ago and we've been experimenting just to see what works and what doesn't, and it works really well. Clinicians love it, it appeals to their action oriented nature, it allows them to just try things and learn from it and take steps forward.

Really, our next step with the Toyota Kata approach is going beyond our initial cadre of coaches, and infiltrating all levels of the organization. We're starting so see a pretty good spread (we track that sort of thing - how many departments we're doing coaching in, how many departments we're doing PDCA cycles in). But we really need to take it to that next level and start engaging everybody in the organization, from the clinical staff to the physicians, to the nonclinical staff and the leaders. 

Recommended reading:

Toyota Kata (Mike Rother) 

Gemba Academy  Podcast with Michael Lombard discussing Kata

Toyota Kata :  Lean Enterprise Institute 

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Can Society Ever Solve the Work/Life Balance Problem?

Miss Manners by by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

GENTLE READERS: The clash between people who don't want to return to the office (employees) and those who want them to do so (employers) is no surprise to Miss Manners. The pandemic might have brought this out, but the work/private life problem has existed throughout history.

Society needs to provide both. Obviously, it needs workers. But it also needs people to attend to family life, community welfare and functions of leisure, recreation and entertainment, as these promote general satisfaction.

Therefore, society has, in different eras, come up with different solutions to staff both realms. And all of them have been terrible.

For centuries, the division was the one that seemed most reasonable to those with the power to enforce it: The poor would work, with only enough of a private life necessary to produce another generation of workers. This freed the rich to pursue such leisure activities as socializing, sports and, when things got really dull, warfare.

But in the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution produced a class of people who were neither rich enough not to work, nor poor enough to put up with forgoing pleasure. So the division changed: All the poor would still work and the rich play, but among the reasonably solvent, males would earn money working, and females would perform the functions that did not pay.

This was adjusted in the mid-20th century to admit females to certain paid jobs (notably, those lacking in prestige), even if for less pay and fewer opportunities to advance. Ever since then, efforts have been made to give females the work advantages that males enjoyed -- including the same work schedule.

But just as the school schedule remains as designed under the presumption that children needed to be free in the summer to help with the crops, the work schedule remains as it was under the presumption that the worker had a partner taking care of the private realm.

The underlying problem was hardly addressed: Who would staff that private realm? For the essential parts, household and child care, it has been either the better-paid female worker or one in a poor-paying job. And the merely enjoyable parts, chiefly family and social life, suffered from neglect.

So that solution didn't work, either -- and people are finally noticing.

Whatever compromise might be worked out eventually will take a great deal of negotiating. Employers, as well as employees, have legitimate concerns about work time and place that must be addressed.

Miss Manners' contribution is to point out that the easiest part to cut is the pseudo-social life that has become a feature of business models: what is now referred to as "mandatory fun." Surely workers no longer believe that after-hours drinks, office birthday celebrations and team-building exercises are adequate substitutes for time spent with people of their own choosing.

And bosses will find that encouraging a cordial, cooperative, cheerful level of professional behavior will be easier and more productive than trying to make employees love one another.

Miss Manners for March 06, 2023

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Can I touch up my lipstick at the dinner table?

GENTLE READER: You'll only get it all over your fork and glass.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Uninvited Guests Don't Make the Rules

DEAR MISS MANNERS: In our retirement, my husband and I purchased a large, beautiful home in a famous desert resort area. In addition to the rest of the house, we have three guest rooms that would make any five-star hotel proud, plus a private swimming pool surrounded by palm trees. You get the idea.

Naturally, our home has become a favorite destination for our family, which is wonderful! One of our goals was to create an oasis and a gathering place for our multigenerational family for festive occasions.

We also have three beautiful, well-trained golden retrievers. They are as much a part of our family as the humans, and everybody who comes to visit loves them.

At one large family gathering, with 12 relatives staying in our house, my sister-in-law announced she had invited a college friend from 40 years earlier, plus the friend's husband, to spend an entire day with us. They would join us for the planned celebratory lunch, dinner and festivities.

Then we were warned that the friend, despite being a licensed psychiatrist, has a deathly and obsessive terror of dogs. When she sees any dog, she becomes hysterical, jumps up on chairs, screams, etc.

We tried our best to accommodate her, but it meant locking our golden retrievers -- and this is THEIR home as well as ours -- in a spare bedroom for the entire day. Even taking our dogs outside to do their business was an ordeal, as we would literally have to put the fearful guest in one room, shut the door, then take our dogs out through a side door. (The daily temperature here is often over 100 degrees, so the dogs cannot be left outside for any period of time.)

This uninvited guest was in our house from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. -- 12 hours. (She originally said she would stop over for just an hour or two.) And this is somebody we do not know. It really ruined the day, the celebration, everything.

We understand that not everyone likes dogs, and we NEVER take our dogs to other people's homes or parties unless specifically invited. We would not even think of doing so.

Another family gathering is coming up, and my sister-in-law has announced her friend will be coming again. This is not amenable to us. How do we get out of this without offending everybody?

I am so frustrated with all of this. What is the old saying? "No good deed goes unpunished"?

GENTLE READER: Indeed. You may therefore reasonably and justifiably say, "I am afraid that while we enjoyed meeting your friend, we simply cannot guarantee a safe environment for her with the dogs. Perhaps we should meet at your home in the future."

While it is true that Miss Manners generally prioritizes the comfort of guests over animals, she makes a notable exception when the guest was never invited in the first place. If your sister-in-law objects, you might politely remind her of that.

New Colleague Doesn't Care for the Lunch Conversation

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My co-worker and I have a routine where we eat lunch together. We like to joke and talk during lunch. A new person started working here, and basically invited herself to lunch with us.

We didn't want to be rude, so we have allowed her to eat with us. However, she seems to get upset when we discuss our personal lives (nothing inappropriate) or make work-appropriate jokes. She ends up leaving.

Should we alter our lunch conversation topics to include an uninvited colleague?

GENTLE READER: Why, when they have proven so successful in getting her to leave you to them?

Miss Manners for March 03, 2023

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Several weeks ago, I sent a lunch invitation to a family whose sons are in both of my sons' classes. The mother accepted the invitation, and yesterday (two days before the lunch), I sent her a reminder text.

She replied that she will check her calendar, as one of the sons may have a track meet. Then she informed me that she has three additional, older children, and asked if they were invited. I extended the invitation to them and asked if she could confirm the number with me as soon as possible.

The lunch is tomorrow. Today, I sent a text asking how many chairs I should set out. She replied that she didn't yet know, and -- here's the part I am a bit miffed about -- that her kids are vegan.

How would you suggest I avoid getting myself into this type of scenario in the future?

GENTLE READER: A bit miffed? This person invited extra people, would not tell you if they were actually coming, and then asserted that if they did come, they would need a special menu. Miss Manners would be livid.

But since you asked, she does see your slight misstep. After you issued the original invitation, the mother accepted. Your reminders only served to exacerbate the situation. Twice.

Next time, quit while you have the answer that you want. Certainly, this person might still have shown up with extra children and their dietary constraints, but at least with no warning, you would not have had to scramble in advance -- and she might actually have felt some embarrassment.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Decades ago, while traveling to my brother's wedding, my husband and I made a side trip to visit my old undergrad adviser. He and his wife had us over to their house, and my adviser, who'd grown up a farm boy, found out that my husband had once worked on a farm.

He engaged my husband in an animated conversation about farming, leaving me to try to make conversation with his wife. I had met her only once, years before, and despite my efforts, I could find nothing in common with her. I was pretty chagrinned -- I had, after all, come to see him, not her, but I knew that saying so would be rude.

The man and his wife are now long gone, but I still wonder: What should I have done?

GENTLE READER: Found a way to get in on that farm talk. You might have learned something.

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    GENTLE READER: You'll only get it all over your fork and glass. (Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.) View Comments. life.