They don't CARE and hope you go away!
June 15th, 2010 posted by Matt Degen
You won’t see Tony Scanaliato picketing outside Toyota of Huntington Beach on weekends anymore. That’s because after two years of legal wrangling and much of that period protesting outside the dealership, the Huntington Beach resident received a settlement from Toyota Motor Corp. over a 2007 Tundra that he claimed was a lemon.
The saga began soon after Scanaliato, 66, bought the truck new for about $35,000, when he said its 5.7-liter V8 engine began to sound odd, almost like that of a diesel.
He said the sound did not appear to affect the truck’s performance, but it bothered him all the same and he couldn’t find a remedy for it despite doing extensive research online about the issue, which has been reported in forums by other owners of the truck as well, some saying the sound is due to “piston slap.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are no recalls for such an issue on the truck. (Click HERE to search bulletins on the site.)
Scanaliato said his issue went beyond that of simple knocking or piston slap, however, and returned the truck to the dealer where he bought it seeking a buyback. The dealer had to refuse because the truck had been damaged in a minor accident.
Toyota of Huntington Beach General Manager Bob Miller said he offered to buy back the truck, but that it turned out to be damaged.
“We sat down … after he bought the truck,” Miller said. “I told him, ‘All the engines make that noise; there are 32 valves in there.’ I said, ‘Tony, why don’t I buy back the truck?’ He said OK, and as it turns out it’d been in an accident. I think he backed into a wall or something. So I couldn’t buy it back. I would have bought it back and resold it.”
Scanaliato said the damage was minimal, though, and continued to picket the dealership on Beach Boulevard, wearing a custom-made shirt that claimed he bought a lemon and fastening similar signage to his truck, which he parked outside of the dealership on weekends and picketed for several hours a day.
He also lost an arbitration case held in 2007, in which the arbitrator found the truck was “operating as designed,” similar to what a mechanic at the dealership found, as well as a Toyota field technician who also inspected the truck.
Still, Scanaliato continued in his fight, claiming that the truck just wasn’t right, and that it didn’t sound problematic when he test-drove it before buying.
Scanaliato enlisted attorney Jim Whitworth of Fountain Valley, who specializes in lemon-law cases.
Whitworth said Scanaliato is the only client he has had who’s taken such drastic measures, and that doing so isn’t something he’d normally advise. But for Scanaliato, picketing is what kept him going.
Finally, in late April Toyota settled the case out of court, cutting Scanaliato a check for $29,000. For his compensation, Whitworth got the truck, which was valued at about $20,000, Scanaliato said.
Whitworth said he plans to use the vehicle as a form of advertisement that can advise other consumers about lemon law.
“I’m trying to formulate a way to put Tony’s story on a never-ending advertisement,” Whitworth said.”That’s ultimately the idea.”
Miller said that while he didn’t think Scanaliato’s picketing deterred customers, he’s glad Scanaliato is gone anyway.
“We did absolutely nothing wrong,” Miller said of the dealership. “He took it to Toyota and Toyota settled. Every dealer is held harmless by the manufacturer. I didn’t build the car.”
While a Toyota official could not comment specifically on Scanaliato’s case, he said the issue of piston slap was known in a very limited number of Tundra trucks.
“There has been some customer complaints, but they were extremely low,” said Brian Lyons, a spokesman in Toyota’s quality communications department. “They were dealt with on a case by case basis.”
“The knocking that happened in rare cases did not affect the durability or drivability of the vehicle,” Lyons added. “This is a customer-satisfaction issue, not one of safety or durability.”
As for Scanaliato, he said he was anything but satisfied with his Toyota experience, and that his personal crusade against the automaker isn’t over.
“There is no closure until people know,” he said. “If (Toyota) had bought the truck back (to begin with), it would have been an admission of guilt. Just like they didn’t admit the problems with their gas pedals. They could have given me a new engine from Day One and still had me as a customer.
That would have just cost them about $5,000. They just don’t want to admit guilt.”
Scanaliato, who now drives a Dodge truck, the bulk of which he paid for with the settlement money, says he hopes that his ordeal can at least help others.
“I just don’t want someone to go through what I went through,” he said, citing that not giving up is the key for consumers who may face a similar situation. “People today have to stand up.”
In a twist of coincidence, Scanaliato was back on a picket line until a few days ago: He was on strike with his union against Boeing in Long Beach, where he works as an aircraft planner. (Corrected to Long Beach, not Seal Beach, 6/16)
Taking an optimistic viewpoint, Scanaliato says his picketing against the Toyota dealership gave him endurance for his latest strike.
“That walking did me good,” he said. “I can walk for four hours now.”
In other news:
Photos courtesy of Anthony Scanaliato
Posted in: Dealers, deals and for sale • Huntington Beach • toyota