It’s not just “Big” “Fat” “Rich” “Foreign-owned Toyota” that’s suffering

Toyota owners, every time there’s a new sensationalist headline or a congressman spouts more demagoguery regarding your make of car, the value drops. Last month Kelley Blue Book dropped the resale values of recalled Toyotas twice in just four days, according to AP, leaving them as much as 4 percent or US$300 to US$750 lower than a week ago, depending on the model.

And there are a lot of you sharing the pain. Toyota has sold 20 million cars and trucks in this country in the last decade, with an estimated 80 percent still on the road. That’s over 8 percent of all drivers.

Since the first recall for sticky accelerator pedals on Jan. 21, the estimate for the trade-in value of a 2009 Toyota Camry has fallen by 4 percent to 6 percent to US$13,967 while that of the the 2009 Toyota Corolla has declined 6 percent to US$11,233.

Never mind that you told Consumer Reports that, by far, Toyota makes the finest quality car on the road or that two months ago Kelley named Toyota the best brand for resale value.

The auto research Web site estimates resale or trade-in values could fall up to 10 percent in the short term. How far they drop over the longer haul depends on long-term perceptions. If it becomes embedded in the public view that Toyota had a massive problem and that, as the pundits have put it, “It lost its way” or “Grew too fast” resale values will be permanently affected. As it stands, some dealers are refusing to accept Toyotas for trade while others are paying considerably less than they did just two weeks ago.

“My advice to a consumer would be ‘If you don’t have to trade one in, wait,'” says Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for Edmunds. “Values will stay down for a bit. But Toyota’s got really strong brand equity.”