The lasting impact of poor quality

My favorite corporate soap opera: As The Paint Peels

My favorite corporate soap opera: As The Paint Peels

This past weekend I read an article — sorry I can’t find the link, this Forbes article is pretty typical though — about how it is a shame that the past quality problems still haunt America’s car companies. In particular, the author made the case that car buyers need to get over it.   IMO, poor quality is a betrayal of trust for a product like autos, which are so integral to our way of life and psyches. I must admit that I’m one of those buyers who, in the words of Daniel Snow,

turned to Asian and European cars after the oil shocks [and] found they didn’t require much maintenance over hundreds of thousands of miles. To add insult to the injury, Honda, Toyota and others began manufacturing cars in the U.S. The sterling quality of these products proved American workers were not to blame for quality problems at GM, Ford and Chrysler.

To this day, every time I look at US cars I get cold feet. The memories of the peeling paint and balky transmission of my Monte Carlo and the clutch on my Maverick that lasted 20K miles come back. Let’s not even talk about a teacher’s Vega, my friend’s Pinto, or the leaky diesel McDonald’s GM company cars of the 1980’s. Even worse, the strategy of pawning off crap cars via fleet sales to rental car companies — rather than killing/fixing the marque — means that when I think of Chrysler I think of the embarassing Dodge Caliber I rented last year.

Like they said in the X-Files, I want to believe. But, then I remember…

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5 Responses

  1. […] Original post by Crossderry Blog […]

  2. Paul,
    We’re a Honda family. Well 3 of the 4 are. My wife drives a Pilot, one college daughter drives an Accord, I drive a Fire Engine Red Civic-SI, and our other college sone drives a 1994 Mercury Villager – the “man van,”

    The 3 Honda are “perfect” in every. The “Man Van,” costed him $500, had 160K on it when he became the proud owner. Has close to 200K now, no back seats – more room for mountain and road bike, no side window on the passanger side door – blown out by a window storm, a giant roof rack for skis and more mountain bikes, speakers bolted to the floor – blown out the OEM versions.

    It’s the perfect Colorado car – “you know you’re in Coloado, when the mountain (or road) bike on the roof costs 8 times the proce of the car.” Specialized S-works for both, so it’s 20 times the price of the car.

    The Honda’s are models of efficiency and maintenance. The Villager is a Total POS – but simply won’t die.

    Go figure.

  3. My folks and siblings are Honda folks as well, though my brother and his wife also bought a Ford (Freestyle, which they love I think). My wife and I were Hyundai fans, though my wife just bought a Camry hybrid.

    The sad thing is that there are plenty of good American cars, but they would never kill crap quickly enough. I still can’t get over how bad the Dodge Caliber was to drive…however, a short test drive could fool the unwary.

    Only a bean-counter would think it was a good idea to keep building Calibers. What is more valuable: the additional amortization of the Caliber tooling you get by selling more cars or the lasting emnity of the folks who buy them?

  4. Re the POS that won’t die: Check out this Top Gear (BBC) series of clips on the unkillable hi-lux http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrk6vsb77xk

  5. Here is what burns me up about today’s cars and technology. It is not all that it is cracked up to be. Remember the Mac Phearson strut caze? How it was the “latest and greatest technology”? Wrong. It was a cheaper way of making a less than great piece of equipment. I still see better performance with the older shock absorber system. I was a teen of the 1980’s and I am not happy at all with many of the features that I see these days. I think that regular consumers are not aware but I want you to notice how manufacturers are placing more panels under the hood to cover structures. In some models, it is difficult to locate the battery. The radiators are hidden-and for good reasons. One is-so you cannot have access to it and check the condition for corrosion and leaks. You only have access to the reservoir bottle to fill and check. This sucks! and Two-many current radiators are made COMPLETELY of plastic! But how would you know that if it is concealed? Great ploy by the manufacturers. This means that you can no longer have the old aluminum or copper radiator removed, boiled, and sealed for a cheaper price. for one of my cars-a 1999 Ford Taurus, the dealer will charge $750.00 for a total replacement and offer a 1-year warranty. A very good aftermarket company (thank God for them-they can keep making parts for older cars when the original car makers discontinue them) will offer the same type of radiator with a life-time warranty and charge $495.00. This would be the easiest repair. The very best would be to purchase the old fashion type from custom car shops, but it may be costly depending on the work needed for the installment. A rad. especially made for the many variety of cars may even be less expensive than the plastic version. I love the GPS systems, hi-tech radios, internet adaptable features, auto-braking functions, glass image displays. Much of our technology could have been released years ago. The first electric car was on the road and running during the Ford Model T times. When carburetors were the main air/fuel mixture devices, there was a man who invented the 100-mile-per-gallon carb. which I saw in a couple of car mags. but it disappeared after two months. I heard rumors that the man was threatened and the info. was “lock up”. This definitely would have affected profits for the oil guys. There are things that can make our lives more pleasant and comfortable, and sensible. But, unfortunately, many people in business follow the “PEOPLE OVER PROFIT” practices. And this in all aspects of life-not just autos.

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