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Why do American cars and trucks suck so bad?


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114 replies to this topic

#1 of 115 OFFLINE   Kevin Alexander

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Posted September 16 2005 - 12:14 PM

Now don't get mad, and yes, I admit that there are some American vehicle models that seem to hold their own. To be honest though, there are only a handful of American vehicles that I would really want to make a 5 year investment in. IMO, the worst of the big 3 automakers is Chrysler/Dodge. They are the epitome of "style over substance". To me, Chrysler has the boldest styling and aggressive marketing, but if you buy their product, you'd be wise to invest in an extended warranty because they WILL break down prematurely. As many of you know, I have a 2000 Dodge Dakota that I purchased new and rarely drive. It has 36000 miles on it and already I have replaced the radiator ($1100), alternator ($260), brake module ($700 w/ dealer discount because I complained), and now the clutch ($700). And these aren't isolated cases either. I frequent the Dodge Dakota forums at www.dodgedakotas.com and I find topic after topic of people like me who are fed up w/ problem after problem and will never buy another one. Again, bold on "styling", weak on "substance". And another thing - why does everything break just miles (or days) out of warranty? My brake module failed just one month after 3 years. Do you think Chrysler/Dodge cared that this expensive part that shouldn't fail so soon did? Not one bit. Ford and GM (while not as bad) could be much, much better. None of them are up to par w/ the more reliable foreign counterparts (Honda, Toyota, Nissan). What are some of your experiences w/ the big 3 American automakers? Personally, I'm through w/ them. My next truck will be a Nissan Titan.
"What does God want with a Starship?" - Captain Kirk from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

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#2 of 115 OFFLINE   Andrew Pezzo

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Posted September 16 2005 - 12:26 PM

When I got out of college in 1999 I almost bought a Neon. My senses got the better of me and I bought a Honda Civic Coupe. Its now six years and 150,000 miles later (I have always had a long commute to work - 90 miles round trip) and the only problem I have had was the muffler had to be replaced. Since I live in the North-East that is more a product of the weather than the manufacturing. I have been diligent with maintenance (oil changes tune-ups, etc) which has no doubt helped. I can guarantee the Neon would not have yielded the same results, not even close.

On the other hand my mom has always bought American (Buicks and then Chevys) and I swear its like they break down on a monthly basis. She finally saw the light and just bought a Honda Accord.

Based on my experiences I would never buy American, Honda all the way. Or at least until I can afford a BMW.Posted Image

#3 of 115 OFFLINE   LDfan

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Posted September 16 2005 - 12:35 PM

I used to blame the people putting them together as being careless but considering most japanese and some german cars are built here in the US the problem has to be with crap engineering and the quality of the parts. However considering GM's financial problems I guess they have to skimp on something.
It's a shame that the US builds some of the best military equipment in the world but can't apply that same idea to an automobile.


Jeff

#4 of 115 OFFLINE   Chris Lockwood

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Posted September 16 2005 - 01:17 PM

> the worst of the big 3 automakers is Chrysler/Dodge

You mean the German company Daimler/Chrysler.

#5 of 115 OFFLINE   Brian Harnish

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Posted September 16 2005 - 01:26 PM

I've had a 9 year old (1996) Honda Civic Sedan (63,000 miles at the time I purchased it) for well over a year without any problems whatsoever and I even took a round trip to Vegas and back once. And that's without any tune-ups! Of course, I did have a tune-up/oil change/filter change/etc. done after I got back.

In contrast, my first car was an old 1988 Mercury Sable LS and the engine would stop right in the middle of an intersection if the weather was hot or cold enough! I had so many problems with that car (which ended when the LCD that showed the speedometer using digital numbers rather than a dial started fading to the point of not being able to read it) that I saw the light and bought an old Honda Civic Sedan as that was one of the only cars I could afford at the time.

It's a GREAT car without ANY problems whatsoever. I swear by Hondas, and once I make enough to pay for one, I'll buy a Honda Accord coupe (or a Toyota Truck)...haven't decided yet.

#6 of 115 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted September 16 2005 - 01:26 PM

It's been common knowledge for decades that the big 3 automakers are inferior to the Japanese makers in quality. As long as we can buy what we want, we don't have to put up with it.

#7 of 115 OFFLINE   Todd Hochard

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Posted September 16 2005 - 01:34 PM

Quote:
It's a shame that the US builds some of the best military equipment in the world but can't apply that same idea to an automobile.
Correction- won't. Won't apply the same idea, not can't.

Having owned several GMs, and three Hondas/Acuras over the last 15 years, you'll be hard-pressed to get me out of Honda. I like my TL so much, I'm literally thinking of getting a 2nd one.Posted Image
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#8 of 115 OFFLINE   Kevin Alexander

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Posted September 16 2005 - 01:46 PM

Quote:
You mean the German company Daimler/Chrysler.
If I'm not mistaken, wasn't it Chrysler who bought Daimler? Even if it's the other way around, when will some of that famed German engineering finally begin to trickle it's way into their cars and trucks?
"What does God want with a Starship?" - Captain Kirk from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

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#9 of 115 OFFLINE   Adam Barratt

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Posted September 16 2005 - 01:54 PM

I imagine it's a consequence of vehicle turnover. In much of the rest of the world cars are regarded as expensive long-term ownership items. The average lifespan of a car in Asia, Europe or the Middle East may be well over a decade because that's how often people are willing to buy them. Most of my American friends, on the other hand, buy a new car every 1-3 years and regard cars as disposable commodities. There's no real incentive for the manufacturers to build cars that will last for 10 or more years for these buyers.

Adam

#10 of 115 OFFLINE   Todd Hochard

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Posted September 16 2005 - 02:08 PM

Quote:
If I'm not mistaken, wasn't it Chrysler who bought Daimler?
You are mistaken.Posted Image And, now, Benz is thinking that they may have been mistaken as well. What was seen as an opportunity to improve Chrysler with Benz workmanship, has actually dragged Benz workmanship down toward Chrysler levels. Mercedes is experiencing the highest number of complaints of vehicle quality that they have ever seen.

I see the biggest problem with American carmakers, is their inability to build efficient vehicles that people actually want. They're peddling ginormous SUVs to a $3/gal market, while neglecting the other segments altogether.
I love to singa, about the moon-a, and the june-a, and the springa...
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#11 of 115 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted September 16 2005 - 02:25 PM

Quote:
I see the biggest problem with American carmakers, is their inability to build efficient vehicles that people actually want. They're peddling ginormous SUVs to a $3/gal market, while neglecting the other segments altogether.

That may be why American companies have the crappiest selection of 'not trucks', but it doesn't say why they are crappy. The reason they suck is because of the UAW. An organization forged by Satan himself. Its practically impossible to get canned if you're a member. You could weld the wheels onto the hub every day for 16 years and the company couldn't get rid of you.

Not only that, but also the healthcare & pensions add between $2500 and $6500 to the price of every car. The reason a Chevy isn't as nice as a Hyundai is because its a cheaper car..... they just gouge it after the fact to make it more expensive.
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#12 of 115 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted September 16 2005 - 02:26 PM

BTW: Mitsubishi & Kawasai man.... best rides I've ever owned.
"Did you know that more people are murdered at 92 degrees Fahrenheit than any other temperature? I read an article once. Lower temperatures, people are easy-going, over 92 and it's too hot to move, but just 92, people get irritable."

#13 of 115 OFFLINE   Ryan Tsang

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Posted September 16 2005 - 02:37 PM

Quote:
Or at least until I can afford a BMW.

Don't buy it for its reliability because you'll be disappointed. Probably not as bad as US makes but my mom's 325i (probably MY01) had numerous glitches which required dealer attention. Nothing major but enough to make life annoying and lose confidence once warranty is expired.


Kevin, you read my mind! On my way home tonight, I passed by this Dodge Charger with bling bling rims and thought exactly as you: style over substance. Chrysler's latest offerings since the resurgence of the Hemi have been in my eyes nothing but cheap power. Unfortunately, that's what North Americans want. The leaser would probably return it after the contract anyway so they don't care how well it's made. You get what you pay for, bottom line.

I would even go further and say that cheap power is the formula that resurrected Nissan. Every mainstream review I've read on the new Altima says it has a jewel of an engine but skimps on the quality of the interior.

The latest joke is the employee pricing. GM started it, now all of the Big 3 rely on it to move their cars. Honda and Toyota sell themselves. Some models you have even to get in line to buy.

Slightly OT: Hyundai is starting to impress me. They've come along way since the Pony, and make damn fine cars now for the money.

Slightly OT again: I dream of a Subaru WRX STi

great topic and ballsy too!

#14 of 115 OFFLINE   Shane Roach

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Posted September 16 2005 - 03:28 PM

Quote:
The reason a Chevy isn't as nice as a Hyundai is because its a cheaper car...


Garrett makes a good point here. Even if they're well-assembled, many American cars are rolling piles of poo because they're made with cheapskate components. In working on my mom's Taurus (gone, thank God) and wife's Sunfire (which she inexplicably loves) I constantly encounter nuts and bolts that have corroded and seized. I never have that problem on my Nissan 240SX (and I've done almost everything but tear the engine down), because most underhood and underbody threaded fasteners are cadmium plated. It adds a few dollars to the parts cost, but saves time and money down the road by reducing replacement of broken hardware and corrosion removal/repair.

Hell, even the zipties on domestics are cheap. Posted Image

#15 of 115 OFFLINE   Brian Perry

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Posted September 16 2005 - 03:31 PM

The Big 3 have such enormous legacy costs (mainly pensions and benefits promised to current and former union members) that they are forced to cut quality in order to offer a competitive price in the market.

Even Saturn, which succeeded initially when it wasn't bound by archaic work rules, has been rendered obsolete as it's been assimilated into GM.

And by the way, employee pricing has become a scam. I saw an ad for the Ford Freesyle that advertised the employee price as $19,995. Yeah, right -- that price looks like an obvious marketing creation.

#16 of 115 OFFLINE   Carl Miller

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Posted September 16 2005 - 03:39 PM

Quote:
To me, Chrysler has the boldest styling and aggressive marketing, but if you buy their product, you'd be wise to invest in an extended warranty because they WILL break down prematurely.

This just gave me a chuckle because it's exactly what Chrysler told me when the tranny blew on my 1993 Plymouth Duster 4,000 miles over warranty....Right after they told me that they wouldn't even take 10% off the $2,100 bill to replace the tranny.

Actually, they told me a lot of things:

1. Transmissions are electronic and aren't built to last 70,000 miles any more. (This was the dealer)

2. You're right sir, transmissions shouldn't blow after 40,000 miles but your warranty has expired. (Customer Care rep #1)

3. You should have purchased an extended warranty (Customer Care rep #2 when I told them they didn't stand behind their products)

4. That's your choice sir (Customer Care rep #2 when I told him I'd never, ever buy another Chrysler again)

The replacement tranny blew 14,000 miles later by the way....2,000 miles after the warranty on that expired.

Been nothing but Toyota and Lexus since then...not a single problem with any of them.
Carl

#17 of 115 OFFLINE   Andrew Pezzo

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Posted September 16 2005 - 04:03 PM

Quote:
Don't buy it for its reliability because you'll be disappointed. Probably not as bad as US makes but my mom's 325i (probably MY01) had numerous glitches which required dealer attention. Nothing major but enough to make life annoying and lose confidence once warranty is expired.


I dont equate BMW's with reliability but more for the driving experience. Other than maybe a Corvette I cant really think of any other American car I would want for "the driving experience." Driving my friend's M3 is the most fun I have had in a car. Besides, if I get to the point where I can afford one chances are I would get a new one every couple of years but thats a long way off.

#18 of 115 OFFLINE   Brian Perry

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Posted September 16 2005 - 04:28 PM

Quote:
I dont equate BMW's with reliability but more for the driving experience

Agree 100%.

BMW, Mercedes, and a few others are designed to push the envelope of what's possible technically. They are not designed to be as ultra reliable or long-lasting as a Lexus. Take brakes, for example. BMW will choose braking components that can stop the car fastest but likely wear out quicker than those used by Lexus. Thus, when the BMW brakes need to be replaced sooner than those on a Lexus, it doesn't mean they were inferior or defective. It's a design choice and I don't fault Lexus or Acura for targeting the consumer who will sacrifice a tiny bit of performance for an increase in long-term reliability.

The sad thing is American cars don't aim for the technical brilliance or innovation of BMW/Mercedes yet are not able to achieve the long-term reliablility of Toyota/Lexus or Honda/Acura.

#19 of 115 OFFLINE   Danny Tse

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Posted September 16 2005 - 04:32 PM

Back in 1991, my friend paid $12,500 for a used 1990 Honda Prelude. We were both in school then and I thought it was an obscene amount of money for a used car. Well, after 300,000 miles (and with no engine or transmission rebuild), he sold the car to another guy for $2,000. I am sorry, but that's just an obscene amount of money for a car with over 300,000 miles.

I used to drive a Vette (that's Chevette, not Corvette) and after realizing it's the car from hell, it's been nothing but Hondas and Toyotas (and a couple of Mitsubishi's too).
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#20 of 115 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted September 16 2005 - 04:55 PM

The reliability of cars has changed on a "brand" basis over the years.

I started out with three VW cars. The first was a 1971 Karman Ghia, the second was a 1978 Scirocco, and the third was a 1983 Jetta.

In each iteration, the car was better designed but more poorly put together. But at least I drove the 1983 Jetta to 100K miles before selling it...it held together that long.

At this time I also had a decent Ford 1995 Ranger V6 pickup.

During another time in school I sold off the Jetta and bought a 1993 Ford Escort LX-E, which essentially is a Mazda Protege built in Mexico. This was a great car, only being sold because of those damned "automatic seat belts".

Right now I have a 2001 Ford F-150 with the 4.6l V8 and an aftermarket-blown 2004 Mazda Miata. These have both been reliable and durable vehicles. And they both are made by the same corporate conglomerate....both are better at what they do, and are more reliable, than the VW cars which I previously owned.
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