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JoeyM
JoeyM Reader
2/27/10 10:00 a.m.
zomby woof wrote: Cars have never been as well built, and reliable as they are today.

That all depends on which bit of the car you want to talk about. They definitely run more reliably than in the past. They don't need tuneups as often either. I don't know much about electronics, but I would have thought that they would be much better than the past. I was surprised when Jensenman said:

Jensenman wrote: Delphi has built electronic E36 M3 for years, ever since their days as a GM subsidiary.

The one thing that has definitely changed in cars is that there's a lot less metal in the body, and what is there is MUCH thinner....better rustproofed, but VERY thin. That makes the cars lighter (WIN) but it also means that it's harder to fix panels. Stuff that I've heard could easily be fixed in the past now often now requires a panel replacement.

Moparman
Moparman Reader
2/27/10 10:33 a.m.

Can't be any thinner than a 1970s Toyota Corolla. That was some of the thinnest sheet metal I have seen on a mass-produced vehicle.

Trans_Maro
Trans_Maro HalfDork
2/27/10 10:44 a.m.

My Fiat 850 had Toyota and Datsun beat for rusting.

Yes, cars are more reliable but...

The repair cost makes them less likely to actually be repaired once they're out of warranty.

Because of that, people are more likely to simply toss them out in favour of a new one, just like TVs and DVD players.

A new hybrid isn't helping the planet if it's being crushed before it's useful life is up.

Nobody mentioned interior quality. Every new car I've driven has felt very cheap inside compared to older cars.

Lot's of us like to buy broken performance cars cheap and play with them. How many of us are going to be able to diagnose and repair some of the new vehicles out there without the factory service equipment?

I carry a set of points, fuel pump and a jug of coolant in in all my "old cars" along with a set of tools. There is very little that I can't simply fix at the side of the road and keep going.

I love my '96 Ford but if it craps out somewhere I'm going to have to a pay a tow bill to the nearest garage.

There is no "limping home" an EFI vehicle with computer or pump failure. I've gotten carbureted cars to go a long way in very bad condition.

Shawn

Moparman
Moparman Reader
2/27/10 12:13 p.m.

I agree with new vehicles having cheap interiors. My 2007 Dakota Quad has a dash and door panels made out of plastic which is similar to that of a 1970s Flinstone's toy my sister had.

Vigo
Vigo Reader
2/28/10 12:15 a.m.
The repair cost makes them less likely to actually be repaired once they're out of warranty.

This is very true. For all their quality, a lot perfectly decent older imports hit the junkyards because of just one expensive repair issue, whereas the cheaply and easily repaired POS's that break constantly but can be fixed on the side of the road dont get tossed out until they are utterly used up. For example, you can often find 50 1970s domestic full size vans and 2 from the 2000's in the same junkyard that has 50 imports from the 2000's and 2 from the 1970s.

AutoXR
AutoXR Reader
3/1/10 10:43 a.m.

Someone said

"no one builds quality cars anymore"

Now we are getting into society based issues and not issues of manufacturing.

By nature a new car is better then one built 20 years ago. technology , fewer moving parts (points and carbs) dictate that cars will last longer. The steel used , how it's treated and the overall manufacturing process dictates these cars will be around a lot longer.

It's nothing to do with the way the car is made, it has to do with our society and how cars are viewed as throw away items.

These days a car with over 100,000 miles is seen as being shot. In the eyes of the consumer the car has lived it's life and it's time to move on. Many people in my generation will never experience a time in life without car payments. They will always justify a new car as a neccessity. As a society we are so consumed with image that forking out $500-$600 a month on a car payment is just a part of life. when those payments end it's time for a new car.

I see this in my friends and some family members. I drive a 10 year old civic with 160,000 miles on it. It's on it's 2nd motor but a perfectly good car and will remain so for a long time. I don't make payments on it , I just drive it. daily drivers are utencils and the "awww" of new car-dom wears off in a matter of months. I have quite a few friends that cringe at the thought of a car with over 100K.

A 2005 to me is considered new , to them it's old. Auto manufacturers don't help either, we make it cheap to get into a new car , and once you are in the cycle , we make sure to keep you there.

I know of lots of guys paying more in car payments then they do for rent / mortgage becasue of some "need" to impress people with a car.

Our need need need society drives the auto industry and the thought that a car with 100K is ready for the scrappers.

I posted this from my blackberry, sorry about spelling!

slefain
slefain Dork
3/1/10 10:56 a.m.

After staying at Renaissance Center last weekend (GM headquarters) I must say I now know why they failed. That place is IMPOSSIBLE to navigate. The people who made GM great have been lost over time while trying to find their way around the different towers in search of a cheeseburger. I probably mistook one of the wandering people as homeless, when if fact is was a GM vice president who had been looking for the train station since the 80s...

John Brown
John Brown SuperDork
3/1/10 11:20 a.m.

You made it to the Mitten and we didn't partake of Barley Treats?

Dood!

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury SuperDork
3/1/10 12:44 p.m.

Theres not much I like about the way GM operates. They dont seem to listen to reason. There must be some behind-the-scenes agendas going on behind all those closed doors.

That said, my wife and I still bought a GMC Terrain - nice list of standard features, liveable price tag, v6+6spd trans (we originally thought about the 4 banger - 182 hp isnt too shabby, but toting around 3800 lbs is another can o beans), plus I think it looks good. I voted for America with my wallet. Despite the way I feel about the way GM operates, I think this product (the only thing my money actually gets used for from my perspective) is a good one.

I realize theres foreign makers operating in the US, but in the end, buying a toyota still sends the cash overseas. Id rather it stayed here, and the only way GM will hear my opinion is through the sound of my pen on that dotted line. I hope they will listedn when that scribbling sound means "hey dummies, keep doing what youre doing with the terrain...youre finally getting it right"!

Trans_Maro
Trans_Maro HalfDork
3/1/10 2:28 p.m.
AutoXR wrote: By nature a new car is better then one built 20 years ago. technology , fewer moving parts (points and carbs) dictate that cars will last longer. The steel used , how it's treated and the overall manufacturing process dictates these cars will be around a lot longer.

Huh? Define better.

Point ignition is a perfect example. It works reasonably well for what it is. When the points fail it's a $20.00 part and fifteen minutes. When the module in my HEI fails, it's $25.00 and fifteen minutes. When the ECM in a modern car fails it's hundred of dollars.

I'll take periodic maintenance over a trip on a hook to the dealership, thanks.

Old systems, one coil fires multiple plugs and often lasts the life of the car. If they fail it's $20 - $50 for a new one. Modern systems, single coils fire the plugs directly and fail (for GM anyway) with alarming regularity and cost hundreds of dollars to repair.

Also, with good designs a water pump failure doesn't kill your ignition system. Optispark, I'm looking at you here.

Granted, cars are more efficient and pollute less than they did 30 years ago but is it that much better if increased repair cost and complexity is causing early retirement?

Shawn

Jensenman
Jensenman SuperDork
3/1/10 2:59 p.m.

Believe me, Delphi's stuff has been complete crap for years. Many times I have seen the 'wiggle test' show crappy conections.

But in their defense, a lot of the time their stuff is built to customer specs and that's not always spelled out with longevity in mind.

On the subject of longevity: if a very expensive part goes tits up at (pick a mileage) which makes it economically unfeasible to repair a vehicle then it makes no difference if it was an engine, a computer, catalytic converters, a wiring harness or a cigarette lighter that was the culprit. The end result is the same, the car goes to the boneyard.

Cotton
Cotton HalfDork
3/1/10 3:05 p.m.
Trans_Maro wrote:
AutoXR wrote: By nature a new car is better then one built 20 years ago. technology , fewer moving parts (points and carbs) dictate that cars will last longer. The steel used , how it's treated and the overall manufacturing process dictates these cars will be around a lot longer.

Huh? Define better.

Point ignition is a perfect example. It works reasonably well for what it is. When the points fail it's a $20.00 part and fifteen minutes. When the module in my HEI fails, it's $25.00 and fifteen minutes. When the ECM in a modern car fails it's hundred of dollars.

I'll take periodic maintenance over a trip on a hook to the dealership, thanks.

Old systems, one coil fires multiple plugs and often lasts the life of the car. If they fail it's $20 - $50 for a new one. Modern systems, single coils fire the plugs directly and fail (for GM anyway) with alarming regularity and cost hundreds of dollars to repair.

Also, with good designs a water pump failure doesn't kill your ignition system. Optispark, I'm looking at you here.

Granted, cars are more efficient and pollute less than they did 30 years ago but is it that much better if increased repair cost and complexity is causing early retirement?

Shawn

I do love HEI. I was disappointed when I popped the hood on my 91 Suburban and found a newer system. I can't really complain though, that Suburban has right at 300k miles and still runs like a champ.

Wally
Wally SuperDork
3/1/10 3:27 p.m.
Trans_Maro wrote:
AutoXR wrote: By nature a new car is better then one built 20 years ago. technology , fewer moving parts (points and carbs) dictate that cars will last longer. The steel used , how it's treated and the overall manufacturing process dictates these cars will be around a lot longer.

Huh? Define better.

Point ignition is a perfect example. It works reasonably well for what it is. When the points fail it's a $20.00 part and fifteen minutes. When the module in my HEI fails, it's $25.00 and fifteen minutes. When the ECM in a modern car fails it's hundred of dollars.

I'll take periodic maintenance over a trip on a hook to the dealership, thanks.

Old systems, one coil fires multiple plugs and often lasts the life of the car. If they fail it's $20 - $50 for a new one. Modern systems, single coils fire the plugs directly and fail (for GM anyway) with alarming regularity and cost hundreds of dollars to repair.

Consider how often you have to touch a points system vs a newer system. When I was a kid we always had points and a condensor in the glove box because at some point, probably in the rain on the side of the road they were going to go bad. In the last ten years I've owned three of what could be considered the worst car on the road. The Escort and Malibu both crossed the 200k mark without any major repairs, and my Cavalier has 130k and I only open the hood when the oil or washer fluid lites come on. Of the three only the Malibu has any kind or rust and it has seen enough winter salt to desolve a 70's Grand Fury. I'll take never have to touch it over easy to fix regularly any day

John Brown
John Brown SuperDork
3/1/10 3:45 p.m.

I would love to see a points car get the fuel mileage my Stratus gets at the speeds I am going with the maintenance it has gotten (86K and I replace the plugs and wires because I got a free set from the NAPA reps) Besides that I haven't looked under the hood. Hell I pay a kid to change the oil!

Schmidlap
Schmidlap Reader
3/1/10 4:10 p.m.

I remember when probably >50% of gas stations had some kind of service garage attached, even if it was only one or two bays. Now, most gas stations have convenience stores attached and no service capabilities. Did the service centers go away because they couldn't compete with dedicated mechanics or was it because there were too many service centers for the number of repairs/tune-ups needed? I'm betting a good chunk of the demand simply dried up from cars needing less maintenance/repairs.

Bob

Wally
Wally SuperDork
3/1/10 10:39 p.m.

I worked for a guy that owned three gas stations. He converted all the repair shops to convenience stores because it was more profitable and had less headaches. You replace two or three techs with one minimum wage cashier and no one haggles the price of a snickers bar

John Brown
John Brown SuperDork
3/2/10 7:45 a.m.

And the Fritos are not making back door deals with your inventory.

John Brown
John Brown SuperDork
3/3/10 6:14 a.m.
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2010/02/former-ceo-fritz-henderson-now-consults-gm-at-2954-an-hour/1 said: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2010/02/former-ceo-fritz-henderson-now-consults-gm-at-2954-an-hour/1 If you think paying your auto mechanic $80 an hour is pricey, consider what General Motors is shelling out for its former CEO to work as a consultant. Former CEO Fritz Henderson, who was forced out in December, will work 20 hours a month and get $59,090 -- or $2,954 an hour. That alone was a surprise, but so was the pay of the guy hired to replace him. Former CEO Fritz Henderson reigned briefly, but guided General Motors through some of its most difficult days CAPTION By Bill Pugliano, Getty Images LATER ON DRIVE ON: See the shapely new Mercedes-Benz concept "research vehicle" at 6:01 p.m. today. "The new CEO of GM, Ed Whitacre, is receiving a pay package worth about $9 million. His paycheck alone is $1.7 million, the company reported in a corporate filing, as reported by the Associated Press. The package is almost twice the amount that Henderson was paid before he was forced out. The AP quotes GM spokeswoman Renee Rashid-Merem as saying Whitacre's pay is higher than Henderson's because of his previous CEO experience: "Ed is a long-serving veteran CEO and chairman, and while his package is higher than Fritz's, it is significantly lower than that of our peer companies," Rashid-Merem said. But unlike Henderson, Whitacre had no previous automotive experience. Fritz did a lot of the dirty work of closing plants and cleaning up the balance sheet, leaving Whitacre to take over a reformed GM in a dark hour with nothing but upside after a government bailout that left taxpayers with a big ownership stake. And Drive On previously noted the warnings of at least one corporate pay expert that Whitacre is known for stepping up to the trough.

I want to be fired by GM.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim HalfDork
3/3/10 7:11 a.m.

The trouble is that people at our level would get hired back at sub-Walmart hourly rates...

I can't drum up much enthusiasm for most GM products that either aren't a Corvette or at least 20 years old. I doubt that having a(onther) non-car guy as the CEO will make their products any more interesting either.

Ian F
Ian F Dork
3/3/10 10:43 a.m.
Trans_Maro wrote: Point ignition is a perfect example. It works reasonably well for what it is. When the points fail it's a $20.00 part and fifteen minutes. When the module in my HEI fails, it's $25.00 and fifteen minutes. When the ECM in a modern car fails it's hundred of dollars.

Maybe... but how often do ECU's really fail? How many are replaced because a tech is throwing parts at a problem?

We have a '73 Volvo 1800ES with Bosch D-Jet EFI. While many of the sensors and what not eventuall wear out, the ECU itself is basically dead-nuts reliable (as long as you don't do something stupid - like leave it in the car and bake it in a paint oven...). When diagnosing D-Jet running issues, the ECU is the last thing that's checked.

I must be spoiled... because I keep wanting to make the interiors of my old cars more like new cars...

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