Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How the mighty have fallen

I am of the age when, years and years ago, Japanese auto manufacturers first came out with compact cars and were laughed at (for the most part, to my recollection).

It was only in the mid-80's, when I had become convinced their cars were among the best, that I purchased a Honda Civic wagon. It was perfect for my art business, and I took more than one trip to Big Bend National Park in it - "camping out", as it were, in the back. (Everything folded flat except for the driver's seat.)

Wonderful car! 40mpg, no matter what kind of roads you were on or how fast you were going, it seemed, and finding a parking spot was a breeze. Maintenance? Laughable. As long as you kept up with the grease and oil changes and drove it on a regular basis, there wasn't any!

It has been many years since I last owned a Japanese-made vehicle ... for quite some time, after I first started driving a taxicab, foreign-made vehicles were not allowed to be put "on line" as taxicabs ... and so I really had not kept up with what Consumer Reports had to say - or anyone else, for that matter!

I do know that foreign-made vehicles are now - and have been for quite some time - allowed to be put online as taxicabs. Don't remember when that changed, exactly. By the time it did, I was into Chevies ... in particular, the Caprice (until the manufacturing plant was changed over to make more trucks, doncha know - we're in Texas!) and then the Lumina.

Did it change because "foreign-made" vehicles are not always entirely manufactured in their own country? Did it change because this country - the USA - now makes some Japanese cars? I don't know. I'm just throwing out questions. However, I distinctly remember a time when - if you purchased a Japanese-made car - you were assured (at least I was!) that it was 100% up to speck and there were (and would be) no problems. At least, none of an immediate nature, such as floor mats, gas and brake pedals. Brake pedals????? Heaven forbid such a thing!

Just thinking out loud here, but the news - what little I've heard and paid attention to recently - has me wondering.


Polimom said...

Yes indeed, the wheel has turned (so to speak). Toyota, and now Honda, have a real problem on their hands. (Toyota more so, I guess, cuz they got most of the publicity).

Myself, I've been driving a Nissan for 13 years and it still runs like a top. But it was manufactured LONG before the problematic modern technology.

OTOH, the American auto industry has made many many mistakes on this scale, and the current problems w/ Japanese brands do not necessarily equate to a sudden improvement in American brand quality.

I guess the real problem here is that we have all come to view the Japanese-built vehicles as the pinnacle of perfection. Quite a jolt to discover they have tires of clay.

Craig Peihopa said...

Well said Polimom. The affected recall for brakes has also reached us here in OZ. It only affects one model though, that of the hybrid Prius, all other Toyotas are unaffected. We also have a massive problem with Ford Territory's here and Ford refuse to acknowledge a problem. I guess though these difficulties will always arise when money and profit is more important than quality. Cutting corners to maximise the return is par for the course I suspect.

Jacky said...

The Toyota Camry is made in Lafayette, IN. Probably not the only place they are made but it makes me feel bad that this problem is happening to Toyota.
We got 225,000 miles on a '82 Nissan 280 ZX. Our 2nd car now is a '90 300 ZX. Good cars!
Right now we are waiting on a module for the Jeep we are driving. Fortunately the car runs but we miss all the "stuff" that doesn't work in the meantime.
It appears to me that as cars have become more complicated there are that many more things that can go wrong with them.

Goldenrod said...

Polimom, I couldn't agree with you more ... "the current problems w/Japanese brands do not necessarily equate to a sudden improvement in American brand quality" ... and I'm sure Craig would concur.

The only Ford - and we probably owned more than one - that I remember enjoying a TON was our Ford Mustang convertible. It might have been our first new car. I don't recall. Boy oh boy, was that car ever a lot of fun!

To read what Craig wrote about how Ford is dealing with Australian complaints is distressing, to say the very least! Sounds to me, from reading what Craig had to say, like Ford has captured the entire Australian market and has taken full advantage of the fact. Disgusting!

You can betchersweetbippee that I'd have put my Honda Civic wagon "online" as a taxicab back in 1989 if I'd been allowed to.

Taxicab drivers - at least, those of us who owned our own vehicles - paid close attention to which ones were (relatively) maintenance-free. (Btw, I'm VERY happy with my Buick LeSabre!) Many of you might not know this, but in Houston - the only place I have ever driven a taxi - the driver pays for EVERYthing ... gas, grease and oil changes, breakdowns, everything!

No $$$ can be made if/when your vehicle is in the shop. It's what we call "down time", and it's VERY expensive!

Jacky, your 'to home' comments about Camry's being manufactured in Lafayette - that must have happened after I left - really struck me.

American-made vehicles (Ford, Chrysler, Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, etc.) have - many times, over the years - had to issue recalls on their products for various defects. It was something we had all come to invariably "expect" (ugh!) ... a sign of lack of quality control, overseeing and, as a result, poor quality.