American cars

are american cars relaible because i heard that a mustang would most like break down every couple of years

Where did you hear this “fact”? US cars are getting better every year and the best US cars are considerably better than the worst Japanese cars!! Buicks are outstanding cars now.

Twenty years ago, US cars were pathetic, but they have come a long way. A Mustang is an average US car and the 2007, 2008, and 2009 models have very good mechanical and electrical components. The bodies and trim are not up to scratch, however. But those don’t cause breakdowns.

If you had to choose between a Mustang and a Mitsubishi sports car, by all means get the Mustang. It will cost you a lot less to keep going over its lifetime.

My own experience has been that American makes hold seem to be reliable. We presently own a 2003 Toyota 4Runner and a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander. I have had no major problems with either vehicle, although the fit and finish of the 4Runner, particularly the interior, gives a better impression. One of my son’s vehicles is a 1995 Ford Mustang that his wife brought into the marriage. His wife has back problems, so my son drives the Mustang. It has quite a few miles on the odometer, but they haven’t had any problems out of the ordinary. He did have the clutch and radiator replaced, but the Mustang made the 700 mile round trip when he drove up for a funeral last winter.

First, the OP needs to tell us if he/she is contemplating the purchase of a NEW car or a used car.

If someone purchases a used car, the way that it was maintained by the previous owner(s) is going to have a major impact on the need for repairs as the car ages. Or in other words, a used car of any make has the potential to be a true money pit if you cannot verify that it was maintained in accordance with the mfr’s maintenance schedule.

As to new cars, almost all new cars are now so much more reliable than they were even just a few years ago that the difference is dramatic. A new Mustang is probably going to be just a hair less reliable than the better models made by Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Hyundai, Nissan & Mazda. In general, US branded cars are pretty good nowadays, with Ford being the statistical best of the US-branded companies overall. As was said, Buicks also have a very good reliability record.

Rather than taking the very questionable opinions of your informant, or even the somewhat more-informed opinions from our forum members, you would do yourself a huge favor if you bought a copy of the appropriate Consumer Reports guide to car buying. There is one version for new cars and another version for those shopping for used cars. In both cases, you will be able to see statistical histories of that publication’s reliability ratings for every make and model sold in the US.

While not perfect, the most comprehensive comparison is in the Consumer Reports New Car Buyers’ Guide at the local bookstore.

In addition to the other good posts, I might also add that the days that one can assume that “American” cars are designed and/or built in the U.S. and “foreign” cars are designed and/or built in foreign countries have long since gone. Cars today are often designed in one country, assembled in another using parts and subsystems from all over the globe, and sold under an “American” brand name. Many are even just “branded” versions of a car totally designed and built elsewhere. Examples abound.

It depends on which kinds of American or Japanese cars you are looking at.

In general yes, traditional American cars are reliable. If you want to look at data for specific cars, Consumer Reports, JD Power, and MSN Autos all have different takes on it. And they are fairly similar since the usual list of suspects shows up on all of them. There are some differences. JD Power counts defects and does not differentiate the severity. CR ranks defects within categories but doesn’t tell you the cost. Their data is skewed a little bit because they only poll subscribers. And while their subscriber base is large, subscribers tend to buy whatever is recommended. That creates a larger group of happy customers for the models bought on CR’s recommendations. This would tend to make CR ratings lag behind others. MSN Autos buys information from a company that specializes in tracking auto repairs. They even provide an estimate of the cost of repairs for frequently fixed items. This seems like a very powerful tool. Unfortunately, it is only available on cars at least 3 years old.

I think there’s a bit of a “self-fulfilling prophecy” at work W/R/T domestic autos.

  1. Because of truly awful cars (dating all the way back to the first oil crisis), domestics are (still) perceived to be low-quality.
  2. Because of 1, prices on used domestics are substantially lower than imports (with the Mustang mentioned being an exception.)
  3. Because of 2, major repairs–or even much in the way of preventative maintneance–don’t make economic sense, so the cars are operated on a “drive-it-till-it-dies” basis.
  4. Because of 3, the used domestics are more problmeatic than imports.

I see this when Mercedes-Benz will tout how many high-mileage vehicles they have out there, and imply this is because of superior build quality…when really much of it has to do with the high “hull” value of the car making it economically feasible to keep repairing.

I think you are getting bad advice.

Some foreign cars are less reliable than some American cars. Even some Japanese cars are less reliable than some American cars.

What, in your opinion, makes a car American? Many Ford, GM, and Chrysler cars are made outside the USA, and many Honda and Toyota cars are made inside the USA. In my opinion, my American made Honda Civic is more American than a foreign made Ford Focus, but enough about antiquated xenophobic definitions.

Speaking of the Ford Focus, it is known to be quite reliable, as are many other Fords and Chevys.

If you want a Ford Mustang, just buy one and stop listening to whoever is giving you bad advice. If you take good care of a Mustang, it will be reliable enough.

There is no such thing as an “american” car. There is similarly no such thing as an “american” car company. There once was.

i think you have been reading too much Car And Driver, or some other snooty upper class magazine that thrives on knocking domestic vehicles and complain about lack of “sophistication”.

Yes they are and domestics are better than most imports.

It is my belief that any car company can make a car with any degree of reliability they damn well choose. GM made some of the strongest heavy equipment and military hardware while they were trying to shove the Vega down our throats. A huge market in the fleet business made the a car like the Tempo a hot seller.

If the market does not demand reliability in all segments , a car company can profit on less than reliable cars in those segments. It has nothing to do with which cars have Asian or American or European name plates. Toyota/Honda may produce a few more reliable products, but only by choice. Reliable products cut into turn over reducing some long term profitability, forcing more reliable makes to take market shares from the less reliable. LL Bean did it, Sony did it, Maytag etc. Once the reputation is established, the market shares continue to grow on reputation alone, until opinion catches up with cost cutting, profit making engineering choices. Then the company, can change the name of the product and start the cycle over again. Panasonic to Technics to Panasonic again as an example. As long as memories were short, the Yugo/Strata derivatives kept returning.

The only legitimate source for reliability information is consumer based opinions and the larger the sample the better. Everything else is profit motivated and totally untrustworthy. So what do these publications say about the Mustang ?

I disagree that car co’s can “turn up the reliability factor” at will.

Detroit was good at putting out “heavy iron” until the first oil embargo created an environment in which these cars weren’t terribly relevant. Detroit then tried–and failed–at putting out small, fuel-efficient cars with tolerable reliability and at a price point competitve with the imports. The imports could make better small cars becuase 1. that’s what they knew how to do and 2. in Honda’s case, experience with building engines and componentry on a motorcycle scale.

Note that Ford and GM acquired interest in foreign MFRs as a way to profit off of small cars once they saw how poorly their own offerings were received. I’d wager a large part of Ford’s success with cars like the Focus derive from knowledge gained from Mazda.

I don’t believe anyone would purposely make a car as dreadful as a Vega…

Car companies can “turn up the reliability” factor when they and their subsidiaries receive govt. contracts and are required to build according to spec. I saw it in the military…where there’s a financial will and investment, there’s a way. And, it can happen quickly. Reallocation of resources does wonders.

So the Vega appeared out of thin air ? It was purposely made but w/o adequate resources. They failed on the small car front because of their persistent decision to use existing stock piles of parts instead of supply on demand from subcontractors that the Asian’s (by our post WW2 design by the way) used. We taught them the long term profitability of quality goods, while our slave to stock dividends and immediate profit prevents us from doing the same. They are presently doing that with the soon to fail (cost) Volt.

As soon as that comes out, a plug in Prius with better range for less money will be waiting to steal sales and leave GM where it was before, begging for more $$$$$$.

Hyundai has changed in very short order, just to remain viable.
BTW, it only takes the purchase of a competitors product to immediately find out how to do things right.

Have you seen the new Toyota ad? They tout the Camry as the most American of cars because it has 80% domestic content.

“Car companies can “turn up the reliability” factor when they and their subsidiaries receive govt. contracts and are required to build according to spec.”

Absolutely. But at what cost? Military vehicles are designed to handle extreme service and have an extraordinary phalanx of tests they go through to meet MIL-SPEC requirements. That’s why the toilet seat costs several hundred dollars. Car companies can’t dial up reliability on a commodity product because they are extremely cost conscious. The hard part is making cost-effective changes that provide better quality.

If it has 80% domestically-made parts, and is assembled in the USA, I would agree with that assessment. That would probably make it the most American car sold in the USA.

I disagree that car co’s can “turn up the reliability factor” at will.

Then you should study quality control.

Just take a class in Operations Management and you will get the idea in the section that covers “Six Sigma.” Basically, car manufacturers decide what the acceptable tolerances are before they take bids from the parts manufacturers. Those bids are based on the quality standards the car companies set.

Honda learned about quality control from American automotive engineers. Then they chose to do a better job of implementing it.

“i think you have been reading too much Car And Driver, or some other snooty upper class magazine…”

C & D loves the CTS and CTS-V. So does does Motor Trend. In fact, the CTS-V is MT’s favorite high-power sedan, having won shootouts with the BMW M5 and the Jaguar XFR. Next up is the MB E63 AMG.