CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Here comes GM, again

It looks like Toyota has old company again.



The only ones I haven’t seen in the limelight is Chrysler and a couple of Koreans.



What’s happened to the auto industry, really?

I don’t consider things any different now than it was 10, 20, or even 30+ years ago. When I first started working for dealers back in the 70s we saw Recalls and service bulletins on every make so I can’t say that one decade is worse than any other. In theory anyway, the complexity of cars will increase the number of service bulletins if not the number of Recalls.

While the Koreans may not be getting the press they have their share of Recalls also, although I disagree with the premise that the cars are Lemons because of a Recall.

http://www.lemonauto.com/complaints/1_hyundai_recalls.htm

http://www.lemonauto.com/complaints/1_kia_recalls.htm

Give them a bit more time and the Recalls and service bulletin number will probably increase.

Agree; there have been recalls for the last 40 years, and although car quality has increased, so has complexity.

Today’s cars are mindlessly complicated compared to the past. If you want a relaible car less likely subject to recall, you need to buy a base model with as few options as possible. And don’t buy anything new such as electric power steering, and CVT transmissions.

Cars today are IMHO safer and more reliable than they’ve ever been. Ehat’s happened to the auto industry is the internet. Something goes wrong, the communication spreads worldwide at the speed of light, the media sensationalizes it instantly, Henry Waxman and the charlatins in Washington see an opportunity to grandstand in front of the cameras, and the world is coming to an end.

That didn’t happen as readily in the days of rotary phones, when news only became public knowledge at the speed of the newspapers and had to compete for column space.

I still wonder what would have happened had it been GM that had the problems Toyota has had

If it was GM some of the regular Big Three bashers would be having a field day but since it’s Toyota about all you will hear are crickets chirping.

GM has a problem with loss of electric power steering assist at low speed on a few Cobalts and the Pontiac version of a Cobalt. That is preferable to the car taking off on its own as with Toyota. Just pretend for a while that you didn’t order the power steering option.

Toyota may have even bigger trouble. It’s in the news now that a few repaired Toyotas are still having unintended acceleration.

Not a word about the Saturn Ion; it has the same electric power steering as the other GM cars.

Since those cars basically no longer “exist” as far as GM is concerned, I wonder what problems Saturn owners are having. I recall this was a poor application of the electric steering from day one.

OK, I give up. What are you referring to with respect to General Motors? I did a web search on GM news and didn’t turn up anything new.

It was never any better. Chevy fixed bad engine mounts in 1970 by clamping a steel cable around the exhaust manifold. We student mechanics laughed it up and thought that the company was the junker and the car was the victim.

Cars today are IMHO safer and more reliable than they’ve ever been.

That’s true. I can remember cars in the 1950s when cars started experiencing major failures at 50K and were mostly shot at 100K. They really don’t make em like they used to thank God.

That said, IMO modern cars are way more complex than they need to be. The complexity in the engine compartment may be excusable as the tradeoff is better fuel mileage and less pollution. But the non-power train electronics in modern vehicles are frequently truly awful – complex, hard to understand, functions aren’t discoverable, labels are replaced by incomprehensible icons. Too much minor stuff is electronically controlled and prone to fail as the car ages.

I imagine that sometime in the next decade or two we will get a simple, basic, cheap, maintainable car. A 21st Century Model-T, Beetle, 1970s Econobox. But I doubt it will come out of Detroit or Kanagawa – more likely, China, India, or Brazil.

JT, Here’s A Link . . .

http://www.freep.com/article/20100301/BUSINESS0101/100301059/1002/BUSINESS/GM-to-recall-1.3-million-cars-over-Cobalt-G5-steering-complaints

CSA

Just About All The Companies Have Had And Will Have Recalls.

When comparing GM and Toyota I think there is more to it than just the recalls. One company is being perceived as hiring former NHTSA employees to head-off recalls and cooking the books and not being forthright with customers and some feel it has even resulted in unnecessary deaths and injuries.

Since this recall / alleged cover-up story broke, recalls are thrust into the news almost daily. Recalls used to be on a back burner, but now they are front page stuff.

When dinosaurs still roamed the cooling Earth and I worked for VW, I remember VW notifying customers of Service Campaigns (VW “voluntary recalls”). I think they did this to avoid the Government stepping in and ordering recalls which leads to bad press and public perceptions.

Some companies some how dodge (no pun intended) bullets. Owners of one of the old Big 3 cars felt like the company should have been ordered to replace short-lived engines that strangled to death on sludge (I own one and it’s still alive!), but it never happened. I think each company has their skeletons in the closet.

Hey, if you screw up, man-up, admit it, and handle it. Give it what it takes to get the job done ! Don’t worm out of it. That never works. Sooner or later the truth leaks out.
When I was a toddler and something fouled up, I’d say, “The wind did it.” (It never help up under careful scrutiny.)

CSA

Several things; govt. auto safety is actually reporting problems and trying to do a little more.
secondly, cars are getting more complicated with mandated safety/performance features. Open your hood if you don’t believe me.
Third, communication is instantanious, so even the unsubstantiated problems get talked about and dealt with as much for politics as anything else.

Unless you want cars that cost as much as planes with all the safety redundancy, accept the fact that you are a statistic and your chance as an automotive survivor each time you turn the key is calculated as acceptable or not on a % basis.

I agree. Cars today are loaded with miscellaneous complex systems of questionable value.

I also agree that a market segment is hiding that would like a basic, cheap, easy to maintain means of transport. Like the VW Beetle wqas in my day (the '60s). My guess baseed on what’s going on currently is that it’ll come from Tata (India) or China.

Thanks, CSA. I understand now. However, what is wrong with fixing a problem that is most likely to occur after the warranty expires? That sounds like the height of corporate responsibility to me. I probably missed something else.

Cars are generally better today than before. What ticks me off is the cover-up that has gone into this process with Toyota and even now it seems like we are not sure if they are fixing the problem at the root or this is just a band aid approach. Toyota had created a good image, so much so that when I kept complaining to family and friends that the newer models are not of the same quality I would get some heat. Now the cat is out of the box. I hope they come clean and make up for their mistakes.