List of ways in which cars are made cheaply or to wear after so much time or use

This is from last year. It was removed with no reason given as to why. Here it is again.

  1. Making the whole front bumper cover out of one piece of plastic. In a minor incident the whole thing has to be replaced.
  2. Shortening the bumper behind the bumper cover so that it stops about 8 inches short of the corner. Now a 1 MPH collision takes out the whole corner.
  3. Not using any anti seize lubricant on exterior bolts.
  4. Radiators with plastic sides that eventually crack and leak coolant.
  5. The growing use of plastics everywhere on the interior.
  6. Plastic parts that clip in to place without the use of fasteners. The plastic often breaks when disassembled.
  7. Window regulator parts that are just a little bit too weak to handle the forces when the window bottoms out.
  8. Small brake disks that don’t have any extra material left to be turned and reused.
  9. Steel brake lines with only a basic coating to prevent corrosion. Minimal use of shrink tube like protection around them.
  10. Low quality paint under the vehicle that starts to fail after about 8 years. Take a look at the paint used on frames. The rest of the paint takes 20 years to fail.
  11. Leaving the insides of frames and rocker panels untreated for corrosion.
  12. No transmission pan drain plug. Also, not using a recessed drain plug to protect it when scraping the bottom when running over something.
  13. Lower quality rubber used on suspension components, CV axle boots, struts, the engine air intake piping, and the spare tire. This leads to cracking and contamination of lubrication in the part and then failure.
  14. Cheaper plastic on some headlight covers that fog up.
  15. Using non stainless flanges and bolts welded to stainless exhaust pipes. The flange fails before the pipe does.
  16. Starters and fuel pumps with brushes that are set to wear out at 150,000 or so miles.
  17. Alternators with a ball bearing in the back that’s just a tiny bit undersized and fails.
  18. Setting the battery charge voltage at 14.4 with no temperature compensation nor adjustment. So a battery in the south can go bad in 3 years but one in the cold north can last 8 years.
  19. Not putting an hours meter in the vehicle. Much service should be based on hours not miles. Imagine the difference between a mail truck or a city taxi versus a highway commuter! With modern vehicles being junked more and more for other reasons than the engines wearing out, this is more important than ever!
  20. Cheap radios that have poor AM band reception. Skipping the CD player too!
  21. AC evaporator cores that can corrode due to condensation from use.
  22. Cheap bearings in the cabin air blower motor. This isn’t just automotive. It seemed that in the 90s every fan motor in various appliances would go bad quickly!
  23. Doing the minimum required to do well in the two well known front crash tests that doesn’t exceed equivalent of about ~38 MPH. This makes the vehicle less safe in other kinds of crashes. There is a lot to be said for this topic.
  24. Switching to a dead end fuel system. If the fuel goes bad adding more fuel won’t help because the system has to be primed to get the old fuel out. Removing the manual fuel pump diagnostic or override connection from the diagnostic connector on the 97 Toyota Camry. Maybe they replaced it with some fancy scan tool function.
  25. Not using a high reliability engine main seal. When it starts leaking the cost to fix it can makes it not worth it.
  26. No audible engine oil pressure or overheating warnings.
  27. Cheap gas charged lift supports used on hoods and rear hatches. If Toyota can make them last 25 years then a Ford Explorer shouldn’t need replacement after 10 years.
  28. Flimsy lower radiator support, often completely plastic now. An incident with a parking barrier or going off the side of a curb can crack the radiator.
  29. Non tow-able automatic transmissions. The old ones had dual oil pumps and could be towed with wheels on the ground. Even some manuals can’t be towed.
  30. No transmission oil temperature warning.
  31. No coolant loss warning on most vehicles. Volvo has it.
  32. No fluid filter in some automatic transmissions.
  33. Body panels that are made for easy factory assembly in a specific order, but require a large amount of disassembly to get to afterward.
  34. Clearances that are just about an inch less than they could be to allow easy access for service. Especially for front wheel drive vehicles. Making the front end 4 inches longer would make service much easier, and it would also increase the front end crash safety. The Kia Rio seems like a complete failure in this area.
  35. No debris screen to save the engine from turbo debris in case of a blown turbo.
  36. Increased use of damage and failure prone backlit LCD screens containing all vehicle information, instead of traditional separate vacuum fluorescent displays and LCD displays for different modules, such as dash, trip computer, radio, and clock.
  37. Cheap window switches in doors. There is no dust seal or sweeping action to keep the contacts clean. After a while the debris builds up and the switch contact stops working and must be cleaned. This knowledge comes from a Nissan Altima.
  38. All wheel drive systems that can be damaged because they cannot tolerate a tire that is a different size than the others. I believe this would include an under inflated tire too. It seems to be associated with Subarus a lot.
  39. Windshields that crack when a small area gets damaged. I remember the OEM windshields never cracking but the replacements do as soon as a rock hits it. Now some newer cars seem to be using less crack resistant windshields.
  40. Use of soy wire insulation that attracts bigger rodents like sequirrels.
  41. Ford’s internal water pumps that requires an engine removal to replace on some engines!
  42. Electric power steering systems which are not servicable parts. The whole steering unit must be replaced!
  43. Extending the rear hatch out over the rear bumper to make more cargo space. Now the hatch gets hit and damaged in a minor accident.
  44. Cheaper catalytic converters that fail at around 150k miles.
  45. Airbag sensors that are right up at the front of the hood. The airbags deploy after a deer hit which makes the repair much more costly. It can be dangerous to have that happen at a high rate of speed.

That’s it I’ve run out of ideas! I heard that Henry Ford used to go to junk yards to see which parts were not worn out, and then make those parts cheaper. I tried to stick to things that make manufacturing cheaper, but some of it still has to do with making money by making after market service more difficult and expensive.

I’ve been pretty satisfied with all of my vehicle’s basic designs; however, given the many years of ownership/maintenance/repair experience, I would have paid extra for these added-cost improvements.

  • Car monitors the battery charge & internal resistance and starter motor and issues an alert when battery or starter motor is beginning to fail.

  • On Corolla, more distance between the front of the engine & right fender, to make it easier to replace the water pump and timing belt.

  • On truck, improved tail-gate rust resistance.

  • On VW Rabbit, a more robust electrical fuse/relay box.

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All of what you describe could be easily remedied, as long as you are willing to pay about $35,000 for a compact car that now sells for $21,000. I know im not.

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Trying to figure out what to do with all my CD’s now. I guess I can hang a few outside. they are supposed to keep flies away. :thinking: :crazy_face: :rofl:

All that plastic will be eliminated when oil is eliminated. Get used to metal iPads and phones.

I don’t know though, I have nary the issues with new cars that I had with my 1959 versions.

I think I would actually pay that for a car that I would keep for over 20 years, but $25,000 up from $21,000 seems more realistic to me. Some of these changes like electric power steering and backlit screens inside the car may not actually be cheaper to make.

I don’t know about the flies but they do make for good target practce on breezy days.

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I’d say W-90 make a good point about needing more robust switches, at least by the posts we get here. Esp ignition, turn signal, door open/closed , and auto window-up-down & door-lock control. Same goes for home appliances. I expect most microwave ovens get tossed just b/c the door safety switch fails. Robust switches are definitely more expensive though .

Not everyone needs or wants to keep a car for 40+ years.


Completely ridiculous list.

I have a 19 year Chevy, a 10 year old Ford and a 9 year Audi in the driveway. All run perfectly. All have their factory starters, blower motors and switchgear except the oldest. The oldest got a new water pump ONLY 'cause I broke the bolts changing the t-stat.

Seems like most all manufacturers are doing a pretty good job these days.


Yep, nonsense list. Most are wrong or gross exaggerations. Year after year cars last longer and longer.


How many miles are on them Mustangman?

Not since the 1990s. That’s when longevity peaked. But it’s not just longevity, it’s the cost of repairs too. Someone isn’t going to junk a 2008 car over a dead climate control unit. They’ll pay to have it fixed when a 90s car never had an issue with that to begin with.

What typical car from today will last longer than the equivalent from the 90s?

Sure if you’re comparing cars from the 70s to cars from 2015, the 2015 cars are better, at least how many miles they last. The 70s car will still last longer in terms of aging over the years. We have 70s vehicles today that are still on the road. What will a 2015 car be like in the year 2065?

152K for the 19 yo Chevy
89K for the 10 year old Ford
And 45K for the 9 year old Audi

Most will be rusty scrap metal just like cars from the 50s thru the 2010s were 20 years after they were built. Only the cars put away as collectibles or those living in dry snow and salt free states will still exist…exactly like they are today.


Doesn’t look like it to me:


Copy them to a memory stick. Most cars these days have a USB port that can be used to play music.

What kind of cars are you buying that have these types of problems? Simple solution - Don’t buy a car with those inherit problems. We’ve gone HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF MILES on vehicles before our first mechanical repair.


That’s getting hard to do now, most computers don’t have CD/DVD drives anymore.

You can buy a USB cd/dvd player for under $20.


Yep! I get asked about CD/DVD drives about 3-4 times a year, maybe. They are dying fast and even Best Buy is moving DVDs and Blu Rays out of their stores. It seems no one wants you to own physical media anymore and have streaming subscriptions. Satellite radio in cars is the same deal. I personally like being able to download digital media that can be played without a subscription but the big content providers want a continued revenue stream.

I do a lot of streaming with Spotify (free version with ads). Some times when I’m on a business trip or driving to family in NY it really comes in handy on those areas where a good radio station is hard to find (at least with the music I like to listen to).