New Car Quality Control

chevrolet
lumina

#1

I have test driven 7 2010 new cars from 6 different dealers. looking for the car I want to buy. Three were Honda Civics, three were Mazda 3i Touring, and a Toyota Corolla. They had problems in steering, handling, braking. I am shocked and bewildered. Will someone please tell me what’s going on, and is Reliability actually a matter of the individual car rather than the manufacturer or model.


#2

To a point it is, yes. Every car is different, and every manufacturer has their lousy outliers and their unbelievably fantastic outliers.

Of course, I’d be pretty surprised if you drove 3 Hondas, 3 Mazdas, and a Toyota, and they all had steering, suspension, and brake problems. Can you elaborate?


#3

Reliability?
All of those cars are likely to be reliable vehiclces over the long term.
None of the items listed would qualify for a judgment of lack of reliability.

Instead, what you have listed would appear to be manufacturing differences that might affect the quality of the driving experience. However, I am VERY skeptical that all of these cars had actual defects in steering, handling, and braking. Truthfully, this sounds more like either a difference in the way that these cars perform–as compared with whatever you are currently driving–or perhaps some unrealistic expectations of how they should perform.

In order for us to assess exactly what you are talking about and to try to respond appropriately, you need to give us some actual details regarding how all of these vehicles were deficient in braking, handling, and steering. Also, we need to know what vehicle (make, model, model year, odometer mileage) you are using as your benchmark for comparison with these new cars.


#4

Are you driving “unprepped” cars? When they sit on a lot the cars need some attention to give a proper test drive. The tires can have “flat” spots which quickly go away once the car is moving. But these spots can feel funny to the test driver. The air pressure in the tires again could simply need to be checked to be sure they have the proper tire pressure in them. Tire issues affect handling and “feel” of the car.

The brakes on a new car that has been sitting for even a week or so can have rust on the rotors and make a grinding noise for a couple of stops.

Often the cars need a warm up and perhaps some tweeking by a mechanic to make sure all the wires, and hoses are hooked up and working.

If you test drive a new car and something isn’t right about it the next stop is the service dept where the “fix” is usually something pretty simple. Before any new car is delivered it is prepped and checked by service which should have it driving properly for the new owner.


#5

A Toyotoa Corolla had such extreme over-sterring it felt unsafe. One Civic LX had a transmission that made loud gushing at 1st and 2nd gear shifting, car jerked and the transmission shifted all over the place and was erratic on releasing the brake pedal and on accelerations, and thyat bcar road very hard on the road. Another LX I tested last night, had jerkiness and the sterring/handling was off. I drove an LX that was perfect - tghe quality was awesome - performance, handling, all was in synch, transmission quiet and smooth as silk.

The Mazda 3i Touring - the first had steering vwry tight, felt like no power steering, but I liked the feel and the cars response to steering was in harmony - no over or under steering. That car was good in all other areas as well. The second 3i Touring has extreme over steering, braking was low and delayed, performance in general was off - handling, transmission louder. The 3rd had steering in-bwteen the other two and would be considered normal, but there was something about the first one that spoke quality. The Mazda 3 had a steering recall for 2007-2009 - was tight on start-up.


#6

A Toyotoa Corolla had such extreme over-sterring it felt unsafe. One Civic LX had a transmission that made loud gushing at 1st and 2nd gear shifting, car jerked and the transmission shifted all over the place and was erratic on releasing the brake pedal and on accelerations, and thyat bcar road very hard on the road. Another LX I tested last night, had jerkiness and the sterring/handling was off. I drove an LX that was perfect - tghe quality was awesome - performance, handling, all was in synch, transmission quiet and smooth as silk.

The Mazda 3i Touring - the first had steering vwry tight, felt like no power steering, but I liked the feel and the cars response to steering was in harmony - no over or under steering. That car was good in all other areas as well. The second 3i Touring has extreme over steering, braking was low and delayed, performance in general was off - handling, transmission louder. The 3rd had steering in-bwteen the other two and would be considered normal, but there was something about the first one that spoke quality. The Mazda 3 had a steering recall for 2007-2009 - was tight on start-up.


#7

Well, coming out of a Chevrolet Lumina (a paragon of reliability and one of the highest-quality, best-handling automobiles every built), it’s understandable you’d be shocked and dismayed by the lack of quality control in a new Mazda, Honda, or Toyota.

It’s truly a shame that the Lumina was allowed to go out of production. If Chevrolet still made them we could all be driving the perfect car.

Keep searching. Surely there is a new car out there somewhere that will meet your criteria. Good luck.


#8

A front wheel drive car like a Toyota Corolla will normally display understeer when pushed to its limits.
If the one that you drove displayed extreme oversteering, I suspect that the tire pressures were way off.
I have never heard of a Corolla that oversteers if the tire pressures are set correctly.

And, as mcparadise astutely surmised, if you are used to driving a 13 year old Chevy Lumina, it is likely that few new cars on the road will feel “right” to you.


#9

All Honda Civics are loud. They always have been, and they probably always will be.

Almost all front wheel drive vehicles experience over-steer, but I think if you experience over-steer on these vehicles on public roads, you are driving too fast. Over-steer and under-steer are what happens when you take corners fast enough to hear your tires squeal. Are you going to drive your new car on public roads or a private track?

All “sport edition” models of economy cars have stiff handling, which would explain why you think they rode hard. (“Road” is a noun, not a verb.)

I think most people like tight responsive steering. I don’t think this characteristic is a defect.


#10

If new cars on the lot to be test driven likely have uneven tire pressure for the reasons you mentioned, how do I attain a legitimate test drive to see if I like the feel of the car? Some of the variance and individual difference I experienced couldn’t have been related to tire pressure. The reason I am being so meticulous is because this will be the last car I have. My sister is buying it for me, and that account was for this purpose and will be empty.


#11

I have to repeat Uncle Turbo’s question: were these cars unprepped. Cars are typically shipped with tires overinflated and varying in pressure. Occasionally alignment is also in need of adjusting. These factors alone can be responsible for wide variations in driving experience, especially handling and ride.

FWD cars have roughly 60% of their weight in the front, making them tend to “understeer”, and they also are subject to “torque steer”, a condition of steering input caused by acceleration. Designers use various techniques to try to compensate for these, one often being running the rear tires alightly lower in pressure than the front tires, inducing some “oversteer”. Another is asymetry of the half-shafts, causing the induced precession to be more equally distributed between the right and left wheels. Another is “damping” of the steering feel, keeping the full effect from being felt by the driver. These thongs all efect the car’s driving experience. And they’re all “tweaked” in vvarious ways to accomplish the feel that the marketing guys say will be preferred by the market segment that the car is targeted for.

Corollas are tweaked for very easy steering. They’re targeted at older people who prefer an easy steering feel to better handling. Civics build in a bit tighter feel to attract the younger crowd whil not making it so tight that it’ll alienate the young middle class. Mazda goes for the Zoom-Zoom feel.

In ahort, these are not quality or reliability issues. They’re intentional differences in design and driving experience, and probably exascerbated by lack of prep.

I will grant you that significant varation in prepped cars is a quality issue, but not knowing if they’d been prepped I’m reluctant to make that assumption. Some veriation is normal.

None of the things you mention fall under the category of reliability issues.


#12

Wouldn’t almost all front wheel drive cars exhibit gross understeer since most of the weight is over the front wheels?