Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Should I buy a car from the Big 3?

I will be in the market for a new car in the near future and my question is this. With Detroit on it’s last breath and Asian car manufacturers gobbling up the American market, should I even consider buying American? I mean, can they even put out a quality vehicle right now that can compete with Asia? I would love to support American but I’m just as strapped as Detroit and can’t afford to make a hasty decision.Please advise.

Check out Consumer Reports Apr 08 and Dec 08 issues. There are several US branded vehicles listed as most reliable, in various categories. So there are some quality US branded vehicles out there.

Then decide. I tend to think Ford and GM are “too big to fail”, so they will be around in some form. Not so sure about Chrysler, but don’t much like their recent products, anyway.

The first thing I would do - though not everyone is convinced - is forget this idea that there is any such thing as a U.S. car company. Cars are “U.S.” or “Asian” in a similar sense to gunpowder being Chinese - there is something to be said about origins, but the product has long escaped those.

Tons of “Asian” cars are actually assembled in the US. Tons of “US” cars are assembled outside of the US. Either way, if you look at what those cars are assembled with you won’t find the US or Asia, or anything else in particular. You will find a global supply chain. And this is not new. My '97 Ford was mostly a Mazda (Asian), and was - I’m pretty sure - assembled in Mexico with parts made all over the world. A lot of the electronics came from Taiwan. My fuel pressure regulator (just to pick something random) is a Bosch, made in Germany. The steel for these cars was probably a mixture of US and Asian steel…

Now, if you look at things like shareholders and financing you can also forget about having a US company. Anything other than relatively small businesses these days are multinational - with allegiance to no “country.”

So I would just check out the market for what suits your needs best and buy it.

Many “foreign” cars are built right here in the USA, and many “American” cars are built in Mexico, Canada, or elsewhere.

My old Crown Vic from years ago was made in Canada, while my current Acura and Subaru cars are both US-made (Ohio and Indiana).

Toyota and GM build cars together in the US.

What does it all mean?

In this global economy I say buy whatever you think is the best vehicle for you and don’t worry about where it’s made.

I would buy what suits your needs first and desires. Even if any Big 3 maker went under(rare chance) the support would be for years(likely beyond ownership) and not a worry. If you purchase domestic at the moment you will get incredible bargains out there.

I don’t think it matters WHERE it’s made. That has NOT been the problem in the Big-3…or why Honda and Toyota still builds quality cars right here in the US. The problem with the Big-3 has ALWAYS been upper management. Their whole structure of Bonuses and the way they only look 3 months out is the problem. Any VP or higher who looks 1-2 years out (like Honda and Toyota does) will kill their career and pay. The Big-3 have the workers and the know how to build quality vehicles. Upper management is NOT letting them.

Thanks for all the feedback. I guess my main concern is not where it’s made, (my Rodeo was built here in the U.S.) but who’s making the best cars right now and Japan seems to have been and will remain one of the new Big 3. Will Detroit be able to survive it’s own flawed logic management business plan?

Only time will tell.

I can’t believe that Detroit has done such a poor job of advertising themselves that this question is STILL being asked.

YES. YES you CAN buy American and be good to go. I disagree with jayhawkroy, there are more than some American vehicles that are worth buying. There are MANY. Right now, Detroit’s “flawed logic management” is not affecting the quality of its vehicles.

With Detroit on it’s last breath and Asian car manufacturers gobbling up the American market
Maybe “gobble” is a little overstated, based on the data below. As others have suggested, first think about what kind of vehicle you want. If you want to fine-tune your expectations, you could look at the J.D. Power website .

US Auto Sales Share, May 2008 (all credit to

US Sales year-to-date 1,326,906
Market Share 21.4%

US Sales year-to-date 1,046,852
Market Share 16.9%

US Sales year-to-date 939,000
Market Share 15.1%

US Sales year-to-date 750,369
Market Share 12.1%

The problems with the Big 3 are mostly cost related. Upper management has a lot to do with that, and so does organized labor. Organized labor has gotten high pay, exceptional benefits, and work rules that ensure that too many people are employed to get the job done. Management went along with them but labor is at fault as well.

They have only recently (last 5 years or so) started paying close attention to design and quality across the board. I would definitely look closely at a Malibu if I were in the market now. I bought an Accord in 2005 because it was a much better value than the GM cars I was looking at. That may not be the case today.

I remember in the Mid-90’s when GM had about 29% of the market and were going for 33%, never made it.

can they even put out a quality vehicle right now …there are plenty of domestic cars that are quality vehicles.

The only asian cars with better quality are Toyota, Honda and Subaru. The other asian cars are no better than domestics.

Have you ever noticed that almost all domestic products, not just cars, are looked upon unfavorably compared to imports? IMOO it’s just another form of discrimination.

Buy The American Name!

I am always proud driving my Pontiacs and Dodges. Also, I don’t care much what reliabilty ratings are for Asian vs. Domestic names. I get very good safe service from my vehicles. I use Consumer Reports for buying vacuums, TV’s, appliances, etcetera, but not cars. It is my opinion that they are biased and there evaluations don’t “weight” items in the evaluations. There is no way that any vehicle operated up to 226,000 miles, in rust belt conditions with temperatures varying by 130 degrees F. coud have possible been more reliable or cheaper to operate than my 1997 Dodge Intrepid and I bought it used with 68,000 miles on it in 2000. It has basically needed only maintenance and wear items like tires, brakes, timing belts, a couple of tie-rod ends and wiper blades. The only repairs have been an intake gasket and EGR valve, done at a dealer for less than $400. Also, Pontiac does build excitement and their cars are fun to drive.

I enjoy the saftey of my 3600 pound Bonneville and the low cost of insurance. It is rated at “substantially better than average” for injury and collision loss. It is rated at “better than average” for theft loss by the Insurance Institute, saving me money. I get 30MPG average (rural driving) and that’s all I would expect for such a safe fun-to-drive, comfortable car.

I believe my Bonneville was built in Canada and I realize that Asian cars are built here and domestic cars in Canada and Mexico. That’s necessary because of competition. I have to ask myself where the bucks for the cars mostly eventually end up, here or overseas? I have to think that more money stays in the U.S. when you buy the Big 3! What would happen if people stop buying them? I believe most car money will go to Tokyo.

Also, where I live there is dealer support for all domestics and hardly any for imports. I have a Toyota Dealer within 20 miles, but no other imports within a hundred. I work on Toyotas once in a while and in my opinion they can’t handle the rust belt. I can get any maintenance parts for my cars locally, either in stock, or within 24 hours, at reasonable prices, both dealer and aftermarket.

America, what a country!
Say what you will, I’m not ready to jump ship. It’s only Big 3 for me.

Here’s the problem with your LOGIC. You say you’re not ready to jump ship, but GM, Ford and Chyrco jumped ship over 20 years ago. A good portion of their steel is IMPORTED…Not to mention their electronics. All of the Big-3 have been putting Asian engines in many of their vehicles for years.

Oh…and lets not forget about the American worker being replaced with Japanese and Korean made robotics. All 3 of them are building engineering campuses in India and Asia to displace American Engineers.

So what is it in the Big-3 you’re supporting??

Right now, Detroit’s “flawed logic management” is not affecting the quality of its vehicles.

Then what IS affecting the quality of their vehicles??

Detroit makes a decent vehicle for the first 150k miles. That’s GREAT if you sell it before then. I DON’T. I keep my vehicles well past the 250k mark. I can probably get a GM/Ford or Chryco to do that…but at what cost?? I don’t need to bet putting THOUSANDS of dollars in a vehicle every year just to keep it running.

More Dollars Staying In Or Returning To The U.S.
Also, depending on the world economy, there could be a shift back of materials and labor in the future.

So as I think I understand it, the problems with Detroit are many with few simple solutions. U.A.W., flawed logic (mgm’t), huge overhead, and poor quality in product (as compared to rivals), to name some of the many. The American public middle class can’t afford to help these bloated corporations get themselves out of this mess they created anymore. The relatively young corporate competitors seem to have a good idea or business plan as to how to build a good, cheap vehicle while making a decent profit at the same time. Will the U.A.W. and Mgm’t be able to agree for the betterment of the company and the nation that smaller, more efficient and better work practices (robotics vs. fewer workers) will help the company survive and revitalize the big 3 to restore them to their former glory as the world’s best car manufacturers?

My money’s on GM and Ford (literally, I bought one). Both have good vehicles today, with many more in the immediate pipeline. I will not be looking at Chrysler, they don’t have good products for today’s market (Ram’s the only standout), their quality has been mediocre, and they’re trying to sell themselves to GM (big mistake for GM if the do it), or Nissan/Renault (don’t care). I very much hope the government doesn’t support Chrysler, let them fail and thereby boost GM and Ford.

Management went along with them but labor is at fault as well.

Oh I agree with that. No one is willing to sit down and actually discuss what’s best for them and the company. Neither wants to give in one bit. Take a look at the US Steel industry for an example. It’s almost NON existent today. Unions finally realized that they needed to work with management in order to save their jobs…but by then it was too late.

The one thing I HATE about the Big-3 management is…they had the opportunity almost 10 years ago when they were making RECORD PROFITS to shore up the Retirement benefits. But they choose NOT to and instead take MILLIONS in bonuses. Now they are crying and saying it’s labors fault because of the retirement benefits are eating into their margins every year. Well it wouldn’t have been if they weren’t so damn greedy 10 years ago.