Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Quality of American Cars versus Japanese

I continue to see many references to the reported inferior quality of American Cars. Meaning GM, Ford and Chrysler.

But once in a while there is a gem like this:
I have a 2002 BMW 745i sedan with 85,000 miles that is dripping oil around both the oil-pan gasket and the timing-gear gasket. My dealer says it will cost $6,500 to replace the gaskets, as the front of the car needs to be taken off. The car does not have an accessible dipstick ...

That's right, BMW sold this guy a car that will cost him $6,500 to change the oil-pan gasket.

And it doesn't have a dipstick? Just a warning indicator? They don't call them "idiot lights" for nothing.

There is more to quality than having the doors evenly spaced in the openings and pieces of plastic falling off. My only experience with a "quality built foreign car" was with a used Datsun 510 built around 1970. Now Wikipedia references the 510 as "the Poor Man's BMW" and it did serve as a pace car at least once. But, that car was a dogggggg! Replacement parts cost at least double the cost of domestic brands. The heater was designed for a climate much warmer than Minnesota. And did the thing need parts!

When the choke stuck closed and the engine gagged, Linda was driving alone. It stopped dead in front of a firehouse where the firemen kindly pushed her to the side of the road. The Japanese lost me as a customer on this vehicle. After that it was strictly AMC Matadors until I could afford my first new car.

I suppose things might have changed in the last 40 years but apparently, no one credits GM with making any progress in the time so why should I give the Japanese a break?