@careyfelix, a number of the features that you described have some value, but the "pushbutton start" feature is probably the most unsafe idea that has ever been used on a car. The reason is that the button just sends a request to the controls computer, either to start the engine if it is stopped, or to stop the engine when the controls computer decides that it should stop the engine. What this does is assures that if there is ever a runaway engine condition from any cause, the computer will certainly refuse to stop the engine because of the potential loss of power steering assistance. The really stupid part is that our government agency was not able to see that very real problem and it let them sell the cars here, with no means of providing engine shutdown in the event of a controls computer failure.
So along with all of those "wonderful" features came a really poorly thought idea. Having a positive switch to stop the engine would not have been that difficult and it would provide a way to slow a runaway regardless of the cause.
Cabe, I can certainly echo your comments. I have owned two Honda Civics and one Toyota pre-runner truck. I sold both Civics after 187,000 and 240,000 miles respectively and my truck, still running, with 248,000 miles. In all three cases, we are looking at tires, batteries, spark plug cables, etc etc with no replacements of engines, rear ends or transmissions. I will say this, every three thousand (3,000) miles I take my vehicles in for and oil change and lube job. The Volvo my wife drives is considerably less reliable than the three cars just mentioned.
Hmm well I worked in a ford transmission plant that built a Mazda designed tranny. They built the same tranny in Japan. The Ford built tranny had many field problems. The Mazda had zero. It's not just the design it's also how manufacturing interprets the design. Japanese tolerancing on a drawing is usually much looser because they can actually produce to a tighter range so deigners aren't usually concerned or actually really now what the tolerance should be but in the American plant they wanted to use the entire tolerance. Of course you could say apply 6 sigma and capability study but for some reason that didn't work in the Ford plant... Mind you the equipment is the same all Japan built machine tools. The problem with US is we want to look at one thing in Japan it is the system of things and the system must function and be reliable. This goes for manufacturing, design, and testing validation. That plant is closed now and that tranny isn't made any more as this has been about 8 years ago.
So, when presented with evidence just say that it's only one case... Fine live in denial about the state of American car manufactures and true ability to make a reliable car... Guess what one of their strategies is... To use Japanese based suppliers like Denso, Aisin in key systems to improve reliability. Look at some of the new posts, Lexus has 8 speed tranny, keyless entry by sensor, push button start, variable valve timing. All this work and are reliable and not exactly in side the box thinking. American car companies don't do the level of development the Japanese companies do the Germans over complicate everything which leads to failure. So yeah the Japanese rule in reliability because it is actually a design target not an after thought like everyone else. What new thing does Ford have or GM????? Chrysler??? Where is the tech.... That fails maybe they could design a cruise control relay that doesn't catch fire.... Is a relay tech.
One exception does not disprove the standard procedure of letting others introduce things, and seeing how the public accepts them. And engineering and creating are both much easier to do if you are able to follow other peoples leads. And an inspired idea can certainly be differentr enough to patent, so the passel of patents is not proof of huge originality.
Really it isn't that the Japanese don't try new technology. Its that it doesn't pass the testing. If it fails it's not ready. Japanese automotive companies have more stringent standards and testing reliablity and failure mode. Also if a technology is brand new they will develop those standards and that why they always appear to be slow to adpot. In reallity that's how long it takes to develop something reliably. Its one thing to get something to work in a lab and accross a small test arena, but its another to get it to survie the field. Also, they listen to there customers and the average age of someone buying a Japanese vehicle especially Toyota is above 50yrs, on some vehicles. So, if the tech isn't easy to use and reliable it isn't ready to be put in a vehicle. So, really NA automotive engineers and designer aren't as good as the Japanese. The closest product to the way Japanese engineer cars is the way Apple designs phones, and products.
GeorgeG, the Japanese also have a way of letting others take the risk of real innovation and then coming up with the same thing after the others have had dthings released for a year. It is always easier and cheaper to learn from "the other guy's" misteakes and problems, and avoid them yourself. Of course it is fairly good to let others do the creating and then follow on. BUT not the way to be a leader.
I'll take a car (or brand) with recalls that stays ahead of problems over the manufacturer whose vehicles fail without warning and leave me stranded on the side of the road. Reliability is a function of the systems and the quality of those systems, not just about the design of individual components.
For the past 10 years, I've been telling myself my next car will be domestic but I just can't ignore my 20+ years of >200k miles per vehicle with Honda & Lexus. And yes, I have changed a few alternators, water pumps and timing belts myself and will continue to do so as long as that's ALL I have to do with these brands.
I really like the idea of a low-oil pressure kill switch. A brilliant after-market opportunity here!
It's not just CR's that is biased, the public is too. Once they get something in their head no amount of facts seem to change it.
I'll never forget one poll that showed it so well, It compared a Dodge Strealth with a Mitsubisi? version. The Mit version was rated far better despite the fact the only difference in the cars were the badges on them as made on the same assembly line.
Toyota's case is one in point as they have had so many recalls, etc and really not great quality yet still rated in the top.
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