HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Captain Hybrid

Slideshow: Conservative Design Makes Japanese Cars More Reliable

NO RATINGS
View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
What is the takeaway from this list?
GTOlover   4/4/2013 9:41:52 AM
It seems that this is nothing new. All through the 80's, 90's, and beyond, the reliability of the Toyota and Honda is what drove them to compete with the BIG 3! Do not get me wrong, as my Avatar suggests, I love American cars (especially the older ones). But realistically, when I shop for a used car, I go straight to Toyota or Honda. Why? They still have good life left in them even after 100K or more. I have purchased many mid 80 and 90's American cars and all had issues after about the 100K mark. None of it really mechanical, but the plastic, the electronics, the paint, the interiors all turn to crap. Yet, a 1998 Corolla still looks good and everything works (250K)! The only other vehicle that got 250K for me was a Suburban. But at today's gas price, who can afford to drive (on a regular basis) anything that big?

I do think Ford and GM are designing with the CAFE in mind (though I think their cars are still too big to meet the standards). Charles is continually showing DN readers the innovations that are driving these designs and the Asians may find themselves behind. But for now, I like the if it ain't broke... approach.

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
Re: What is the takeaway from this list?
bobjengr   4/8/2013 7:21:12 PM
I agree completely. I have 1998 Toyota Pre-runner with 237,000 + miles and it still runs like a charm.  Now, I have it serviced every 4,000 miles; i.e. oil changed, new oil filter, lubrication, fluid levels checked, new air cleaner, etc etc.  The only real maintenance I have had to provide is a replacement radiator.  If my Pre-runner fell apart right now, bolt by bolt, I could not say a bad thing about it.  The reliability is excellent.

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Re: What is the takeaway from this list?
Rigby5   4/9/2013 11:49:53 AM
bobjengr, I think you miss the point. Of course if driven carefully and with good maintenance, any car design can easily do 250,000 miles.  That is not the point.  The point is if you have bad luck, accidents, are in a hurry, share with a bad driver, etc., you will have to do more maintenance, and that is very hard to do on most Japanese cars because they don't carry a complete inventory of all the multiple optional equipment providers that they install in the factory.  You admited yourself that all you ever had to install is a radiator, and that is very unusual.  If you lived on a cold state, it is more likely you would have had to replace things like starter, alternator, wheel bearings, ball joints, exhaust system, etc.  And it is hard to get these things for a 10 year old Japanese car.  The fact you did not is not typical, so your experience is outside the norm.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: What is the takeaway from this list?
Charles Murray   4/10/2013 6:37:06 PM
I've had the same experience, bobjengr. I have a 2004 Honda Odyssey with 189,000 miles on it. I've changed the fluids on time and the timing belt, which was the biggest-ticket item but certainly expected. I expect to get 250,000 to 300,000 out of it and I sill continue to trust it on long trips.  

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Don't change up your vehicles
Rob Spiegel   4/4/2013 10:08:05 AM
NO RATINGS
Interesting, Chuck, that the automakers with the best reliability records are those that are carrying over their previous designs. While we praise innovation, especially in these days where automakers are preparing for strict CAFE standards, there's a price to be paid for innovation. Apparently that price is reliability.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Don't change up your vehicles
Charles Murray   4/4/2013 10:49:19 AM
Yes, there is a price to be paid for innovation, Rob. I suppose it comes down to the market: Is the consumer willing to pay that price? Jake Fisher of Consumer Reports said, "The European market is more willing to forgive reliability issues. They are more about being on the cutting edge of technology."

Personally, I'd take the reliability over the cutting edge technology. Taking the car in for repairs, especially on a regular basis, gets to be too big an inconvenience.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Don't change up your vehicles
Rob Spiegel   4/5/2013 10:16:15 AM
The trips to the repair shop seem to happen after 100,000 miles, even in the cars that do not have a great reliability record. So car owners my opt for changes over reliability. 

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Additional information
Charles Murray   4/4/2013 11:15:47 AM
NO RATINGS
Consumer Reports gives five ratings: Much better than average; better than average; average, worse than average; much worse than average. The photos shown in our slideshow (with one exception) fall in the top or bottom categories.

"Much better than average" vehicles in our slideshow: Toyota RAV4; Nissan Leaf; Honda CR-V; Toyota Prius; Honda Fit; Toyota Camry Hybrid; Lexus CT 200h; Toyota 4Runner.

"Much worse than average" vehicles in our slideshow: Ford Focus; BMW 7 Series; Chrysler 300; Volkswagen Beetle; Dodge Grand Caravan; Nissan Armada; Ford Edge; Buick LaCrosse; Ford Explorer V-6 4WD.

The one exception in our slideshow was the Cadillac CTS. We posted it because it was the highest-rated American car. Even so, it did not make the top category. Consumer Reports rated it "better than average."

Constitution_man
User Rank
Gold
Re: Additional information
Constitution_man   4/5/2013 5:07:50 PM
CR has been enamored with Honda since the Garden of Eden.  Toyota is also infallible in their book.  CR wouldn't acknowledge a top German or American product if we bribed them to do so... um, wait a minute.... ! !

Bunter
User Rank
Platinum
Hmmmm...
Bunter   4/4/2013 2:09:45 PM
I rather question his conclusions.

The Prius series has been very reliable from day one and is the groundbreaker for the hybrid genre (Honda's Insight, while cool, went nowhere). For generations the domestics were regurgitating the same designs and lagging behind more advanced Japanese vehicles in reliability.

Ford got squashed primarily by it's new infotainment system-it's been a disaster.  It's a matter of rushing in one substandard system-IMO-across the board, rather than a general failure in vehicle systems.

It is difficult to veiw any of the Lexus vehicles, for instance, as being low-tech yet they are consistently at the top.

For now I retain the impression that better engineering is a strong part of the reliability equation.

Just some thoughts.

Dennis

D Hambley
User Rank
Silver
better engineering = reliability.
D Hambley   4/5/2013 11:53:49 AM
My opinion is that some American firms incorrectly think that their market consists of people who want cheap over quality, and their engineering is focused on that goal. I frequently think of one example from a colleague who worked at a big 3 company (AB3C). He told me at AB3C they were testing fuel injectors. The purpose of the test was to find the manufacturer who made the cheapest injector which just barely passed the 100,000 mile equivalent test. He told me that one supplier's injector lasted over 2x that mark, but it was 5 cents more expensive. The business model at AB3C, formed from the attitude that Americans want cheap cheap cheap instead of quality, led to the decision to use the cheap part instead of the quality part. I personally know only a tiny fraction of the 300 million Americans but, the ones I do know always want reliable cars, not cheap ones. Who is this market group of people who want cheap over quality?

On another note, new innovation does have an "unknown consequences" factor, as shown by the post about residue build up in the direct-inject system, but more extensive testing (a foundation of good engineering) would have uncovered that.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: better engineering = reliability.
Charles Murray   4/5/2013 4:22:29 PM
Good points, D Hambley. Yes, automakers think Americans want cheapness over quality. If you watch television commercials, they also seem to think Americans want virility over quality. Why else could we be getting so many models that are called the SX, EX, XS, XE --gee, what could they be getting at?

MIROX
User Rank
Platinum
Re: better engineering = reliability.
MIROX   4/6/2013 1:58:41 AM
NO RATINGS

BLOGGER
Re: better engineering = reliability. 
Charles Murray 
 
LOL how about XXX model designation and make it a three seater like the old MATRA from once upon a time made in France, and show it of with "old" guy with two barely legal beauties, of course the steering needs to be in the middle !!!
 
Come to think of it, should the car also be "top-less" ???
 
 


far911
User Rank
Silver
Water Running Vehicle
far911   4/4/2013 2:21:05 PM
All the top motor companies are producing is great, as they are trying to save precious fuel for the generations to come.

But did any one notice a guy from Pakistan running vehicle on water.

Please search that and research that. 

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Water Running Vehicle
OLD_CURMUDGEON   4/5/2013 2:49:34 PM
NO RATINGS
far911:  The video that I saw very recently showed two fellows driving a battery-powered car "running on water", BUT the vehicle was designed in Israel, NOT Pakistan.  Maybe the Pakistani auto empire has something even more technologically advanced.... could it be???

vandamme
User Rank
Silver
Re: Water Running Vehicle
vandamme   4/6/2013 7:12:20 PM
NO RATINGS
Maybe in Pakistan they have cars that run on moonbeams instead of water.

Greg M. Jung
User Rank
Platinum
Innovation Penalty
Greg M. Jung   4/4/2013 10:53:56 PM
Very interesting article.  It would seem that the pursuit of innovation actually penalizes automotive reliability.  However, if manufacturers don't innovate at all, their market share will erode.  I suppose innovation should be done strategically and incrementally so that a manufacturer can try to advance their product offerings, while still keeping reliability risk at a minimum.

Dave Palmer
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Innovation Penalty
Dave Palmer   4/5/2013 8:20:46 AM
@Greg: I think Consumer Reports is wrong about this one. As @Bunter pointed out, if Japanese automakers aren't innovative, how do you explain the Toyota Prius? The idea that "good engineering" and "sound design philosophy" are two different things is flawed. If your design philosophy isn't sound, you will not make good engineering decisions. What the report really shows is that U.S. companies are not doing as good of a job at bringing new ideas into mass production without problems.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Innovation Penalty
Charles Murray   4/5/2013 11:51:04 AM
@Dave: I'm not sure where I stand on this matter. Over the past 25 years, I've heard at least half a dozen explanations as to why Japanese cars are more reliable. But I did ask Consumer Reports the exact same question you asked about the Prius. Their response: "Toyota has its Prius now, but they started it as a low-volume vehicle and launched it in Japan only. Only now, more than 10 years in, are we starting to see a proliferatoion of similar powertrains. But even so, the Hybrid Synergy Drive is pretty similar to what we've seen over the past 10 years."

sensor pro
User Rank
Gold
Re: Innovation Penalty
sensor pro   4/5/2013 10:11:05 AM
I completely agree with you. In many cases while trying to create and be the first, we all overlook important quality items. US makers should be more careful. One year in that industry is not that long. Do the testing and only the come "out of the closet" with the innovation.

Bunter
User Rank
Platinum
Still question article.
Bunter   4/5/2013 8:30:31 AM
Reflecting overnight I find I still disagree with the articles reasoning (see my comments at "Hmmm...".

He points to items like 8-speed transmissions in the German cars yet Lexus has used an 8-speed for years.  IIRC it was the first 8-speed on the market.  Why has the innovation leader been more reliable?

Look at variable valve timing-the Japanese lead in this innovation and kept leading in reliability.

Hybrids as I mentioned before-the Japanese lead the way and theirs are the most reliable-from the start.

When Ford introduced the Fusion it was a fresh sheet design and proved very reliable.  New worked then-why not now?

There are plenty of American and European vehicles that are very "mature" designs yet they are not outstanding in reliability.  They don't show up in the top category-where some very innovative Japanese cars reside. This guy really needs to look at his own organizations data.

Fischer's comment on the the Accords displacement is nonsense-an engine maybe completely redesigned and have the same displacement or get an aftermarket overbore with no design input at all.

Typically the japanese manufacturers tend to have shorter model changes turnovers which may make them look more incremental but it seems to me that there is little actual connection between innovation and reliability.  Old tech or new it looks like good engineering and manufacturing execution are the keys to reliability.

All in all I think this guys conclusions are based on a pretty wobbly bit of reasoning.

Cheerio,

Dennis

Greg M. Jung
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Still question article.
Greg M. Jung   4/5/2013 7:05:08 PM
NO RATINGS
@Bunter:  Good point about the variable valve timing innovation breakthrough.  The Japanese have been making innovative breakthroughs also (so maybe their reliability is due to other factors besids just incremental refinement).

I also remember the 4 wheel steering innovation on the Honda Prelude years ago (and don't recall any reliability issues on this innovative breakthrough).

benmlee
User Rank
Gold
Re: Still question article.
benmlee   4/8/2013 8:34:26 PM
Japanese do not offer new technology??? What? Toyota took a huge risk rolling out the hybird. First completely new power train that is different than anything else on the road. The battery itself was very high risk, and everyone thinks is going to die in a year or two like laptop batteries. Now they are considered so reliable taxi use them.

Eight speed transmission is new technology? Lexus had 8 sp on their top of the line before anyone else. Auto transmission has always been a hit or miss. Chrysler are the worst of anyone.

American cars has been low on reliability since the 80's Back then, they had zero technology, and were still unreliable. Unless you count the Cadillac 8-6-4 as technology :) Japs even then had 4 valve per cylinder. Domestic tried it with the quad4 and failed miserably.

American cars with low reliability is nothing new. Until management start spending money on product development and improvement instead of their bonus, nothing will change.

ChasChas
User Rank
Platinum
Not New
ChasChas   4/5/2013 9:46:07 AM
 

There have always been companies like this. They let others do the innovations and they just rake in the gravy. (Look at Southwest Airlines) It's a business model.

But if everyone did this, we would all fall flat on our faces.

Give me innovation any day. 

BB_cuda
User Rank
Silver
Re: Not New
BB_cuda   4/5/2013 10:45:18 AM
Direct injection is a recent innovation that i have noticed was lagging with Honda/Acura brands. I believe their 2013 offerings are finally getting on the band wagon.   This type of fuel injection was shown a fuel  economiy advantage.  I see them as "a slow adopter until the bugs are worked out" type of design for production philosophy.  I have recently learned that some manufacturers are having problems with carbon build up in the intake as a result of using direct injection. You see, fuel dilevery in the intake manifold has the side benefit of washing away contaminants in the passage. Direct delivery to the coimbustion chamber looses that aid.  BMW has seen recent development in this area. Non turbo E90 (i.e. 328i) does not see this issue but the turbod 335i does. It is related to vaporized oil coming from the EGR system feeding into the intake system.  I would emphasize that not all direct injected engines are seeing this carbon buildup in the intake. 

Perhaps the asians are quite aware of the technology but want its technical readiness level to be close to 10 before using it in production design.  Look  for this as a growing problem with the early adopters. I hear Mercedes does not have this issue though.  Does anyone know iof Lexus uses DI?

pm
User Rank
Silver
RELIABILITY
pm   4/5/2013 10:22:24 AM
The best design is a simple one. If it is too complicated it WIILL have reliability issues. Creating a design that is simple is not a simple task.

Amclaussen
User Rank
Platinum
Re: RELIABILITY
Amclaussen   4/25/2013 10:35:52 AM
Such a short post... such a BIG truth.

Creating a truly good, reliable design is not easy not because it is difficult per se, but because lately designers have lost their orientation.  I remember the old days when creating a new car design was made by actually building a mock model made with clay... there were OLD, experienced design supervisors that came to see the model, and quickly and swiftly pointed a finger to the faults, goofes and poorly designed aspects.  Those old engineers had been educated in the industry and most of them raised step by step from the lowest levels in the company, learning along the years. Experience and being careful and trough is not divorced from being capable of innovating, but is a cultural matter.

Present day designers (in large numbers), are poisoned with the easy of (ab)using CAD, so they become careless and irresponsible, and you can easily spot them: they have never held a wrench in their hands, so they don't have the slightest idea on how to grab them!

On the other hand, I concur with other commenters who say that management is too focused on reducing costs at all means, getting millionaire bonuses and don't caring a thing about the future of their company prestige.

Only education and a strong culture of pride in manufacture could revert the tendencies.

GeorgeG
User Rank
Platinum
Re: RELIABILITY
GeorgeG   7/9/2013 9:19:22 AM
The Japanese have an 'old man' tactic. Design teams have at least one old guy who just kibitzes the design effort, mostly just asking difficult questions. They also apply a rigorous scheme of design validation. Manufacturability is always a design constraint: go heavy on design, light on QC; it makes sense: you can't inspect quality in and basic theory shows that if you are able to catch defects, some product must be marginal quality and some will have escaped defects. The most remarkable thing is that Japanese auto guys use less design hours but then there's little tolerance for cowboys in their approach. 

Reliabilityguru
User Rank
Platinum
Re: RELIABILITY
Reliabilityguru   7/9/2013 10:12:18 AM
NO RATINGS
Consumer Reports in MHO is biased towards anythng Japanese and especially Toyota. Toyota cars and trucks are rust buckets. Always have been.

Jerry dycus
User Rank
Gold
Re: RELIABILITY
Jerry dycus   7/9/2013 11:57:01 AM
NO RATINGS
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.

k4man
User Rank
Iron
Re: RELIABILITY
k4man   7/9/2013 12:13:11 PM
NO RATINGS
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!

careyfelix
User Rank
Silver
Re: RELIABILITY
careyfelix   9/27/2013 10:38:52 PM
NO RATINGS
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.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: RELIABILITY
William K.   7/10/2013 9:41:24 PM
NO RATINGS
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.

careyfelix
User Rank
Silver
Re: RELIABILITY
careyfelix   9/26/2013 10:03:17 AM
NO RATINGS
So, Who did Toyota learn from with the Prius Hybrid ......?  That's right they were the first and still hold the loin share of patents and development know how. 

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: RELIABILITY
William K.   9/27/2013 8:35:38 PM
NO RATINGS
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. 

careyfelix
User Rank
Silver
Re: RELIABILITY
careyfelix   9/27/2013 10:26:38 PM
NO RATINGS
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.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: RELIABILITY
William K.   9/28/2013 5:34:48 PM
NO RATINGS
@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.

GeorgeG
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Innovation Penalty
GeorgeG   4/5/2013 11:03:03 AM
My sister traded in her Honda. She bought it used and drove it for 23 years with no problems. She traded it in, not because there was a problem, just on principle and because the local Honda dealer had an equivalent demonstrater and was willing to go low in order to get his hands on a 26 year old all-original collector's item which still runs fine at age 33.  

Interestingly, the Japanese spend less time on developing new cars; as it turns out, a lot less than the car maker I hate the most and will never patronize again. It comes from incorporating quality systems into the design process and respect for age - gray haired engineers who mentor the design team. In design, no matter how clever, lessons learned are so important. 

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
More information
Charles Murray   4/5/2013 11:41:33 AM
Consumer Reports gives five ratings: Much better than average; better than average; average, worse than average; much worse than average. The photos shown in our slideshow (with one exception) fall in the top or bottom categories.

"Much better than average" vehicles in our slideshow: Toyota RAV4; Nissan Leaf; Honda CR-V; Toyota Prius; Honda Fit; Toyota Camry Hybrid; Lexus CT 200h; Toyota 4Runner.

"Much worse than average" vehicles in our slideshow: Ford Focus; BMW 7 Series; Chrysler 300; Volkswagen Beetle; Dodge Grand Caravan; Nissan Armada; Ford Edge; Buick LaCrosse; Ford Explorer V-6 4WD.

The one exception in our slideshow was the Cadillac CTS. We posted it because it was the highest-rated American car. Even so, it did not make the top category. Consumer Reports rated it "better than average."



Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Theories about reliability
Charles Murray   4/5/2013 11:59:15 AM
Here's one theory from a few years back about why Japanese cars are more reliable. In essence, it says that the Japanese carmakers care more about a perfect assembly than a perfect part. American automakers, on the other hand, assume that perfects parts make for a perfect assembly.

http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=220035

 

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Theories about reliability
Charles Murray   4/5/2013 12:03:35 PM
Here's yet another theory about reliability (also from Consumer Reports), which contends that emphasis on short-term profits damages reliability.

http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1366&doc_id=240475

Ratsky
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Theories about reliability
Ratsky   4/5/2013 12:11:31 PM
Here's some input from my direct experience with car mfrs on both sides of the Pacific.  Some years ago I was told by a senior Toyota executive that "we will not introduce a new technology until we are losing market share because we don't have it."  On the other hand, Honda was much more willing to innovate, but insisted on full demonstration of product reliability before they would offer it as a main-stream standard offering.  I am also aware of one NA-based manufacturer who canceled an entire new global vehicle platform development because the BOM cost exceeded their target by less than $25!  And THAT was after brow-beating all suppliers into slashing their quoted prices to effectively zero (or even negative) margins.  That's a fair summary of the differences!

Jerry dycus
User Rank
Gold
Re: Theories about reliability
Jerry dycus   4/5/2013 4:02:42 PM
 

  I remember a study on this many yrs ago and it compared quality between 2 cars, a Dodge Stealth and a Mitsubiti 365GT IIRC.

   The Dodge was rated much worse in quality, etc yet the fact was they were the same car off the same line and the only difference was the name badge.  That shows just how good subjective surveys can be. 

Especially when you see all the recalls, etc Japanese cars have had vs far less US ones doesn't seem to effect once something is in one's head it takes overwhelming evidence to get them to change.

Like the Repub saying, say it over and over again and it becomes true.

MIROX
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Theories about reliability
MIROX   4/6/2013 1:54:10 AM


Re: Theories about reliability 
Jerry dycus 
 
You are 100% correct time and time again even J D Power shows the same BIG difference in cars made at the same factory and only having the badge difference, it was especially true about Chevy and TOYOTA mande in Freemont CA NUMI factory, a night and day difference in ratings and satisfaction for 98% identialc car, where only the badge and wheels differed.
 
Same discrepancy also exists in Insurance rates, examples are Chrysler versus Dodge mini vans and in the past Camaro versus Trans-Am.
 
Apparently a totally different breed of people buy the "differing" brands and never "cross-shop" and do nto even have a clue that the two clones are more or less identical.
 
The BIGGEST differences exist on GMC and Chevy trucks and vans that are identical.


Zippy
User Rank
Platinum
No mystery here
Zippy   4/5/2013 12:28:52 PM
For some reason this conversation pits reliability against innovation, as if there should be a clear winner.  Some facts to consider;

 

Some markets favor reliability (Japan) and others innovation (Europe), with the US leaning to reliability (at the moment, at least).  A "good design" is one that meets the customer's needs and expectations, so know your intended market.  A customer base that favors cutting-edge technology and prestige over reliability is about the only way to explain the BMW 7, in my opinion, but it exists nonetheless.

The JD Power surveys and Consumer Reports weigh reiliability heavily in their ratings because, really, who is against reliability?


Innovation gets a bad name when it is introduced in a poor implementation and you are beta-testing using the customer. 

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Re: No mystery here
Rigby5   4/5/2013 2:15:03 PM
NO RATINGS
Except JD Powers and Consumer Reports know very little about cars, and even less about reliability since they don't have to work on them after they are 10 years or more old.  It is pretty obvious that these magazines are just there to sell issues, are influenced by marketing more than engineering, and their results are based more on who gives them free loaners more than actual data.

Zippy
User Rank
Platinum
Re: No mystery here
Zippy   4/6/2013 9:09:44 PM
NO RATINGS
Rigby, you are correct that Consumer Reports and JD Powers know little about cars, but what they are doing is surveying owners.  The owners may also know little about cars, but their perception of reliabiliity (or any other attribute) should be taken into account by the designers, since they are the customers.  I think most people would agree that reliability in the first ten years is more important than reliability in the years thereafter, no?

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Re: No mystery here
Rigby5   4/7/2013 1:22:17 AM
NO RATINGS
Surveying owners would be fine, but they survey their readers, not car owners in general, so their statistics are skewed.  Japanese cars are not reliable for the first 10 years, but only the first 5.  Japan has a huge tax on cars over 5 years old, so they have no intentions of driving them 10 years.  That is why there is such a huge availability for low mile engines from Japan, cheap.  Euopeans want cars to last over 10 years.

Bunter
User Rank
Platinum
Re: No mystery here
Bunter   4/8/2013 9:56:10 AM
NO RATINGS
Hi Rigby,

A few more things to masticate.

CRs ratings do cover 10 years.  The data out to that point actually tends to indicate that Toyota and Honda vehilces have an even greater advantage in the second 5 years over domestic and European vehilces.  Some other japanese cars do not, Subaru in particular shows a big jump in engine problems in the 6-10 year period.

To those trying to make a case out of the surveys going to CR readers being a bias consider this-GM owners surveyed liked the cars enough to BUY them.  BMW owners liked their cars enough to buy them. Etc.  All of these owners had a preferance of some sort toward the cars they reported on-enough of a preference to spend their own money on them.

Maybe these people just-gasp-reported the problems they actually had!

BTW-some of you have clearly not read CRs tests, they have praised many domestic and european cars (love Audis big time) and have trashed numerous Toyotas (see Tacoma, Yaris...), they reamed Honda on the 2012 Civic.

Get over it.

It always amazes me how the same misinformation comes out everytime CR is mentioned anywhere.

 

Cheerio kids,

Dennis

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Re: No mystery here
Rigby5   4/8/2013 11:43:00 AM
NO RATINGS
Bunter, sorry, but I have to disagree with your second post even more. 

Sure owners can like a car enough to buy them, but that does not mean they don't dump them at the first sign of a problem, and move on a newer prestige model, something most people do not do.  They do not have to be typical owners, just an owner, and I know lots of BMW owners who are ignorant, uninformed, and arrogant.  Liking a particular car model does not mean they are informed.

And sure Consumer Reports does sometimes downgrade Toyota or other Asian models, while praising some European models like Ausdi, but that just proves my point.  It is the low end they pan, and the high end they praise.  I happen to know the Yaris is actually a pretty good car, and I would never buy an Audi, (I have worked on them both for years).  So all you have done is shown that both you and Consumer Reports are not that well informed about cars.

Frankly, the only people who can tell you about the pros and cons of different cars, are mechanics, not designers, writers, or even drivers.  Consumer Report is not worth the paper it is printed on, because it employs no one who understands what consumers actually have or will have to deal with.

Bunter
User Rank
Platinum
Re: No mystery here
Bunter   4/8/2013 1:02:01 PM
NO RATINGS
Hi again rigby,

Haven't the time to detail on this but I think you are confusing two separate items at CR, testing and reliability data.

The data comes from people who bought the cars. Period.  Staff content-zero.

Testing is done at CR, they have their standards, and I think they are consistent within those and state what they see regardless of the badge on the front. I don't always agree with them (or any other testers out there) but they present consistent viewpoints that give me information.

I like the Yaris myself, but it scores to low in their ttesting so they can't just give it a pass-that would be bias.

You missed the point on the BMW owners-the point is that the reliability data is provided by people who liked the cars (for whatever reason) enough to buy them, not by people biased against them. I think on theis point I was addressing someone other than yourself.

As for your thought that only mechanics know about cars...wow.  I have met plenty that are pretty ignorant and full of unsupported bias. 

Notice that you didn't address the loss of your 5 year point on the data.

Enjoy,

Dennis

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Re: No mystery here
Rigby5   4/8/2013 4:46:01 PM
NO RATINGS
Bunter, the fact data comes from buyers does not help.  People who buy new cars every 3 years are useless when it comes to data, but will supply their own bias based on perception of status.

The type of people who buy a car like a Yaris instead, are completely different and will have much more useful information about actual experiences keeping the car maintain, over a longer period of time.  What I suggest is a built in bias for expensive cars, one both the makers and reviewers like CR seem to perpetuate.  But the reality is that these days expensive cars are now less reliable than cheap cars, because they have too many things that can and will break.

Not only mechanics know about cars.  Poor people who have to keep them running do as well.  The fact some mechanics are not good judges does not matter.  The reality is that the makers and short term buyers know much less.

The reality is that Asian cars are not easily maintained after 5 years.  Their on demand inventory means too many parts supplier changes, so long term accessibility to replacement parts becomes nil.  That is totally untrue of a European maker like VW for example, that maintains complete part inventories for 12 years.  I have seen where a single model Toyota will have 6 different wiring harness versions over a single year period, just to accomdate parts vendor changes.

Bunter
User Rank
Platinum
Re: No mystery here
Bunter   4/10/2013 3:59:21 PM
NO RATINGS
Hi Rigby, taking another shot at it.

Not sure we're connecting on reliablility data. ". People who buy new cars every 3 years are useless when it comes to data, but will supply their own bias based on perception of status."  Three year first owner data is a JD Power VDS.  CR covers 10 years and includes owners of used cars.

"You are simply wrong about reliability. There is not a cpu climate control system that will likely remain working after 7 years or so."  Looked at the CR data yesterday, the Lexus LS climate systems are still excellent at 10 years. VW Golfs seem to get nasty in the 4-5 year range.  Cadillac is spottier than Lexus but far better than the Chevy Impala, doubt the Imp has a more complex sytem.  I looked at a lot of vehicles, the charts are a quick view, Toyota climate systems, cheap or expensive, are reliable at 10 years, Honda a bit less so but good.  Germans, domestics more of a crap-shoot.  I see little correlation to the complexity but excellent correlation to the manufacturer.  Hope I find a massively depreciated Lex SC300 MT. Chuckle.

Likewise the VTEC (or equiv.) engines from Toyonda have shown excellent longevity without the valvetrains being a problem.  I'm not saying never a problem-but statistically rare.  They are more durable than less complex items from other sources.

I also find it interesting that you are more comfortable with electronic controls on the engine vs. mechanical but you seem to reverse that veiw elsewhere in the car.

Don't get me wrong, all else being equal the less complex system should be more reliable.  As a designer I keep in mind DaVinci's dictum "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication".  However the evidence indicates that complex systems from companies that know what they are doing are more reliable than simpler systems from those who do not.

Yes, we should avoid needless complexity, but complexity itself is simply not the dominant aspect of reliability that you think it is.

Keep in mind on the complexity question that any design that won't sell or can't be sold is a complete failure.  Consumer preference (yes often ignorant) and Gov regulation (even more ignorant?, ;^)  chuckle) are major driving forces in this arena.

Anyway, I hope you can understand my point of view a bit better.  I rather doubt we will agree at any point here but I have enjoyed the interaction.  Thanks.

Cheerio,

Dennis

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Re: No mystery here
Rigby5   4/10/2013 4:38:10 PM
NO RATINGS
Dennis, yes I do see your point of view.  However, has it occured to you that a Lexus may have what appears as a more reliable climate control system because may have a better network dealership of dealership mechanics, inclusive warranty or might have tend to be kept in a garage out of the sub freezing temperatures?  No one will ever convince me that computer control is superior to a simple pull rod or mechanical cable.

Ignition differs not only because it is mandated by emissions laws, but because there are some fairly standardized test hardware appliances available for ignition.  There are no such equilizers for climate control.

Bunter
User Rank
Platinum
Re: No mystery here
Bunter   4/11/2013 3:55:41 PM
NO RATINGS
Honestly Rigby, I think you are moving into the speculative here.

The lexus climate system is more reliable than the complex systems of other  luxury makes that I expect get equal pampering.  It is more reliable than the simpler systems in virtually every manufacturers vehicles excepting other Toyotas and Hondas.  Einstein noted that "reality is an illusion, but a very persistent one".  If the reliability of these climate sytems is only the appearance of reilability it is very persistent.  ;^)

ANd this is true  of every system and area of their vehicles in general regardless of the simplicity or complexity.  Yes, complexity presents more opportunity for problems.  It does not assure that they will happen.  Poor quality control does that even in simple devices.

It is the plausible vs. the probable in my opinion.  Your scenario is plausible-the evidence leads me to conclude that it is more probable that an excellent company can produce reliable products regardless of the complexity.

Well, I suspect we have run this one to death.

Take care.

Dennis

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Re: No mystery here
Rigby5   4/11/2013 5:17:40 PM
NO RATINGS
Bunter, yes I am speculating because I have not worked on Lexus very much.
But all it takes to wipe out a cpu climate control system is an alternator, static, or starter induced voltage spike.

In contrast, a mechanical cable or rod is virtually impossible to fail.

But the main point is that the $500 cpu climate control is not superior to the 10 cent cable.

There are times when more sophisticated systems are better.  No one morns the passing of mechanical voltage regulators for example.  But other times minimalism is better.

I have heard they are putting touch screens in cars now, and that is absurb.  Not only will that be a problem at 40 below, but there should be concern over spread of disease.

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: No mystery here
Cabe Atwell   4/22/2013 6:25:26 PM
NO RATINGS
Rigby5,

This is what my Corolla looked like... aka the "AE86" (this one isn't mine.)

tumblr m2zpea EByf1qd3fyoo1 1280

 

It has quite a following.

Check out this link for more pics: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/toyota%20ae86

C

 

Bunter
User Rank
Platinum
Re: No mystery here
Bunter   4/8/2013 9:39:02 AM
NO RATINGS
A few thoughts for you to ponder Rigby.

Consumer Reports buys the cars they test at retail from dealers.  These are not the test fleet loaners the enthusiast mags use.

There auto test staff is populated with engineers from auto industry.  Detroit is heavily represented and I think the head of the department is ex-Land Rover.

I believe this publication (or was it Machine Design?) had an article a few years back covering the expertise of this group, they do know what they are doing.

Cheerio,

Dennis

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Re: No mystery here
Rigby5   4/8/2013 11:32:13 AM
NO RATINGS
Bunter, engineers from the auto industry would not necessarily be good advisers on the long range experience car owners will have.  It is very easy to engineer a car that performs well, but is a terrible purchase because it is nearly impossible to repair or maintenance.  Other cars have weak links that don't hold up.  But no engineer familiar with cars could possibly approve of air bags or even ABS, so it is pretty obvious they either are incompetent or pandering.  You say Consumer Reports buys their own test vehicles, but the reality they often buy direct from the manufacturer, and get discounts even from the local dealers. 

If they were giving fair appraisals, they would downgrade fragile things like variable valve timing, lockup torque converts, remote start, computer climate control, keyless entry, ABS, airbags, traction control, or dozens of other expensive and complex systems that I personally have observed to have regularly malfunctioned with extremely negative consequences.  You put that many delicate and unreliable systems in a car and you pretty much guarantee a bad owner experience.  Curent cars are not only likely to fail, but are assured of it.  In general they are horrific.  And we have entirely the people like Consumer Reports to blame for it, as they express their enthusiasm for systems that engineers know are junk.  Cars sit outside in temperature extremes, vibration, humidity, etc., while being worked on by the less than stellar, if maintained at all.  The only thing the original designers could be thinking is how to get people to sell every 5 years.  But Consumer Report is support to be on the consumer side, and they aren't.  Otherwise they would pan these unsupportable features.

Bunter
User Rank
Platinum
Re: No mystery here
Bunter   4/8/2013 3:52:48 PM
NO RATINGS
And again Rigby,

Look at your list of items you view as fragile.  It really depends on who designed and made it. Honda started the variable valve timing revolution and they have been durable from day one.  Tuners do horrible things to Honda engines with stock internals and they take it.

What do you suggest-we all go back to OHV, flatheads?-modern engines, for all their complexity are vastly more durable and reliable.

Equating complexity and reliability is not that simple.  Some very complex vehicles (lexus for example) give very few problems compared to the vast majority of simpler vehicles from other manufacturers, and well past your 5 year window.  At 10 years, and the trendlines indicate well beyond, these are reliable. Yet many simpler cars, even lacking many of the electronic bells and whistles, do poorly.  Give it some thought.

Keep in mind that mechanics have very little statical base-they only see the failed items.  If there are 15 million vehicles out there with a given system a very small percentage of failed systems will amount to a lot and the mechanic will see a lot.  But a much rarer system that fails more often will come across his plate less frequently and may be thus percieved as "more reliable".

BTW, I have appreciated that you have kept a civil tone.  Many folks in these debates do not.  Thanks.

Cheerio,

Dennis

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Re: No mystery here
Rigby5   4/8/2013 5:12:27 PM
NO RATINGS
Bunter, no Tuners do not do things that could effect fragile variable valve timing.  Variable timing systems die simply from age, and they do die.  Where in the past all we had to worry about was chain wear, we now have a host of electrical and hydraulic issues added as well.  Variable valve timing is not at all durable and never will be.  Although most of the repairs they require have more to do with oil leaks they interduce.

Flathead or OHV engines were much more complex than they needed to be.  Things like over head cam, are better because they are simpler actually.  Complexity is NEVER more durable, and well designed modern engines are not more complex.  For example, electronic ignition is an improvement because it took away the complexity of the cap and rotor, by providing multiple ignition coils.

You are simply wrong about reliability.  There is not a cpu climate control system that will likely remain working after 7 years or so.  Yet there is not a single advantage of climate control over the simple mechanical cable.  Unlike variable valve timing, there is absolutely nothing at all gained from most of the complexity they have added to cars.  The low resale value of a 10 year old Lexus proves the point.  Many cars are simply no longer feasible to fix or maintain any more, because they simply are way to complex, for no practical reason.  We have lots of older cars that can be easily and beautifully maintained or restored, and that will no longer be possible.  Modern cars are so designed for planned obselescence, that they end up being parts out. 

To my rant add All Wheel Drive, talking cars, built in nav system, etc.

We need to concentrate on the basics, such a car shutting down if oil if low.  All cheap generators come with that $3 feature, but yet cars don't even try to do anything to save the engine.  In fact, the single most important thing these days is fuel pressure.  It tells you when the filter is clogged, the pump is bad, the purge valve is sticking, if the pressure regulator is malfunctioning, etc., and yet there is not a single car that has this simple thing built in.  Every single mechanic has to manually attach their own $15 gauge whenever they even start to diagnose a car.  I have never seen such poor self monitoring systems as cars have these days.  The driver is not at all told what is really happening.  Even an ODBII reader is only $30 these days, so how come not a single car comes with anything like that built in?

GTOlover
User Rank
Platinum
Re: No mystery here
GTOlover   4/9/2013 9:03:02 AM
NO RATINGS
Good observation about the oil pressure, OBD diagnostic, and fuel pressure gauge. But I think the auto manufacturers purposefully limit the info to the owner so they have to go to the dealer. Even if you get the $30 scanner, most people do not even know what the codes mean. Even if you gave them a descriptive book, they would get a blank stare.

Also, I tend to agree that mechanics know which cars are 'trouble' and which ones are not. But most of the mechanics today tend to be code readers and then change out parts until the code clears. As an example, I had a 1993 Suburban that gave an intermittent code. I had the code read and the mechanic gave me a suggestion of parts to change out. When I asked him how can you narrow it down to the actual part? Nothing? As it turns out, I got my own cable, hooked up my laptop, and watched the ALDL data. Diagnosed the issue! Faulty ignition module. This has biased my view of mechnics.

As far as Consumer Report, even if the data is biased, you read it and use it or dispose of the information as you choose.

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Re: No mystery here
Rigby5   4/9/2013 12:07:32 PM
NO RATINGS
GTOlover, I agree many mechanics are over their heads these days.  But that is my point.  It should not be that way and does not have to be.  For example, anything computerized like an ignition module should have its own built in diagnostic.  The mechanic should not have to be able to diagnose digital circuitry.  The choice should only be between the flywheel timing sensor, ignition module, or coil.  And these components should be generic, so that there are appliances he can use to easily test each one.  But every maker changes their system every year, and with Japanese many times a year even, so disagnosis become trial and error.

Diagnosing modern cars is harder than ever.  I can remember spending a week trying to figure out a fuel injection problem once.  It turned out to be a bad diode in the alternator, that I never would have found if I had not put it on an oscilloscope.  The point being that no circuitry actually can work very well in an automotive environment, because it is way too hostile.  Voltage is full of spikes, temperatures range from 40 below to 140 above, vibration, static discharge, humidity and corrosion, etc.

Cars either have to be made simpler or easier to diagnose and repair.  Right now most cars are junk much too soon, and when most of the car is still fine, but just can't be figured out for a reasonable price.  And that is wrong.  Cars are being very badly designed these days. For example, anyone suggesting cpu climate control, should be shot.

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: No mystery here
Cabe Atwell   4/9/2013 5:52:27 PM
NO RATINGS
Chuck,

Going back to the 1980s, I will take a 1985 Ford LTD and pit it against my dream car, a 1985 Toyota Corolla. (Both of which I owned, for the record)

Currently, the Corolla is being sold back and forth between collectors. It is still all stock. It runs perfect, starts everytime. I even drove it across the country. For the years I owned it, I did zero maintenance. I may even see it again someday soon.

Although I loved the LTD too, it was a constant problem. It drained what little money I had at the time. It spent its lasts days in 1997 in a demolition derby. By now, it has rusted back into the Earth.

 

It came down to tolerances from engineering to manufacturing. If it was out of its tight spec, it was fixed. American cars at the time were manhandled together, designed with too much slop, comparatively. NPR had a documentary on the subject not too long ago.

C

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Re: No mystery here
Rigby5   4/9/2013 6:08:27 PM
NO RATINGS
Cabe Atwell, Sorry, but you are not going to get me to believe anyone collects Corollas.  I have owned a few and think they are pretty nice really.  But the only Japanese cars anyone collects are the Datsun Z series, Toyota LandCruisers, Mazda RX rotaries, and the Datsun B210.

I agree with your point in that the 1985 Ford LTD was too big, too heavy, and not well engineered or assembled.  But it was the high gas prices that put it into the ground, not reliability.  Again, being lucky with a car and doing 0 maintenance is not the point.  The point is that when you do need maintenance, and all cars will, it is hard to get the right parts for modern Japanese cars, that have gone to inventory on demand.

Bunter
User Rank
Platinum
Re: No mystery here
Bunter   4/10/2013 4:00:42 PM
NO RATINGS
I have been to enough car shows to relaize that there is nothing that somebody doesn't collect.

Enjoy.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: No mystery here
Charles Murray   4/9/2013 7:35:16 PM
NO RATINGS
The whys and wherefores of the Corolla's superiority will always be debated (I've heard at least a half dozen theories on this over the past 25 years), but I think the results are no longer debateable. Your zero-maintenance experience has been supported by many people anecdotally, and by hundreds of thousands of owners in the CR surveys over the past two decades.  

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Re: No mystery here
Rigby5   4/10/2013 4:28:22 PM
NO RATINGS
Charles, except the reliability of the Corolla disproves the reliability of other Japanese cars that unlike the Corolla, constantly change design, parts, etc., and have tons of fragile luxury options.  The Corolla is the most stripped down and unchanging of all the Japanese car, at least when it was good.  I don't have recent experience with the Corolla.  My point is that unlike the Corolla, most Japanese cars are now full of things like remote entry, nav system, push button start, voice system, complex climate control, traction control, etc., that are inappropriate for a vehicle, in terms of long term maintenance.

Thinking_J
User Rank
Platinum
Re: No mystery here
Thinking_J   5/21/2013 1:54:47 PM
NO RATINGS
I had a Toyota Corolla - 80s model...

It's alternator fell out on the road while driving.

Only time I experienced that problem... on any car.

Stats ... can be useful.
What do people remember?.....their personal experiences with a car/brand.

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: No mystery here
Cabe Atwell   5/30/2013 12:43:42 AM
NO RATINGS
Conservative to cool, Toyota is a shining example of automotive excellence. Manufacturing around the world tries to copy their success. I have even had to learn the "Toyota Method." Kaizen...

My 1985 Corolla ran like a champ... no maintenance. Proof.

C

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Asian cars not maintainable
Rigby5   4/5/2013 2:11:51 PM
NO RATINGS
The thesis is skewed.  While Asian cars have excellent quality control, their cars are not really reliable at all.   Because of their on demand view of supply, there can be over a half dozen different parts installed for any one component, over a period of time.  That makes parts distribution nearly impossible, and make long term maintenance terrible on Asian cars.  In contrast, it is much easier to get third party replacement parts for European cars.  Basing quality ratings on consumer polls from magazines is terribly biased.  The only real measure of reliability is resale value, and Europeans cars do much better than Asian.

MIROX
User Rank
Platinum
Reliability, Quality and Staying in Business
MIROX   4/5/2013 3:05:13 PM
If you make the car too reliable and durable or easy to fix and repair, you will go out of business or be taken over by other companies.

Example Citroen, Rolls-Royce, Lada, etc.

And no matter how "bad" any car or how "good" any car statistically 50% of people will buy the same brand again, and 50% will want something "different" next time they buy vehicle.

Current vehicle advertising and promotions center about "infotainment" capabilities rather than anything else, and as we know any software and electronic technology is obsolete before you wear out your first set of tires.

Many years ago Porsche and Rolls-Royce were the ONLY two companies that carried spare parts for cars no longer in production, and both have given up on it.

In case of Porsche, some owners kept their cars for over 25 years, once the old part business was cancelled over 60% of them bought NEW Porsche, if they could no longer fix or maintain the old one conveniently.

In case of Rolls the value of the used cars plummeted and new vehicle sales collapsed as well. They auctioned off the entire RR inventory that dated back to 1930's one the Germans took them over.

And while sales of new Citroens in Europe are so so, there are people in France, Germany and Austria that make living keeping the DS 19 and 21 from 1960's still on the road and people will pay for them nearly the same price as they would for a new 2013 car.

But when you are OEM and make cars in millions the ultimate objective is to make profit and stay in business, reliability and durability are only important for "perception" which in consumer minds never matches with the reality anyway.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Reliability, Quality and Staying in Business
Charles Murray   4/5/2013 4:13:30 PM
NO RATINGS
Yes, Mirox, planned obsolescence is still alive and well.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Conservatrive design, or is it lack of innovation?
William K.   4/5/2013 4:21:53 PM
NO RATINGS
The car rating magazines seem to have been in love with those Jap cars nearly forever, and that makes me suspect that they are just a bit subjective in their evaluations. Besides that, conservative design includes copying what others have already developed after it is possible to see just what variations were most widely accepted. And someplace in there is the consideration of cars being easy to work on and having aftermarket service parts available. And the Jap brands have been quite diligent about changing parts just a bit every year so that the aftermarket folks would have a hard time producing replacement parts. Not everybody notices that, but I certainly do. 

So you cn go around telling everyone that your favorite brand is so very much "better" than others and if you say it often enough and with enough authoratative tone, a lot of folks can wind up believing you. And if you copy the good ideas of others after they are fully developed you have not only avoided the risk of something new, but also avoided the costs of developing something new. This leads to greater profits with less effort, doesn't it?

gnash
User Rank
Iron
Japanese vs. US Automobile Reliability
gnash   4/8/2013 4:59:29 PM
NO RATINGS
I find these comments hard to believe!  Engineers know to differentiate between anecdotal ("Uncle Charlie says his Ford has been reliable") and statistical evidence.  But I find it even harder to believe that there was not a single mention of Taguchi Design Optimization Techniques in the responses.  I was so surprised that I went through the responses twice!  I suspect that a lot of thes responses are from people who may read EDN but are not engineers.

 

Taguchi Techniques are one of the main reasons for the superior reliability of Japanese and other Asian automobiles.  Toyota alone does about 400 Taguchi design optimizations each year.  The US military equipment manufacturers do a lot of Taguchi studies.  ITT puts on a big seminar every year on Taguchi Techniques and publishes a thick book of case studies (each year).


One of the classic Taguchi results comes from when Ford owned part of Mazda:  they were making the same automatic transmission (made to the same drawings) in both Japan and the US.  the Japanese-made transmissions were holding up better than those made in the US.  they found the reason to be that, in addition to the drawings, Mazda was employing Taguchi Optimization techniques and Ford was not.

This stuff is not being done in secret!  there are many books and training courses available on The Web.

 

Larry Nash

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Re: Japanese vs. US Automobile Reliability
Rigby5   4/8/2013 5:24:56 PM
NO RATINGS
Larry Nash, the Taguchi Design Optimizations are an application of statistical analysis to manufacturing methods.  But that is the problem and not the solution.  Statistically it makes perfect sense to keep inventory to a minimum and buy only what you need.  But the result is a product line with so many optional components that it can't be supplied and has to be discarded instead of maintained.  Another example is how it can save space, hoses, wires, etc., to compress things closer together, but then again maintenance become exponentially more difficult.  Japanese cars are very well built, bu they are not at all easy to maintain, and in fact border on disposable. 

The only redeeming fact is that all other car makers have also gone down that awful road as well, so it is unfair to totaly focus only on the Japanese as being guilty.

gnash
User Rank
Iron
Consumers' Reports on Asian vs. US Car Reliability
gnash   4/8/2013 5:09:40 PM
NO RATINGS
I have no association with "Consumers' Reports", but I find the criticisms of their reliability ratings (in the responses to this post) to be, (I'll use the word) suprising!  As contrasted to some of the auto enthusiast magazines, Consumers' Reports auto evaluation people are full-time on-staff real engineers.  And they accept no advertising.  A lot different than the evaluators at "Joe Sixpack's hot rod magazine"...

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Consumers' Reports on Asian vs. US Car Reliability
Charles Murray   4/8/2013 7:24:30 PM
NO RATINGS
Thank you for your comment, gnash. I couldn't agree more. I've visited Consumer Reports automotive facility on two occasions and tested cars on their courses. On one occasion, I spent a full day with their engineers on their race track, skid pads, rock hill off-roading course and vehicle handling circuit. They had eight engineers testing vehicles when I was there in 2007 and, as you point out, they take no advertising. Like you, I don't work for them and have no vested interest. But I'm impressed and more likely to trust their assessments than those of the enthusiast magazines.

http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=221584

Oscargrouch
User Rank
Iron
Interesting Stats,. but of little practical value
Oscargrouch   4/8/2013 9:11:58 PM
NO RATINGS
The following from a post on Bankrate.com:

This. According to Intellichoice's explanation of TCO, just about any car manufactured today is very reliable - maintenance costs make up only a small fraction of TCO, even for the least reliable brands:


"It is important to separate hype from reality when considering how a vehicle's expected repair incidence will influence your decision on which car to buy. At one time there were vast differences in relative reliability among vehicles. Today, most any new vehicle you purchase is likely to be highly reliable. Other than minor state fees, the expected cost of repairs in the first five years will be less than any other cost associated with your new car. That's right - and it's true even for the vehicles with the highest expected repair costs. The cost of depreciation, insurance, interest, fuel and maintenance will all be considerably higher than the cost of repairs. Therefore, you are likely to jump to the wrong economic conclusion if you purchase a car because you heard it is very reliable or avoid one because you heard it could turn out to be a lemon."


You can call me Uncle Charlie if you want, but not being made of money, I buy 10-15 year old Fords and run them until they rust out, which in the salt slathered roads of PA happens at an age of about 20 years (and 150-200 k mi). It is rare indeed when I see a Japanese car anywhere near as old as the "unreliable" Ford I'm driving. Rarer still the is the Japanese car owner who does his own maintenance. I wonder how many of those who tout Japanese automobile quality would like to work for these same companies? Their various philosophies and models are aimed wholly at maximizing profits, not employee satisfaction - "corporate greed" was not invented in the U.S.

If you're too proud to turn a wrench now and then, maybe an import is for you; based on my experience with replacement parts cost/availability I wouldn't want to work on one. Nevertheless, a fraction of what most people pay in depreciation over a few years buys me a used Ford, from which I extract just as many miles as they do in the same time frame.

Buy American! Keep the profits here, and possibly your job. Purchases based on meaningless statistics do untold harm to American interests. Surely those of you who work in manufacturing can appreciate that. 

Rigby5
User Rank
Gold
Not bad looking
Rigby5   4/22/2013 6:44:26 PM
NO RATINGS
I like the way the Corolla looks, and I used to buy a lot of Japanese cars in the 1960s and 1970s.  But that was because they were much less expensive then, and simpler.

The last Japanese car I bought was a Datsun 510, and it was nearly indestructable, with one of the best independent rear suspension, rear drive systems out there.

These days a Corolla costs more than a Jetta, so I stay with the German cars, that I know have better parts suppliers and don't rust as fast in the winter salt.  I tend to keep a car for 20 years, so I discover their weaknesses.

 



careyfelix
User Rank
Silver
Design and Engineering is better of Japanese Cars= more Reliable
careyfelix   9/26/2013 10:00:44 AM
NO RATINGS
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.

bobjengr
User Rank
Platinum
CONSERVATIVE DESIGN
bobjengr   9/28/2013 2:00:17 PM
NO RATINGS
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. 

Partner Zone
More Blogs from Captain Hybrid
A Silicon Valley company has made the biggest splash yet in the high-performance end of the electric car market, announcing an EV that zips from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and costs $529,000.
Working with engineers at Bosch Automotive, BMW AG is rolling out a fast-charge system that could replenish the battery of its i3 electric car in just 30 minutes.
If you’ve charted the course of the electric car market over many years, then you know that we’ve always been two years away from a metamorphosis … or five years … or more.
Tesla's "affordable electric car" now has a name and a price. The Model 3 will sell for $35,000.
From plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles to CNG trucks and hydrogen-powered cars, we offer a peek at the growing category of alternative fuel vehicles.
Design News Webinar Series
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/17/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
6/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
5/13/2014 10:00 a.m. California / 1:00 p.m. New York / 6:00 p.m. London
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Sep 8 - 12, Get Ready for the New Internet: IPv6
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: September 30 - October 2
Sponsored by Altera
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service