Inferior quality is one issue. Even worse is Chevy's apparant willingness to deny the problem and take care of their customers. This is one reason so many of their customers now buy Toyotas. I'm sure it's expensive to correct this problem. I'm inclined to think that they have gambled that it's cheaper to loose customers and or fight it in court when the time comes.
As it happens, I'm in the market for a new vehicle. I was considering a new small Chevy as a town car. This article has convinced me that this is a bad idea.
While almost every article that appears in this column relates to poor "engineering", I would suggest that MORE people who experience these situations take the time to contact the various gov't oversite agencies to formally complain. That is the ONLY way that manufacturers and/or distributors are going to get the message. This is especially true for the automotive industry. This article is a prime example for such an occurrence. The family involved should have NOT wasted their efforts to contact CHEVROLET, instead they should have contacted the NHTSA, highlighted all the facts, and then waited for a response. IF, in fact, an internet search showed several thousand entries from other owners experiencing the same malfunction, that would have been sufficient "ammunition" to generate interest at the agency. Contacting Consumer Protection Agencies in local state gov'ts may also offer some relief, since the dealership which sold the vehicle may have to answer to a gov't agent, a burden they'd rather avoid!
There is another possible reason the original brush springs were low tension. The following is speculation--I have no direct involvement with the electric power steering on this car. Steering systems are very sensitive to friction, even small amounts of friction can make steering unpleasant--for example, not return promptly to center when released. Adding a gear drive and motor to the steering column adds new sources of friction/stiction in the most sensitive place--close to the steering wheel. I'll speculate that an attempt (perhaps misguided, in terms of the service history) was made to reduce the motor brush friction to the bare minimum in an effort to control the overall system friction.
If friction was an original engineering concern, perhaps a brushless motor, and/or a direct drive motor (low RPM torque motor) would have been a better solution?
The idea of electric assist power steering is scary to me.Last week, the battery on my RAV4 lost one cell.My wife called and I gave her a jump.I then drove the car to work, planning on replacing the battery after work.What I found was, as long as the revs on the engine were up, all was fine.However, at one point, as I was exiting the freeway, the revs dropped and apparently the voltage to the power steering dropped. When the power steering kicked out, I almost ran off the exit ramp.Very dangerous. This will at some point cause a serious accident.
@Greg Stirling: Tempering the almighty drive to roll out low-cost products with CS engineering expertise is definitely becoming a difficult balancing act for many engineering organizations. Mr. Horton is lucky that his background and skill set let him attack the steering problems head-on--most average car buyers are not as fortunate. I say take to the Twittersphere and spread the tale of caution and the potential fix--I'd be hardpressed to think Chevy won't be listening!
We have ourselves to blame for this race to the bottom. The big-box business model is the lowest cost products, regardless of quality or service provided. The big-box business model is SUCCESSFUL; how many independent, local, small-town hardware stores are still around? The small town hardware stores arguably had better, personal service, might have had higher quality products, but the cost was higher as well.
Airlines have raced each other to the bottom as well. There's not a single airline that offers a hot meal as part of the ticket anymore. Most don't even offer hot meals! Quality of service was sacrificed at the altar of low cost.
Many people will claim they will pay higher prices for better quality, but the market proves this is not the case.
Problems like this seem to permeate the manufacturing industry. A company saving a few cents or dollars on a substandard cost reduced component which affects the function of the whole system - in this case a car. I am sure whoever buys this car would be happy to spend another $2.00 to have one that is reliable.
There is a commodity in design engineering I call CS. Collectivly, some companies have it and some don't. Some engineers have it but management won't listen. Some companies have it, but have to hire outside contractors to provide CS.
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This is part one of an article discussing the University of Washington’s nationally ranked FSAE electric car (eCar) and combustible car (cCar). Stay tuned for part two, tomorrow, which will discuss the four unique PCBs used in both the eCar and cCars.
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