Good point, Rob. I'm sure you're right that GM thought it would be hidden from the owner because so few people fix their own cars anymore. Either way, though, it seems like a loser for GM. Either the handyman customer is appalled, or the non-handy customer is presented with an out-sized bill. What could they have been thinking?
Yes it is ridiculous. I suppose GM thought this would be hidden from the owner, since most cars these days get fixed in the shop and not at home. So the owner experiences it as a higher than expected repair bill. We may have an unusual audience here at Design News, a group more prone to six their own cars.
Jack up the car? Remove the wheel? Remove the wheel-well liner? That's incredible. The irony is that the Malibu was supposed to be one of the vehicles that would help restore GM's reputation for quality.
As an aside to gafisher , my friend's 1986 Camaro had an impossible to get to #8 sparkplug. He overcame that with a hole saw on the driver's side wheel well (easier than dropping the engine). So this is nothing new for GM.
As far as the headlight replacement, $150 doesn't sound so bad. Toyota charged me $300+ on my wife's Avalon and all they had to do was pull the battery. Oh yeah, the HID headlight itself was an additional $175! I'm just glad they didn't have to replace the ballast, it was over $1,100. For that I'd have to bend over and take it like a man.
I think this is more a case of uncoordinated design rather than an intent to gouge users for maintainence dollars. I have never participated in the design of an automobile, but I sure have run into cases where someone down the line has altered a design to make his/her job easier without regard for the function of the completed design. As work continued the next guy suited his step to allow for the altered design and when work was complete and everybody was patting themselves on the back, the altered design was buried.
I work in the tool & die industry and it is amazing how a errant step or poorly thought move by a machinist on one component can adversely affect the integrity of the completed die. It may never be caught until failure or in the course of routine maintainence, then BANG, "Who is the idiot that designed this?"
I am sure that exact scenario did not come into play here, but I feel confident that someone was only concerned with his/her part of the project and if a project coordinator existed, the alteration was not caught and made its way into production.
I agree that it may not be done that way. But I think manufacturers do need to think that way. They need to take a couple seconds and think about replacing some of those common components that are going to be replaced. Even if the specification isn't the do it yourself consumer, they should at least be thinking about service cost.
I am pretty sure magazines report on the cost of repairs during the first years in service and I would hope this car scored low.
Now we know why GM needed to be bailed out. Incidentally, check out spark plug replacement on some of the newer model cars -- in more than a few cases the engine has to be partially removed. Can you say "designed for obsolescence?"
My initial reaction on reading this post was 'No way - the guy is making it up'.
So I tromped off and checked out the stories on the internet. Holy Smokes! What an orgy just to replace a headlight bulb!
In defense of the engineering staff, I suspect that all of this is NOT an example of incompetence but rather a result of a lot of nasty tradeoffs including very aggressive scheduling.
Still I would not like to try replacing that bulb. In fact, I wouldn't - the old flexibility is no longer there (bifocal glasses don't help the situation either). Nope, I would have to head out down to my mechanic and have him change ALL the bulbs in one go.
At this year's MD&M West show, lots of material suppliers are talking about new formulations for wearables and things that stick to the skin, whether it's adhesives, wound dressings, skin patches and other drug delivery devices, or medical electronics.
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