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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.