Car quality going down the tubes?

GC7

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I do not think this is universally true. The makes that are known for reliability have a strong incentive to remain reliable. Classic examples are Toyota and Honda which are legacy Japanese companies. They have a much higher emphasis on long term longevity as a company than the more western business models who focus purely on profit and growth.

Ford could be a good American example, maybe BMW for Europe. Don’t know what to say about the Italians though…

Are we conflating reliability with "over engineered"? I might mean one thing, you might think another.

Honda and Toyota reliability, I would argue, are a function of conservative design principles and strong supplier selection criteria. Not sure if these are considered to be "over engineered" though.

(for example the Toyota #GR-FE engines are horribly inefficient by modern MPG standards but are well known for reliability and simple design and the company's insistence to keep using that engine in 2022 is conservative as it gets)

The auto makers can still be largely in the boat of "make cars as disposable appliances" and give them reliable powertrains, because some people rack up 40k-80k miles per year as travelling salesmen and trade in after 3 years. The cars will still be running by the time they are traded in, but the dash and door plastics, seat cushions, electronic controls, and outer fascias could all be worn down to junk.

Using the example above, there are people who insist that the only way for companies to "redeem themselves" is to make every part of the car last as long as the powertrain could theoretically last. This is the over-engineering that I'm saying will never happen. Modern "price point design" means everything is a compromise in some way or another.
 

68mustang

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I have a 2015 mazda 3 with 245k on it. Original drivetrain including clutch. Engine runs like a top, no noise, and if the engine shat itself it's only $600 on ebay for a new one.

Mazda has never been known for great paint. It's thin imo. But the rest of the car, for the price, is great. If you're used to running stuff into the ground and not maintaining them, (and I mean maintain as in more than an oil change), then I can see why you have issues. I've owned multiple 200k plus machines and never had an engine go bad or transmission. If you want stone cold reliability, stick to manuals.
 

OK Corgi Rancher

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I have a 2017 Ford F250 6.7L. Aside from an EGR (and really s**tty dealer support) it's been perfect and the best truck I've ever had. My first new truck was an 84 Ranger so I've been buying Ford and GM trucks for almost 4 decades. To be fair, I don't put a lot of miles on my vehicles. I have less than 29k on the F250.

Our other car is a 2018 Cruze with the little Euro diesel. Not a whisper of a problem over 36k miles and it gets upwards of 50mpg on the highway. I don't have a lot of experience with small cars so not much to compare it to. I don't really even like cars unless they're really fast...but this one has been perfect so far.

I can't say the same for the cars I owned back in the 80s and 90s. In my experience modern cars are far more reliable. Not as classy...but that's probably just nostalgia talking. Nostalgia or not, few things in the car world are as exciting as 60s or 70s American muscle.
 

Catt57

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Let's see.....

Unibody - check
Aluminum truck beds - check
Optimized for "economy" - check
Engine shuts off due to a single bad sensor - check
More plastic than metal - check
More gadgets to distract the driver - check
Run by computers - check
To complicated for the average driver to work on - check

I'll stick to my old pickups for as long as I can thank you very much...
 

Dr. HK

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Late model F150 cabs are designed to be removed from frame. It’s a 45 minutes to do the job per my service tech.

Soy based wire insulation is being used on a lot of different brands. Had mice eat up my 15 Tundra a few years ago. Very expensive $$$
does insurance cover mishaps like this?
 

Ready_fire_aim

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I’m young (early 30s) and I agree that newer vehicles are crap. They cost a fortune and are way too complicated. I like these types of conversations, because I am passionate about old Toyotas! We currently own 4 vehicles, all are early 2000’s Toyotas. My daily driver is a 1st gen Tacoma 5spd manual. I’m diligent with maintenance, 500k shouldn’t be an issue.

I have family who make good money and they purchase newer cars. I’ve seen so much trouble they’ve had! My dad has a late model Chevy big diesel truck that he paid a literal fortune for and it’s been a lemon. Recently some computer part that controls the transmission messed up. Took months to find a new computer because there was only 3 in the nation and none of the dealers would sell them. Huge PITA… then literally like two weeks after he finally got his transmission fixed, the airbag light came on. Something went wrong electronically there. Took the shop forever to figure out the issue. I have a hard time wrapping my head around something that costs as much as a mortgage being a lemon.

I firsthand have seen a late model Nissan SUV transmission fail at 70k, new jeeps full of issues, brother-in-law newer Subaru being a lemon, new Kia trashed motor less than 30k, it goes on and on… numerous times I’ve loaned friends/family one of my old Toyotas to drive while they’re vehicle they paid 6x as much for is in the shop haha!
 

montesa

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I’m young (early 30s) and I agree that newer vehicles are crap. They cost a fortune and are way too complicated. I like these types of conversations, because I am passionate about old Toyotas! We currently own 4 vehicles, all are early 2000’s Toyotas. My daily driver is a 1st gen Tacoma 5spd manual. I’m diligent with maintenance, 500k shouldn’t be an issue.

I have family who make good money and they purchase newer cars. I’ve seen so much trouble they’ve had! My dad has a late model Chevy big diesel truck that he paid a literal fortune for and it’s been a lemon. Recently some computer part that controls the transmission messed up. Took months to find a new computer because there was only 3 in the nation and none of the dealers would sell them. Huge PITA… then literally like two weeks after he finally got his transmission fixed, the airbag light came on. Something went wrong electronically there. Took the shop forever to figure out the issue. I have a hard time wrapping my head around something that costs as much as a mortgage being a lemon.

I firsthand have seen a late model Nissan SUV transmission fail at 70k, new jeeps full of issues, brother-in-law newer Subaru being a lemon, new Kia trashed motor less than 30k, it goes on and on… numerous times I’ve loaned friends/family one of my old Toyotas to drive while they’re vehicle they paid 6x as much for is in the shop haha!
Totally agree. My 1st gen manual Tacoma hasn’t had a single problem. It’s also very simple. 80s technology. Minimal everything. I don’t see why they need so much complication on new vehicles.
 

emapples

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I've always bought used vehicles, never new. When I was younger (for reference, I'm 39 now), I'd get clunkers due to lack of funds, run them for a few years, then buy another clunker. My general impression was that American cars from the 1980s to mid 1990s were terrible, though they could be expected to pretty much keep running/driving at least. So I went with imports...Datsuns/Nissan, an Alfa Romeo, Honda, BMW, my wife had an Infiniti G20 for a bit. Then I started having a little more money, and of course with the passage of time, the "old" cars I was buying were newer models than before.

And I began to notice something. First, as I would research various cars to possibly buy, I kept running across discussions of how such and such car has a weak transmission, some truck has a common engine problem, this other car tends to blow head gaskets, etc. Then I started running into issues myself.

As of right now, my wife's 2010 Subaru Outback with 142k miles and a 6spd manual transmission, has no reverse.
My '09 Mazdaspeed 3 has a misfire, shop says it's low compression on cyl #1 and probably internal engine issues.
About two years ago, my '08 Mazda 3 started drinking oil and spun a bearing. I eventually learned this is a common issue for the 2.3L. I also learned the 2.3L is actually a Ford engine.

I also seem to hear a lot more about weird random issues just weeks or months after someone drives a new car off the lot. Sometimes it's some sensor or computer module, but other times it's mechanical (like a customer's Ford truck that shook at certain highway speeds and the dealership was stumped, or the Mazda RX-8 engine debacle a few years ago).

Then there are the recalls.

Right now my nicest car is my '78 Datsun 280Z. It's rock solid on the road, starts every time, runs like a top. And the most dependable cars I've had in the past were my '79 and '82 Z cars back in my 20s. My wife's 2001 Infiniti was a solid ride as well, despite having been rebuilt from a wreck. Even my old abused, poorly maintained '94 BMW 530 was stubbornly reliable. Our '99 Chevy van had that 80s-90s cheap American car vibe with the interior and some ancillary systems-related stuff, but I never worried about the driveline.

So what gives? Has quality really taken a hit? I'm now shopping for a used vehicle again and it feels like I have to really be a lot more careful what model I pick. Would love to have another 1st-gen Mazda 3, it was an outstanding car except for the engine issue. Kinda nervous about buying another. I'm almost to the point where I just want to buy a late 70s/early 80s Japanese car, or maybe a mid-80s Civic CRX (always though they were neat). I thought I might be getting spoiled with the creature-comforts of the newer cars, but then I bought the '78 Z and discovered it suits me just fine (but it's way too nice to make a daily/work car).

Matt
Well that 2010 Outback is worth the repairs, it it’s in good shave I’d buy it with no reverse and have it fixed (They are ALL CVT today) Quality has taken a few hits due to several issues. 1) being built in America and more importantly the downfall of our culture 2) engines have looser tolerances so that they have less friction and use less gas in theory). But I can tell you the cars built in Japan are built better than ones built here. (“There are only a few still built over there). 4 Runner is one, I think the Forrester is another, different culture different results. Some companies just suck building reliable cars. And Toyota has pretty much carried the Torch for everyone, before they came along and when I was a kid, when your car hit 100K it was worn out and needed to be replaced. That started to change in the late 80’s and 90’s with these over engineered 22RE yota’s. I have had mulitple Toyotas well into the 200K range 245, 239, 276, with just routine maintenance. We have our first new car that wasn't a Toyota 2 years ago it‘s a Subaru Outback XT I will let you know in 10 years if it measures up, it’s an oddly capable and effecient SUV but I would have loved to have been able to buy it with a 6 speed
 

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