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Old 07-21-2008, 09:12 AM   #81
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What's most amazing to me is that the success of Japanese automakers is based upon the teachings of Americans like Drucker and Deming... and maybe even Sloan. Aided by the American revolutions in computers and industrial manufacturing techniques.

So it's not as if American automakers were totally blindsided. They just had all the pieces in their hands and kept fumbling them.
I worked at Big Auto for 26 years. The quality issue was never a technical one. We had Deming personally come in to speak and had massive training based on his principles. The problem was continuity. A few months later, we'd have a massive reorganization and the big push was cost reductions and everyone would be turned loose to take money out of their parts and processes.

An anecdotal example. I worked on the development side as opposed to the design side of the business, which meant that we made sure the design met it's functional requirements through testing and CAE. For the exhaust system on a minivan, during a 3 year period, I interfaced with 11 different, consecutive exhaust design engineers. During this time period the exhaust design supervisor changed 4 times and the exhaust design manager changed twice. How can you design a quality component with such a revolving door approach?

To guide us, we had all competitive vehicles torn down and the parts were displayed on peg boards. So one could go to a single big room and see how every competitor designed a given part. The Japanese parts were consistent - for any given part, the design and approach was essentially the same across their range of vehicle platforms. Ours in contrast, looked like they had all been designed by a different person with a different approach. My guess is that at companies like Toyota an engineer can spend an entire career designing a door handle, but after 20 years, they learn all the tricks and know how to do it right in the initial design. We were all on the fast track to be the next CEO - a mile wide but an inch deep.

In fairness, this has changed in the past couple of years, and the numbers show it. Long term quality for US makers still lags competitors, but initial quality is much, much better than it was. It grinds me to hear people suggest that US engineers are dumb - far from it, but just like in any organization, you do what you are told and hope that your management knows something that you don't.
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Old 07-21-2008, 09:22 AM   #82
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I worked at Big Auto for 26 years. The quality issue was never a technical one. We had Deming personally come in to speak and had massive training based on his on principles. The problem was continuity. A few months later, we'd have a massive reorganization and the big push was cost reductions and everyone would be turned loose to take money out of their parts and processes.
That had to cause multiple problems............

Quote:
An anecdotal example. I worked on the development side as opposed to the design side of the business, which meant that we made sure the design met it's functional requirements through testing and CAE. For the exhaust system on a minivan, during a 3 year period, I interfaced with 11 different, consecutive exhaust design engineers. During this time period the exhaust design supervisor changed 4 times and the exhaust design manager changed twice. How can you design a quality component with such a revolving door approach?
Too many bean-counters and managers pushing their "pet projects"

Quote:
To guide us, we had all competitive vehicles torn down and the parts were displayed on peg boards. So one could go to a single big room and see how every competitor designed a given part. The Japanese parts were consistent - for any given part, the design and approach was essentially the same across their range of vehicle platforms. Ours in contrast, looked like they had all been designed by a different person with a different approach. My guess is that at companies like Toyota an engineer can spend an entire career designing a door handle, but after 20 years, they learn all the tricks and know how to do it right in the initial design. We were all on the fast track to be the next CEO - a mile wide but an inch deep.

In fairness, this has changed in the past couple of years, and the numbers show it. Long term quality for US makers still lags competitors, but initial quality is much, much better than it was. It grinds me to hear people suggest that US engineers are dumb - far from it, but just like in any organization, you do what you are told and hope that your management knows something that you don't.
Thanks for you unique perspective. I think it says that a fair number of folks as GM Ford and Chrysler WANTED to make better vehicles, but their hands were tied in actually EXECUTING that mission. Plus, I know GM had numerous platforms for their cars, while imports have been sharing platforms across their lines for years, that has to save BILLIONS of dollars.

I think a leaner GM will be a force to be reckoned with. In 2010, GM is supposed to bring to market a small car called a Cruxe or something. 1.4 liter turbocharged 4cylinder, and gets up to 45 mpg. Supposedly, it can be sold for the same price as a Cobalt, and be about $3,000 less than a Corolla or Civic. Cars like that WILL HELP GM..........
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Old 07-21-2008, 09:43 AM   #83
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Consumer Reports is THE PLACE to learn about which digital camera or LCD TV to buy..........cars? Not so much...........
I'd agree that it's probably not a great source for new cars, but their reliability report has pretty well jived with my experiences and those of people I've talked to. In that regard, it helps to spot who's been consistant in the quality department and who's getting better / worse. Of course, we could all just be using the magazine to confirm our bias so, as always, YMMV!
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:09 AM   #84
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Since CR has NO advertising in their magazine and REFUSE to take any money from companies and also REFUSE to evaluate a product they do not buy in the open market.... and will take companies to court IF they try and use the CR ratings in their advertisements.... well, yea... it is an advertising tool....

AAA also takes no direct advertising, but that doesn't mean they don't make money from the companies they "recommend". Just like a certain finance newspaper columnist is objective about Vanguard. Not everything is obvious.
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:21 AM   #85
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Having recently spent $1500 to replace 3 component of an AC on Accura, 5 months after the warranty expired, I am not going to bash American cars. Mostly cause I have not owned one since 1982.
Climb the ladder. I've seen people get repairs done free for lesser complaints. I know of someone who got a new car because she had poor visibility because of where the rear view mirrors were located.
Contact the local Acura headquarters. It would help quite a bit if you'd ever complained about a problem before the car got out of warranty. (I strongly suggest anyone go over their car thoroughly right before the warranty expires. Even if they find no problem, it's in the system that you noted it while under warranty). Anyway, talk to the local Acura rep. If you get no satisfaction, start asking for their supervisor's name. You get up high enough and you'll get some attention. I once got a new transmission after it went out a couple thousand miles out of warranty.
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:25 AM   #86
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In fairness, this has changed in the past couple of years, and the numbers show it. Long term quality for US makers still lags competitors, but initial quality is much, much better than it was. It grinds me to hear people suggest that US engineers are dumb - far from it, but just like in any organization, you do what you are told and hope that your management knows something that you don't.

This was my point from the beginning.
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:44 AM   #87
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Climb the ladder. I've seen people get repairs done free for lesser complaints. I know of someone who got a new car because she had poor visibility because of where the rear view mirrors were located.
Contact the local Acura headquarters. It would help quite a bit if you'd ever complained about a problem before the car got out of warranty. (I strongly suggest anyone go over their car thoroughly right before the warranty expires. Even if they find no problem, it's in the system that you noted it while under warranty). Anyway, talk to the local Acura rep. If you get no satisfaction, start asking for their supervisor's name. You get up high enough and you'll get some attention. I once got a new transmission after it went out a couple thousand miles out of warranty.
I am about to do the SAME THING I always do when I buy a car under warranty. In my case, the Odyssey has 31,500 miles on it. I call up and make a service appointment. I tell the advisor I want the "certified used car" inspection they do, and pay the labor rate. usually they bill me an hour and a half to two hours. I ask for a WRITTEN alalysis of ALL the major systems of the car, and a percentage of use fofr wear items. I also ask them to check for any TSBs, recalls, etc, and fix those.

Sometimes I get a blank stare, and then I ask for the service manager. I think it is worth the expense to get such an analysis. I make sure I get someone to sign the inspection ( mechanic or service manager) that they confirm the findings........
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Old 07-21-2008, 11:03 AM   #88
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I am about to do the SAME THING I always do when I buy a car under warranty. In my case, the Odyssey has 31,500 miles on it. I call up and make a service appointment. I tell the advisor I want the "certified used car" inspection they do, and pay the labor rate. usually they bill me an hour and a half to two hours. I ask for a WRITTEN alalysis of ALL the major systems of the car, and a percentage of use fofr wear items. I also ask them to check for any TSBs, recalls, etc, and fix those.

Sometimes I get a blank stare, and then I ask for the service manager. I think it is worth the expense to get such an analysis. I make sure I get someone to sign the inspection ( mechanic or service manager) that they confirm the findings........
That's not a bad idea, but if you're cheap, just tell them you're hearing an odd noise under the hood. That would be free.
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Old 07-21-2008, 11:16 AM   #89
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I am about to do the SAME THING I always do when I buy a car under warranty. In my case, the Odyssey has 31,500 miles on it. I call up and make a service appointment. I tell the advisor I want the "certified used car" inspection they do, and pay the labor rate. usually they bill me an hour and a half to two hours. I ask for a WRITTEN alalysis of ALL the major systems of the car, and a percentage of use fofr wear items. I also ask them to check for any TSBs, recalls, etc, and fix those.

Sometimes I get a blank stare, and then I ask for the service manager. I think it is worth the expense to get such an analysis. I make sure I get someone to sign the inspection ( mechanic or service manager) that they confirm the findings........
My Jeep Grand Cherokee is at 97k now, and it's warranty expires at 100k. The window motor broke last week so I used that opportunity to ask the guy to look for anything else that might be wrong. I didn't have the car for two days but they replaced several components that were about to go that would have set me back 3k. I really hope this Jeep lasts me to 200k, we'll see.
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Old 07-21-2008, 11:44 AM   #90
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That's not a bad idea, but if you're cheap, just tell them you're hearing an odd noise under the hood. That would be free.
Yeah, they fix the odd noise, and NOTHING else...........been there...........

last time I did it, it cost $199 with tax. To me, that's worth it.........
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Old 07-21-2008, 01:14 PM   #91
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I generally come up with enough vague stuff to get them to do a full checkout. "Uhh, it seems to be shifting funny sometimes, the motor seems to lose a little power once in a while, I heard a funny clunking noise from the back when I go over a bump, and something is clicking a lot near the front tires or under the hood or something..."
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