Leon, I too work in the automotive industry. Our company operates Honda,
Acura, Chevrolet and Saturn dealerships.
Bad cars (and other products) are made by all companies. Hondas blew
headgaskets like crazy, Saturns were noisy and ate alternators and
batteries, Acura transmissions were junk and so on and so on. What matters
to me is how the manufacturer handled the problems. Honda/Acura stepped up
and fixed all of them - no questions. Saturn fixed their issues with a
little pushing, Chevrolet relies on the dealer to decide if they should help
and to what extent.
Bad companies are the ones that die. Good companies, step up and take care
of issues and subsequently improve their products. That is until they are
swallowed-up by larger companies.
Woodworkers are in somewhat a different class. They buy cheap crap all the
time and justify it by saying "It works OK for me" or "I don't use one
enough to warrant a quality one". I am a tool snob. Not because I love
spending tons of money, but because I want my tools to work right when I
need them. OTOH, I do own some Jet and some import Delta tools. However, I
do buy professional quality when it counts.
My (long and windy) point is, Wal-mart, Harbor Freight, Grizzly and the like
will continue to flourish because we do not want to pay for real quality and
are willing to settle for less. Quality companies like Lee Valley,
Lie-Nielsen, Leigh, Snap-On, Miller Electric, Wilton and others will also
have a market until they venture down the "cheaper is always better" road.
Are you listening Robin?
Note to Robin, I looked high and low to replace a special crowbar (that was
stolen) and now I see you have them. They are without a doubt, the best of
the best. They have no peer. You call it the renovator's bar. I searched
for the name on the bar, TOVE, and it did not show up on your site. You
should add TOVE somewhere on the page so more people might find them on your
Our sister conmanies sold Honda from the early years when you could also
sell motorcycles in the same dealership, Buick, Mazda. GMC, Isuzu and
Having been on the receiving end of customer complaints with 4 of thise
product lines, I got the least complaints percentage wise from the Japanese
I am not familiar with Honds's blowing head gaskets but I bet it was not
anymore often than the Oldsmobile Diesel engines and the Chevrolet Vega
What matters to me is how the manufacturer handled the problems.
True. I also had to deal with the Oldsmobile factory service reps. What an
arrogent bunch they were. Our dealership won service awards from Oldsmobile
and they would send us their problem customers after the other Olds dealers
failed to properly repair the cars. We would do the warranty work on those
cars and the rep would kick back the claims because we were replacing too
many parts when compared to the other 4 delaerships. Maybe we were
replacing too many parts but the cars were being properly repaired and the
customers stayed with us.
Acura transmissions were junk and so on and so on. Honda/Acura stepped up
and fixed all of them - no questions.
My wife and I had a 90 Integra automaticand put more miles on it than any
other vehicle. We replaced it simply because my wife wanted an new car 10
Saturn fixed their issues with a
I wish that somebody besides Nissan made a full size four door heavy-duty
pickup. I'm stuck with Dodge, Ford or Chevy, and the way I abuse trucks,
they don't last long. I'd buy the Nissan except that it's so gawdawful
butt-ugly it makes me ill, and would be embarrassing to drive.
My Nephew owns a landscape business and is very tough on his trucks. He
hauls yards of material and tractors on goose necks, not lawn equipment, and
now swears by GMC after going through 3 Dodges. IIRC the Toyota full size
is suppose to actually become full size very soon.
My Chevy 2500HD, 8.1L Shortbed won't hold a 4x8sheet with the tailgate
closed. It will pull a 33', 12,000 pound 5th wheel trailer with a 2,000
pound pin weight over a 10,000 ft mountain pass in 2nd or 3rd gear at 55
MPH. It also barely squats with topsoil heaped over the wheel wells.
It isn't a family car!
I was in the same situation about 8 months ago. I knew I would be needing a truck,
to haul stuff, general working etc.
Found a used (1986) F150 straight six with a good bed and liner - $700.00. Not the
best in looks, but I really don't
care what the snobs in the neighborhood think. I use mine all the time to haul stuff
to the dump, bring lumber home,
pull a trailer, etc. I tell the daughters that this is the best vehicle I own because
it runs, works hard and is paid for.
The same thing happened in the semiconductor equipment industry in the early
90s. The Japanese started to clobber us in their typical Japanese fashion,
American (and European) companies woke up, made major changes, and won back
So it can be done.
Whether it will be done with home equipment is another question. Singer used to
make the best sewing machines in the world, hands down. Then 'value
engineering' set in and they ended up pushing crap made in Brazil. My wife, the
expert, won't touch a new Singer, but she still dreams about finding one of the
classic ones at a price she can afford.
One thing that will help is if the discerning customers (like the members of
this newsgroup) make their opinions heard long and loud at the companies. It's
not a cure but it's better than just taking it until we move to stuff from
Interesting you should use that comparison. Volvos today are an
excellent example of cost engineering (they're also overpriced crap).
Volvo is living off the reputation they made 20+ years ago with the
240 series (and I wish I still had mine).
Agreed. But I was talking about what happened in the industry 20 - 30 years
ago. Our scorecard since that time frame is.
- '72 Vega GT - Spent 4 of its 18 months in the shop having engine parts and
rear ends replaced. Developed bad habit of loosing power or dying when you
pulled out from an intersection - bad with semi's approaching.
-'74 Cutlass Supreme - Started rusting three months after delivery. Two
trips to the dealers body shop then we all threw up our hands. When traded
three years later the trunk latch was held in place with bondo and rivets.
(we do NOT live in a high salt area). Also replaced two water pumps and
then rear wire harness so tail lights would go out.
- '74 Volvo 145 Wagon. Purchased with 40,000 miles and drove it to 170,000
miles. Replaced one fuel pump and odometer module. Experienced HEAVY
impact from rear that destroyed our camping trailer and pushed part of it
through rear window. Minimal body damage. Ranger that worked accident said
"thank your stars you were in a Volvo."
- '80 Volvo 245. Purchased with about 45,000 miles. Drove four years with
- '82 Volvo diesel - POS
- 86 Chevy Blazer - Bought new, drove 10 years/150,000 miles. Replaced
steering sector, two radiators, two water pumps. Overall pretty good since
it towed quite a bit.
- 87 Honda - Purchased at about 50,000 miles. Drove to 150,000 miles. One
fuel pump, one alternator
- 97 Chevy Pickup - Bought new, drove 80,000 miles. Two ring and pinion
sets, One complete rear axle, Removed environmental ducts to clean out
manufacturing debris that disabled the system. Replaced heater inlet
plumbing at head requiring removal of head on one side. One water pump.
- '02 Chevy 2500HD, 8.1L, Allison - 43,000 so far. Replaced drive shaft.
Replaced rear transmission seal. When oil consumption dropped to 850
miles/qt Chevy finally owned up to a service bulletin that replaced head
gaskets and bolts to fix (?) a known oil consumption problem. Experience
"piston slap" noise on startup (brother in law thought it was a diesel) that
GM refuses to recognize as a problem.
- '99 Toyota Camry, 95,000 miles so far, no repairs - just maintenance.
Sad to say, with the exception of the diesel volvo, off-shore products win.
I agree in the 70's and part of the 80's, but I've had more recent
experience otherwise. Aside from normal things like brakes, tires and oil
86 Mercedes 135K Water pump, cooling fan, cruise control module ($450),
alternator, fuel injectors, cruise control again, rear bumper fell off
(honest, it is glued on), wheel bearing, radio.Cooling fan sensor, and
probably more. IIRC, the air cleaner element was about $45.
91 Regal 135K Water pump. front struts (still use it, maybe 2 more years)
97 Le Sabre 90K NO repairs (traded for the 01)
01 Le Sabre 88K NO repairs (plan to keep it 6 or more years yet)
An example is the Jayco line of RVs. founding family brought in a new
management team about 8 years ago that lowered quality on which the company
was built and prided itself, pissed off the work force andembarassed the
dealers. The family resumed control and has spent 5 years or so trying to
regain the company's reputation.
I fear that won't happen with Delta, a publicly traded company. What may
very well happen is that the Chinese, who learn very fast and have modern
production facilities and a motivated work force, will produce tools for an
expanded marketplace. Chinese demand for cars is already partly responsible
for the increase in gas prices worldwide. According to Paul Leinert, a very
experienced auto writer in the latest Automobile magazine, "the market (in
China) is expected to double by 2012, then double again before 2020, to 16
million cars a year, about the current size of the U.S. market." After that,
China will be the largest market for cars in the world.
The implication is that growing affluence will satisfy a huge demand. That
affluence will come in part from China's plan to become the world's machine
shop. Watch for some very interesting competition.
Let's take an example near and dear to our hearts. The Stanley Works.
Plane quality became lower and lower as Stanley pushed into the mass
market. Many lines discontinued. Finally stopped domestic production
entirely with only a limited product line continued from England.
Still a market for quality planes, so some time later a small
start-up (L-N) began to fill the niche. Now there is competition
in the niche with LV also producing quality planes (and undercutting
the price of the L-N).
If Delta does go the way of Stanley, someone else will
step up to fill the niche (Powermatic, General, HotdogSuperSawsLtdIncLLP.).
And there are the international alternatives[*] (clifton, ece, et. al.)
[*] Yes, LV is also an 'international alternative'.
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