From the Editor: Move Over Apple Pie

April 1, 2007
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I never thought it would happen. I own a foreign-made car, or at least I will after all of the payments are made.

In the past two years, my husband and I had to bid adieu to two beloved and well-worn cars from General Motors. Perhaps they could have soldiered on, but rather than take on a series of repair bills, we opted for a series of car payments. There’s something to be said for that new-car smell rather than the lingering greasy smell from an automotive technician pulling the car in and out of the bay.

When it came time to shop for the first new vehicle two years ago, we thought that we would end up with another GM product. We were, after all, brought up in a generation where Chevys were as American as apple pie and baseball. When we had last purchased new vehicles, foreign automakers were just starting to ramp up quality. How times have changed.

After our initial research this time around, we realized that we couldn’t ignore the foreign car segment with its 10-year/100,000 mile warranties. At the time, most standard warranties were 3 years/30,000 miles. Much to my chagrin, we test drove just about every make available so we could make an educated purchase. Personally, I think this was my husband’s way of trying to wear me down so I would give in to a sporty two-seater.

We settled on an SUV from General Motors for its legroom and ability to accommodate a growing family. We have been relatively happy with our purchase. In the first three months, a battery cell had to be replaced and work needed to be done on the driver-side window. Yes, minor repairs, but an inconvenience when you’re trying to get somewhere or it’s spring in the Midwest and always raining.

When it came time to buy the second vehicle five months ago, we really did try to stay with American-made cars, but for the particular GM model we were looking at, the personal reviews were less than stellar. My brother drives this model for his job and said the cars are always in the shop. Our auto technician confirmed that by saying the car was all but guaranteed to have the head gasket blow in the first 40,000 miles. On the other hand, he said the foreign model we were considering would likely only need a new set of tires in its first 100,000 miles.

We went with the foreign car and have not had a single quality issue to report.

Have you switched automaker alliances over the years because of quality issues? Share your story with me at campbellg@bnpmedia.com.

On another note, join Quality Magazine at the Manufacturing & Measurement Conference and Workshop-the premiere conference on measuring in the manufacturing environment-in Clearwater, FL, April 23 to 26. For more information or to register, visit www.qualitymag.com/mmcw.

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