Quality Mailbag

June 1, 2007
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Letters from Quality magazine readers.

Tired of Maintenance

I am compelled to write to you. I, too, share your story (“Move Over Apple Pie,” Quality Magazine, April 2007, p. 6). I worked at Delphi and was able to obtain the employee discount when I instead opted for a Honda Civic. I was so tired of paying basically a car payment’s worth of maintenance on my 5-year-old Saturn that I decided to make the break with Delphi/GM. The following year, I changed jobs. I have now had my Civic for three years and have never had a problem. I am a firm believer in the “foreign” car companies. However, I want to remind you that my “foreign” car was built in Marysville, OH, with many local supplier components. Those “American-made” cars are often assembled in Mexico with Mexican parts. I think Americans are waking up to the fact that quality is what matters over false pride in their “American” cars.



Emily O’Hara

Quality Assurance Manager

Microcom Corp.

No Problems

I don’t understand why everyone is having such trouble with their domestically made cars (“Move Over Apple Pie,” Quality Magazine, April 2007, p. 6). I have had nothing but American-made cars my whole life, and except for a junker I bought in high school, I have had no major issues with quality. Currently I own two Fords-a 2000 Focus and a 1997 Ranger. Both these vehicles have mileage in the mid 100,000s and both are excellent performers. In fact, every car I’ve owned has been traded near 200,000 miles. Of the two vehicles, the Focus has the only maintenance record that includes something other than regular maintenance, and this was only a thermostat that became stuck. It took me about 25 minutes to replace this. I have a coworker who has a Toyota Camry with far fewer miles than mine and has had to replace an alternator.

My point is that people often hear what they want to hear and follow the trends, and owning a foreign car is a popular thing at this time. They are bombarded with bad press about American car companies with no rebuttal from the manufacturers- communication is their big weakness. At the same time imports are constantly praised for their quality and reliability while no one reminds folks that many American-made cars on the road today are well over 200,000 miles. I would wager that in a side-by-side comparison of like vehicles over time, the American brands would stand up to anybody.

It is important for the country as a whole that domestic car manufacturers find some way to turn popular opinion back to their side. Without this industry we would lose a huge economic base affecting hundreds of thousands of people. There is a propaganda war and we are losing.

 

William V. Goodman

Quality Engineer

Western Plastics

Portland, TN

Switched Back

Regarding the piece on your recent purchase of a “foreign” brand vehicle. (“Move Over Apple Pie,” Quality Magazine, April 2007, p. 6)-I was the opposite of you having bought foreign brands for more that 25 years until I switched back to American in 2003.

I drove various Mercedes-Benz and Toyotas over that 25-year period and finally had to give up on them. The repairs and downtime were extraordinary. Three years ago, I purchased a new Ford F-150 Super Crew Pickup truck. I just went past 50,000 miles on it, and aside from an oil change every 3,500 miles, the only expense I’ve incurred on my truck is a new set of tires that I put on it last month. 

In 2005 my wife and I purchased a Chrysler Town & Country van (the Limited model). To date, and over 30,000 miles later, we have not put one penny into the car, other than regular oil service. This is a far cry from our MBZ and Toyota days. I believe the quality of today’s American cars are as good as any foreign brand out there. We love our American cars and definitely feel that we got our money’s worth in both vehicles.



Tony Mortellaro

HR Director

Camarillo, CA

Buy American

Shame on you for buying anything foreign when an American-made, American-owned product is available (“Move Over Apple Pie,” Quality Magazine, April 2007, p. 6). More than 75% of Americans are worried about the national debt, yet we continue to buy foreign products. You tout quality as the issue, but you are forgetting a key element of quality-value. A large portion of the taxes Americans and American-based companies pay goes toward interest on the national debt. That leaves less for education, social and health programs, etc. Every time you add to that problem your children and grandchildren become poorer.

Many people complain about the quality of American cars, yet GM has the highest quality average over their entire range of cars, even over Toyota.  

And then there is the argument that the car you bought was made in the United States even though it is a transplant, foreign vehicle. Two problems with that argument-the taxes on the profit went to Japan, and there isn’t a single machine tool inside any transplant facility that was made in the United States, only the workers in the plant are American.  

My Oldsmobile Intrigue is 10-years-old, with more than 175,000 miles on it and runs better than ever, with little repair expense.



Ken Haney QA/Purchasing Manager Impco Machine Tools

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