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Buying American Cars What Does It Mean?

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  • I have to say in my mind it comes down to long term reliability. Every American car I have had, and that has been a lot, has been in the shop many times and ended up being loose and rattled down the road. On the other hand the Japanese cars I have had never broke and did not become rattle traps. As far as looks and design I have to say that American companies seem to use cheap plastics and do not update designs often. I honestly would like to buy American cars. I just can't until they have proven that they will last without driving like a grain truck and sounding like one too.
  • When I last shopped for a TV there were many choices. But I wanted a good TV this time...so I looked at the "obvious" no-brainer brands: Sony, Panasonic, Mitsubishi.

    The cheap stuff stood out: RCA, GE, Zenith... not just price, but lack of quality in picture, material, remote control design, etc. I could take my chances with another Zenith, but I wanted something that's going to last and now burn out.

    Hmm, substitute manufacturer names and some adjectives and maybe I could be talking about cars.
  • IF AMERICAN ,BUY AMERICAN!
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    so, like, what does that mean?

    :-)

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • After much research, I bought an American car over a japanese car two months ago. Just to spell out what I did, I bought a chevy cobalt over a toyota corolla. For the same price (invoice less incentives) this is what I would ended up with had I bought a corolla for the same price I did the cobalt:

    Smaller and less powerful engine
    No sport suspension
    No traction control
    No disc brakes
    No fog lights
    15 inch wheels with hubcaps only vs. 17 inch polished aluminum wheels
    No ABS
    No side curtain airbags
    No chrome exhaust
    No auto headlights
    Smaller trunk
    No cargo net
    No 7 speaker system with amplifier
    No steering wheel radio controls
    No xm radio
    No leather wrapped steering wheel
    No lumbar support for seat
    No carpets
    No mp3 player

    You can say that japanese cars are better and a better value. If you closely compare, you'll learn otherwise.
  • Thanks for the informative post.

    We have owned Chevy, Nissan, and Hyundai, and now a Scion tC.

    All but the 2 newest cars have had issues, from trannies failing after 100,000K, to not running at all(Nissan, of all companies) at 67K, to rust consuming the thing(77 camaro) prematurely.

    I tell 'em all, none of em are perfect.

    I read someting interesting about the Caliber: Sharing a Msitu Lancer plaform, a Nissan CVT, and a GEMA(Hyundai block.... Hyundai/Mitsu/Chrysler) built engine, in Michigan.
    So, the Dodge Caliber, if ordered with a CVT, will be part Nissan, Part Mitsu and part Hyudnai and part Chrysler( the swirl valve flow control in the engine, for Dodge only, is Chrysler design, added to the Hyundai block, basically).

    All but maybe the CVT is gonnna be built in USA.
    Car made in Illinois(Belevedere plant?) the GEMA engine in Dundee MI, etc...

    Should be an intersting vehicle?
  • like HHR and Cobalt? No Shoulder room, rear seat room, or head room(when equipped with the sunroof/height adjuster driver's seat).

    Even Accent and Rio= no shoulder or rear leg room( they do have enough headroom with sunroof,etc, but only a little. In HHR, I could not crank up the seat all the way,like I like the seating position to be in).
    Same for Cobalt... head was against the liner. The old Cavaliers Seemed to have more headroom and shoulder room.

    The PT has room a plenty, but with 10,000 models in a town of 15,000 people.... kind of ubiquitous.

    If I am gonna drive somethng with short headroom, no real rear seat, may as well buy a USA made Mitsu Eclipse (built in Normal , IL, UAW contracted).

    At least I can get a 263HP V6 in it ;)

    I will say I sat in a Corolla CE(?) Saturday, and it had headroom, etc...but I would not pay that much for one.

    Of course, when we got our car, I got a fairly loaded V6, with everything but leather, and abs(04 Sonata) for under 15K.
    G6 sedan (base) was on sale for less than 16K recently, adn i think a loaded up like Sonata version was 18K, which is still decent, considering that lot of compacts cost that much!
    If that G6 coupe were not nealry 26-28K loaded(with the 240HP), and say 22-23K like the Eclipse(it does have more room , the G6, )and the 263HP....I'd consider.

    I think on red tag, the G6 coupe(the smaller engine, 200HP?) was 20,000+ a few hundred.... if they gave me enough cash on my trade in..... that would have been interesting, indeed.
    as the Eclipse I-4 is about same price "on sale"(bargaining).
    That was a V6, G6 coupe.

    It all depends , to us, what the price is when we go to buy, plus financing, and who gives ya the most for your cash, and trade in.

    I know it is a little less expensive to replace USA brand parts, etc, or I have been told.

    Who knows? I may build my own vehicle from the junkyard.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    You didn't get a car built in my hometown? I'm insulted =p.

    Anyway, I have quite a few friends who've bought Corollas and they're happy; the ergonomics worked out better for them. I'm not really in love with the car, and car magazines aren't either (the current Corolla hasn't done well in comparos). I have seen Corolla S's go for good prices though, better than you'd see on a Civic or any other car that isn't massively on sale.

    I think it is generally accepted that American cars (and Korean cars) are the best values these days, if you're not going to trade them in. And the best cars in the segment are the Mazda3 and new Civic, at a slight premium.

    A few months after you buy a car, the price difference won't matter as much as how happy you are with it. Enjoy it, I wish I had a new car too =].
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America: I70 & I75Posts: 18,459
    >Consumer Reports, which has thousands of owners report on problems and defects with their cars

    The way CR collects that dependable data is in question. How many reports did they have from a random survey on the Park Avenue for 2005? How many did they have for a Lexus? How many did they have for a Ridgeline.

    IIRC the Ridgeline was given a pass from them in their writing just because, well because it's a Honda and shared a little in parts from another Honda. The LaCrosse which is a variation on the W-body didn't get a rating, they didn't know. But the LaCrosse had more shared parts than the Ridgeline did.

    When CR tells me how many each of its ratings are based on and tells the demographics of those who reported, I'll give them more credibility. Others are welcome to assume they know what they know; I like to have random surveys. JD Powers does a random survey.

    CR collects convenience survey results. Their subscribers (not readers, just subscribers) get surveys. What's the distribution of types in their subscriber pool? Who out of those subscribers takes time to fill in the results? Those who love a car. Those who hate a car? Those who don't own one? They collect information, but is it totally valid and is it interpreted 'evenly' by the writers.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,197
    ...I was at a Borders Books and saw a copy of CR's car guide. They actually had the Buick LaCrosse as "Recommended" with a Better the Average predicted reliability rating. I'm suprised they thought my girlfriend made a good choice.
  • dglozmandglozman Posts: 177
    We already agree that it almost impossible to identify what is the American car and what is not, since they either build in US and their components are coming from different countries and company headquater is located in Germany or Japan..or the other way around or any of the combination. It looks like for defenders "to buy American" it means buy that is build by union labor, even if its build in Canada. Or for others that have no idea regarding todays global economy, "buy American" means Ford, Chevy, Dodge, ets....
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,106
    I'm not sure, but I think they've been recommending the Impala, Century, and Regal, as well as the LeSabre for years now. And even the much-dreaded Cavalier, which they DON'T recommend, has been able to garner an "average" rating for years now.

    And with as close together as some of CR's brackets are, there's really not much difference between an "average" car and a "much better than average" car, at least with regards to reliability. Sure, the Cav might suck in other ways compared to a Corolla or Civic, such as fuel economy, ergonomics, resale, steering feel, workmanship, and so on, but the average owner these days shouldn't have much more trouble than those vaunted Japanese makes. They'd just have to put up with all its other shortcomings! :P

    FWIW, here's what it takes for a car to earn a certain rating in a given category with CR's rating system...

    Much better than Average: 0-2.999~% of reported vehicles have a problem in that area (transmission, paint, cooling, etc)
    Better than average: 3-4.999~%
    Average: 5-8.9999~%
    Worse than average: 9-14.999~%
    Much worse than average: 15% or more.

    So theoretically, a much-better than average car could come in at 2.9% having problems, while an average car could come in at 5.0%.

    Now, if you look at it one way, that means the average car would be 72% more likely to have a problem, if you're a pessimist and your glass is always half-empty. However, if your glass is always half-full, it means that you have a 95% chance of having a troublefree car with the average one, versus a 97.1% chance with the much-better than average. That's pretty insignificant.

    Now, of course, this is only one example. Car A could come in at 0% having problems (very unlikely) while Car B could come in at 8.9% having problems. That's a wider spread, but still nothing to really be scared about, as you'd still have a 91.1% chance of NOT having a problem.

    However, until Consumer Reports starts actually publishing their PERCENTAGES, instead of their silly little black and red circles, then just like how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, the world will never know....
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    When CR tells me how many each of its ratings are based on and tells the demographics of those who reported, I'll give them more credibility.

    And why would the demographics of the buyer of a Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic radically differ from that of a Chevy Cavalier/ Cobalt or Ford Focus?

    Others are welcome to assume they know what they know; I like to have random surveys. JD Powers does a random survey.

    I agree that random surveys are better. But JD Powers long-term owner surveys draw largely similar conclusions that Consumer Reports does, so where is the qualitative difference?

    In any case, you seem to be confusing initial quality numbers (that JD Powers gathers and CR does not) with the longer-term reliability data that CR compiles.

    It is simply ridiculous to pretend that the typical American bread-and-butter car has been just as reliable and durable as has been its typical Japanese counterpart.

    If Detroit channeled its zealousness into obtaining consistently superior overall product quality across its lines, rather than attacking magazines and offering weak defenses, then the cars might actually get better and improve. If you think that patriotism is a good substitute for market share, then you're no friend to the companies or their shareholders.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,599
    I'm sorry, but it's disingenuous to claim that the superior reliability of Toyota and Honda as compared to US cars is merely "folklore", it's a fact that has been confirmed time and time again through owner surveys conducted by reliable organizations.

    Whoa! Whoa! Slow down there, killer.

    Folklore, in this case, just means "tales passed down orally." Entire society's beliefs have been trasmitted for generations in this fashion. I was not, by any means, using that term in a derogatory way. And I never said there is no truth to these tales. Basically, when someone says to you "well, my mother's friend had a GM that dropped the tranny 2 seconds after driving it off the lot," that is a story being relayed orally and potentially passed on and on from person to person ... hence becoming part of folklore. There is nothing wrong with that, and it doesn't necessarily make it less true (although it can get stretched a bit ... eventually that story is of the car bursting into flames with a whole family locked inside, etc).

    But, putting that aside, I do want to address this notion about owner surveys. Honestly, do people put much stock in them? Do they really influence the majority of the buying public, or are people more apt to get advice from friends, family, and coworkers? I think the latter. And this brings me back to my point of tales being passed orally. I strongly believe these personal stories and anecdotal (there's that word again) evidence play a much bigger role in the majority of car purchases than do these reports and magazines.

    '13 Stang GT; '15 Fit; '98 Volvo S70; '14 Town&Country

  • Chevy Cobalt LTZ is the car that comes with these options.

    Invoice for the car= $17,603 (includes dest. charge)
    XM Radios is an option= $ 286 (invoice)
    Documentation fees= $ 100
    ------------------------------------------------
    Total $17,989
    Taxes (5% where i live $ 894.45
    -----------------------------------------
    Total $18,883.45

    It comes with a lot of stuff standard, that's great.

    Here is what Edmunds says:

    "The Cobalt is a big improvement over its Cavalier predecessor, but it's still well behind the class leaders in handling dynamics, interior design, seat comfort and materials quality."

    If you look at the true cost to own the Cobalt vs. Corolla

    5 year cost of ownership"

    Cobalt $34,327
    Corolla (s) $30,097
    ----------------------
    $ 4,230 more with Cobalt which includes purchase price.

    I have closely compared the value of both and have learned what I already knew. The Corolla is a much better built car and it's less expensive to own.
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    Folklore, in this case, just means "tales passed down orally." Entire society's beliefs have been trasmitted for generations in this fashion. I was not, by any means, using that term in a derogatory way.

    Your comment is well taken. My point here is that it is ridiculous to claim that Toyota reliability is simply an old wives tale supported by a grand media conspiracy, as have some on this thread.

    Irrespective of whether it is part of the common knowledge or "folklore", the data still points to the lower defects and durability of the average Toyota or Honda. Detroit would be better off it would simply build a better car, rather than counting on a few fans to defend sub-par build quality and design.

    Do they really influence the majority of the buying public, or are people more apt to get advice from friends, family, and coworkers? I think the latter.

    That's likely true, given the extent to which emotion and spontaneity play a role in car buying and leasing. While there is clearly a pool of consumers who research their purchases (hence, websites like this), many obviously don't bother.

    And there are some such as myself who prioritize aspects of car ownership aside from reliability figures. Some may prioritize initial cost (take the Cobalt buyer above), others may favor driving intangibles (for example, I bought my A4 because of its fit-and-finish, style and driving performance, knowing that the car was a bit more of a reliability crap shoot than a comparable Acura or Infiniti), and others still may have other preferences. That being said, most buyers aren't going to be charmed for long by a car that is neither reliable nor particularly enjoyable to drive, and Detroit shouldn't need a focus group to know that consistent quality should be a priority.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,599
    My point here is that it is ridiculous to claim that Toyota reliability is simply an old wives tale supported by a grand media conspiracy, as have some on this thread.

    Absolutely. They earned that reputation, without a doubt.

    Detroit would be better off it would simply build a better car, rather than counting on a few fans to defend sub-par build quality and design.

    Again, true. And what I was referring to originally. They need to consistently build good cars for years to come and, if their recent crop has been good, time will tell and, soon enough, they will earn the reputation that Honda/Toyota have over the years.

    and, really, you never know what will happen. Everything goes in waves. People used to rave over Benz and VW quality, but that has changed drastically over the past decade or so. Now they are rapidly becoming cars to avoid. Just goes to show that manufacturers can't be content to rest on their laurels.

    '13 Stang GT; '15 Fit; '98 Volvo S70; '14 Town&Country

  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,182
    Well put. Awesome post. :shades:
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    and patriot, at this price point, I think we HAVE TO point out that most of freedomguy's list is wrong.

    Specifically, he said the Corolla would lack these features:

    Smaller and less powerful engine
    No sport suspension
    No traction control
    No disc brakes
    No fog lights
    15 inch wheels with hubcaps only vs. 17 inch polished aluminum wheels
    No ABS
    No side curtain airbags
    No chrome exhaust
    No auto headlights
    Smaller trunk
    No cargo net
    No 7 speaker system with amplifier
    No steering wheel radio controls
    No xm radio
    No leather wrapped steering wheel
    No lumbar support for seat
    No carpets
    No mp3 player

    Yet, for almost $19K, he could easily purchase a Corolla XRS, which would have the 164 hp engine, along with lowered sport suspension, 4-wheel disc brakes with antilock, fog lights, 16" alloy wheels, side curtain airbags, chrome exhaust tip, auto headlights, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, not to mention about a 400-pound weight advantage and a better warranty, in addition to the TCO advantage you mention.

    So most of that list freedomguy posted is just plain wrong, and some of those features are standard on ALL Corollas, not just the XRS.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    If GM winds up declaring bankruptcy, screwing all their suppliers and probably a goodly portion of their workforce too, while consuming millions of dollars' worth of the court's time (paid for by the taxpayer), will that Malibu REALLY have been better for America than the Accord?

    JUST an if, NOT saying this is necessarily going to happen. But the possibility can NOT be ruled out by a reasonable person.

    In the meantime, GM losing money on every Malibu it sells (as a fleetwide average) can't be that "good for America" either.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • Exactly....also, the $19K price is if you get the Cobalt at invoice price. Perhaps you can. The other thing I didn't mention is that the repair and maintenance prices included in the 5 year TCO model I took from Edmunds has the Cobalt and Corolla at almost the exact same price. Does anyone really believe the 5 year costs of maintaining the Cobalt will be equal to or less than the Corolla? C'mon! To pay almost $20K for what is supposed to be an inexpensive entry level Chevy is insane. People will not pay as much for a used Chevy Cobalt as they will for a used Corolla. Especially after the recalls start coming out for the Cobalt.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,106
    have got to be taken with a grain of salt. For instance, I remember looking up the TCO on the Dodge Intrepid, and for a car like my '00 base model, I think they came up with something like $44,000 over the course of 5 years! :surprise:

    Well, I kept fairly accurate records of all expenses associated with my Intrepid, and it came out to around $35,214 for 5 years. And this was with depreciating the car just about completely (I factored in $19,000 in depreciation), AND taking the car out to 99,200 miles! IIRC, Edmund's TCO figures 15,000 miles per year, or 75,000 miles total.

    So I seriously couldn't see a Corolla or Cobalt coming out to something like $30-34,000 over the course of 5 years! Although, with the way fuel prices are, I probably couldn't quite duplicate the TCO of my Intrepid again!
  • agalasagalas Posts: 38
    I realize that anecdotes are nothing more than a survey of 1, and so statistically insignificant, but I would like to mention my story anyway.

    My family, wife and I, owns 2 cars.

    A 1996 Pontiac Transport, purchased because we got a fantastic deal, ($16,000 for a 1 year old model the dealer was desperate to dump), and a 1994 Toyota Corolla.

    The Transport has 95,000 miles on it, is 10 years old and has broken down and had to be taken into the shop 9 times.
    Just this month it broke down three times within 1 week. I was nearly brought to tears.

    The Corolla is 12 years old and has 140,000 miles on it. It has broken down and had to be taken in 3 times.

    What's more, the Corolla feels rock solid, with not a rattle, shake or squeak to be heard. The transport is constanly making terrifying noises that remind us that it is on its death bed.

    Our local machanic says the Pontiac will last 1-2 years, tops, and will literally fall apart.

    The Corolla he predicts will last another 5 years minimum and up to 7, a total of over 250,000 miles.

    Also to be noted is my Father's car, he ditched his 1991 Ford Taurus 3 years ago after 147,000 miles and an amazing 17 repair trips. He has bought a Hyndai Santa Fe and is so far trouble free after 38,000 miles.

    My mother drives a 1997 Civic which has been in to the shop only once despite having 126,000 miles on it.

    When I was in college, my first car was a Plymoth Horizon, and it lasted 87,000 miles and literally died when its engine caught on fire on day. It broke down about every 6 months and felt like a rolling death trap.

    Overall, I can honestly say, from personall experience that American Cars suck and suck bad. The quality is nowhere near that of Asian makes and GM has only its management to blame.

    For decades they dominated the Automotive scene in America and made billions in profit. What did they do with it? Invest in the most efficent technology, the best technology, to give consumers quality cars that they could own for well over a decade, trouble free? No, they squandered their wealth designing crap and giving the management massive salaries, and even laying off workers in 1993 when they were making record profits.

    I feel sorry for American car employees, getting laid off because of the idiocy and short sightedness of management. Maybe they can get a job at one of the foreign car plants that are constantly being opened, at least then they could get some job security. After all, Toyota is only a few years away from swamping GM in terms of market share, domestically as well as abroad. If you are going to build cars for a living, you may as well work for the winning team.
  • veligerveliger Posts: 30
    In the meantime, GM losing money on every Malibu it sells (as a fleet wide average) can't be that "good for America" either.

    But it is much better for America for GM to be losing money on every American made Malibu than for Honda to be making money on every American Assembled Accord. Since something like 80% of the content of the Malibu is from the US, and something like 30% of the Accords content is from here, the Malibu, even with GM losing money on every one makes a much larger contribution to the US economy than the Accord. In addition, all of the profit from the Accord, and from most of it's parts, goes straight back to Japan.
  • veligerveliger Posts: 30
    Our local mechanic says the Pontiac will last 1-2 years, tops, and will literally fall apart.

    The Corolla he predicts will last another 5 years minimum and up to 7, a total of over 250,000 miles.


    Maybe your mechanic can tell me if Denver will cover the spread against New England this weekend??

    After all, Toyota is only a few years away from swamping GM in terms of market share, domestically as well as abroad. If you are going to build cars for a living, you may as well work for the winning team.

    In North America, Toyota is far, far behind GM in market share. Globally they will pass GM in 2006 or 2007. I have no idea how people have gotten the impression that Toyota was close to overtaking GM in NA market share. They better catch Ford first before they think about overtaking GM.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,599
    Since something like 80% of the content of the Malibu is from the US, and something like 30% of the Accords content is from here

    please post your source(s) for this.

    '13 Stang GT; '15 Fit; '98 Volvo S70; '14 Town&Country

  • veligerveliger Posts: 30
    Since something like 80% of the content of the Malibu is from the US, and something like 30% of the Accords content is from here

    please post your source(s) for this.

    I've read this several places. Most recently, Bill Ford gave a speech about a month ago, with the actual domestic content listed. Hyundai was by far the worst, with a single digit domestic content (I didn't even know that was possible). I'm not going to spend a lot of time looking, but I'll post links if I find them.

    I found the Bill Ford speech Link.

    http://media.ford.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=22062
  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    Hyundai does it because they get a lot of material and supplies from the other parts of the Hyundai conglomerate. They good an especially good deal on Hyundai steel, and things like that. It's how they've been able to sell more for less and still make a profit.
  • jimexjimex Posts: 46
    This is taken directly off my window sticker of my 2005 Accord 4 DR EX.

    US/Canadian Parts Content: 70%
    Major Sources of Foreign Parts Content: Japan 15%
    Assembly Point: Marysville, OH
    Engine: USA
    Transmission: Japan

    Hope this helps.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,599
    well, sources would be great, if you can manage, because one person's word on a message board is hardly compelling evidence.

    I'm also curious as to how far back we want to trace parts. I mean, for instance, the Honda V6 is manufactured here in the states, but are you maybe referring to the parts of the engine and where those come from? Or are we taking that even further and discussing where the ore comes from to forge the internal parts?

    And, while we're at it, we should probably drill down to the real core of it and discuss the percentage of total cost that goes to actual workers in a country. For instance, out of that Honda engine mentioned above, of its final assembled cost, what percentage was added by being assembled here in the US and what percentage was added by any potentially foreign-sourced parts, and, consequently, what percentage of those parts was added by foreign workers.

    I mean, honestly, if we're going to discuss something so ambiguous as "what is best for the american economy," then we will need some REAL specific details. If we're going to discuss this properly, then I need to know, if I buy an Accord or Malibu, exactly how much of my money goes back into the american economy.

    '13 Stang GT; '15 Fit; '98 Volvo S70; '14 Town&Country

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