Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Viability of US car manufacturers.

  1. Jul 26, 2012 #1

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    My neighbor has a Chevy truck that is about 3-4 years old, (6-cylinder Silverado) with multiple oil leaks. He bought an extended warranty, so the replacement of head gaskets, seals, etc will be covered, but he is bummed anyway. When I stop by in my Honda Ridgeline, he is even more bummed. He says stuff like "Why can't the US manufacturers do this?" It is so discouraging to see that American manufacturers are willing to throw this away. For example, the Chevy Avalanche looks cosmetically similar to the Ridgeline, with similar load-capacity and towing capacity, but with its solid rear axle, it rides like a truck, bouncing you over every bump.

    Want a car-like ride with 3/4 ton capacity and 5000# towing capacity? Get a Honda. As my neighbor said about US car companies "Are we trying to FAIL?" PLUS, The Avalanche costs more than $10,000 than the Ridgeline. Pretty sick.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2012 #2

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    American cars have always been sub-standard to imports, that's why it was so easy for imports to take over the market. Although the quality has declined since many of the companies started making them in the US.

    I must say I did have a problem with my BMW, it had a defective engine wire, brand new car. But the few American cars I've owned all had serious problems from the day I drove them off the dealer's lot, from defective fuel pumps to defective transmissions.
     
  4. Jul 26, 2012 #3
    I've driven nothing but Honda and can't see myself buying American anytime soon
     
  5. Jul 26, 2012 #4

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Nor can I. I would love to be able to buy "made in America", but I'm not willing to pay the premium in cost and tolerate the lack of quality. See edit at post #1. The Avalance costs more than $10,000 than the Ridgeline with none of the innovations. It's a Chevy pickup with no improvements. GM can be better than this.
     
  6. Jul 26, 2012 #5

    OmCheeto

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Perhaps you should tell your friend not to buy cars from companies going through bankruptcy.
    I bought a new Ford Ranger in 2009. I have had zero problems. I love my truck. :!!)

    And what's this about "costs more than $10,000 than"?
    That's what I paid for my truck!
    Ha Ha!

    And as far as "innovations" and "improvements".....
    My Chrysler Ebola cured me of wanting all 500 options. They all break eventually.
    Freakin' rolling smartphone... I threw it away. (Had a Mitsubishi drive-train btw.)
     
  7. Jul 26, 2012 #6
    I haven't bought an American car since the Carter administration. It wasn't very good.
     
  8. Jul 26, 2012 #7

    OmCheeto

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    OMG! That was when I bought my first American car also. It was a Vega. It consumed more oil than gasoline.

    What was it they advertised? Silicone impregnated aluminum cylinders will have lower friction?

    Thank god Florida was about as progressive back then as China is now. "Smoke? No problem! OmCheeto needs to get to the beach, at any cost".
     
  9. Jul 26, 2012 #8
    Sorry to hear that OmCheeto, my car ran fine.
     
  10. Jul 26, 2012 #9

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Well, Jimmy, I agree the Carter administration wasn't very good, but what does that have to do with cars? :smile:
     
  11. Jul 27, 2012 #10

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I think you mean designed in America. Our Toyota's WERE made in America. And a lot of parts on "American cars" are produced in Canada and Mexico.
     
  12. Jul 27, 2012 #11

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Sorry. Over-generalization on my part. My wife has taken over our 2009 Subaru Forester. That was made 100% in Japan and shipped here. I paid less than $20,000 for it with an automatic transmission, full-time AWD, traction control, skid-supression, etc. That thing is loaded. My Honda Ridgeline has all that and more, for $10,000 less than that clunky Avalanche, and it rides like a car. My neighbor has concluded that it is profitable to shoot for the bottom in quality and make up for up-front expenses with repair-bills down the line. I'm not sure that this is true, but it doesn't seem like a good business model.

    Many years back, Honda bought Ford's shuttered Marysville, OH plant, retooled it and started cranking out Accords. At the time, Accords had the highest percentage of US-produced parts of any foreign or domestically-produced car, and they were designed for the US market. Detroit's big guns missed the mark once again. Do they want to fail?
     
  13. Jul 27, 2012 #12

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Accords kick a$$ and they are specifically designed and produced for the US market. Do we not have any smart people at the top of the auto-manufacturer niche?

    The US car-makers used to be good at some stuff, and then race off at some marketability crap. For instance, the Buick 232 was a crazy-good pushrod motor, and then GM went nuts chasing displacement and HP. My father bought a used car with a supercharged 232, and I had to convince him to sell that off and buy a Forester instead. That 232 could burn tires off with no encouragement. Now he has a safe car.
     
  14. Jul 27, 2012 #13

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Around here Ford trucks seem to be the favorite. But I think that is a status symbol for the rural folks as much as a practical need. Whether it makes sense or not...? I know they pay a small fortune for those trucks.

    A few years ago I saw where Ford was doing research to produce the most impressive sound with their truck engines. While I can appreciate the value of something like this at the point of sale, I have to wonder if this isn't a case of marketing taken to the point of absurdity. With that sort of thinking, is it any wonder their trucks cost so much? If you want to exclude everyone except the top-end buyers I guess it might make sense. But it suggests to me that they aren't serious about being price competitive.

    I sold my old '68 Chevy PU two years ago. It was still operational.
     
  15. Jul 27, 2012 #14
    The first car I had was a used Oldsmobile 88. I bought it cash for 3k and it had under 100k miles on it. I had it for about 5 years and the only thing that really went wrong with it was the tensioner broke and the belt came off.
    It got hot, but it didn't overheat.
     
  16. Jul 27, 2012 #15

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    How many miles did you put on it? If it broke down while sitting in your garage, I'm not impressed. :biggrin:

    Between my wife and I, I estimate that we have driven over a million miles in Toyotas. All considered we couldn't be happier with the cars that we've had. There are always little things that you like a little different but nothing major. We drove our first one over 300K miles, sold it running, and never had to do anything beyond normal maintenance except for replacing one front engine seal, a heater fan, and an AC line. It's been pretty much the same story with all of our cars.
     
  17. Jul 27, 2012 #16

    collinsmark

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    My Chevrolet Volt is awesome. I have nothing but good things to say about that car.
     
  18. Jul 27, 2012 #17
    I bought a used Olds Delta 88 for $400 during the 70's oil crises. Bad gas mileage, but other than that it was a great car. Never had any problems with it. However, unlike most of todays cars you did have to go easy on the gas pedal when accelerating from a full stop. With a rocket 455 engine it would easily smoke the tires. Detroit put out some decent quality cars in the 60's, but then by the mid 70's it was all junk.
     
  19. Jul 27, 2012 #18

    dlgoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    In 2000 I bought a '93 Buick v-6 with 44 Kmiles for $5500. After 12 years, this US car has ~250 Kmiles and still gets 30 mpg on the highway. Just sayin'
     
  20. Jul 28, 2012 #19
    haha, I just noticed that this sentence is unclear and possibly controdictory. It should read: Detroit put out some decent quality cars in the 60's, but then by the 70's they were putting out mostly junk.

    The edit posts time limit is too short. We at least need time to recover from our hangovers. :)
     
  21. Jul 28, 2012 #20
    Good point. Over 50,000 miles. I drive over 10,000 miles a year. Work and school are both far away.
     
  22. Jul 29, 2012 #21

    chemisttree

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Can a Ridgeline even go offroad? I wonder what the mileage (not great on highway) is when it's towing. Probably in the single digits. Too many better alternatives if towing is your requirement IMO. Complaining about a truck riding like a truck isn't doing it for me! Want a truck that rides like a car to go to the grocery store? Not me.

    The Ridgeline is a 1/2 ton truck. It has a 3/4 ton payload capacity (1537 lbs) but the 2011 Chevy Silverado half ton 1500 truck has a larger payload capacity (1950 lbs!), beats the towing capacity of the Ridgeline by twice and sells for about the same $$$. No wonder the Silverado outsells the Ridgeline 33,566 to 1,187. Even the lowly Avalanche outsells the Ridgeline... and it is going to be discontinued in 2013 it is such a poor performer!

    Chevy knows how to sell trucks. Honda, not so much.
     
  23. Jul 29, 2012 #22

    OmCheeto

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    :rofl:

    I used that line when I took my Ranger out for its test drive; "This thing rides like a truck!"
    The salesman apologized.
    How I wanted to respond; "It's a joke you idiot! Trucks are supposed to ride like trucks"!
    How I actually responded; "I'm kidding. Get the paperwork started."


    But I find it interesting that Turbo's friend is having so much trouble with his truck. Perhaps he's overloading the 6-banger.

    Reliability ratings for comparable trucks are all pretty high for 2009:

    On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most reliable

    Chevy Silverado 9/10
    Original MSRP: $19,375 - $41,355
    MPG: 15 City / 20 Hwy


    Ford Ranger 9/10

    Original MSRP: $16,395 - $25,805
    MPG: 21 City / 26 Hwy

    Honda Ridgeline 8/10
    Original MSRP: $28,200 - $36,530
    MPG: 15 City / 20 Hwy​

    On a semi-related side note, the Ranger was the first new vehicle I've ever purchased, and I'd always heard; "Don't buy a new car. They lose half their value once you drive them off the lot."
    Mine had a manufacturer/dealer markdown* of $7000, so I only paid $10,000.

    According to Kelley Blue Book, it is currently valued at ~$13,000.

    Myth busted.

    *As some of you may recall, 2009 was the year both GM and Chrysler went bankrupt. Everyone was trying to give away cars.
     
  24. Jul 29, 2012 #23

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    The Ridgeline is quite capable off-road, and with full-time AWD and traction-control it beats any 4x4 that I have owned. Plus, with 4-wheel independent suspension, it has a great ride even on crappy terrain.

    At 35K, my neighbor's Silverado is bumming him out. Multiple oil leaks... the hardest use I have ever seen him put it to is bringing loads of oat-straw home to mulch his garden with. His wife uses that truck to drive back and forth to a school for children with developmental disabilities. Her teaching job doesn't tax that truck much.
     
  25. Jul 29, 2012 #24

    dlgoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That's outstanding.
     
  26. Jul 29, 2012 #25

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Chevy can build trucks - just not great ones, IMO. Honda's production facilities are limited (all in the US) and they had to roll back production due to the crappy economy.

    Watch out, because Honda will start stealing Detroit's lunch just like Toyota is doing. When people figure out how capable and well-equipped the Ridgelines are, their sales will go up as fast as Honda can make them, especially in northern markets where snow and ice is a problem all winter long. Full-time AWD is a lot safer and more stable than standard 4x4s will ever be.

    I fell out of love with 4x4 pickups after a few episodes of watching my tailgate catching up to me on winter roads. My wife has the Forester (mid-size SUV with lots of room for groceries, etc, and seating for the grand-nieces and the neighbor's kids) and I have the Ridgeline. Both full-time AWD with traction control and skid-control.

    I talked my father into buying a Forester even before buying mine. He takes his off-road (well, they are roads, if you can count muddy rutted slop in the woods as roads) and he likes to tell me about when some of his buddies with 4x4 pickups had to back up and take a run for some steep sloppy grades when his Forester just eases on through. When my wife first drove his Forester, the first words out of her mouth when she got home were "Buy a Forester and get rid of that pickup!"
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook