Monday, March 01, 2010

Brand loyalty.

CNNMoney.com has a piece up wondering how Toyota's latest PR woes will affect the rest of Japan's automakers. Me, I've never really understood how non auto enthusiasts figure out their strange perceptions of which automakers are "reliable" and which aren't.

Then again, "reliable" is another one of those vague words, like "peppy", that get used a lot and leave me puzzled. Do they mean "reliable" as in "will start and run forever with minimal maintenance" or do they mean "reliable" as in "I followed the manufacturer's service schedule religiously and the cruise still works after three years"?

There's different kinds of reliable. When I was dirt poor and needed a "bridge" car to last me until I could get something better, I bought an '84 Pontiac Trans Am. I did not buy it necessarily because it was a Trans Am, but because it was the newest car I found on short notice with a carburetted Chevy small-block V-8 and a GM Turbo Hydramatic transmission; a combination that will run like crap longer than most cars will run at all*, can be repaired by anybody, and every junkyard in America is full to the brim with spare parts. Plus, you know... hey, Trans Am? Anyway, it was reliable in the 'start up and run' sense, but it was also a mid-'80s GM car, which meant that somewhere around 75k or so miles, bits begin to fall off and subsystems start checking out, but you don't really need cruise control, AM/FM cassette, the dome light, or various small interior trim bits to get to and from work.

Same thing with applying "reliability" as a constant across an entire brand. BMW's E36 platform is the automotive equivalent of the cockroach; they're still everywhere on the roads and the newest one you see is twelve years old; they'll often go a quarter million miles without using anything but gas, tires, and oil. Conversely, a 750iL won't make it across a parking lot without breaking down. Most any little Japanese sedan from the '70s was reliable as all getout; they'd run 'til the body rusted off... if it had a manual transmission. Meanwhile, Japanese slushboxes of the time were purely awful; fragile, fussy little things.

So how will this latest Toyota thing affect the perceptions of the general consumer? I haven't a clue; you'll have to go ask a general consumer.



_____________________________
* To be technical, the "LG9 5.0L V8 engine/ THM 700R4 4-speed automatic transmission". To be untechnical: "The engine and/or transmission used in, not only the '84 Trans Am, but also in pretty much half every taxicab, pickup, Corvette, station wagon, police car, Camaro, and SUV sold by GM for over a decade." In other words, dirt is slightly less common.

49 comments:

Don Meaker said...

From a dry professional standpoint we have Mission Reliability, the expectation that the primary job of the platform will be successful, and Logistics Reliability, the expectation that the platform will not require repair.

Paul said...

spot on. Those mid range camaros and firebirds where bullet proof. Another is the blazer. Got one with 213k on it and it is not unique. GM may not be flahsy and all the bits might not work, but they have always started and run for me.

Not sure I would like to drive around in the equivalent of a cock roach though.

YMMV

Jeff the Baptist said...

I did something similar with a Ford Escort. I bought it with 40k on it and traded it in at 110k or so. It started to fall apart at 100k. After I lost the speedometer, some brakelights, and a transmission line, I realized it was time for it to go.

I traded it in for a Mazda Protege (Escorts were largely Proteges built in the US). It's still running fine at 150k miles, but I've chosen to fix a few things that have broken.

Standard Mischief said...

"reliability" = not having a stealth self-destruct device (a/k/a timing belt on an "interference" style engine)

As you say, it's also good when supply and demand work well in your favor. There's plenty of my make in the junkyards, which is good when you've got irresistible Animal Magnetism

standardmischief.com/blog/2007/10/06/animal-magnetism/

Noah D said...

"will start and run forever with minimal maintenance"

That's pretty much been my experience with Toyotas. Nearly every single mechanical issue has been my fault.

Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

It was the POS cars from the Big 3 in the `70s and early `80s that turned off a couple of generations of consumers on Detroit-made wheels.

Toyota also had the frame-rust issue with its trucks over a decade or more, that the press seems to have forgotten about. They have some serious QC problems that, if they don't fix without a lot of legalistic mumbo-jumbo (as in the "exploding Pintos"), will tarnish them for a very long time.

jimbob86 said...

Toyota's "reliability" mystique did stem from the 70's and 80's, when their cars were simple: I was the third owner of a mid 80's Corolla that still ran (after 360K) when I got rid of it (exhaust sustem entirely rusted away). It's probably bouncing around Mexico somewheres as I write this. At a time when American cars were expected to go tango uniform after 100K, everyone that I knew with an older 'Yoda was pleased as punch with it, and was of the opinion that it would run until it rusted away.

Anonymous said...

I'm a general consumer, and I think it's worth noting that the witch hunt against Toyota got started after the gubmint got involved in the auto business. Big media wants me to hate Toyota and buy Government Motors (or at least not shun them), but I see no reason to listen to the fearmongering.

Besides which, I've got a Camry sitting in my driveway that's got upwards of 300,000 miles on it without a rebuild. I suppose it'll die one of these days, but it's reliable by my definition.

... and the cruise control still works.

OA said...

"Do they mean "reliable" as in "will start and run forever with minimal maintenance"..."

Given that the first recall was because many people apparently are so helpless they can't adjust their own floor mat, I'd say that's the one.

"My floor mat's shifted! What do I do?" Bah...

Anonymous said...

"Then again, 'reliable' is another one of those vague words . . ."

What THEY mean is if Shootin' Buddy sits behind the wheel do the wheels not fall off and the car not catch fire while the keys are 10 yards away from the vehicle.

Guns, cars, computers, anything with moving parts (or non-moving parts) should only be considered "reliable" if they survive Shootin' Buddy.

Shootin' Buddy

Stranger said...

Replace the timing chain in almost any 'Merkin cah with a roller chain and it will probably run 300K w/o major repairs. Bore it ten over, drop a reground crank in and go another 100K. Or do it right and get another 300K. A Dodge van I overhauled is right at 800 K on one rebuild. Others I have done are still running, but without the road time.

Radios and electrical junk are pretty much Lucas grade the world over. Check the #1 problem, the "bulkhead connector," and if that's not the problem you can probably find a fix at Pep Boys.

If it is, drill a hole in the bulkhead, and install a permanent bypass around the pin that's bad. Twenty minutes on a bad night miles from Valentine, Nebraska.

Asiaimports? Not so well. I spent several hours Saturday troubleshooting a Nissan. GRR!

Stranger

theirritablearchitect said...

I did a big yawn about the whole mess.

I'd still buy a Toyota after this latest recall, and I'm of the opinion that it's largely a mountain being made of a molehill by the effin' MSM.

Tam said...

I had friends with E30 and E70 Corollas. Those stone-axe RWD Toyos were bulletproof.

Diesel Benzes of certain vintages are frequent endurance champs.

So are plenty of assorted Volvo models.

The last iteration of the straight-six Z-car was nigh unbreakable... until it rusted away.

Porsche's front-engine four-bangers (with the in-house 2.5, as opposed to the earlier VW/Audi motor) have impressive reputations for longevity.

But again, it can very much be a model-by-model thing...

theirritablearchitect said...

"... Another is the blazer. Got one with 213k on it and it is not unique..."

Not sure of what you are speaking here. One of my colleagues has one of those gawd-awful S-10 size jobs (an '01, I think) and has been through three transmissions in the last two years. That's just the worst part of it too. Many other things seem to go wrong with it on a regular basis.

GM lost their way in the 70's and, in my opinion, have never fully rectified some rather substantial deficiencies with their reliability. Having worked at a Olds/Chevy dealership when I was in college, I can say with some authority that there were some models that were extremely prone to needing service, often in regards to, say, needing a new transaxle at 60K. Not repair, but a replacement. Even if it was covered by warranty, who needs that kind of hassle? There is just no excuse for that kind of piss-poor performance in this day and age.

I have only my own experiences by which to judge these sorts of things, but it's enough for me to swear off any GM product for as far as I can see.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

The Japanese haven't personally apologized to me for killing my grandpa back in '44. I don't care how good any of their stuff is, I won't buy it if I don't have to. I'd rather have my K-Car back than a new Lexus.

Ed Foster said...

98k on a Saturn Vue when it was wrecked, and I would have been dead if I'd been driving a Volvo or Mercedes. Full ladder frame, steel body, roll cage welded to said steel body, and the very tough plastic body on top of that. 46 months of driving, and it never used up a lightbulb. For some reason I bought another one.

But, sadly, GM has shut them down. They cost too much to build, and the Michigan boys weren't getting the return on investment they wanted.

S.O.S. they pulled with the Corvair, but they blamed that on Nader. In reality, it competed with the much cheaper to build Chevy II and Nova.

After they went to the parallel link (Corvette style) rear suspension Porsche had originally designed for them, it was a superb car.

From '65 on, there wasn't a vehicle in America that could stay with them on a twisty road, and the teardrop body was sex on a stick (Oh how I miss my old candy apple red '67 Monza).

For reference, Ferry Porsche drove his lemon yellow '69 Turbo Spyder convertible to work at the factory in Stuttgart for years, and called it "The best car I ever designed".

I still plow with a '69 Chevy C-15, and yes, the radio is dead, but that's the only part that uses transistors.

My next new car will be from one of the real American car companies, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, or Hyundai. Designed in America, built by non-union help (I have hated the f--king UAW since my time at Colt's), and having far more American parts than anything from the "Big Three".

Why do Fords, Chevies, and Mopars have so many foriegn parts in them? Because Detroit has had to buy overseas to reduce labor costs.

Management can be incredibly greasy, but they still have to respond to market forces at the end of the day.

8 or 9 years ago, GM reported that it was down to "only" 16 billion in the bank, and was using 5 to 6 billion each year for R&D. They wanted to renegotiate the labor contracts.

Labor said they might consider talking, but not until all the money was gone. Bastards have gotten what they deserve.

85,000 people working, and a million collecting union benefits. Not my idea of a workable business plan.

There really is a massive national contempt for unions. Do you think some smart and ballsy politician (obviously not Democrat) could profit by pointing them out as the primary reason for Detroits demise?

Polish it a bit, call the plumbers and electricians "guilds", using their structure to train apprentices. We don't want Joe The Plumber mad at us.

But tear up the UAW and the Teachers Unions (how come home schooled kids score higher in ACT's and SAT's). It's not like it's going to cost the Republicans any votes from people with open minds.

Point out to kids working in supermarkets that local 919 isn't getting them any more money than folks working in non-union stores, but the union bosse are living well on their "contributions".

Not only would a conservative politician pick up votes, but by hurting the unions he would be helping to dry up one of the Democrat's juciest sources of funds.

Unions=shitty cars that cost more. There's the real quality problem.

og said...

The Chrysler Minivan, as disturbing as it is, is a high miler, with it's pushrod 6 and computer-controlled auto trans. My Exploder has 360,000 miles, and i hope to get 500,000. The TransAm as described above is very nearly bulletproof and even stone stock is a hoot to drive; nothing like tossing around a tail-light front engine V8. Drive it where they use little or no road salt and it'll last twenty years. Toyos and Hondas and Nissans have a whole other level of durable, the toyota 22r engine may be the benchmark for small, reliable, and easy to maintain. If they would sell Hilux diesels here, I would be driving nothing else, ever.

Go look at the toyo recall vs the Big Three recalls. There's no comparison. This bullshit is all about character assassination of Toyo to make Government Motors look better by comparison.

Tam said...

Irritable Architect,

"Not sure of what you are speaking here. One of my colleagues has one of those gawd-awful S-10 size jobs..."

I believe we are talking about the real Blazer, not the "S-Blazer". The K-Blazers were on the full-size FWD pickup chassis.

Joanna said...

Go look at the toyo recall vs the Big Three recalls. There's no comparison. This bullshit is all about character assassination of Toyo to make Government Motors look better by comparison.

X is less than the cost of a recall? X is what they say it is, comrade.

My Khazakstani college friend once commented in class that they were having elections in her country, and that the incumbent would win. My prof, a first-class idiot when it came to this sort of thing, asked if it was because he was popular or because he was corrupt.

I now understand the look on her face when she answered it was the latter.

Anonymous said...

I’ve got 210,000 on my 87 Bronco II, you have to really work to get it stuck anywhere, it gets 25 MPG and so far, two other cars ( a Volvo, and a Subaru) have committed suicide by running into me. The first time the Volvo did no damage to me, it totaled itself on my hitch. The Subaru totaled itself running a stop sign, and one $35 drag link latter I was back in business with a fat check of pure profit from their insurance.

Dave

Tam said...

Ed,

To the best of my knowledge, the Vue (like its Theta-platform siblings) is a unit-body vehicle.

Newbius said...

I'll echo the attestations of Toyota reliability. The radio reliably dies at 95k miles. :)

The rest of the car will run on gas oil and tires until the driver does something stupid with it, or trades out to something else. I have owned 4 Toyotas, from 1978-2004, (one purchased used), and have put a combined 630k miles on them without trouble. They have never stranded me.

Now, the 1986 Chevy IROC-Z I owned??? Let's just say that GM spent more in warranty repairs over the course of the 2 years I owned it (bought new) than the vehicle's cost. And, I am diligent (fanatical?) about maintenance. That car was decidedly UN-reliable.

GM got better though. My '03 Suburban is a gem...

Tam said...

'86 IROC = Early TPI car?

perlhaqr said...

Most any little Japanese sedan from the '70s was reliable as all getout; they'd run 'til the body rusted off... if it had a manual transmission.

The pickups, on the other hand... The 5 speed they stuck behind the 20R would reliably lose the detent for 5th gear. So you couls till drive it around town as a four speed, you just needed a bungee cord to hold it in 5th on the highway. It still worked, it was just kind of annoying.

I've found "reliability" of cars in a general sense to have a lot more to do with the owner than the car.

theirritablearchitect said...

"My next new car will be from one of the real American car companies, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, or Hyundai. Designed in America, built by non-union help (I have hated the f--king UAW since my time at Colt's), and having far more American parts than anything from the "Big Three"."

Ya know, I have a few friends/acquaintances who are fairly rabid, pro Union/Buy American types who've attempted to chew my ass about my driving a '96 Nissan D21 all these years, that now has 201K miles, but I digress.

I then explain to them that it was designed in California (the original Hardbody design was a product of the then new Nissan Design America office, IIRC), and assembled in Smyrna, TN by real, capitalist-pig, in-it-for-the-money-only Americans, instead of Commie-loving Union wankers who refuse to work.

I'm driving mine until she dies.

Bram said...

My 80's and 90's Jap cars with manual transmissions also went forever. I am one of those strange people who actually read the owners manual and make sure the recommended maintenance is performed at the prescribed mileage.

It was the 80’s Oldsmobiles that turned my father from a loyal GM man into a loyal Honda / Acura guy. They stole his money one too many times and lost him forever.

og said...

"In other words, dirt is slightly less common."

Most dirt is in fact by products from deteriorating Chevy and Ford Smallblock parts. At least, if you go to a yard, you will find that to be the case.

jeff said...

Reliability can be shown as a curve. Mercedes went from the bottom of the barrel to the top in just a few years recently. The Germans as a whole tend to be cyclic over the entire brand, whereas the Japanese and Americans vary by model. Look at it this way: the manufacturer designs and builds the car, for the first year or so they are spending money on improvements to hit the targets for that class or repair issues that are found late in the design cycle or by customers. With any luck the "new car shine" will cover up any shortcomings until they can be rectified. By the second model year or so the cost cutting has begun, and everything that can be pulled from the car without the customer knowing or caring will be. Of course, this also tends to vary by what class the car will fall into and where it is built. With Japanese cars, only the luxury lines and halo cars are built in Japan, the rest are built in the US. Then we get into suppliers and their cost-cutting measures. . .

I could go on for a while, I spent a few years in R&D and Quality Assurance for one of the big Japanese car manufactures.

Anonymous said...

I've owned 3 Toyotas (all three with manual transmissions) in the past 15 years. The first one, a 93 Paseo, went 200k before I got tired of it and sold it. Next, I bought a 97 4Runner. I still own it and it has 175k and runs like a champ. The third, an 03 Camry, has been a POS. All sorts of failures have occurred and according to online reports at Toyota forums and such, most of my problems are pretty common. I traded it in this weekend on a Honda Odyssey (needed a van and wanted to dump the camry). Toyota was on my short list of vans, but my experience with the Camry and their current issues drove me away. The reports I've heard from others, and my own experience with the one car indicates a significant decrease in reliability on models made in the US vs those made in Japan (my first two were/are Japanese, the Camry is US).

Chris

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, the Camry had 157k on the odometer when I dumped it, but the problems began before it hit 80k. I bought it at 72k.

Chris

Ed Foster said...

Tam, the new all steel Vues/Equinoxes are unit body, but the composite wonders they stopped building two years ago had the ladder frame, with plastic wrapped steel sitting on top.

When I walked in to that showroom and saw the cutaway of the body and frame, with that heat-treated 3 inch diameter 4140 rollcage wrapped around it and the big, noisy stainless steel live roller chain pulling the cam shaft, it was lust at first sight.

Other than bigger gaps around the doors for the greater expansion ratio, I wonder why they stopped the ABS external body panels? Cost I imagine, but you should have seen the damage it soaked up!

And the steel cable through the hood, with the pins engaging the two strong points half way back in either fender, were what made that sucker fold under and wrap around the engine instead of jackknifing back through the windshield and making me a foot shorter at 80+ MPH.

I have an after action picture around here somewhere, showing the way at all control folded. When I find it I'll send you a copy, along with one of me butchering the frigging deer that did it to me.

My buddy loaned me one of his wreckers to hang the bugger and I zipped him up into freezer chow before going out and buying a new SUV, going to the hospital with multiple fractures, then losing a year of my life.

The gas bags didn't deploy because he hit too high and the hood had to do all the work.

Amazing design job, and I'll always owe those good men and fine engineers.

Anonymous said...

From Joe in PNG:
Spent a few years as a mechanic for a religious organization... in other words, fixing lots of cars for folks with no money while not getting paid. A few observations:

In general, both GM and Toyota were the easiest cars to work on. Both (for the most part) seemed to understand that humans would eventually need to fix things on the car.

Honda and Chrysler, on the other hand, seemed to harbor a positive malice towards mechanics. Once, on an Accord, I had to dissamble the entire front suspension just to replace a brake rotor.

Nissans can be a pain to work on, but you don't need to too often.

Fords are also kind of tough, but not as tough as Chryslers.

And, ironically, the best car GM ever made (as far as being easy to work on) is the Pontiac Vibe...aka the Toyota Matrix.

Anonymous said...

I never seemed to have problems getting 150k on automobliles.

70 Camaro 210K
80 Camero 175K
85 Ford Ranger 200K
90's Saturn 235K
99 F150 195 K

Change the oil every 3K and don't drive like Danica

Kristopher said...

About the only way you can destroy a 700r4 tranny is to either run it dry, or tow shit with it on the freeway in overdrive.

Or drag with it ... heh.

B.S. philosopher said...

I've got a '95 Chevy truck with a 5.0L and a 4L60E (electronically actuated 700R4)

I've got 250K on it and the engine runs like a top. It's gutless, but it runs great. I kind of want the motor to die so I can stick a 350 in, but no dice so far.

It's been my experience that when someone has a TBI GM V8 engine that's running like shit, it's because they haven't done any maintenance on it. Ever.

Cap, rotor, and plugs will fix most problems on any GM V8 with an HEI ignition ever made.

Ed Foster said...

Mopar is screwed. They never recovered from the K-Cars (America's answer to that cutting edge of Serbo-Croatian technology the Yugo), and the Intrepid was the same type of crap.

I spent many hours talking with service and warranty people, informally representing Polish speaking fellow workers, and I have to say that nothing came close to Chrysler products in the 1998-2008 period for crap from the factory, crap for maintainance, and screw jobs for trade-ins.

One had three transaxles replaced by 70k, another had it's wheel fall off while driving home from the dealership after a warranty repair.

Supposedly the Germans took all of Mopar's future R&D with them when they dropped it on it's head and ran away laughing, but I think they were headed for the dumper anyway, even without lazy unions and government loans.

I hope someone salvages Jeep. Come on, apple pie and mother. Jeezuz, it's the ultimate American icon.

Dodge makes a decent pickup, but there isn't sixteen cents difference between brands of full sized trucks in the U.S. today anyhow, so it's not earthshakingly important.

Fleet sales move innovation in trucks, and what one has this year they all will have next. Same Dana axles, same New Process transfer cases, virtually identical ladder frames, and everybody's running a clone of the TH400 for a slush pump.

I'm suprised they don't coproduce them in a factory in Nogales, them tow them to the states for brand name sheet metal and the respective manufacturers small blocks or purchased diesels.

jeff said...

Ed, I'm going to have to disagree a bit on some of your points. Most of Ma Mopars issues can be traced to specific sources. Pre-Daimler, to the bean counters, ever the villian in engineering. The 1st gen Neon was a valid competitior to the Japanese econoboxes, until the headgasket (the engine was speced for an MLS gasket, bean counters changed it) recall killed the name. The 300M was a decent car as well. And you may have heard of the Dodge Caravan, that pretty much dominated the minivan market for years? When Daimler came into the picture, they dumped an old AWD E class chassis on Dodge, and either killed or revamped the R&D and engineering structure. So Dodge is about 3-4 years behind the powercurve right now, and has some cool stuff in the pipeline. With Fiat, they are going to be bringing in some interesting compact cars, along with some small turbo diesel motors. The downside is that Fiat still has a spotty reputation for reliability, even in Europe, and the last diesel engine they sent over here was a POS by world standards (the CRD Liberty engine).

In the cases where the engineers and designers were cut loose, Dodge built some slick cars and trucks, the Viper and anything with the SRT logo on it (with the exception of the Cossfire) are top of the line.

As far as full sized trucks, well, you are mostly correct, but there are enough differences between the brands that you can match one to your intended use pretty easily.

Ed Foster said...

I'll have to disagree with the first of your disagreements, specifically the Neon, which, if I remember correctly, set a record in Consumer Reports for most things wrong in a compact for first year production. Lots and lots of bad electrics.

The 300M was a cool car (I rented one for a few days after wiping out the Vue), and the Viper was funky, in a limited production, more or less hand built sort of way.

Full kudoes to Mopar for the Caravan, but I was mostly talking about my time back at Q.C. in Continental, from '98 to late '07, when the Caravan/Soccer Mom thing was fading.

Mostly I think we're in agreement, although I think you might be a tad too optomistic about Fiat.

Even if they've cleaned up their chancer-style attitude towards Q.C. (see above comment on Yugo), I don't see them as interesting enough to grab sufficient market share to justify maintaining what's left of the Chrysler dealer base.

But, I have been wrong before. Considerably more than once. If I am this time, I'll buy the beers.

What part of Arizona? I have to make some stops in Phoenix come June of so.

theirritablearchitect said...

"...I hope someone salvages Jeep. Come on, apple pie and mother. Jeezuz, it's the ultimate American icon..."

Couldn't disagrre with you more, sir.

They sure do look neat, but I've never seen such an accumulation of worthlessness in my entire life. Yes, I do feel that way about the whole line too.

theirritablearchitect said...

That'd be disagree.

B.S. philosopher said...

In addition to the '95 Chevy Truck I also happen to own a second Gen Neon. Worst.car.ever.

Anyone who tells you that the head-gasket issue was fixed on the first gen cars is lying. I had to replace two of them, with the first going out right after the warranty period expired.

My Neon has a nasty habit of ejecting spark plugs at speed and is currently sporting two heli-coils in the head.

(FTR this is actually my wife's car and she had it serviced exclusively at the Chrysler dealer)

Because this an ULEV car with California emissions (deity knows how she managed to get that since she bought it in VA in '99)It has a fancy exhaust manifold with a catalytic converter welded to it. So the standard Neon Exhaust manifold I bought on Fleabay for $60 wouldn't work. I had to shell out $700 for one from Chrysler.

I've never had a car that had a problem with an exhaust manifold cracking or breaking. For some reason, maybe because the Stainless cat doesn't like being welded to the cast iron Manifold, It rots out after a few years.

I'll spare you the mention of having to replace the water pump on a FWD car with a belt driven timing system.

Biggest POS EVER.

jeff said...

Ed, you are right about the first year of the Neon, which is why almost nothing electronic (and some mechanical) swapped to the later years. And yeah, Doges, Q.C. sucked, as does their dedication to the cheapest plastic interiors of all time.

I didn't think I was that optomistic about Fiat, especially since they have the same spotty quality that Dodge does. But anyone that brings in more passenger car turbo diesel engines is my friend, as I would really like one but won't submit to a VW.

And I'm out in the middle of nowhere, kinda inbetween Phoenix and Tucson

jeff said...

B.S. philosopher:

Almost any car with a close coupled cat has issues. Most crack, some have worse issues. Nissans would actually manage to suck the material from inside the cat back into the cylinders, and destroy the valves. The problem is that the cat has to be moved as close as possible to heat it up quickly for start up emissions, but it makes a mess of thermal management and kills any scavenging effect.

As for your woes, well, there is a reason that I won't let any dealer do any serious work on my vehicles. Which have included a 98 Neon Coupe (ran 12.1 @ 116 in the 1/4) and an 03 Neon SRT-4, which has racked up over 130,000 miles including road course and dragstrip duties, has hit 174mph, and embarrassed many cars at stop lights and on the race track.

Of course, your mileage may vary.

B.S. philosopher said...

Jeff, I understand the engineering behind WHY the cat has to be that close. My problem is with Mopar's execution of said "engineering"

While your experience with the Neon might be that it is a fast car, it certainly isn't a reliable car for someone who isn't a boy racer and doesn't want to spend a bunch of money on aftermarket go-fast parts. The 2.0L engine was a compromised design. You will notice that it is no longer in production.

In my experience the Neon fails on the "point A to point B, every day" test.

reflectoscope said...

The Mazda has so far been good to me, cartridge oil filter and all.

On the other hand, I am never touching anything with either a Ford 3.8l V-6. Whoever designed that verdammt motor obviously has a hate-on for the poor SOB who gets roped into helping a buddy replace a head gasket.

Jim

Anonymous said...

From Joe in PNG

Words fail when expressing my hate for Chrysler products.
The simplist task usually involves removing half the car to get to something. And most of those parts are poorly made plastic.
I could spend hours writing about how awful those cars are (Neons with melted wiring harnesses, the hell that is a tuneup on a 3.3 Caravan) and it would gladden my heart to see the current Chrysler corp. just go away.

Ed Foster said...

Maybe I'll get lucky, and when Government Motors folds (losing us taxpayers all the money Glorious Leader has dealt them), the intellectual rights and machinery will get bought by some lassez faire types, moved to the western Appalachins, and manufactured with non-union help.

Then, especially if they bring back a modernized analog of the stove bolt six, I can buy a new Chevy truck without feeling I'm supporting the enemy.

But, if the Vue and the C-15 don't make it that far into the future, I'm betting on a Toyota pickup a few years down the road.

jeff said...

B.S. philosopher, I drove both of those cars 100 miles every day on my commute to and from work, as well as on interstate trips. As I said, there is a reason that I dont use dealer service for any of my cars. The 2.0 lives on as the 2.4, almost all of the parts are compatible, it was given a displacement increase to make power targets while still meeting emissions. As for the boy racer thing, well, it's been a while since anyone called me a boy, but I'll admit I sold my new 3 series for the SRT Neon in 03, since it was faster than the M3 in a straight line, and with equal drivers within a .10 of a second on race tracks with curves. Left me with more money for tires.

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Ford's 3.8 is ok as long as it's mounted north/south and the right antifreeze put in.

Never had trouble with the heads in my '84 Tbird, and that car was beat within inches of it's life.

The old chrysler 2.2/2.5 had a little bit of a bad rap for gaskets too but the same story applies as far as using the right antifreeze goes... and a slight design flaw that can be relieved easily enough, you just don't torque the rearmost head bolt on the passenger side to the same level as the rest. Yes, I'm seriously saying leaving one bolt LOOSER than the rest will avoid blowing the head gasket in 90L miles like is usual... the flaw is a water passage that's a little too close to the bore than is comfortable for the style of captive copper ring head gaskets they use. Consequently over time it'll roll and squeeze the copper towards the bore, slowly burning it away until it opens usually a "one way" hole from the bore into the cooling system. It overpressurizes first, then eventually it leaks enough to embolus the cooling passages in the heads, though you have to drive it showing symptoms of trouble for a LONG time. The same folks generally then let the engine overheat dramatically in that condition of uneven cooling, and the head warps, generally sending the whole car to the scrapyard by then.