You're asking the same thing mechanics and other owners have been asking for many years. Every vehicle model has well-known characteristics that every owner will experience. Most of these problems can be blamed on design factors that are usually the result of the manufacturer trying to save money. Let's face it; if any one manufacturer wants to make long-term quality a priority it's going to cost more to build the car and it will cost more to buy than their competitors' similar products. Remember too that the manufacturers make a huge profit on selling replacement parts so it is not in their best financial interest to have parts that don't wear out.
Some parts are designed to meet the customers' demands for a quiet and smooth ride. Suspension parts like control arms and anti-sway bars are mounted with rubber bushings to absorb road vibration. Those parts never wear out on race cars because the parts are made of steel. Most people would not put up with the harsh ride even if it meant those parts would never need to be replaced.
It became well-known that all 1980s models Ford Escorts, Tempos and their Mercury twins were "killer" cars. The outer tie rod ends could check fine, then separate leading to a crash less than 1,000 miles later. When I worked at a Sears Auto Center in the '80s we received a shipment of replacement parts once per week on every Wednesday. There were typically 40 outer tie rod ends for Escorts and Tempos and a dozen inner and outer tie rod ends for all of the other car brands and models combined. By Saturday we were out of the Ford parts and had to buy them locally. Ford sold a pile of those cars because they rode so much smoother than Chrysler's and GM's competitive products. That was because the front tires were tipped way out on top and way in on the back so they were riding on just the edges of the tread. Unsuspecting customers didn't learn about that trick until the tires wore out at 15,000 miles. Ford is also the only manufacturer that has a lot of cars and trucks that can not be aligned. Now why do you suppose they would design cars that can't have the alignment fixed? After years of complaints about steering linkages falling apart, why would they not redesign them like older parts that lasted longer?
Beginning with the 1987 models, GM switched from the world's second best AC generator to the worst design ever. The current generator design can't help but develop a lot of voltage spikes and they put that on cars and trucks with a bunch of silly computers that are susceptible to voltage spikes. That generator has been causing a lot of problems and frustration but there are no plans to go back to the old system. Some of the newer designs are even worse.
GM makes about 80 percent of their own parts and buys the rest from outside suppliers. Chrysler buys about 80 percent of the parts they use. Since the big three pay a lot more in labor costs they have to cut costs somewhere else to be able to sell cars at competitive prices. One common way is to squeeze suppliers to make the same part for a nickel less. "Do whatever it takes to make that fifty dollar part for $4.95 instead of $5.00". Build a million cars, save a million nickels. Ford left off four five-cent grease fittings in the late 1970s. That's just one part out of thousands.
These are just a few examples of the business practices that ultimately affect the vehicle owners. We see the results all the time when trying to diagnose the cause of a failure to see if we can prevent it from happening again. After you see these things for decades you start to get cynical when you see any ad on tv bragging about one manufacturer's quality. If quality really was the goal cars would cost a lot more to buy, they would cost a lot less to repair, and we would no longer see the same repeat pattern failures over and over.
Friday, February 25th, 2011 AT 2:24 AM