Great post, I am a technician myself, but I have only been in the field since 2004. I started at Chrysler in 2007, and I could see a sharp difference
in quality from the cars I was working on, as compared to the new stuff that was just coming in from the factory.
We had to do training on all of the new engines Chrysler had in 2008, and the instructor told us there that Chrysler, in the name of saving money and
trying to maximize profit, started using cheaper materials, and cutting out things that they saw as unfit. At this time they were still merged with
Daimler (Mercedes), and as a result they got some really good (but weird) engineering ideas, and the accountants just said "nah, we can do without".
I have noticed a few problems with new cars in my field which lead to this:
1. Adding too much "stuff"
- What I mean by that is cars are so accessory rich, that they become needlessly complex. The bluetooth
technology, GPS, TPMS (a government mandate on all passenger cars, mind you) all lead to so much crap crammed in the car it becomes a nightmare. And
with all these modules communicating on the same network, stuff gets real bad, real fast. The Dodge Caliber, for instance, has two thermostats, one is
used to quickly get heat into the heater core so on cold days the driver can have heat sooner, but that is just one more thing to break, and leak.
Remember this: Simple = Reliable.
2. Government mandates
- Chrysler's 4.0L inline six used in the Jeep Wrangler was by far one of my favorite engines they produced. It has a
ton of torque, smooth, bullet-proof; very little went wrong with them. But Chrysler had to discontinue it because it couldn't keep up with emissions.
The 5.9L diesel used in the pickups was awesome as well, but it had to go for the same reason, and the 6.7, from my experience and from what I hear
from techs still there, is not anything to lose sleep over. I work at FedEx, and our trucks still use the 5.9L (called the ISB), and the 6BT, both are
leaky as I don't know what, but these trucks have 400k miles on them and run like a champ.
3. Cost cutting
- The main reason cars suck today is because manufacturers are losing their engineering edge, so they have to find a way to
keep the cost down, with price now being the main factor people consider. For a while there, domestics were horrible, and people bought foreign
without a second thought. Now that the big three are hitting their stride and building cars that people actually want to buy, the boys in Japan and
Europe have to find a way to stay ahead of the game, and using cheaper materials is the path that many choose. Also don't forget the Koreans are
building exciting, better cars now (Kia, Hyundai), and they are cheap, way cheaper than that VW.
4. The customer
- They will build what you will buy, period. The manufacturers are focusing on many things that aren't important necessarily,
but will sale. The flashy exterior design, all the gadgets, and the desire for a car that can run forever without maintenance compels them to build
cars that can provide that, but everything comes at a price. Now that the car isn't something that people will, or even want to work on, they build
them anyway they choose, and the technician is left picking up the leftovers.
S&F Loving my 1991 Toyota Corolla