What's hot? Cars that last

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Wall Street Journal
The lousy economy is making planned obsolescence obsolete in the car business.
The auto industry is geared up to sell you a new car every four or five
years -- a legacy of General Motors Corp.'s realization early last century that cars could be marketed as status symbols and fashion accessories. That insight helped GM end the reign of Henry Ford's utilitarian and durable Model T, and turbocharged America's post-World War II consumer culture.
Now, rattled by economic hard times, many Americans are heading back Henry Ford's way...
Continued: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123784792463318543.html
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Apparently, back to Ford as well

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This survey was apparently on cars three years old, and the improvements have some definite value.
The surveys that were made with cars three months off the lot are all but worthless.
I heard an interview with Rick Wagoner the other day and it is clear he still doesnt have a clue. Lutz can and does speak with a straight tongue, and I believe people like him can help build trust in the products again, if he walks the walk.
Wagoner needs to get a job doing something he is good at.
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Which is??? - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Retired Shop Rat: 14,647 days in a GM plant. Speak softly and carry a loaded .45 Lifetime member; Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Web Site: www.destarr.com - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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JD Power has publicly stated that the Initial Quality numbers track very against Vehicle Durability Study numbers three years down the road. That's quite a bit better than "worthless".
Derek
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news:49c963e0$0$4901.

No, it isnt.. It is damn near worthless. If you buy something NEW you expect it to perform. Three months is nothing.
After 3-4 years or better, the value of the product begins to become obvious.
GM has sucked in the past ( see Lutz admissons) about putting out a pretty product that wasnt worth a shit.
You can buy anything you want.
And if GM reliability becomes accepted, then you might want to buy some GM product. At this pont, I wouldnt consider ANY GM product.
Maybe in the future, if there is one for Wagoner and his pimps, but not now.
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HLS wrote:

You can't make a blanket statement like that with GM. For the past, oh, at least 15 years, GM has had some *very* reliable and enjoyable vehicles sold right alongside some clunkers. Most of the midsize/small front drives powered by the 60-degree v6 family are crap. Most of the larger front-drives (particularly Buick models) are excellent, as are all the Northstar powered vehicles. I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Cadillac (except that they've been butt-ugly for the last 5 years or more), a G8, or a GM truck or full-size SUV right now. But a Cobalt or G6 or similar? Screw that!
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Everyone I know who has owned big Caddies in the last ten years has bailed in the last 4 or 5. Nothing but trouble - one thing after another - that the dealers cannot seam to solve. Might be OK for a year or two - but one friend had SEVEN Cadzillas in 5 years. Most spent more time in the dealer's garage than his. He's driving Lexus now and happer than a pig in you-know-what.
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I hate to disagree as I LOVE Cadillacs but you are off base on this one. The NorthStar engines have huge head gasket problems and are failing at an alarming rate. The head bolt threads in the block fail and the bolts pull out. You are looking at a 3 to 4k dollar repair when (not if) this happens. Book time is somewhere around 25 hours. Supposedly the situation is much improved in 2003 and newer models.
Buicks are somewhat better overall but they have had a big problem with the egr pipe warping the plastic intake manifold allowing coolant to leak in to the engine. This one is supposedly fixed after the 2k model though I still hear a number of complaints on the issue.
Steve B.
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According to most dealers the Northstar is NOT field rebuildable. And the head bolts are also the girdle bolts - to remove the heads the pan needs to come off if what I've been told by a guy I know who used to maintain a fleet of limos is true. NO local engine rebuilder will tough them with a 10 ft pole either

The EGR/plastic manifold problem is easily fixable and almost a non-issue after Series 2. But the 3800 still had issues, and the 3400 replacement? is a timebomb. Like the Northstar it's not a question of IF, but WHEN.

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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

The top engine and intake area seem to be a problem for GM designers. I just helped my wifes's aunt find a replacement for her Oldsmobile - '94 IIRC - in which the plastic intake sprung an internal leak (maybe the EGR situation mentioned earlier?), and I just a month ago had to replace the intake gasket on my wife's '99 Century. An '88 Cadillac I had developed a pinhole leak in the intake-to-head mating surface. And on top of that, GM bought into the DexCool/Prestone Extended Life disaster. It should be a clue that they put coolant system leak sealer in at the factory on many of their engines.
I've been driving and owning many brands of vehicles for over 40 years, and have *never* once had anything but a GM have that type of problem in those areas, so it's not a matter of my doing something wrong or not maintaining them. Like I said - intake coolant porting and gasketing seems to be a very weak area for GM design.
--
Bill Putney
(To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

The Northstar has been around for 17-odd years now, and I'm not going to deny it's had a share of quirks (block porosity allowing it to leak fluids right *through* the metal being one of the most, um, "interesting" problems). IIRC GM's grand plan was for the Northstar to become the one corporate engine line, and its early problems probably are what helped kill that idea. As for "no local engine rebuilder will touch them," that's probably somewhat true. Local engine rebuilders are all but *gone* except for supporting local racers and guys like me who restore their 40+ year old vehicles. With pretty much any thin-sleeved aluminum block engine, a complete rebuild is not cost-effective compared to getting a new or assembly-line rebuilt short block.
But back to the Northstar- the vast majority of them just *work* and work extremely well for years and hundreds of thousands of miles. When you do have to work on them, its a royal pain in some ways, but that's what you get when you make a 300+ horsepower lightweight v8 that can fit in a compact FWD vehicle. Packaging sucks- the starter is under the intake manifold, for example. We're not ever going back to the days of the Cadillac 472 where you could sit on the fender, reach down into its bowels and fix something while munching on a sandwich. Cadillac engines have had pretty complex and annoying service procedures since the 80s, but if you *follow* the published procedures instead of ASSuming that since a procedure worked on a Chrysler 318 its going to be the same on a Northstar, you can certainly maintain them just fine.
If you've ever tried to work on any Japanese car, you know that its the same story there. WORSE, in fact- at least GM doesn't put the PCV valve under the intake manifold like Toyota has done in the past! Pretty much the same for any modern vehicle- they just aren't built for simplicity of service anymore.
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My experience with Toyota over the years - and then owning Fords, GMs and Chyslers (and working on those owned by friends) the Toys are actually not all that bad. Even the Previa and Van LE were easier to work on than the 3800 TransSport or a 2.5 Liter Mystique.
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca writes:

My daughter's 1990 pickup (with 3.0 litre engine) has the most mind-numbingly stupid unmaintainable issues of any vehicle I've ever owned. Of course, every other vehicle has been a Chrysler, so perhaps I'm just spoiled.
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Joe Pfeiffer wrote:

I've had a few Chrysler products that raised my ire too. Dad's 78 Horizon was a service mess. The two 80s M-bodies that drifted through the family were annoying in that most things were typically Chrysler straightforward, and others were mind-numbingly annoying- like anything related to the accessory brackets seemed to have been needlessly goobered-up compared to 70s Mopars. And then the whole "isolated transverse suspension" concept that created a pretty-much impenetrable bucket of steel right below the engine and limited access from below severely.
But I never quit being amazed at how nice it was to work on the '93 LH. Some things *looked* horrific- like the first glance at changing a timing belt. UNTIL you read the service manual and discovered that 4 bolts would get the whole radiator upper cross-brace out of the way, then 4 more plus a wire and 4 clips would get the electric fans out and open up plenty of room in front of the engine. Same with access to the steering rack- it looked *buried* at the back of the engine compartment, but a few bolts to remove the windshield wiper motor and linkage "tray" as an assembly, then popping off the air intake "Y" pipe (this was a 3.5) opened up plenty of room back there too. Someone had obviously put some time into deliberately grouping things into easily-removed modules to allow access to deeper bits and pieces. And that car lasted over 250k miles, too. No complaints there.
Just skimming the FSM for wife's 05 PT revealed one thing that made my hair hurt.... to replace the right motor mount, the 4th or 5th step is "remove engine assembly." <sigh> I sure hope it lasts a *long* time. I can almost forgive it, the PT is something of a special case when it comes to packing components in. Its very obvious that a lot of the layout was dictated by the car's oddball styling.
And to get back to Cadillacs- don't even get me started on the HT4100 that drifted through the family. OK, too late, I'm started. Just one example: to change the water pump, you had to remove the PS pump. OK, I can buy that. To remove the PS pump, you have to get at a bolt that's blocked by the PS pulley. Been there before, no problem... IF they had used a spoked PS pulley like my '69 Coronet has so that you could remove the bolt through the gap between pulley spokes. But no- Cadillac used a solid disk pulley. Gotta squeeze a puller into the limited space and extract the pulley off the PS pump nose, all just to get at *one* stinking bolt.
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Amen. The second generation is just as good, but, again, you *really* need the FSM to find that out.

Ummm.... on Becca's Neon, replacing the timing belt required removing one of the motor mounts. My recollection is it was the right side... I sure hope I'm remembering wrong.
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On Fri, 27 Mar 2009 20:36:01 -0600, Joe Pfeiffer

Neon engine mount needs to come out to do the timing belt, but removing the neon engine mount is a relatively simple job - done with the engine in place with the help of a jack and a piece of wood.
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca writes:

Right (I did it; unfortunately, after the belt had broken... compression check showed the valves were not damaged, but my oh my it went through oil after that) -- but does the PT also require removing the motor mount to do the timing belt? And given (per Steve's quote above) that replacing the motor mount requires removing the engine...
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On Sat, 28 Mar 2009 13:48:10 -0600, Joe Pfeiffer

The mount needs to come out but it is possible to do IN the car.
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Joe Pfeiffer wrote:

I skimmed the FSM on that when I first got it, and it looks like the timing belt on the PT can be changed without removing that engine mount. Lots of other stuff has to come out of the way, but not the main engine mount. The PT has 3 engine mounting components on the right side- the main mount that carries the weight of the engine (and which requires the engine to come out if you need to change it) and two torque struts that control engine rotation. I've already replaced the torque struts on our PT to cure a vibration at 25 mph under acceleration (which isn't completely gone, and I wonder if its because I used a Mopar upper strut and an aftermarket lower that had a different rubber bushing design...)
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