No doubt that's a strong motivator for some customers. The 100,000 mile
warranties were designed to appeal to them.
It is, after all, what I do at home. I don't spend much money at all fixing
my cars. Maybe $100 a year per car, if that. My expectations are going to
be hard to live up to.
Actually, this is an inexpensive thing for the car makes to do. Some of the
repairs they already cover if there is a design problem with the car or
truck. And most vehicles don't need major covered repairs in the first
100,000 miles. Things like brakes are considered normal wear and tear items,
so they aren't covered. So it is usually not a big cost for the car makers.
Some Hyundai dealers near where Mike lives purchase insurance contracts (aka
extended warranties) on the drivetrain for their costumers for between
100,000 and 200,000 miles (after the regular 100,000 mi warranty expires).
Most people don't keep their cars that long, so it is a small risk.
And to others, being treated right means the manufacturer fixing what
are very obviously design mistakes in the vehicle even if the warranty
has expired. :)
(To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my
address with the letter 'x')
"Design mistakes?" Maybe.
When these problems show up and are not corrected nor supported for LONG
of time, one might wonder if these defects are not planned obsolence, or
Considering that the next version of the engine or transmission has this
problem fixed, I doubt it is a design feature, as you suggest.
The other thing is that the automaker who made the faulty vehicle is less
likely to get repeat business, whether it is to buy a car for the owner's
kid or replace the fault vehicle.
One thing is clear, there are fewer new cars on the American road than last
year. Auto sales are down like 2.6% from the previous year. They were down
in 2005, too. And Americans are driving more each year. Cars are more
durable than ever before. It used to be that car engine would last maybe
100,000 mi, if the owner was lucky. Now engines regularly go to 150,000 or
200,000 mi or more.
This was good for my dad and my college education. Dad owned a machine shop
that rebuilt engines. He also made lots of money selling tail-pipes, shocks,
carburetors, spark plugs and ignition parts. With fuel injection, electronic
ignitions, longer-lasting shocks and stainless steel tailpipes, they rarely
sell these parts, now. And there is far less engine-rebuilding work now than
20 or 30 years ago. In fact, one of the five machine shops in town closed
completely, the staff at his shop is down 75% (from 6 to about 1 1/2), two
of the remaining shops have much small staffs, too.
The market also changed with a lot of the tailpipe and shock business going
to chain stores that don't go local independent warehouses; a lot of garages
put on new rotors rather than have them resurfaced because the cost of new
rotors is better. In addition, dealerships will often get new short blocks
or engines for in-warranty work rather than send out to work to a machine
So the loss of business is due to both the increased longevity of engines
and the changing market.
I am specifically referring to the plastic plenum problem which continued
The old rusty rot under the rear window problem continued for a number of
GM knew about it, chose not to fix it. It was a simple fix which they found
convenient (and perhaps profitable) to avoid, according to people on the
There are others.
I've read that GM didn't correct that nasty failing intake gasket
problem because most were failing after the guarantee period.
Unfortunately when they failed the engine was often toast.
Great for new car sales if their customers are stuck on GM in spite of
having big problems with their cars.
Well, let's get it right. The intake problem and the plenum problem did not
toast engines. Both of these were very survivable even after many, many
miles were put on the car in that condition. It took a lot of driving with
failed intake gaskets to cause engine problems. The leaks started on the
outside of the engine and were visible. But... owners today don't even open
a hood unless it's to put windshield washer fluid in, so many never even
noticed they had a problem.
Their car otherwise ran so trouble free that no one who might see and pay
attention to the leak, ever had occasion to notice. This problem is at once
both a plague and a praise to GM.
That isnt my experience, Mike. On our car there was no external leak.
Wife drove it home from bridge one day and it was missing badly. Made it to
and the cylinders filled with water causing hydraulic lock.
It was sudden, no warning. Had she been on the road, it might have been
Luckily, I was aware that this problem existed with the series two engines.
When the dealership finished the car, they replaced coolant as well, and
me there was no water in the oil. I changed the oil anyway. There were a
drops of water in the drain oil, but the innards were not exposed to it for
I have seen a website in the past with examples of these failures, Mike.
I havent tried to find it lately. Apparently some engines were ruined
very quickly when coolant entered the oil.
This website espoused a class action suit against GM. Maybe GM
defused the site...I just dont know.
I cant say from experience how serious the range of failures tended to
be. We got away with ours because I recognized it immediately. The
engine went from normal (no coolant consumption to speak of) to total
failure of the plenum in a mile or two.
Any ENGINE damaged as a result of a failing gasket, was the OWNERS fault, so
says a Federal court settlement. The fact that any manufacture fixed any
car, after the warranty expired, was a PR effort on their part since no
problems caused by neglect. GM,Ford, and Honda did a much better job of
extending warranties on vehicles with gasket problems than did Toyota and
Toyota, GM, Ford, Honda, Chrysler etc all had the gasket problems after the
feds banned asbestos, without allowing enough time for the gasket
manufacturers to develop a suitable replacement material. The result was a
black eye for ALL
manufactures not only GM.
The problem for the vehicle manufactures was, depending on which material
the gasket supplier used to replace the asbestos, the problem may not occur
until years after the vehicles were sold. For others, material failure
occurred sooner while still under warranty. Toyota for instance had
failures occurring at around 20K, Ford and GM at around 80K, in and out of
When Ford sued the gasket manufactures, over the failing new non asbestos
gaskets required by the feds, the gasket manufactures agreed they were
responsible for the gasket failures but not any resulting engines failures.
The reasoning was any coolant leaking should have been discoverer long
before any damage occurred to the engine IF the vehicle was properly
maintained. Leaking should have been detected by the owner and the gasket
should have been replaced prior to any engine damage.
The court settlement agreed, since the gasket failure was never catastrophic
but actually occurred over time the leak and the resulting coolant loss
should have been discovered by the owner. As a result the gasket
manufactures were ordered to pay only 80% of the average loss, not 100%.
The court settlement with Ford applied to all other manufactures that built
engines in the US up to a certain date
Funny, I think its just the opposite. Car durability peaked in the late
'60s. A car from that era (such as the '66 I drive every day) is
EXTREMELY rugged. My wife's 93, by comparison, has all the plastic
interior bits and exterior trim falling apart. The drivetrain on the '66
went well over 200,000 miles, no problems, until a transmission rebuild.
The engine continued well over 270k. I also have a '73 with 450,000
miles. The engine on the '93 so far has 240,000 miles, no problem, but
its been through 2 transmissions. Cars used to not last very long
because a) they were much cheaper to replace than they are now, and b)
things like lubricants have come a LONG way. Much further than the cars
themselves. If Mobil 1 had been around in its current form in 1966,
things would have been drastically different.
The price of a car, as a percentage of income, has not changed theat much
over the last 40 years.
And today's cars are much better. They are more fuel efficient, more
reliable, are much safer and pollute far less.
And cars are on the road a lot longer than they used to be, which is way
cars sales are going down, even though there are more cars on the road every
You're correct that lubricants have improved, but I don' think that explains
the longevity of the cars.
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