By on July 13, 2009

TTAC doesn’t normally report recalls, no matter how major. As our Best and Brightest has pointed out, it’s not fair to blog one manufacturer’s product recalls without blogging them all. Of course, there are exceptions that prove (test) the rule. This is one of them. Autoblog reports: “Sporadic reports have begun popping up in the Camaro5 forums about issues with V8-powered SS models equipped with the manual transmission. It seems that doing a hard launch or using the launch control system occasionally results in a broken output shaft, a serious failure that will most likely leave the car immobile and in need of repair . . . a factory hold has been put on deliveries of manual transmission V8 Camaros while Chevrolet engineering teams investigate the problem.” I have to ask: where’s the evidence that New GM is/will be any better at building cars than old GM? As reinstated Car Czar Maximum Bob is all about “perception gaps” and marketing, what chance does this company have against its competition?

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68 Comments on “Ask the Best and Brightest: New GM, Same Old Quality Issues?...”


  • avatar
    th009

    As of day one, there will (obviously) be no difference at all. It’s the same employees in the same plants building the same designs using the same equipment and same processes.

    Whether they can improve over time is something that we’ll have to wait and see — it’s too early to be able to draw conclusions on that.

  • avatar
    kars

    same old, same old – GM has always put cars on the market that weren’t ready and then sorted out the problems later (well maybe, sometimes they died before all the problems could be sorted out)

  • avatar
    derm81

    Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual transmission right?? Isnt this used in the Viper, Challenger and Vette as well? Not sure if those other vehicles have had that same issue.

  • avatar
    Loser

    Why does the old Who song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” keep popping into my head?

    Meet the new GM, same as the old GM.

  • avatar
    p00ch

    A hard launch in a manual-equipped Camaro SS – who could have possibly predicted that scenario? Shouldn’t that be the first thing the manufacturer tests when developing this type of vehicle?

  • avatar
    manolo1

    Maybe the bean counters cutting costs on the drive shafts…they have plenty of experience with the Corvettes (although a much, much lighter car!!!)

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    What’s breaking – the output shaft in the transmission or the drive shaft?

  • avatar
    jsevenseven

    Of course it was okay when Nissan GT-R’s melted their transmissions. You can find this kind of stuff for every manufacturer when new models are launched and it’s indicative of nothing.

  • avatar

    jsevenseven

    It wasn’t OK for Nissan. It’s not OK for GM. It’s not OK for ANY automaker. It’s indicative of sub-standard engineering and testing.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    We’ll see. It’s not the problems but on how they’re dealt.
    If GM can fix it quick and well, without a lot of hassles then it’s just a small PITA. If it drags on and the fix doesn’t work, costs to fix or keeps cropping up then the oldGM is in charge, just like always.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Sounds like a heat treating issue with the supplier.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    jsevenseven,

    This is absolutely not OK. Nissan took some bad press about their weak trannies. GM should definitely not be immune from criticism.

    The worst thing about this mess is that this is a muscle car. You know it’s going to be launched hard. Why wasn’t this problem found sooner?

    This does nothing to dispel my notion that GM is under the “close enough” school of engineering.

  • avatar
    Eric Bryant

    Hmm. I’d like to know if the Camaro uses the same 27-spline output shaft version of the trans that was used in 4th-gen F-bodies, or the 32-spline version that was utilized in the SSR. If it’s the former, then yeah, they’re going to break like twigs (I have personal experience with this in a 4000+ lb car with 400+ HP). If it’s the 32-spline version, then I would perhaps think that this is an issue with the quality of the output shaft and not a design flaw, as that should hold up to a lot more power than a stock SS can put down.

    EDIT: Just saw a pic of a snapped output shaft. Looks like a 28-spline configuration (if I counted correctly while looking at an out-of-focus photo on a 10.1″ screen). That seems a bit inadequate for a car that weighs nearly 4000 lbs and puts nearly 400 HP to the rear wheels. But the surface of the broken part looked glassy-smooth, and didn’t seem at all like a properly-manufactured part that was overloaded. If I had to guess, this is the result of a material or manufacturing problem.

  • avatar
    derm81

    Could this be a manufacturing or factory issue rather than a design or testing flaw? I am reading a number of different accounts…some say it’s a GM design flaw while others say it’s from the factory floor. Some are blaming Transmission Technologies Corporation.

  • avatar
    th009

    highrpm: This does nothing to dispel my notion that GM is under the “close enough” school of engineering.

    But given that the product was conceived, specified, engineered and launched under “old GM”, how does this prove a single thing about “new GM”. Now, as Dimwit says, the telling thing will be how they respond to the issue …

  • avatar

    After GM fixes this, expect IRS’ half shafts to take a dump. Not that I’m giving GM a free pass, but there’s a reason why the Mustang has a solid axle…

    Just a bit of fortune telling. That is all.

  • avatar
    AICfan

    You’d think for a car how’s basic premise is to violate the speed limit faster than the guy in the other lane, they’d at least put SOME effort into making sure it didn’t blow up so easily…

  • avatar
    red5

    Mazdaspeed3’s (of which I own one) were breaking the rear engine mounts. This was showing up in a few cases on the internets and 3 forums, but Mazda quickly did the right thing and recalled the part. In a side note, the letter I was sent by Mazda went on and on about how this problem was due to hard and repeated accelerations by the driver. In a car called the Speed3? No way!

    As far as the Camero goes, it’s not a good sign that drive shafts are snapping, but the true test will be how the General handles the situation. If they pretend there’s no problem and it’s simply the result of hooney drivers, then there’s a problem.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    I got it figured out. GM did this on purpose to just a few cars. Now they will show us there is a new GM by immediatly fixing the problem, kiss the customers a– and give him a free trip to Hawaii. The only flaw in this thinking is there will be plenty of ligitimate problems for them to fix.

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    So you don’t usuallyreport recalls? Even though this is not even a recall? Interesting standard to say the least. I am not aware of this situation with half shafts at all. Manual tranny V8’s on hold? I don’t think so but I can verify for sure.

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    After GM fixes this, expect IRS’ half shafts to take a dump. Not that I’m giving GM a free pass, but there’s a reason why the Mustang has a solid axle…

    Exactly. These Muscle Cars are just getting too damn heavy. Didn’t Ford have issues with Flywheels overheating on the GT500KRs with hard launchs?

  • avatar
    th009

    paris-dakar: Exactly. These Muscle Cars are just getting too damn heavy. Didn’t Ford have issues with Flywheels overheating on the GT500KRs with hard launchs?

    Independent rear suspension can’t be used with over 3500 lbs and 400 hp? Really! Someone better call AMG quick and tell them to switch to a solid axle — they are way over on both counts!

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    Sajeev:

    The current mustang was originally conceived with an IRS, but it was built with a solid axle for cost reasons.

    A properly designed IRS can handle loads of power. “Properly designed” being the key words.

    -ted

  • avatar
    lw

    Common sense says that quality will go crap for the next 12-18 months.

    The entire GM crew has had one eye on their job and the other eye on CNN since September.

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    Independent rear suspension can’t be used with over 3500 lbs and 400 hp? Really! Someone better call AMG quick and tell them to switch to a solid axle — they are way over on both counts!

    Somehow, I think the unit cost on the IRS that Mercedes uses on the AMG is a bit higher than GM pays for the unit on the Camaro.

    Although I drove my sister’s AMG (although that was an Auto). Had an INTRUSIVE Traction Control system. Not sure about the Manuals.

  • avatar

    At the NY Auto show:
    New Camaro on the floor. Looks really good. Interior classic and pretty.

    Door opens and closes. The classic F Body door crash is plain to hear. Soccer Mom looks and says-that’s kind of noisy.

    Inexcusable. They can’t figure out how to make all the plastic bits not make noise ?

  • avatar
    TomH

    Old wine in a new bottle; what do you think?

    Until the “New GM” actually brings something new to the table, why would anyone expect different results.

    The odd part is that GM has done a decent job at improving their quality and have been building variants of the Camaro small block since ’57 (>50 yrs) so you would think that they would know what it takes to reliably get power to the road IRS or otherwise.

    Along with Maximum Bob, maybe Fritz can also un-retire Joe Isuzu or the original Wizard of Oz to convince car buyers not to pay any attention to the old guys behind the curtain. (We’re not in Detroit anymore and we’re not that GM Steve-o.)

  • avatar
    VerbalKint

    I can see the two page full color ads in C&D now:
    “The NEW GM: Quality You Can Rely On”

    Or howz ’bout:
    “The NEW GM: Engineering the Quality You Expect!

    Or maybe:
    “Get to Know Your Local NEW GM Dealer!”

    Or maybe just:
    “The NEW GM: We’re no worse than the other guys!”

  • avatar
    Juniper

    I have to ask: where’s the evidence that New GM is/will be any better at building cars than old GM?

    It is in the prior sentence.
    I look forward to the truth about this problem, how it is resolved and handled by GM. I hope TTAC will report it in a clear factual manner. But as you printed above you are now in the business of violating your own standards.
    Pity.

  • avatar
    King Bojack

    This just in, in 2009, still a bad idea to buy a new car on it’s first MY from any make. This is the risk a customer takes with any 1st MY design. Expect corrections and improvements to occurr in following years until car makers can live in fantasy land of infinite R&D expense and testing time.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Not an auspicious start. Now that GM is in the soup the real test is how well they handle it. Everybody’s watching The New GM.

    Longer term, GM has to have an up close and personal discussion with the supplier about quality control.

  • avatar
    Detroit Todd

    First, it was a non-issue about brake weights. Now it’s this. When this thing sells 750,000-1,000,000 units, it’ll be something else. Yet there still won’t be engine sludge (Toyota) or tranny (Honda) problems. That grates, I suppose, to see all those easily-dispensible American mullets rolling in a car that they like, at a price they like, from a manufacturer they like. “America — Fuck Yeah!” writ large.

    GM, despite it’s myriad and serious problems, has done and will do exceedingly well with this car. They knew what they were after, and they absolutely nailed it. Genesys coupe, my ass. Gimme American metal built in Oshawa, Ontario anytime!

  • avatar
    VerbalKint

    While I agree that MY1 can be expected to have unsorted problems (I worked at GM Milford Proving Grounds) catastrophic drivetrain failures such as this (especially considering that absolute torque delivered to the rear wheels from a standing start can be controlled electronically) should be revealed by even rudimentary durability testing.

    This type of failure in what is a “flagship/high visibility” model for a company desperate to recover (establish?) its reputation is absolutely unacceptable.

  • avatar

    It’s indicative of sub-standard engineering and testing.

    As was pointed out, the identical transmission is used in a number of higher powered cars without problem. Most likely Tremec got a bad batch of output shafts.

    What kind of engineering or testing could GM have done to prevent the use of defective components by a vendor, particularly on a complex component like a transmission?

  • avatar

    VerbalKint,

    Standard durability testing is typically done pretty early in the development process. That wouldn’t necessarily reveal a problem with part of a component production run once full scale production starts.

  • avatar
    Jonathan Gregory

    And just how many have actually failed? One? Two? Seventy? IIRC, the GT-R debacle was that of ONE GUY that was spun madly out of control on the forums. Not that it’s OK, but it could have easily been a flier. If it was an isolated incident or two and GM is doing an investigative hold, then they’re doing what they can.

    It’s easy to armchair QB, but the wacky failure modes that the driving public subjects these cars to can be beyond the wildest dreams of even the most seasoned engineers. For that reason, ’tis better to sit mum until the information is more credible.

    But if in the analysis it comes down to beancounting, then I’ll join the angry mobs.

  • avatar
    lw

    Why I think a recall of any kind is a VERY bad thing for GM….

    GM messed up. Really really messed up at the worst possible time. They took massive amount of welfare to avoid complete liquidation and they did it in the most public way possible.

    After taking BILLIONS (sounds like a lot of money to Joe Six Pack, but in reality they took very little compared to the scale of the operation) they still closed J6P’s local dealer, which killed his son’s T-Ball sponsor.

    This is VERY personal to thousands of bondholders, old ladies that are still waiting for their next dividend check and how about those 50,000 electrical union retirees and their families that just lost ALL of their health coverage without a single vote cast.

    So where am I headed with this? Anything that puts GM in the news right now is BAD. I have to believe that every time a GM commercial airs, someone, somewhere is launching a brick through a TV with a curse to ensure that nobody they have ever known or will ever meet buys another GM vehicle.

    Imagine that 69 year old bondholder who was just wiped out. Alarm goes off at 6AM. He wakes, slides into his brand new Malibu that he bought to support his local dealer (who was just closed) so that he can be at Wal-Mart to start work at 7AM….

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Whatever happened on the deal with what looked like weights on the front brake calipers?

  • avatar
    Aqua225

    While I am as disappointed as everyone else about how the government and GM have crawled into bed with each other, I seriously doubt that this was not a tested part on the car.

    I am with some of the other posters: UAW supplier or bad UAW casting. I will bet money when the part is built to spec, it won’t break in stock configuration.

    Now how will the problem be covered up? Will GM really replace all the transmission shafts already in place in the world, or will they simply quietly update a software update that will reduce the torque output of the engine during launch?

    I would say they better do the parts replacement, or they will have some angry customers.

  • avatar
    Ken Elias

    Maybe this is why it’s always good to wait for Year 2 production of any completely new vehicle? Real world “testing” by consumers makes for events that can’t possibly duplicated or replicated by pre-production testing.

  • avatar
    th009

    If you follow the autoblogs post to the camaro5 forums, you’ll find more information …

    “It’s not the fault of launch control, it’s a problem with the output shaft of cars built in the mid 16thousands.

    GM is aware of the problem and apparently re-routed some cars to Detroit to get fixed after build but before delivery. Hopefully they get you a new transmission soon.”

    http://www.camaro5.com/forums/showthread.php?t=30226

  • avatar
    FunkyD

    Betcha there are some kamikaze jockeys that drive their Camaros off the lot and start smoking rear tires. Take it easy the first 1000 miles or so, let the running gear settle in, then go have fun.

    The Camaro has the same tried-and-true LS2 engine and Tremec transmission as the 2005~2006 GTO, which doesn’t seem to suffer from this malady. The GTO also has IRS. No problems for me after 40k miles and I have done some smokers. Must be something unique to the Camaro.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Boy…doesn’t this spell GREAT things for the Volt? GM had an ungodly amount of time to actually nail the Camaro head on and they dropped the ball on their halo car (on the cheap!)

    If they can’t figure out how to build some quality into a new Camaro and also didn’t fully test their suppliers parts, maybe it’s time to stop throwing good money after bad money.

    The Volt has to be 10x more complex than the Camaro and if they can’t fix the transmission, how are they going to handle so many new and complex systems in the Volt?

    Boy they put all of their eggs in the Camaro and Volt baskets…good luck guys.

  • avatar
    SloopySales

    You cannot possibly imagine anything is new with regard to GM–governmental intrusion notwithstanding. Same production line tools, same production line personnel–only now with a grudge, predominantly the same governing board, same middle management–who are probably too afraid of rocking the boat lest they be managing their time in the unemployment line rather than the production line. Same old song and dance covered by the same old dance band. Yawn.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Great for GM. They recognize a problem and are taking immediate steps to fix it rather than some other US Automaker that would just deny that there is a problem (ie: Spark Plugs are supposed to shoot
    out of your head…or the cam sprockets are supposed to become un-welded from the cam shaft)

    And we must not forget that this particular transmission is used by the GT500, Corvette, Viper SRT10, Challenger, and others.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    I agree it’s noteworthy for TTAC.

    However, I agree with those who think it’s not so much the failure as why the failure occurred (bad material, maybe) and how GM responds.

    So far, they’ve held up delivery of certain cars. Will they replace suspected bad shafts in the field right away or just fix the ones that actually break?

    And this is Chevy’s new halo car, so it’s probably a big deal fo GM to get this right with the public.

    But the bigger question is, what happens when their $15K econo-car has a problem like this? Will GM revert to “the Old GM” and evade and deny? Or will they make the decisions necessary to promote customer satisfactino and protect the customer relationship?

  • avatar
    niky

    Jonathan Gregory :
    July 13th, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    And just how many have actually failed? One? Two? Seventy? IIRC, the GT-R debacle was that of ONE GUY that was spun madly out of control on the forums. Not that it’s OK, but it could have easily been a flier. If it was an isolated incident or two and GM is doing an investigative hold, then they’re doing what they can.

    It’s easy to armchair QB, but the wacky failure modes that the driving public subjects these cars to can be beyond the wildest dreams of even the most seasoned engineers. For that reason, ’tis better to sit mum until the information is more credible.

    But if in the analysis it comes down to beancounting, then I’ll join the angry mobs.

    QFT. I’ve been a forumer on enthusiast and tuning forums long enough to know that anecdotal evidence of a car’s “fragility” does not often reflect the car’s actual fragility in reasonable, real-world use.

    Correction, though… there were mulitple GT-R failures. About a dozen or so. There’s the internet guy who started the whole “fragile GTR” meme, who did over twenty launches before the car had been broken in. Most of the others were also linked to multiple street-launches… some were “tuner” cars putting out over 600 hp, others had endured between seventy to one hundred launches before going south.

    One hundred launches. On a drag-strip. That guy posited a theory that not properly warming up the fluids prior to a launch would shorten the life of the transmission dramatically. According to lab tests done by one tuner, the Nissan transmission fluid just can’t take that kind of abuse.

    Duh. Most of us who track or race understand the value of warm fluids… but given the average IQ of the new sportscar owner, a 3000 rpm hard-limiter on cold engines should be SOP.

    Now… considering an older Lamborghini V12 could eat its clutch in one day in traffic and the life expectancy of an F430 transmission under launch control is around a dozen launches before the press hack goes back to the shop(the infamous M3 launch control warranty ended at 15… the F430 launch control feature is unwarrantied)… and you get the idea that the GT-R’s drivetrain isn’t all that fragile… at all.

    As for the Camaro, only time will tell how delicate it really is… but the fact that all these other cars are eating dainty little synchros and gear teeth, whereas the Camaro is breaking output shafts… not just half-shafts, like the Evo did… is kind of worrying… but I’m sure we’ll find out the truth quite soon…

  • avatar
    Campisi

    As Autoblog’s coverage of this news item goes on to say, the output shaft is part of a transmission designed and built by a supplier for a number of vehicles from multiple manufacturers. This doesn’t even become newsworthy in any fair and accurate way until we see how GM handles the problem.

  • avatar
    reconman

    I am guessing that most Zombies like their SS’s. They might not care too much about this issue. Fix it. Move on. Next ?

  • avatar
    kamikaze2b

    I bet if they stick some lead weights on there that will take care of the problem.

    /sarcasm

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    No fear people, in spite of it’s accelerated development and new, untested systems the Volt will be ready! ;^D

    If a companies average reliability was below the industry average when they had every reason in the world to work on it do I think they will improve when Uncle Sugar is there to rescue them?
    If I was to place a bet it would be that their reliability will drop. Could be wrong, but I will not be placing a bet with GM, old or new.
    Ford perhaps. Not those other two until they prove they have excellent results for it for 5-6 years minimum.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    One would think that with deliveries being held up until this issue is resolved (rather than deny that there is a problem and blam it on the drivers) that maybe, just maybe there would be some begrudging acceptance that GM actually is committed to ensuring they deliver quality products.

    One would think that with GM taking care of this problem now instead of waiting years and dealing with hundreds of angry Camaro owners that perhaps that too is another sign that they’re committed to delivering a quality product.

    But apparently I’m thinking wrong here.

  • avatar
    commando1

    I was on the pre-order list for the 2005 new C6 gen Corvette when intro’d in ’04. I was one of the earliest owners. IMMEDIATELY the Corvette forums were abuzz about catastrophic failures of the LS2 harmonic damper was flying off taking out the front third of the vehcle. Relying SOLELY on the forums, you had to come to the conclusion that:
    1. C6’s were inadequately tested.
    2. GM was covering up a major defect
    3. evry C6 being built & delivered had the problem.
    4. There was a second shooter in the Kennedy assasination.

    The reality: In a nutshell, much ado over nothing by a bunch of Zaino addicted gold chainers.

    I’m no GM lover/advocate but I believe sensibilities should prevail. It sounds like, once again, it may be the same panic mentality.

  • avatar
    rnc

    If I had to make a guess the supplier is using ALD or Ipsen vacuum carburising high pressure inert gas quenching furnaces to treat the parts. High technology, but also allows for alot of shortcuts and has allowed GM (and others) to use cheaper steal for higher tolerances.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    As long as it took for GM to get the Camaro to the market, one would think this would have come out in testing….

    More likely, though, it was a “late” material or process engineering change done when the damned thing came in WAY over budget.

    I am a beancounter by profession, but as has been pointed out in TTAC ad infinitum and ad nauseum, sometimes, the accountants should be escorted OUT of the room when engineering changes are being discussed….

  • avatar
    Morea

    Can anyone with relevant experience speak to the question of testing components either by the supplier or by the auto manufacturer? How much testing is done after production starts?

    Does GM test, say, every 100th transmission that comes in from Tremec? Either tear it down and check the internal components for mechanical tolerance and material properties, or test the entire unit at high load until failure?

    Or are suppliers taken at their word that all units will be 100% to spec?

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I guess a performance car is supposed to be blogged about, admired, advertised and sold but not actually flogged too much.

    Leave it to GM to screw up the first hot car they have had in years. Since this is a major repair, not some 10 minute quick fix like a fuse harness, watch and see dealers blame owners for the problem. They might be able to use on board diagnostics (like found in the Corvette) to clamin customers were racing or abusing the car, or even asking for some of the performance they read about.

    All the years of development for this thing, it should be bullet proof.

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    As I suspected, there is no “hold” on manual transmission SS Camaro’s. The only constraints are a body colored engine cover and a high wing spoiler (pending engineering). I really think more research is in order before jumping to conclusions. Internet heresay should not warrant any slanderous reporting. No matter what our opinions are.

  • avatar
    dcdriver

    My general rule is to wait for the 3rd or 4th year of a particular generation for any car. First year models almost always have problems.

    Re the Camaro- I really don’t get the appeal of this car. I’m not a muscle car guy, but I do like the look of the 2005-present Mustang. It looks like a muscle car should IMO. The Charger looks really good too. The new Camaro looks too modern. However, if I really wanted a “macho” “manly” car, I would probably opt for a full-size pickup.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Just like the Fiero nightmare with the rods turning into exploding bits of metal and ripping into the engine.

    Or the engine computer problems with the Quad4 engines.

    Or their faulty ABS systems on some vehicles back in the 1990s.

    The media can try to sugarcoat this “GM recovery” all they want but past experience combined with today’s real world proof shows that the new GM is the same as the old GM.
    —————————-
    Morea :
    July 14th, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Or are suppliers taken at their word that all units will be 100% to spec?

  • avatar
    nevets248

    no one sweats the recalls like GM

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Sure, it’s always a good idea to think twice about buying a first-model-year car, but this is especially true in the case of GM, which has developed a well-earned reputation for using its full-price customers as beta testers, going way back to at least 1965, with Chevelle motor mounts that broke right and left (even my uncle’s three-speed six had this problem), and extending through the Vega, the Citation/Cimarron, the Fiero to name a few.

    Apparently this is still the case even when the car has had a gestation period that started before the first Transformer movie.

  • avatar

    Just like the Fiero nightmare with the rods turning into exploding bits of metal and ripping into the engine.

    A bit dramatic, don’t you think, for something as prosaic as a thrown rod? GM messed up, no doubt. The Saginaw foundry made a bad batch of connecting rods, which apparently failed in low oil conditions, aggravated by improperly calibrated dipsticks. The rods sometimes went through the crankcase walls, spilling oil on the hot exhaust, causing fires.

    Still, I’ll give you points for hyperbole.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Other brands have similar issues. Subaru halted sales of the ’09 Forester XT because a few engines had catastrophic bearing failures. They also gave dealers oil test kits and instructed them to check serviced vehicles for engine wear.
    VW halted sales of the ’09 Tiguan due to bad ECU emission calibrations.

    IF GM dealer service properly supports the customers owning the very popular Camaro SS (factory on 3 shifts, waiting lists, etc.), that shows GM’s changed.

  • avatar
    geeber

    When a thrown rod results in an engine fire, I don’t think it’s “dramatic” to refer to the ultimate outcome as a “nightmare.”

    Having your car catch on fire is pretty scary for most people…and one of those 1980s problems with domestic cars that sent people running to the Japanese.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Ronnie – let’s just say that I’ve had an up close and personal experience with a Fiero…thankfully not mine! Hearing an engine go bang behind your head is a rather scary experience.

    I’ll add this to my previous post since I was heading down the route of how GM knew about the engine and cooling problems early on, including watching Fieros burn on a track, and they did nothing but place a sticker on the fuel filler lid telling people to check their oil with every fuel stop.

    I think there was an issue where the cooling system wasn’t installed correctly (or tested) and it would blow hot air into the engine bay instead of blasting it away from the car.

    I remember reading this part in the “Comeback” book where they denied, denied and denied over and over again, and then when the bad press became too much, they issued a recall after business hours on Thanksgiving eve and prayed that everything would be quiet due to the holiday. Instead it was a PR disaster and destroyed whatever the Fiero was supposed to become.

    Then again, given the number of 2009 models that already have dead lights and electrical system problems, I get the impression that in order to keep costs down, supplier parts have been penny-pinched until the penny bleeds and the automakers are accepting “not good enough” parts w/o extra testing in the hope that the money saved by cheaper parts offsets any warranty repairs caused by faulty electronics.

  • avatar
    Morea

    theflyersfan : money saved by cheaper parts offsets any warranty repairs

    This kinda sums up the whole thread. (With ‘cheaper parts’ taken to mean no random parts testing.)

    One thing not discussed much on TTAC is warranty repair costs by brand. We see numbers for many things, for example rebates per car by brand, but little on this hidden cost. More than JD Powers or Consumer Reports, a listing of warranty repair costs by brand would say a whole lot. In this way small but prevalent problems, as well as catastophic but infrequent problems, would not dominate the statistics.

    In the end I guess waranty costs per brand is a closely held secret.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    In the end I guess waranty costs per brand is a closely held secret.

    No, you can find them if you look around. As you would expect, the transplants have lower warranty costs than do the domestics.

    That being said, it is more difficult to compare warranty costs because the comparisons are more apples-to-oranges. A manufacturer can increase its costs by offering a better warranty, and reduce them by denying claims; since they don’t all over the same coverages, comparing across companies involves using numbers that don’t really match.

    Still, it tells you why quality is important. The domestics initially rejected the team-assembly TQM approach because they thought that the ability of the worker to stop the line was an expensive loss of capacity utilization and efficiency.

    What Toyota, etc. have learned is that it is cheaper to stop a line to fix a defect as soon as it is detected than it is to build the vehicle with the defect in it and hope it for the best. QC at the end of the line is less likely to catch it, the customer who gets stuck with it is more likely to be unhappy about it, and the dealer reimbursement will cost more than it would have to have just built it correctly in the first place.

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