Ask the Best and Brightest: New GM, Same Old Quality Issues?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

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?

Robert Farago
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  • Geeber Geeber on Jul 14, 2009

    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.

  • Theflyersfan Theflyersfan on Jul 14, 2009

    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.

  • Morea Morea on Jul 14, 2009
    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.
  • Pch101 Pch101 on Jul 14, 2009
    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.