People are a strange breed; they too often make decisions based upon emotion instead of data. I'm guilty of this myself, although I like to think that I research most of my decisions carefully, and review quality and reliability data. Especially when it comes to my vehicles.
I'm a big fan of Toyota, both because of my long history with the brand, and because of what the data says with respect to reliability of vehicles. I did find, a few years ago while researching a reliability presentation, a set of data published by Consumer Reports on 14 million cars. That data said very clearly that domestic cars aren't (or perhaps weren't at that time) as reliable as Honda, Toyota, VW, Hyundai, or other imports. In fact, there were no domestics in the top ten most reliable car brands. Trucks were not part of that data set.
I have several friends who are die-hard Ford fans. They swear up and down that their cars never gave them any issues at all, and they have had numerous fords, owned any given one for hundreds of thousands of miles, and never, ever had any issues.
One tried to talk me into buying a ford truck instead of my tundra. His argument was that there was at that time a recall on the tundra, and I should not get that vehicle for that reason. The recall: a floor mat was slipping forward and interfering with the break. He said that I should buy a ford F150.
Never mind that there was also a recall on the ford F150 at the time where those trucks were bursting into fire spontaneously because of an electrical fault in the cruise control circuitry. He was ok with trucks bursting into fire, but had a problem with a floor mat that could be simply removed. I just don't understand.
I was talking to that same friend the other day, and I had heard that his 2-year-old Ford F150 had been in the garage for some work, so I asked about it. Turns out that it had a defective transmission, which needed replacement. The vehicle was 53,000 miles old (or so). But to him, it was not a problem, since it was being repaired under warranty.
The warranty must be 60k miles, I asked.
Well, said he, he had bought the extended warranty, so it was 7 years and 150,000 miles.
Good thing he bought that warranty; what provoked him to do such a thing?
Turns out that his wife's Expedition had transmission problems early, though out of warranty, and they figured that if history repeated itself, they'd rather be ready for it.
Is this not a pattern? To him, it was not an issue, as it was under warranty, but to me it's an issue: the damn things break early.
I also learned (from talking to his wife) that his wife got rid of her Expedition in favor of a Nissan Armada because she was sick of the Expedition breaking down all the time. She said that she had been having troubles with it practically from day 1. HE said it was never an issue.
I'm reminded of a fellow who, years ago, was trying to get me to buy his GMC Pick Up. He too told that he never had any issues. Although in his next breath he told that he did all his own work. He had changed the struts, the springs, a tie-rod, and one or two other components that had failed.
This makes me think that the definition of a "problem" changes from person to person. My observation is that these guys who claim to have no issues despite having to do a seemingly endless amount of repair work on their vehicles are all mechanically inclined people who do their own work. It's like how a master chef might tell you that it's 'no problem' to whip up a batch of Tartine croissants.
I don't know about you, but I'd rather have a car that didn't have anything break on it in the first few years than one that, if anything *were* to break, would be covered by a warranty. I think that reliability is more value than a warranty. Of course, no car manufacturer is without error; at the end of the day it's a statistics game and for me, I lean towards the manufacturer who has the fewest issues and the longest history of corporate quality and reliability, PLUS, I factor in my personal experience.
As for Toyota's sudden acceleration problem, Toyota was thrown under the proverbial bus. All modern vehicles experience this issue, as is reported on the Sudden Acceleration website (Here). I personally am of the belief that it's caused by one electronic system interfering with the electronic speed control system of modern vehicles, although that's extremely hard to demonstrate positively.
Be sure to read this recent and informative article too.
For me, I like to consult Consumer Reports when I face making any significant purchase; being of Irish decent, I sprinkle in a bit of salt too. :)
- I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.