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Discussion Starter #1
I’ve seen a couple of times now where people post things like:

“My van is having XYZ problem and [Honda]|[my dealer] is doing ABC about it. I’m mad that this happened in the first place. I wish they would build these in Japan!”

My question is why does that matter? Does anybody have any evidence that quality has gone down since Honda started building cars in the US of A, Canada, or for that matter in England?

Toyota and Nissan do the same; is their quality suffering as well? From everything I’ve seen (mostly Consumer Reports), everyone’s quality has gone up, not down.

It seems like the logic goes like this:

•The Odyssey does not appear to be as trouble free as Honda’s reputation would suggest.
•Odysseys are built in Canada.
•Therefore factories outside of Japan build inferior cars.

This makes no sense. In order for this to be true, every Honda ever made in the States would have suffered these same problems. This goes back to, I believe, 1982 when Honda first started making Accords here. The only cars not made and sold here are the NSX, Insight, CRV and S2000 (someone will correct me if I’m wrong; possibly all or most Acura’s are built in Japan). Surely, the Civic, with the highest resale value of any car, the 3rd best selling vehicle of any type and with its bulletproof reliability, should be considered when evaluating the quality control in US plants.

I think it’s more likely that Honda has had a tough time tracking these problems down as this is the first minivan they’ve ever made (not counting the very tall station wagon they called Odyssey) and is by far the largest vehicle they’ve made. Most of the problems discussed seem to either be from a lack of chassis rigidity or other design flaws, not to include the paint problems.

By the way, this isn’t the first time Honda has had trouble with a new product. Ask early Interceptor (their first V4 motorcycles) how much fun they had. It seems to me that Honda gets it right; it just takes them 2 tries. When they are getting it wrong, from what I have seen, they seem to do right by the customers.

[Donning flame retardant suit in preparation for responses that include statements like: “They should never get it wrong! Not for the 30K I paid”]


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-Andrew Starks
 

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I believe country doesn't matter, but plant does. Toyota offers the best quality cars in the world, and Toyota's best cars are made at Toyota Motor Kyushu, Inc. plant in Japan. Other Toyota plants try hard to emulate the result of the Kyushu plant but without success. Honda surely has a good plant in Japan or in the US that produces high-quality cars. Maybe Honda should move the production to that plant. The management may be able to increase the level of the the quality while Honda solves the problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
odycadmus:

What evidence is there that the Kyushu plant really does produce better cars than the ones that come out of Kentucy? Where is there evidence of this?

Understand that I won't be suprised if there is, it's just that I've never seen any evidence to suggest that it's true. I do remmember seeing one report that said that it wasn't true, although it was talking about overall quality from manufacturers and not an in-depth comparison of different factories within a company.

Also, when people make these statements, it usually is based on country, not specific locations or plants.

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-Andrew Starks
 

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by odycadmus:
Toyota offers the best quality cars in the world, and Toyota's best cars are made at Toyota Motor Kyushu, Inc. plant in Japan. </font>
I'm aware that the Kyushu car plant has won numerous awards for plant quality but what do they build there other than the Lexus ES 300?
 

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I can't recall where I read the report about the Kyushu plant beling the best in Toyota's. I think Lexus RS-300 and Highlander are also made at that plant besides ES-300. I don't care where a car is made. I was trying to address the point that if a certain vehicle is sophisticated to manufacture, it would be a good idea to produce at its best plant first.
 

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It has be mentioned before that we were "spoiled" by the Japanese cars which came over from Japan, because many of them were on the home market for a year or two before we saw them. That gave them a chance to work the "bugs" out of them, with the Japanese owners being the "test drivers". With the vehicles made and designed on our shores, WE are the testers and experience those mechanical foibles, which are always present in new vehicles. Japan has had many bad cars and, a few years ago, there was quite a scandal over there and a great outcry by owners of flawed vehicles.

Jerry O.

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2001 Odyssey GG LX
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Odycadmus:

I guess I can't dissagree with that. It would also make sense to release a car closer to home where you could fix things more quickly.

I just don't agree with the notion that:
!japan_plant == poor_quality;

Or for those who don't read C
, I don't think that quality only springs from Japan.

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-Andrew Starks

[This message has been edited by pancreas (edited 10-31-2001).]
 

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I firmly believe that the overall quality coming out of any individual assembly plant is related to the attitudes of the workers and management of that plant than just about any other factor.

I've recently read statements that allegedly came from higher ups in a certain auto manufacturer's heirarchy that stated that if they made a certain percentage (about 10% if I remember correctly) of their cars as good as Toyota's, then that was good enough. I don't know for certain if these statements are true but if they are, they smack of a "very" poor attitude. I certainly wouldn't want to purchase a vehicle from a company that felt that way.

Honda has a reputation for building top quality vehicles. As pointed out, the current version of the Odyssey is a big step for them and there will be teething pains along the way. There were a number of complaints from the 1999/2000 crowd. The 2001 folks seem to be doing a little better unless I'm missing something. My '01 LX has performed flawlessly to date. It's just over 4 months old and rounded 10k miles the other day. I'm taking it to the dealer in the morning for some much needed maintenance including a tire rotation which will confirm whether or not I'm going to have a recurrence of the one complaint I've had, a slight pull to the right which was corrected by rotating the front tires across themselves. I'll let you know who that goes.



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Drive Safe,
Steve R.
'01 SS LX
Cargo tray, leather steering wheel, mud guards, alarm, fog lights, transmission cooler, in-dash CD player, Kelton subwoofer, under seat storage tray.
 

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It has been long well known that the Japanese have great (and I mean GREAT) loyalty toward their work, employers, and the people who take care of them. They have that pride. Americans on the otherhand have more of a "what's in it for me?" attitude. Anyone ever see that movie... I forget what it's called but it stars Micheal Keaton and he's building cars in America for some Japanese auto maker.

Maybe it's just my biased opinion, but from my experience, I've had 3 vehicles built in Japan and the build quality is about as perfect as one would expect. I then owned a Pontiac and I had emblems that weren't on straight and door panels not clipped in at all securing points. With the Ody, I found that the engine cover had two loose bolts, one of them completely out of its threads, and I only have 200 miles on it!

If you saw two identical Odys on the lot, one built in Japan and the other in the US or Canada, which would you pick? Obviously for me, I'd definitely jump on the VIN starting with the "J".
 

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Anecdotal evidence:

My dad's 93 Accord LX is Japan built. It has needed >$9,000 of (some major) repairs done to it in it's lifespan, including replacing the ignition electric system after having it completely fail while on the highway. Luckily he was able to safely pull over.

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2002 Mesa Beige EX-L-RES - on order
2001 Mesa Beige EX - recently sold
 

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Discussion Starter #11
vquan:

First off, there is no doubt that GM, Ford and DC cars have, in general, a much worse reliability record than Honda, Toyota and Nissan. The issue I raise is not wether or not a Pontiac is as reliable as Honda.

Second, as Pummal so deftly points out, it's not hard for anyone to come up with personal experiences regarding certain manufacturers. I had two Toyotas; both died a horrible death: one engine related and one tranny related. So obviously Toyota doesn't know how to build a car. Right? Of, course not.

Third, how do you explain Mitsubishi? Their cars are right up there with DC in terms of reliability. In fact if you want a REALLY crappy minivan, buy a late 80's early 90's Caravan with a Mitsubishi engine. My only point: quality does not follow country always.

Are you really trotting out the movie Gung Ho as evidence that American workers are lazy? If you are, remember that in the end they save the factory through their hard work and sacrifice!


Seriously though, I would sooner blame the adversarial relationship between unions and management before I'd make sweeping statements about all workers that live in America.

I think this gets at the problem that people like my wife's granddad have about the young. We assume that our own country is full beer swilling idiots who can't screw a car together to save their lives. This is wrong just like it's wrong to say, "Americans should only buy 'American' cars because it's the patriotic thing to do, no matter how crappy the cars are!" As if anyone can define exactly what an American car is.


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-Andrew Starks
 

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Andrew:

My point with the Pontiac was not reliability but with initial build quality. How can something like a misaligned emblem or loose door panel pass QA? Likewise, how can it be that I have two loose bolts for the engine cover on my Ody?

Yes not all things are tied to country of origin, but we all come up with generalizations. I know some people who hate Japanese cars, that's because of bad experiences. I've had great experiences with cars in Japan, so I have a general mind set there. So yes it is biased.

You still didn't answer my question though: Would you pick the VIN with the "J" or with the "2 or 1"??
 

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Discussion Starter #13
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by vquan:
Andrew:
You still didn't answer my question though: Would you pick the VIN with the "J" or with the "2 or 1"??
</font>
That's a fair question. Two cars. Identical. Same everything, except origin... I can say that when I was looking at getting a CRV, the fact that it is built in Japan didn't feel like a plus at the time. If the Alabama plant was a year into production I would rather my car came from there than Canada, mostly to shut my wife's grandpa up...

You're point is well taken. If I did end up getting the Japan car part of me would assume that it was of higher quality. But that says more about bias than fact. If your point is that people generally assume that Japan factories makes better cars, then I can't dissagree.

Whether or not that's really true... well. That's another question altogether.

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-Andrew Starks
 

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My brother-in-law is a test driver at GM's proving ground here in Milford, MI. When I was awaiting delivery of my Ody, he asked where it was being built. When he learned it was coming from Canada, he told me that the GM cars that were built in Canada were consistently better assembled than the ones built in GM's plants here in the states.

I don't know specifically where his info came from but he's generally so pro-domestic that I thought this was a strange thing for him to admit, so I'm a little more prone to accept it.

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Chuck
Click here for Ody pics, mods and fixes on FotoTime.

[This message has been edited by ckonarske (edited 11-01-2001).]
 

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I have a friend who is an engineer at Ford. He has commented a few times that engineering requests to improve tolerances and other "quality" issues are repeatedly denied by the Union. Extra work, no increased pay, blah blah blah. I don't know how that relates to Honda or Canada, though.


The most common reported problems I see on forums seem to be design issues, not assembly issues. Things like power doors, transmissions, brakes, pulling to right, etc. Those things are corrected by design, not by factory workers of any particular nationality.
 

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Caviller, you're right. Designing to tighter tolerances eliminates a lot of assembly variables. With tighter tolerance, the individual worker (or plant) has less influence on the quality of the finished product.

I think it was after the intro of a Camry body change in the early 90s, the owner of the bodyshop I go to showed me an article that pointed out how much better the repair procedures on Camry bodies would have to become. Toyota had tightened the tolerances so much that the total length of the car couldn't vary by more than about 2 or 3 mm (I think that was the variable) from bumper to bumper. This requires very precise reshaping after accident damage, but would make accurate assembly at the original plant much easier and more consistant.

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Chuck
Click here for Ody pics, mods and fixes on FotoTime.

[This message has been edited by ckonarske (edited 11-01-2001).]
 

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by pancreas:
If your point is that people generally assume that Japan factories makes better cars, then I can't dissagree.
</font>
That's exactly why people say it should've been built in Japan. For me, I prefer a Japanese car built in Japan. Second choice would be a Japanese car built elsewhere - meaning this is preferred over a pure domestic vehicle (i.e. the big 3).

I also think if people complain, they have to know who their complaint is against. For the Ody, they blame the plant and that Japan would've been better. If it was built in Japan, then people would just complain that it's a terrible product. So from that logic, it stands to say that Japanese plants have the highest regard in terms of construction and build quality.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
stuff snipped...
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by vquan:
<snip>
I also think if people complain, they have to know who their complaint is against. For the Ody, they blame the plant and that Japan would've been better. If it was built in Japan, then people would just complain that it's a terrible product. So from that logic, it stands to say that Japanese plants have the highest regard in terms of construction and build quality.
</font>
Yes, it stands to reason that people equate Japanese cars built in Japan as the best you can get. It seems like I'm splitting hairs but this is the thrust of the whole question:

Does it really matter in reality whether or not your Japanese cars are built here or abroad? Look at VW: their cars are of the highest quality that they've been in years. Many of them are built in Mexico.

Would the reverse be true: Would you buy a Caravan if it were made in Japan?

I submit that it wouldn't mean a bit of difference because the problem is with the company and the car, not the workers.

I think we can both agree though that a lot of this has to do with unions. Publicly, my perception of the UAW is that they want you to believe that a union shop is every bit as productive as a non-union shop, or at least it can be, if management weren't such idiots.

I suspect privately that the truth is that unions like the UAW don't really want better cars at a lower price, they want more union jobs at higher pay with better benefits. They work against profit on purpose, because all power should not go to the market or the consumer.

But I'm just talking out of my butt...

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-Andrew Starks

[This message has been edited by pancreas (edited 11-01-2001).]
 

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In my years on the road I drove Honda Accords. With 5 straight years, I had one small problem, my drivers window did not come down. It was fixed under warranty. All my Accords were made in Ohio. My 99 EX never had a single problem. I would say good record. My wife has had 3 Acura Legend or RL's with no real problems. I am sold on the Honda brands.
 

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by pancreas:

Does it really matter in reality whether or not your Japanese cars are built here or abroad?

Would the reverse be true: Would you buy a Caravan if it were made in Japan?
</font>
If my Ody was built in Japan, I wouldn't expect to see any loose bolts! Does it really matter? Well I don't have any statistics but it would make my purchase a bit more satisfying.

As far as a Caravan built in Japan... I wouldn't buy that over an Ody because of fundamental design, but if I had a choice of a Caravan built in Japan or US, I'd bet I'd have less build quality problems if it came from Japan.
 
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