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This thread is a direct result of other threads that have been posted here, but perhaps more specifically because of comments of late made about GM’s quality, or lack there of. I’ve been thinking about quality related issues pertaining to the auto industry as a whole.
Here is the question: Are your quality expectations regarding your new/used vehicle based on its purchase price? Should the quality level of that new Ferrari you just bought (you wish :lol ) be greater just because it cost more than most of our homes? On the other hand, should we excuse a low quality product from Pontiac (Solstice) just because it’s going to be in the 20K price range? In your view is there a direct correlation between pricepoint and quality level. Should there be?
 

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I expect quality to be a function of price, but I also expect a reasonable level of quality even in a moderately priced vehicle ($20K and above). The same with fit and finish if you put that in a separate category from overall quality.

One area that many auto manufacturers are doing a poor job with now is paint. I've seen cars upwards of $50,000 with bad cases of orange peel from the factory (Mercedes, BMW, Audi, etc). I see this as poor quality measures in the paint process. It also seems that today's paint is more prone to chips than in the past. I think the paint companies have had enough time to deal with the environmental regs and still produce durable paints. This is a pet peeve of mine since one of my vehicles was a victim of this issue.
 

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There is no excuse for low BUILD quality at any price these days. Now lower quality parts such as hard plastics, cheapie tires and low end audio equipment are to be expected.
 

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Motorweek just featured the new C6 model Corvette. I noticed that the rear panel on the car they had wasn't flush with the read deck. It stuck up enough to be a distraction. That's about a $50K vehicle... I've heard Mercedes is having problems with quality. Is it a problem with the materials being used? Or the people putting them together? Or a little of both?

I'm thinking that no matter how little or much you spend, you want the product to be the best it can be. Maybe expectations are that if I buy a lower priced item I expect it to wear out sooner than a more expensive one?
 

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In defense of the vette if it's been tested already it's a pre-release model. I drove number 110 or so out of the factory. It had problems with door alignment and other panel alignment. They were aware of that ahead of time and noted that it was one of the things being tweaked before full production of customer cars.

I think Slipstream hit the nail on the head with this one. Low build quality is not acceptible to me on any price car these days. Lower cost materials based on the cost of the car are fine as long as they are within the quality mof material expected for the price of car.
 

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I third slipstream. I'm paying a lot of money for something that's supposed to be a quality product. However I can understand things that might have gotten passed QA testing, wear testing, etc. Little things that can be fixed easily I'm ok with. But there are certain things that shouldn't be overlooked prior to full production. Like the SUV's with failing tires issue. Stuff like that just isn't acceptable.
 

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Build quality is obtained as a result of a lot of engineering and development work, and of quality control at the plant. Regardless of price, every car produced today, especially a new from the ground up design should be engineered and screwed together extremely well. No excuses for shody work.

Paint: I think automakers are using this as another area to lower the price of the vehicles. I have noticed more and more new cars with bad orange peel. I noticed an Ion the other day, and the paint was orange peeled so bad the side of the car did not look shiny. It was a terrible paint job. I have seen more expensive cars with this problem too.
 

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Quality of construction and assembly is an old issue. It's fun to read articles in car magazines from the 50's and 60's and see that this concern has been going on for years. In a high end vehicle there is no excuse for either poor build quality or construction. If I'm paying 50k and up they had better take the time to get it right. On moderate to low cost cars I am a little more forgiving, but not much.

Unfortunately, automobile assembly still requires human assistance, and so build quality can very greatly. It still requires a guy make sure that the parts are put together right, and look good. Fortunately for consumers, automation and technology are working in our favor to make better products. The more robots the better the build quality. Unfortunatley for Americans it means a shrinking middle class.

I do expect a correlation between quality and price, and so at 20k I don't expect the fit and finish, or the quality of materials, of the Solstice to be in any way that of Mercedes or Lexus. I do expect them to equal other cars in it's price range though, and moderately priced cars are much better than they used to be. I feel that the Solstice will more than likely satisfy my expectations for fit and finish. It's durability and reliability I'm concerned with. At 20k I do expect it to go at least 100k with no major failures and very low warrantee claims.
 

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AeroDave said:
I do expect a correlation between quality and price, and so at 20k I don't expect the fit and finish, or the quality of materials, of the Solstice to be in any way that of Mercedes or Lexus. I do expect them to equal other cars in it's price range though, and moderately priced cars are much better than they used to be. I feel that the Solstice will more than likely satisfy my expectations for fit and finish. It's durability and reliability I'm concerned with. At 20k I do expect it to go at least 100k with no major failures and very low warrantee claims.
I certainly agree with this. I wouldn't expect high dollar quality at this price level, but I would demand much better quality than an equivalent car had 20 years ago too.
 

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The asembly quality of the solstice better be top notch. While I am a bit more forgiving for a rattle or loose screw the automotive press is not. GM needs to make sure that their cars are of top notch quality to regain momentum lost to foreign competitors. While GM has improved in quality in the past few years they need to keep inproving so that their reputation can be changed. The solstice being a "Halo" car should not only have top notch build quality it should have some better materials. While I am not expecting cadillac levels of materials I do expect that the car be almost bullet proof mechanically.
 

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I second that. Crimony, at 20,000 cars/year, they're only building them at a rate of 10-15 per hour. Many of the other assembly plants are 60-70 per hour.

Seems like they could take an extra second to make sure the build quality is absolute tops...
 

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Seems like they could take an extra second to make sure the build quality is absolute tops...
It won't take too many of those extra seconds, and they will miss their <$20K target. I think they will have to design the quality into the assembly process if it is to be consistently satisfactory. If a part fits only one way, it is going to be less trouble than if correct installation depends on diligence on the part of the line worker. If quality depends on the human element at the time of assembly, I think we will be disappointed.
 

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Photon said:
It won't take too many of those extra seconds, and they will miss their <$20K target. I think they will have to design the quality into the assembly process if it is to be consistently satisfactory. If a part fits only one way, it is going to be less trouble than if correct installation depends on diligence on the part of the line worker. If quality depends on the human element at the time of assembly, I think we will be disappointed.
Your right in that for most of the assembly, having correct fitment and such designed in is a big thing. However, there is still a lot to be said about plant quality control. If they still will be using the Saturn working rules at the plant, anyone can stop the line to fix a potential problem. Even with exact fitting parts, human workers or mechanized robots can mess up in assembly. These small problems can all be caught in the factory, and that can make for a much better vehicle!
 

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:agree Remember, a few posts up that they botched one of the few areas that require human finesse in getting the doors, lids and panels to fit right on the C6.

Things are a lot better than 20 years ago, but so many of the newer quality programs (ISO, etc) seem to involve more paper tracking than actual human eyeballs. So many "Quality Control Professionals" spend all their time at there computers and never actually look at the product they're controlling. Wouldn't it be nice if every car had someone actually spend a half hour looking it over before it left the factory?

True quality control needs to be in place before the first car is built at the engineeering stage. If you can't do that, go for while it's being built. And if you can't do that, at least look it over closely before it's loaded on the truck. But grumbling customers and service bulletins on a two year old car is too late!
 

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It would be nice if they took the time to thoroughly look over each car, but they probably won't do as much as we'd like. What I think we can expect is similar to the current Corvette and SSR in quality. I believe there are people on this forum that are familiar with the latest versions of these cars and so I would like to know what their personal experiences have been. Please be brutally honest.
 

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It would be nice to see a car built and then have each car individually inspected but that would requied more people to work on the cars and therefor more money spent in the production of the car, and keeping to the low cost of the solstice i would never expect to see GM hireing people just to look over each car that came out of the factory.
 

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mitchpin12 said:
...i would never expect to see GM hireing people just to look over each car that came out of the factory...
Ahhhh. But they do. Inspection is a way of life in the Assembly plant. GM has actually hired outside auditors to audit cars as independent entities to see if they can get better quality.

I also had an acquaintence that was hired as a student to drive cars for 10 miles off the end of the assembly plant line in the early 90's, looking at driveability and quality issues and logging them. He had to drive for eight hours/day, same 15 minute route, car-after-car...

That type of stuff still goes on, I'm sure. The key is whether they (mfgrs.) do anything with the data (like fixing problems and cars) or just jump up and down and say "ohhhh! LOOOOK!!! Our quality is bad!!! We must fix it for the shareholders!!!!"
 

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Discussion Starter #18
solsticeman said:
That type of stuff still goes on, I'm sure. The key is whether they (mfgrs.) do anything with the data (like fixing problems and cars) or just jump up and down and say "ohhhh! LOOOOK!!! Our quality is bad!!! We must fix it for the shareholders!!!!"
Solsticeman; Not exactly. Fixing product mistakes can be too costly, so it's the the beancounters that step in to say if a anomaly is worth fixing or not. These repairs can cost the shareholders more than it will make them sometimes. I am not talking about safety items, though you have to wonder about that process too.These days, quality in design will play a much larger part in overall product quality than will assembly issues. This is not to say that production workers can't screw up a good design, but it's more often the other way around. Components make by outside vendors sometimes are lacking proper quality levels simply because the big 3 demand lower costs and I believe cause the vendors to cut corners that adversely impact assembled product quality.
 

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It may be a bit off topic, but I always thought a great way to improve quality and design at GM, or any car company, would be to mandate that all the board of directors, CEO, top management and engineers be required to drive the mid to low end cars in the product line to work everyday. The cars would be pulled from local dealers, not special preped ones off the line. If they did this I'm sure changes would be made quickly. I'm sure Bob Lutz is a great guy, but I doubt he's spent much drive time in a Cavalier lately.
 

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Chip said:
Solsticeman; Not exactly. Fixing product mistakes can be too costly, so it's the the beancounters that step in to say if a anomaly is worth fixing or not. These repairs can cost the shareholders more than it will make them sometimes. I am not talking about safety items, though you have to wonder about that process too.These days, quality in design will play a much larger part in overall product quality than will assembly issues. This is not to say that production workers can't screw up a good design, but it's more often the other way around. Components make by outside vendors sometimes are lacking proper quality levels simply because the big 3 demand lower costs and I believe cause the vendors to cut corners that adversely impact assembled product quality.
Conceded.
 
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