Foreign vs Domestic

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  #1  
Old 06-14-04, 07:27 AM
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Foreign vs Domestic

I have a 1999 Taurus Wagon with 62,500 miles. On Friday my alternator failed and had to be replaced. The extended warranty we purchased at the time of sale covered the entire repair minus a $50 deductible.

On the way to the shop, in talking to the tow guy, I learned that most American cars will fail similarly to mine, while most foreign cars fair much better. Not that this news to me. I thought that American cars have done much better in recent years.

Even though I may pay a higher initial cost for a foreign car, the lower cost of the American car, even with the purchase of an extended warranty, can end up being a great value for what you pay.

Are there any opinions either pro or con on this issue? Is foreign reliability still an issue and well worth the peace of mind and higher initial cost? I realize this is a subjective decision dependent on taste and preferences.

I purchased a new 1992 Taurus Wagon based on the increased interior size it offered over the Camry and Accord Wagon. It was also priced lower than the other two. I did not purchase an extended warranty, but never would have used it. The car ran for over 120,000 without a major part failing or leaving me stranded. I was lucky for that!
 
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Old 06-14-04, 08:19 AM
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I'm pretty shocked at the low mileage and age of an alternator failure. My opinion is that foreign quality is probably better than american, but I think that foreign quality may be slipping as much as american is increasing.

I pretty much only owned foreign from 1971 though about 1986. Then I started buying american because I went back into direct sales and needed a bigger sedan for hauling catalogs and samples. However, I never bought a new car. I usually bought 1 year old and drove them until they got 150K-200K on the odometer. I religiously changed the oil and filter every 5K and the transmission fluid every 35K. However, every GM V6 I had need the spark igniters replaced, generally before 100K miles. The only thing I ever did on my last two Fords (1 Crown Vic, 1 Grand Marquis) was replace the intake manifold on one (they started making that part of plastic and it developed hairline fractures, the driver's power window motor/regulator assy on both.

Other than that just routine stuff, water pumps at about 125-150K. Other than the 85 Chevy I don't think I've done an alternator in about 15 years. When I quit going over the road I went back to foreign. Today I have an 02 Nissan Maxima and I still have my 92 Mazda Miata. With 212,000 miles the Miata is pretty much original except for clutch, timing belt and water pumps. The engine has never been opened, it doesn't use any oil.

On the other hand we've had several Subarus (wife's car) with nary a problem, but last winter our 98 with only 80K miles developed a leaking engine main oil seal. We were very disappointed and sold the car soon after getting it repaired.
 
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Old 06-14-04, 03:08 PM
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That tow-truck driver was a little off on his statement. There is no big foreign vs domestic differences in frequency of repairs with a couple of exceptions. That Toyota camry you passed on is probably one of the most reliable cars made. Most Toyota's are far superior to most other makes., foreign or domestic. There are "problem childs" as well as "great cars" on both sides.
 
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Old 06-14-04, 04:55 PM
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Hey, I have it on good authority that tow guys are always 100% correct! LOL

I would tend to lean toward Desi's comments. By a strange coincidence you happened to mention two cars that are about as far apart on the quality and reliability scale as you could possibily get - Toyota Camry and Ford Taurus/Merc Sable. My wife's current car is a '95 Camry with 170,000+ on it; it still has the original alternator, starter, exhaust system, ps pump. Only major components to fail were the ac compressor, but that was at well over 100,000 miles, and the radiator at over 150,000. My next car will also be a Camry.

The Taurus/Sable on the other hand is well-known and widely recognized as possibly the worst bit of engineering ever to come out of FoMoCo; the failure rate of transmissions and head gaskets alone have kept many a repair shop (and Tow Guy) in the "black". I have personal experience with the line; my brother used to drive our Dad's old '93 Sable. Here's a partial list of things that failed with LESS THAN 50,000 miles: Transmission, head gasket, timing cover gasket, motor mounts, ac compressor.
 
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Old 06-14-04, 05:58 PM
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My 2 cents

I have owned both Domestic and Foreign. I have now two Toyotas a 2000 Corolla and a 03 Matrix (Corolla station wagon).All my domestic cars mostly the newer from the 70s on were very unreliable. My last domestic a 96 Buick was the worst a list of electrical gremlins a mile long.
My 86 Chevy Nova I bought for 1000 dollars from a friend was a dream that car would run and run never had a single problem except for a burned out headlight. It was a Toyota with a Chevy badge. Over 200 thousand miles. I traded it in for my 03 Toyota only because she was in need of a paint job and the seats were worn,and smelled a little musty.
My dad has a Taurus Transmission went south before 80 thousand,I am going on a limb here but people say buy American to what I say what an American Dodge truck made in Mexico. I would rather buy a Toyota made in California by a Blue collar guy making money for his American family.
I demand Quality for my money I work hard for it and I do not want a car were it breaks down soon after the warranty is over.
 
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Old 06-14-04, 06:06 PM
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It's hard to compare anything against a Toyota and the Taurus is a bad representative of the American car but there are many reliable American cars out there. I'm pretty partial to GM products but there are other good cars out there.
 
  #7  
Old 06-15-04, 09:57 AM
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This gives a lot to think about. With the Taurus/Sable ending production this fall, it seems that Ford is ending a nightmare. I agree with Michael Van, my wife and I both work hard for our money, and spending money on auto repairs is a waste of money when I can buy better.

In my response, I have answered my own question. Wanting better quality for my money is what I will need to look at next time I buy car.
 
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Old 06-16-04, 05:16 AM
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I hadn't heard that the Sable/Taurus was going out of production. Too bad; my favorite car PROFESSIONALLY speaking.
 
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Old 06-16-04, 08:08 AM
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Tow Guy,

You never what the quality of the replacement car will be? Maybe it will be just as troublesome, especially if the engineering has not changed. Although as a driver, I would like to see something more reliable. I still canít believe my alternator went at 62,000.

The Sable goes away at the end of this model year, and Ford is still undecided on the Taurus for 2005.They have shown the replacement cars at some of the auto shows last year.
 
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Old 06-16-04, 02:23 PM
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The tranny in my Dad's/brother's '93 Sable went south with less that 40,000!! Fortunately there'll still be plenty of Fords on the road in neeed of towing.
 
  #11  
Old 06-17-04, 07:31 AM
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The next time the Taurus breaks down, can I have AAA call you? What would you charge for a tow in Rochester, New York? Is there an out of state fee? Itís summer, so you donít have to worry about snow.

Maybe a Camry would be nice change the next time we buy a car. By observation on the forum page, it is clear that domestic car problems outnumber foreign car problems quite easily. Maybe it is time to break the domestic car buying habit.
 
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