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Forum posts for Dilemma

Posted by mike on Dec 19, 2003
This is MY opinion:

You should always try to arrange your purchases so that the most money stays (or circulates) here in Canada. Bear in mind that I am horribly biased.

As with a lot of things there are people who purchase by brand name and are loyal to that brand. This is also true with cars. I have talked to some people who firmly believe that Honda makes cars that are unsurpassable by any other large manufacturer. I say that's bullshit, but everyone is entitled to an opinion.
I think you should by a North American car. That is only because there is no usch thing (as far as I know) as a Canadian car. I think that North American cars are better suited for North America. I feel that the general setup on foreign (especially Japanese) cars is not at all suited for our climate, or our general situation up here.
I would like some clarification on what you mean by North American manufacturers not having a good entry level car. Please define entry level car. What about the Neon, Sunfire/Cavalier, and Focus? I expect that I am just not understanding what you mean by what you said.

I am the next closest thing to being illiterate as you can be without ACTUALLY being illiterate. I cannot read fast enough to find it enjoyable, it becomes tedious for me and I quit.
I would say that you should refer back to my opening statement for my opinion. Also I know nothing about purchasing books and am therefore not qualified to log an opinion on where to buy, or who's the best.

Posted by phduffy on Dec 19, 2003
By entry level car, I mean Sunfire, Cavalier, Neon, etc. (I guess Focus qualifies, but I'm not quite sure).

My understanding was that those cars do not have the same quality as their foreign competition, such as a Civic, whatever Toyota makes now (Tercel? Prius), Golf, etc.

Posted by mike on Dec 19, 2003
I would say that quality is a relative thing. Personally I think that (as I said) North American cars (including entry level) are better suited for North America (which includes Canada).

Quality as in what? Do the doors fall off NA cars before foreign cars? Engine? Fuel economy? Available colours? Ability to modify? Performance? There are so many aspects that I would say that depending on what you (or I) prefer the facts can be stated in a way that makes either opinion correct.

I like North American cars. If there were Canadian cars I would like them more, even if they only lasted for 5 years and then you had to buy another one. That is my nature.

Every car is different. A civic is not a sunfire. They are TOTALLY different cars that the manufactureres gear towards the same market.

I would like to say "to each their own" for this one. If you like Honda, you will likely buy it. If you like Ford, same thing.
If you like Sony you'll buy that. I like Panasonic, so usually (obviously I look around first) I buy that.

Its all brands and marketing. I agree with you (I think you made this point) that the way the cars are marketed to the public is the key. If you go to a Toyota dealership they won't show you a Tercel and then say "Oh, by the way, this is crap compared to a Focus," it's just not done. If anything they will tell you that a Focus is crap without actually telling you why.

Cars have different applications and purposes. If you want to eat some soup you get a spoon, you don't; screw around trying to eat it with a knife. Or you could put it in a mug and drink it which is equally effective. Some people like the spoon, some people like the mug. Both work, and you could endlessly argue about it.

Personally I like analogies that make little to no sense.

I think.
Posted by phduffy on Dec 19, 2003
I think that what's usually meant by quality is, what are the odds I'll still be driving this car in 10 years, and how much money will I have to put into it?

Posted by mike on Dec 22, 2003
Well in that case just make sure that you don't buy a Monday or a Friday car.
Other than that any car should be able to be driven for 10 years as long as you don't drive the shit out of it. If there is a car manufacturer that can't make a car that last for 10 years without major repairs then they should close their doors. They aren't a car manufacturer, they are morons (or greedy bastards).

Obviously 10 years is assuming that you don't drive like 50000km per year. Once a car is past 100000km expect to have to repair it. I would say that I am a pretty average driver. I need to change my oil 4 or 5 times per year, so that would indicate that I would drive approx. 20-25000km per year. At ten years that is 250000km. Any car manufacturer should be able to do that. If they dont' it is because they choose not to. We have the technology, it's not Rocket Surgery.

And another thing...

What is up with putting all of these "brass gears" into cars. We can make parts that last. They were doing it in the 50's, therefore we should be able to do it a lot better now. Building parts that are designed to fail after a desired (relatively short) period of time should be illegal.

And another thing...

And banks. Someone should regulate banks. Or whoever is regulating banks should be flogged with a 4 day old dead carp. I shouldn't ahve to pay the bank to hold my money. Since when is that the point of a bank. They make billions of dollars per year, as a loyal customer it would be nice if the interest I receive is more than the fees they seem to think they require me to pay. I call bullshit to banks.

And another thing...

Posted by nszyngie on Dec 22, 2003
When I decided I was going to purchase a car, I made a short list of cars I was attracted to, and then did my research. For me - there was so much more to buying a car than the sticker price.
Test drives, options, warranties, console materials, engine sound, radio, etc., I tested and factored all of these things in. I was not out to buy a "foreign" or "domestic"; I went out to buy a car.

After test driving cars (I am speaking of cars in the same category as you guys - I think - Protege, Protege 5, Sunfire, Matrix, Corolla, Neon, Focus, Elantra, Civic, Sentra) you start to widdle down the list. Some cars just don't meet expectations, no matter how nice they look.

For me, what it boiled down to (and what ended up really pissing me off too) was that GENERALLY, foreign manufacturers had more usable options included in the base price of the car than domestic manu's.
I think the worst was Ford - who had a Comfort package for the focus, that had the A/C i desired, but was 1200, cause it included tilt steering and adjustable seats - or something ridiculous . . . bollocks. To get a Focus with some power options and air, required 2 option packages, amounting to about 3000 extra. BS.

At the end of it all, I decided that I wasn't going to skimp on the car I was going to buy - because I want it to be a car that lasts me over 7 years, and I didn't want to be "wanting" after 2.

Sure, there was a bias against some manufacturers stemming from exposure to their products through friends. But ultimately I went after a car that I liked, and had good value.

I think I am way off topic now. But let me qualify that I do relaize that the cars I tested above are not equals, and represent 2, possibly 3 markets - but I was open and wanted to see what was out there - in the broadest sense. I believe I knew I was going for an intermediate vehicle, but wanted to see what value the economies could give me.

I don't think it is about quality (well, it's not JUST about quality). Alot of it, for me, was the type of plastic in the interior, the fabric on the seats, how much the turn signal column wiggled in the mounting. How many speakers. How fast could I get the car to 110 km/h on an on-ramp. I would say it is more about preferences and the overall feel of the car.


Posted by mike on Dec 22, 2003
Sounds like you are a good approximation of the average consumer. Probably not quite as bad as me however.

To each their own.

What car did you settle on? Were you talked into anything? I'm interested to know what car you went to the lot to buy in the end and what you actually ended up driving away in.

There have been some interesting studies done that I have heard about that indicate that people don't seem to realize their expectations with their final purchase, they get distracted by triviality. People will go to the lot wanting a green car with certain options etc. and will leave with a car that "felt right" which was nothing like what they had intended to buy. There are many phycological factors involved in buying a car that dealers are aware of that consumers (in general) are not. The smell of a car has a LARGE impact on the overal purchase. There are hundreds of "new car smells" which have been painstakingly and specifically designed to trigger a phycological effect in the consumer. These smells let the consumer know that this is the car for them, even though it probably isn't at all what they had intended to buy when they left their house that morning.

Consumers are like lemmings in a way, and I am possibly the worst. I can't count the number of things that i have purchased and then realized taht it had been "sold" to me and wasn't actually what I wanted. Damn I hate that.

And another thing...

I was watching something on the TV last night about car colours. Apparently silver is the colour you want to buy if you don't want your car to get smashed. If you do want your car to get smashed then you should buy green. Silver is the best, then white, and there are more besides green that are the worst. If I recall red was in the middle. That sounds screwed up, but if you think about it then it makes sense.

Before making any large purchase you should take the time to understand what you are purchasing. I for instance know nothing about electronics, so I end up buying something that looks nice and I think will work well. Usually it isn't all that great.

I really don't understand such a large hangup on aesthetics. You NEED a car that runs properly. It can look as nice as you want, go as fast as you want, accelrate as fast as you want, smell how ever you want, or feel how ever you want, but at the end of the day if it doens't give you ass a ride from point A to point B then what was the point?

Another major thing to consider which was discussed over the weekend is repairs. Bear in mind that 10-15 years ago the profit ratios for cars was approx. 80% selling 20% fixing. Now it is like 25% selling 75% fixing. Dealers don't make their money selling you the car, they make it when the piece of crap breaks and they cahrge you $75 an hour to fix it.

That's all for now, I could go on, but who's going to read it.

Posted by Nerhael on Dec 22, 2003
I think most people read all of your posts mike. You post a lot, and most of it makes sense. Tangents are aplenty, but they're all in good fun.

Keep on trucking in the new year.

Posted by phduffy on Dec 22, 2003
Mike, you mention that you need a car that works properly, and that that's more important than how fast it is, how it looks, etc. That's all true. However, I'm of the belief that at this point in the development cycle, pretty much any car you buy is going to run properly. That shouldn't be a problem. So, you then need to go look at the secondary features.

Anyone wanna buy a consumer reports membership on their website and post the password and user name here so that we can all go look at what cars are best?

Posted by mike on Dec 22, 2003
At this point in the development cycle? What development cycle? Seeing how little effort can be expended in the development and manufature of automobiles in order to have a car that just barely functions long enough to satisfy the average consumer? That's not what I call a development cycle.

If they have reached the pinnacle of development then I will be requiring an explanation of why they can't even get the fuel gauges to work properly. Oh no, Petro Canada and Sunoco allow too much elemental Sulphur in thier gas! Boo freaking hoo. They more than meet the regulations put on them by the Canadian government. GM, Audi, and all of the other screwups with thier silver sensors can kiss my ass. They were well aware of the fact that elemental Sulpher levels in Canadian Gasoline are allowed to be much higher than in the States and other places, but they failed miseralby in designing a sensor or even programming thier computers properly to account for it. Blaming the gas companies is unnaceptable when the gas companies have fully complied with regualtions. The fact that gas companies are all bastards is a completely seperate issue.
They have been able to accurately tell how much gas is in a tank well before the invention of all this computerized gadgetry on cars. What ever happenned to the old fashioned float? It required no electricity, no tiny silver corrodabel components, nothing! It was simply a float on a rod. Simplicity is the key, but all of these damn car companies seem to think that everything must be computerized. Not to mention how impossible it is to fix/replace a float in a new car.

Why do they computerize everything? Good question. Here's why I think they do it. They greedy bastards in all of their glory realized that cars were in general a pretty simple machine, and that anybody with some simple tools and a little training could fix almost anything on the car aside from the major drivetrain components. So, they thought ot themselves... hmmm... we are making scads of money, but we need more so lets screw the little people. The corner garage has all but dissapeared and the skilled mechaninc has too in my opinion because they have made everything needlessly complicated. Now days when a mechanic seems completely reliant on their diagnostic machine.

A classic case was when my roomate had some trouble with his cars electrical system. His buddy had a machine and hooked it up to the car and determined in his infinite wisdom that nothing could be wrond with the electrical system because the machine didn't say so. Gord and myself told him a small handful of things that could be causing the problem. The mechaninc still couldn't find anything wrong. Did he look at anything? No he didn't, he relied on the machine. What was wrong? A short int he electrical system, one of the things Gord mentioned could be wrong. Did the mechanic understand? No he didn't. How could his technology have failed? Because it's technology, that's what excessive technology does, it fails. I ask you, who is the trained mechanic. Was it Gord? No it wasn't. Who knew what was wrong? Gord.

I forget what I was talking about in the first place (as I usually do) so I am going to carry on without looking back as I usually do.

I pose a question to you, I will include the answer, but I won't tell you what the answer truly is. I want you to guess.

What got better gas milage?
Let's say a 1984 GMC truck with a carburated engine, or a 1992 GMC truck with the same engine only with computerized fuel injection.
Answer: One got approx 25 miles to the gallon, the other got 10-15. Remember, it's the same engine, only one had fuel injection, the other didn't.



If you require the answer I'll tell you, but I am sure that it is blatantly obvious.

Is technology better? NO!
Does John (or Jane) Q Public think it is? Yes. Because of the pure idiocy of people as a whole.

Ah ha! I know what i was talking about. Cars are not as reliable as they used to be. They are made to fall apart at specific times. They contain built in obsolecense in order to have the opportuity to sell you more cars and/or service your current car (at $75 and hour). Even your computer in pre-programmed to make the manufacturer more money. Each car is different, but at certain amounts ouf driving specific idiot lights will light up whether there is a problem or not. Why would they do that? To get your car in to get "serviced". While they are "servicing" your car they can then point out to you the various built in obsolecences as random wear on your car. And "while they are in there" they should probably change your alternator, give you a new belt, replace the water pump, etc. Then once they have "fixed" everything they tap into the computer and tell the computer to turn off the idiot light that brought you there for no reason in the first place.

Little hint: no wait I am not going to tell you. If something goes wrong with your finicky piece of shit you will tell me it's my fault and be mad.

This stupid scamming is just one of the things on the list of bullshit that shoud be made illegal. No wait, I'm sorry, most of the things on the list are illegal, but the government doesn't have the balls to enforce it.

Excerpts from the previous mentioned list. I won't name names, but I bet you can think of who I am talking aobut. Bear in mind, most of these things are either completely illegal and aren't enforced, or exist in some kind of grey area of the law:

Price fixing. *Cough* Oil Companies *Cough*
Corporate collusion.
Reaping of horrendous profits through "supply and demand". *Cough* Pharmaceutacle Companies *Cough*
Stockpiling of commodities to create false "shortages".
Products with a built in obsolecence.

The list obviously goes on, but it makes to too sad and angry to carry on.

i hope this is short
Posted by nszyngie on Dec 22, 2003
I ended up buying a Hyundai Elantra GT (the one with the hatchback). It had the options I wanted, and was affordable. It wasn't the car I wanted, and was VERY skeptical about buying from the renownd manufacturer of such classics as the Pony and the Stellar.

I had my fair share of problems with the car, including the main electronics assembly that was corroded (I am guessing from improper sealing of the car on ifs ocean voyage) but whatever. I gave them a chance. I read lots about how Hyundai are making better cars, but it still didn't live to my standards. It was weak going up hills (even though it was standard). AND, it was silver. I was in an accident with it and it became a write-off.

Now I gots me a green Subaru Impreza TS wagon, and although it was 1,500 more than the Hyundai (at the time; it is 2,500 or more now) it is a way better car in all aspects. It was the car I originally wanted but could not afford. Again, I have reasons for buying this car that changed slightly from when I bought the elantra. But basically, I knew what was out there, and knew what I wanted. When I got the check from the insurance company, I went out and bought the Subaru the next day.

I don't expect my car to run forever or even better than a domestic - I understand that everything will fail (talking automobiles here people) in time. I can dig it. To me, it is a fact of life.

To each their own.

Good, good.
Posted by mike on Dec 22, 2003
Just out of curiosity how hard has it been to get parts for your car when it breaks? As per a weekend discussion that seems to be one of the big problems with foreign cars. With a domestic parts are for the most part readily available.

Corrosion of electronics is a problem for all new junk... err... I mean cars. I don't understand why they don't take things like that into consideration when they build something. Why would you put the computer mounted to the wheel well where it is succeptable to water and crap getting spewed on it? Even though it seemed retarded at the time they should probably put it back under the passengers seat. Or, news flash, take it out all together. It doesn't do that much. Don't give me any crap about better fuel economy, that is mostly better machining and better thinking. Simplicity is the key. Although I will bow to the need for a computer when they get the magnetic engine going good.

The FACT of the matter is that a car is not as complicated as it has been made out to be. All of these fancy pants: engineers have done what they do best, overcomplicated things. Evens things as revolutionary as power steering are actaully quite simple. Hydraulic actuators attached to the rack and a hydraulic pump (power steering pump) with the wheel as controller. In fact I challenge you to think of a part of the car (which is not uneccessary) that is not a combination of relatively simple devices. These devices are in turn (quite unnecessarily) run through a computer which is the only thing making them complex. Prove me wrong, please, I really want to see if you can prove me wrong.
I don't know about the rotary engine (although I would like to), but keep in mind that they made gas turbine engines for cars in the 60's. No computer. After only 10 years of development they were already as fuel efficinet as a regular piston engine! They stopped the research when crysler got itself into money trouble and had to focus on staying alive as a company instead of pushing the envelope. That's right people, they put a scaled down jet engine in a car and it worked VERY well. Perhaps too well, that would be what seemed to happen to the Aero.

Interesting and totally unecessary point:
Propane is to a diesel engine what Nitros is to a gas engine.

And can anyone explain to me why a the spark plug point or whatever they call the do-dad that replaced the distributor cap got so damn corroded on my Sunfire? That was a pain in the ass for a long time until I figured it out. That and the point (or whatever) was so close to the block that instead of powering the engine (mostly due to the corrosion) it would ground out into the block. Who designs this crap?

Please Note: in figuring this out I got a nasty shock directly off the point. Yeow! Dumbasses.

And another thing...

Who's body type are they using for designing the maintenace accessibility of these new cars? I almost need another joint between my elbow and my wrist to get at the oil filter on my Sunfire and I am by no means a big guy. An oil change is the most basic of all maintenance. Dummies. We are going to have to start training small children to service vehicles, because as it stands you almost have to partially unmount and rock the engine to do anything anymore.

Someone must have something to say here. Regail us with some stories. Gord?

Let the bitching commence, or in my case continue.

parts for import
Posted by nszyngie on Dec 22, 2003
Parts haven't been hard to get. I have developed a relationship with the Parts dude at the dealership, and he gets me a 10-15% discount (so I am not robbed blind, just robbed - it is better than nothing). Subaru, and I am guessing all import manufacturers, like most companies nowadays, warehouse parts at central locations. I had a problem with the seat sliding assay, and the part took 1 day to come in.
There is so much outsourcing and contract manufacturing in everything these days . . .
So, no - it hasn't been a problem. However, getting the electrical assay on the Hyundai did take over 2 weeks to obtain (I was given a rental) - I think that needed to come from Korea direct - and I also believe that they took the part needed from another car on the lot so I could have my car back so they could stop paying for the rental . . .
So I guess it depends on what part and what manufacturer you're talking aboot.

Posted by mike on Dec 22, 2003
Thank you for that. Points of view are excellent.

I hadn't thought about it hard enough I suppose. Commonly breaking parts (or "brass gears" as I have started calling them) would probably be whareshoused somewhere accessible.

Have you had any experience with an uncommon part? I am not sure what to reference here, perhaps a gas tank? or a timing chain? Perhaps the wring harness? Computer assembly? You get eh point.

Apparently Subaru has available parts. I have heard that foreign cars (perhaps a gross generalization) have trouble with parts accesibility. Perhaps some manufacturers are better than others.

Posted by phduffy on Dec 22, 2003
Mike, I guess it depends on what you mean by barely functioning car. I think most new cars function pretty well. Not perfectly, but from a driving standpoint and a cost standpoint, I think you'll do allright. We could and should improve some safety and fuec economy issues, but that's not the same as saying we have a barely functioning car.

They computerize everything for a number of reasons. One, to give you the automobile driver better service. Two, to improve performance. Is there an element of passing on some costs to you? There may be, but I'm not sure. The car companies aren't reaping the profits when you get your car serviced, as most people only go to the dealer while their car is under warranty. So I'm not sure why they would want to make thigns more expensive. There could be a kernel of truth there though.

The reason that the 84 truck gets better mileage than the 92 has nothing to do with technology. Technology has consistently made improvements in fuel economy, and the 90's where the first decade in history where average mileage didn't get better. Why is this? Because of the increase in purchases of trucks and SUVs, and the fact that they are not held to the same standards that they used to be. If the government were to increase the standards, all the auto companies would increase their fuel efficieny without a problem, all while using technology.

In my view technology is absolutely, undeniably better. If that makes me an idiot, so be it. People live better and longer than they ever have before, and that's because of technology. Of course there's problems with technology, but I don't want to be stuck in the stone age. Instead, use technology to solve those problems!

In what view are cars less reliable than before? What time period are you talking about? Cars are now on the road longer than ever before. What reliability are you talking about? I don't think that improving the safety and effiicieny of car should be made illegal. ie, the oil change light actually saves you money, as it occurs less frequently than the proscribed 5000 km.

What previously mentioned list are you talking about? Are you referring to me?

The oil companies engage in price fixing on an international level, as it's very hard to enforce anti cartel regulations internationally. To stop this I think Canada should use all the oil we have, so we dont' have to rely on OPEC.

Discouting oil companies, please name me one example of corporate collusion that you think is occuring right now.
I'm also curious at how much money you think pharmaceutacle companies are making, and how much time, effort and money goes into producing a new drug.

Discounting oil companies, what's an example of someone stockpiling commodities to create false shortages?

Discouting oil companies, what's an example of a monopoly that's hurting you? Do you realize that in certain circumstances there are very legitimate reasons to alloy monopoly behaviour to exist, and that's why we allow patents?

Discouting oil companies, what cartel to you feel exists and is hurting you? The only other one I can think of is DeBeers.

Seems to me that your problem is with the oil companies.

Posted by phduffy on Dec 23, 2003
Allright, I think I've said all I'm going to say on cars and this subject.

To be honest, I thought the more interesting of my two quandaries was the Chapters one. Anyone have an opinion on that?

Posted by mike on Dec 23, 2003
You are right, I don't like the oil companies. There are examples of what I am talking about, but I don't feel argumentative today. By not backing up my argument I lose. You don't have to post me that, I know.

You win, that's what everyone seems to want to do, win. I am happy that I got to talk about it at all. If anyone walked away agreeing with a single point I made then I am happy.

I think it is okay to lose sometimes, but it would be nice if a tie was viewed as an excellent compromise.

Refer to my post about money. All of the things I mentioned wouldn't exist without money.

I have come to the realization that not many people think the way that I do. That is fine. I will stil try to convince people of things that I believe in.

hard to fix
Posted by Polfuss on Dec 23, 2003
One reason that cars have parts in such stupid places now is that most car designers don't acctualy know how to fix a car, or what has to be done to get at certain parts. They just want the car to look a certain way and the compontents just get stuck wherever they can fit. like what kind of a moron would make it so you have to take off the tire to get at the battery? Chrysler.

here here!
Posted by mike on Dec 23, 2003
That's what I am saying. It would be nice if more thought was put into the practicality of the automobile.

Why would you put the fuel filter in the gas tank? What is the reasoning? No matter where you put the fuel filter it will get clogged and need to be replaced. Hence the term filter. Can anyone suggest a reason it is not somewhere more accessible? Could it possibly have anything to do with getting you to bring you car to a dealership to get serviced?

Sorry, but I see a conspiracy (perhaps the wrong word, but close will have to count) here. However much I would love to prefer to think that it is just some kind of oversight, it just seems too silly to not have been a concious decision.

It;s another case where i would probably feel better if I was proved wrong. If I am off base, let me know.

Posted by phduffy on May 21, 2004
So should I buy books from Chapters or not?

What about