Nov 1st, 2007 by RJ Menezes
Trends seem to continue as the Asian manufactures are still on top when it comes to independent reliability testing. Now reliability is a very tricky word. People will associate lots of things with reliability that really are not that related. Take, for example, Asian manufactures Vs. European manufactures. While Europeans are constantly cramming more and more high-end and advanced features in all of their models the Asians keep simplifying. Alot of it has to do with how problematic Euros can be if not maintained to a very strict schedule. This is something that Europeans as a culture do almost automatically. People in Europe just take better care of their cars, plain and simple. It’s part of their culture. Here in america in could not be more opposite. The average American doesn’t take care of their cars at all past the random oil change and tire rotation. Most American cars sold used are still using the same brake pads and tires they left the factory with! We’ve all seen them. Toyota Corollas, Honda Civics, and Ford Escorts that are literally falling apart while driving. These cars are poorly maintained but are so simple in build they stay together and not much breaks. Nothing mechanically important at least. Ask any of these car’s owners if their cars are reliable and they will all say yes. ” It gets me to work everyday” is a common response or ” Has never left me stranded on the side of the road” is another. But this has less to do with reliability and more to do with simple engineering vs cars that are extremely complex (i.e European brands). A four cylinder Toyota engine that has been basically unchanged for many years is not likely to give you problems, yet every year you buy that “new car” with the same engine and components from one thats five years older for more money. At least with the other manufactures you know your getting innovation, even if it comes with the cost of lower reliability. Ask anyone who has ever gotten into a bad accident in a Euro car and see if they think they would have faired the same in a cheap Asian or American econobox. The answer is a resounding NO. Yet many of these owners who have these “beaters”, as they are known, are filling out reliability tests and surveys all the while scoring their decrepit Corollas, Civics, ect. (that still get them to work) as excellently reliable. So reliable that the tail light goes out, the window regulator does not work and the lights on the dash no longer turn on, but the engine turns over and it moves forward so it’s reliable? Reliable is not just the ability to provide foward motion, but also to be reliable in all aspects of function from safety to ease of operation to ride and handling. Something seems to be skewed in our persepesion of what reliability really is.