In the late 80’s and early 90’s foreign auto makers were making very dependable cars, and at the same time, american car manufacturers were making very poor quality cars that were simply not dependable.
In 1987 my mother bought a brand new Monte Carlo, at the same time my friend bought a brand new Toyota truck. Within a year, the intake manifold cracked on the Monte Carlo, and had to be replaced. It was all down hill from there, and a fight with the dealer as to who would pay for the repairs until the short warranty was over. Here is a list of what I replaced on that dam Monte Carlo in the course of 10 years:
intake manifold - 2 times
transmission - 3 times
plastic fitting on the intake manifold for the heater
alternator - two of these
catalytic converter - numerous times
cat back exhaust
shocks - all 4
air conditioning worked for a year or two - never worked again
rotors - front ones
brakes every 6 months
wheel bearings - 2 times
regular tune up and oil changes
The monte Carlo lasted a little over 200,000 miles with all of this, and I am sure I am forgetting stuff. When it had 150,000 miles on it, I could no longer get it through emissions.
My friends toyota truck? Yea, lasted nearly 300,000 miles with only regular tune ups and oil changes. Sure he replaced stuff like the battery when needed, but i consider that regular maintenance. Never had any problems with the truck until at 300,000 miles the transmission went in it.
My mother bought another monte Carlo in 2002, and that car is having the same crap problems. The steering box has always leaked, and clanks when the wheel is turned. She has taken the car back for this 3 times, and still the leak remains. Recently a problem sprung up. Get this, put the car in revers and the horn beeps the entire time the car is in reverse. Yea, body control box went bad causing this. Yea, thats a $700.00 part. My 1998 Mitsubishi has less problems than my mother’s 2002 Monte Carlo with 1/2 the mileage of my car.
In around 1999, a preson renting a room from us bought a Ford Probe. Within the first month of owning the car, it broke down 3 times. He pulled up to the house once extremely angry. The car was barely running, and coolant was streaming out of it. This was a brand new car! He did not have it long, dont recall what became of that deal.
Being a mechanic it is obvious to me why foreign car sales are doing better. American manufacturers got too caught up in short term profits and allowed their product to weaken. Now they are like “oh shit,” and are working to create a more dependable vehicle, but the damage is done and they are still not up to par with the foreign vehicles of similar cost.
I love Ford, I hate GM, and I will probably buy a foreign car in the future because of price to what you get ratio. I would love a Mustang Cobra, but the price $$$$.