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Thread: Japanese quality

  1. #1
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Japanese quality

    I recently bought a used Camry. Mom's wheel chair sits out in the open in my truck and she's not able to get in and out very well anymore. This is the first Toyota I've had in about 25 years. The last being a 1974 model that ran great but tended to dissolve after a while on our salty roads. This car I bought has impressed me with a lot of similarities to my Mercedes. The edges to the windshield, even the ignition switch are almost direct knock offs of German engineering. I've noticed a lot of Lexus cars look very similar to Mercedes cars. However, working on this puppy is not pretty.

    The car I bought had a fairly major oil leak. It was bad enough and went on long enough it rotted the bushings out of the front end. First order of business was to repair the valve cover gaskets. A local shop quoted a price of $380, parts and labor. I decided to do it myself. The front cover wasn't much of anything. However, on the V-6 engines like mine, you have to tear a lot of the upper engine apart to get to the back cover. I figured while I was in there, I'd go ahead and replace the plugs too. No telling how many miles on them since the electrodes were almost gone. One was nearly 1/4 of an inch on the gap. Once I got it back together, I decided to clean the cooling system as mud was coming out of it when I drained it. There is a pipe made out of unobtainium that goes into the thermostat housing and the lower hose attches to the other end of it. No luck finding a replacement for the rotted pipe. Next stop the (gag) dealer.

    While this car has a lot of features comparable to the Mercedes sitting in my garage, it has nowhere near the field service ease the Benz does. When I first got the SL, I looked at the engine was was rather daunted. However, replacing the plugs was a breeze as everything was juuussst so. 20 minutes and the plugs were changed as well as the cap and rotor. Considering that many Japanese cars are comparable in price to German, I think I'll stay with the German cars.

    To be honest, the Camry does get great fuel mileage. Better than the Benz. With worn out plugs, dirty air filter, and a front end that splays out, I still got 23 mpg on the first tank I ran through it. It's almost as comfortable as the Mercedes and there is room for a wheel chair in the trunk. The SL is a little challenged on internal room.
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  2. #2

    Re: Japanese quality

    It seems, from all I've read, that the Jap makers have really reached the top of the quality pile. Honda, in particular, seems to be the leader in that, and the used resale prices reflect that. Sounds to me as if your Camry was not treated well by the previous owner.

    << ...tended to dissolve after a while on our salty roads.>> By 1987 every maker had switched to double-sided galvanized sheet metal so the corrosion resistance really went up. The basic problem is, of course, the stupid use of
    salt(s) in the winter. As long as residents of those states put up with that their cars will rot.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    Re: Japanese quality

  4. #4
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Little Rock, Arkansas

    Re: Japanese quality

    Hondas do seem rather jewel-like.

    My old mechanic, the one who did the engine swap in the old Honda, really likes front-engined Porsches for service-ability. He says everything is assembled in ways that "make sense".

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    The Land of The Edentulites

    Re: Japanese quality

    My '98 Nissan Frontier has impressed me not just with its ruggedness and reliability but also with the way it was designed to be simple and easy to service. For example, the accessory pulleys have an ingenious system of screw-in/screw-out adjustent that makes changing out a belt and getting the tension right a snap. Replacing the water pump took me less than 30 minutes. Basic stuff like plugs and other routine access points are easy to get to.

    The only PITAS (and it's a minor one) I have encountered so far is that to get to the oil filter, you have to raise up the front end and go through the passenger side wheelwell. No big deal, though.

  6. #6

    Re: Japanese quality

    My uncle had a mid 80s Nissan Laurel, and that thing was literally like a rock, he drove 650k Kilometers on the car, and the car was used as a Taxi in the city. Never had to rebuild the engine, never had to rebuild the transmission. That thing just didn't die. Well id did but only because the rust was eating away on it faster than you could fix it. But Japanese cars are great in quality, my entire family has been driving Nissans and Datsuns and never had any major problems with any of them *knockOnWood*

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