The other night S caught me chuckling at a commercial airing between Olympic events on NBC.
The ad was a flashy corporate-made spot for Ford wherein the authoratatively-voiced announcer proudly stated that "Ford now matches quality with Toyota!"
Not better than. Not exceeds. Not even edges out by the slightest margin.
Ford "matches" Toyota.
Now, I'm not going to go into the study that revealed such figures, and truth be told, I couldn't care less whether the blue oval car and trucks of today rate higher or lower on the quality suckage meter than any other car or truck out there.
I'm currently po'd at Toyota because of their built-in obsolescent design of the front wheel bearings on the 5-year old model my Wife drives.
Without getting too technical, wheel bearings are one the many components on a modern consumer internal combustible motor vehicle that should be made serviceable by the average to above average shade tree mechanic. If greased often and correctly, wheel bearings should last 50-100K miles without incident.
Needless to say, when I started hearing the unmistakable sounds of a bearing starting to age on the passenger side front wheel on Wifey's ride, I jumped on the net only to find out the harsh truth of what it was going to take to switch the $25 culprit out.
In a nutshell...jack the car onto jackstands, remove tire, remove brake caliper, remove rotor, loosen steering tie rod, loosen strut, loosen control arm, remove steering knuckle/spindle, have machine shop press out old bearing/hubs, buy new bearings, have machine shop press in new bearings/hubs, replace all components, get front end aligned (for safety).
Or take it to a shop which has a special impact gun press kit that can remove and install the bearings into the steering knuckle on the car (negating the step of removing all the steering components, thus also negating the need for a realignment) but get charged out the wazoo for that convenience.
At dealer rates, we were talking about a $300 - $500 dollar job minimum. The regular mechanic we use (an honest to goodness honest mechanic) is swamped and couldn't fit us in for two-weeks - that's the problem with good/honest mechanics. Word gets out of their quality and honesty and suddenly the whole world is in line before you.
So, I was faced with spending an entire day or two (includes driving to the city for a machine shop that could do the pressing work and finding an alignment shop) doing an Fix-it-myself job, or finding a different shop.
In my time of need, I turned to a Honda specialist shop I had luck with before, knowing full well that they would probably not be able to help me directly, but could possibly point me in a well-informed direction.
First, a little background.
Back when I first moved to OK, I had decided to address the intermittent A/C issue that my Civic was experiencing and took it to one of the Honda dealers in the city. Their incompetence was the stuff that urban legends are made of, but luckily through the grapevine of online ricer message boards I found this place.
C'mon, a Honda shop O and O'd by a former NOPI XBOX Cup Champion (Pro 4 Cylinder), and Honda fac tech since the 90's, here in the middle of domestic car Machu Picchu.
Long story short, he fixed my Civic's A/C in one visit (the dealer techs were still scratching their sweaty bald heads after 4 trips to their shiny service bays), tuned the frack out my D16Z6 single OHC VTEC 4-banger, and gave me a list of parts he could find both new and slightly used that would help my little ricer in the handling and green-light-go department...(wink-wink) just in case I was interested.
Back to my Wife's Toy wheel bearing issue. A quick phone call to Matt at Alternative led to a friendly "bring it on it, we'll take care of it for 'ya," which then led to me dropping the car off that day, which finally led to my Wife happily humming down I-40 to work this morning in her car.
So in retrospect, I'm really not all that po'd at Toyota. Least they did the right thing by making their cars similar enough so that even a Honda mech tech can fix them.