Self-fulfilling prophecies and cars

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This thread is about discussing the phenomenon of the self-fulfilling prophecy in the automotive world. Let's look at those who purposefully go out of their way to obtain say, a Toyota Camry, with the intent of racking up the big miles. Clearly this customer's pro-bias to the model is influencing his vehicle purchase. The details about why this customer believes he can't do better than a Camry will be left alone, as we simply need only acknowledge for the purpose of this hypethetical that this type of phenomenon (brand preference based solely on subjective analysis and misleading information) is very common. This customer picks up his late-model Camry at a slight premium compared to other comparable models, but that's okay because it's a '400k mile vehicle', our customer rationalizes. Immediately, he is informed about a handful of recalls on his brand-new purchase; BCM/ECM manufacturing defects, improper airbag calibration, improperly fastened knee-air bag inflator, faulty vehicle wiring on safety equip. (air bag/wiper), V6 engine valve spring defect resulting in dropped valve and lunched engine at low miles, excessive oil consuption resulting in total loss of crankcase oil etc (these are actual recalls and long-running issues for Camry's in the last 5 years, excl. 07-10 Camry's which have a combined total of 39 recalls in those 3 years alone). Remember, this is apparently the "most reliable model of car" according to marketing agencies(!) But back to our hypothetic customer, all of these repairs are just fine for him. "I'm really impressed how Toyota has stepped up and taken responsibility by exceuting these recalls, I doubt (other brand X) would be so forthcoming. It's a small inconvenience for a 400K mile vehicle, and so a small inconvenience for me" he rationalizes. "You just can't beat all the positive press and water-cooler praise; Aunt Gertrude swore by her Camry". His car consumes oil considerably, and he raises the issue with the dealer at the next schedules oil change. Toyota tells him that 1qt/1000 miles is normal and acceptable and that "all Toyotas burn oil" (real quote from a Toyota Service Tech). Our endlessly faithful, gracious and merciful customer is not troubled in the least, because for him if a Toyota has these problems, imagine how much worse everything else must be! Years pass and our friend makes sure to drive his long distances and keep adding a quart at every other fill up. "This car has been flawless!" he says. "After all of the recalls were taken care of, all I need to do is fill it with gas and oil and she just goes. Super-legendary bulletproof performance" he praises. At 250K his rad tank cracks and a problematic stalling, hard-start issue takes a few months to pin-point, but "that's okay just look at those miles of 'trouble free' performance" our customer continues. At long last he makes it to 300K, after replaceing struts and mounts and some front end compnents, water pump, VVT actuator as well as all related wear and tear items. He's just doing his PM he says and starts telling all of his friends how amazing and reliable his Camry is to have made it to 300K. In this scenario, the preconditioning of the customer to "stick it out and remain insanely gracious" through the issues because he's "got a 300K vehicle" made the constant oil top offs (and the cost of quarts across 300K) seem like nothing but 'due dilligence' to our good customer. "Of course one must stay on top of maintenance if they want to make it to 300K" he says. In the end, this customer insensibly fulfilled his own prophecy all because of brand psychology that has been inculcated. On the other side of town, we have a teen delivering pizza in his Mitsubishi Lancer. His Lancer doesn't burn oil, and good thing too because our delivery man never checks his oil level. He doesn't care much what kind of car he's driving but it doesn't have any ECM/brake/engine recalls and so the issue never arises. At 250K his Lancer decides to crack a rad tank, lose all coolant, overheat and pop a head gasket. Never mind being 12K deep in his bulk conventional OCI. Our pizza delivery friend get's stranded during a delivery and loses his car and job. He hasn't the money to repair it, and "it's probably not worth it anyway" so he cuts his losses and off to the junk yards goes the Lancer. Our delivery friend tells all his friends how much Mitsubishi sucks "just look at their ratings on [ranking publication X]". His parents arent happy his car took a [censored] and will never buy a Mitsubishi again. Luckily they heard from a guy with a 300K Camry how reliable and legendary Toyotas are. His parents tell our delivery friend that they'll only sign on a better, more reliable car for him. And so they sign on a new Camry, but it just needs a few TSBs and recalls taken care of. No problem, 'it's a 400K mile car'.... and the cycle continues. In this second instance, we can see how the self-fulfilling prophecy works inversely, yet still results in a favorable outcome for our heavily-publicized car company, due to nothing but brand psychology. The power of the mind is incredible, is it not? It's no wonder why so many entities spend billions to 'dominate' it. (Fun Fact: 'Domination' is the actual terminology of choice used in marketing to identify a successful influence campaign resulting in the control of the customer's behavior) Thoughts?
 

Nick1994

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You have too much time on your hands. Camrys haven’t burned oil since the 2.4L in 2009, almost 10 model years ago. And recalls? My aunt’s 2016 Avalon hasn’t had a single recall.
 
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didn't most people just drove a car to around 100k miles? at the average of 12-15k miles per year, 300k miles would mean 20+ years. Plastic + electronics cooking much? maybe a worldwide airbag recall?
 
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I clearly follow your reasoning. However, the assumption that the majority of Honda and Toyota owners are "fanboi's" and in essence, willing to lie, is patently absurd. Does that explain why the Japanese automakers are in the top 6 slots with regard to long term reliability? Because only Japanese car owners are liars? Or is it that American and European vehicles truly have more frequent and more expensive repairs?
 
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reply#2:(back on topic): but but but, You have also all the other companies using targeted marketing in pretty much all available media. So pretty much everybody sells (including VW and the granmas commercial). I think in the end, we live in a region where we are blessed with a lot of options in certain vehicle classes. Now, who's up for some eyecandy? is Toyo Jen back?
 
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Strange how you conflate recalls with reliability. It's just not that way. Recalls are to replace something safety related that hasn't broken yet. It's proactive. I'm all for that. People know cars will need repairs sooner or later. A free fix for something before it breaks is great! Better if you never need it but it's better than paying out of pocket of fix something. There is also the value of a car. A Lancer with 250k miles is worth a lot less than a Camry with 250k miles and you also need to look at the general condition of the car before you decide to repair to junk it.
 
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I bought my Corolla knowing I was going to mile it out. Fast forward to today and I have 225K miles (360K km) on the odo and the only repair I had done was a water pump under warranty. Just tires...and the oil...I don't have to add any in between intervals...car self-prophesy fulfilled? I'll just keep living the lie I guess. coffee
 
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I really don't get what's the big deal about recall and TSB if the manufacturer foot the bill. As an engineer, I know things are not always perfect and realized right off the bat. I personally would rather they fix it than telling the customers that the products behave correctly, or the customers were at fault. Human are biased, and cars are fashion (forgive me for saying that, they are all gasoline combustion cranking devices that turns a gear box and move 2-4 wheels) and people pay for fashion that brings them warm fuzzy feeling. The Camry buyer may feel warm and fuzzy for a 10 year old 400k Camry and the teen feel cheated on (whether justified or not) by that 250k Lancer. Unfair? probably, but that's what makes us human. Just buy what makes you happy and stick with it.
 
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Originally Posted By: pandus13
didn't most people just drove a car to around 100k miles? at the average of 12-15k miles per year, 300k miles would mean 20+ years. Plastic + electronics cooking much? maybe a worldwide airbag recall?
Maybe in Chicago, but around here 200k is the benchmark, 100k is borderline unreliable if it died of power train issues. Also many people drive way more than 12-15k miles per year, short commute is not cheap. 20 years is about right though, by that time many things will break due to age instead of mileage. Then again you won't get to that age on salted road. With 200k miles and 20 years, you can tell which models have "annoyance" and which models have "serious design problem". Yes Toyota and Honda have them too, and some even just certain engine or transmission model. You got to be really naive to think that statistically a Camry would have the same reliability as say, a Chrysler Sebring.
 
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Why is it that we never hear about the "Chrysler reliability myth"? Or the "Ford reliability myth"? I've never seen a book entitled the "Chevy reliability myth". No one has ever said to me "you know, Mercedes really aren't as reliable as every one says." Honda and Toyota, on the other hand, routinely are mentioned in the same sentence as "reliability".
 
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Chryslers- oil burners Ford- 6F35 transmission issues Chevy - LS engine piston slap Honda - Odyssey/Pilot 5-speed transmission woes Toyota - multiple large safety recalls VW - Dieselgate Audi- "unintended acceleration" tired
 
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Originally Posted By: Cujet
I clearly follow your reasoning. However, the assumption that the majority of Honda and Toyota owners are "fanboi's" and in essence, willing to lie, is patently absurd. Does that explain why the Japanese automakers are in the top 6 slots with regard to long term reliability? Because only Japanese car owners are liars? Or is it that American and European vehicles truly have more frequent and more expensive repairs?
This^^
 
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Originally Posted By: Cujet
I clearly follow your reasoning. However, the assumption that the majority of Honda and Toyota owners are "fanboi's" and in essence, willing to lie, is patently absurd. Does that explain why the Japanese automakers are in the top 6 slots with regard to long term reliability? Because only Japanese car owners are liars? Or is it that American and European vehicles truly have more frequent and more expensive repairs?
Haven't had a Japanese car in a while, but drove a Taurus for a while before the Mercedes. The Taurus might have had more frequent repairs, but I thought they were actually cheap because they made so many of them, the parts were cheap and everyone knew how to fix them. The Mercedes has had less frequent repairs, but part prices were about 2-3x more than the Taurus which is probably more like 1.5-2x Japanese. But labor costs are the same as the indy I use charges a fixed rate regardless of the brand so overall just 10-20% more for European.
 
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Originally Posted By: Wurlitzer
Why is it that we never hear about the "Chrysler reliability myth"? Or the "Ford reliability myth"? I've never seen a book entitled the "Chevy reliability myth". No one has ever said to me "you know, Mercedes really aren't as reliable as every one says." Honda and Toyota, on the other hand, routinely are mentioned in the same sentence as "reliability".
Why? It could be confirmation bias as described in the first post. Ask a Honda owner of five years who has been back for a couple of minor warranty repairs, and He's likely to reply 'Great! It's only had a couple of minor repairs under warranty!" Ask that question to a GM or Ford owner with the same record and he's likely to reply, "OK. It's had a couple repairs under warranty.'
 
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My gripe with Toyota is that they were recalling fairly recent (05-10MY) Tacomas and 07-08 Tundras and some 4 runners for frame rust. Even my 1996 Jeep Cherokee's frame after 21 years in Illinois and WI is perfectly fine. I don't think frame rust on a 5-10 year old vehicle has been an issue for other makers besides Toyota. FJ Cruisers are known for cracking the inner fenders off road, something I've never seen on a Jeep. Sure my Jeeps might have more maintenance issues than a Toyota, but at least they're not going to break in half. Subjectively, I think they're ugly enough to stop a freight train at midnight so that keeps me away from them as well.
 
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Originally Posted By: HoosierJeeper
My gripe with Toyota is that they were recalling fairly recent (05-10MY) Tacomas and 07-08 Tundras and some 4 runners for frame rust. Even my 1996 Jeep Cherokee's frame after 21 years in Illinois and WI is perfectly fine. I don't think frame rust on a 5-10 year old vehicle has been an issue for other makers besides Toyota. FJ Cruisers are known for cracking the inner fenders off road, something I've never seen on a Jeep. Sure my Jeeps might have more maintenance issues than a Toyota, but at least they're not going to break in half. Subjectively, I think they're ugly enough to stop a freight train at midnight so that keeps me away from them as well. 15 Jeep KL Limited V6: VWB 5W20 07 LR3 SE V8: VWB 5W30 05 Jeep KJ Limited: Maxlife 5W30 96 Jeep XJ Country:Pennzoil HM 10W40
Well, friend, some might call you a Jeep fanboi.... wink And FWIW, my son had some serious problems with his XJ Cherokee unibody after some offroading and we're not talking inner fenders. My boss had an 05 Jeep KJ that he claimed was the worst vehicle he ever owned. I like Jeeps, have had a couple. BTW, subjectively I think the Cherokee KL is one of the worst looking SUVs in production, right up there with Nissan Jukes and even uglier than our goofy RAV4. We all like/dislike different looks. Back to the OP's treatise,
 
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Toyota makes some of the most trouble-free long term ownership vehicles out there. Simple fact. The Camry is also among the cheapest vehicles in its class at actual negotiated retail. Simple fact. Your mythological concept of Toyota vehicles is pretty amusing, though. I write the above as no more than an informed car guy. We've owned but one Toyota over the past forty years and it was a good machine. There is a reason that certain marques (Toyota, Honda, Subaru) support very high resale values while others (Mercedes, BMW, Kia, Hyundai) don't. It isn't because the higher valued cars are junk and most buyers are uninformed. On the contrary, most buyers are keenly aware of the reliability and durability of most cars courtesy of the unbiased source that is Consumer Reports. You write an elaborate scenario that I can only assume you intended to portray a dimension none of us have visited.
 
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I have two Toyotas: --A 1998 T100 with 435,000 miles on it without touching the engine, and no oil consumption between 5000 mile changes. --A 2002 Hilux with 530,000 km on it without touching the engine, and no oil consumption between 8000 km changes. Both are about ¼" below full on oil changes. I rebuilt the automatic transmission on the T100 at 300,000 miles The HiLux is on its 3rd clutch. There is no texture or pattern on the shift handle, and I replaced the rubber cushion inside the handle, but it just goes. Both have steering wheels that are very worn out. Both need new foam in the seats. The T100 has new bed mounts.
 
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