15 July 2006

More Ford woes

I still have yet to hear a word on what will happen to my Contour. Although I've provided the title, the car has not been signed over yet, and I have no idea whether it will be the repair shop, or a junkyard, or someone else, who will take my car.

In the meantime, the company Econoline that I've been driving as its replacement, has had its first oil change. I took the opportunity to closely inspect the innards of the vehicle. I was appalled to learn that Ford had used a generic no-name oil filter on the assembly line! It looked nothing like the Motorcraft filter that was supposed to be the OEM part (and was used as the replacement today). Ford must be getting pretty desperate, snubbing its own OEM parts for no-name generic parts in an attempt to save a dollar or two per vehicle.

The design and the build quality of the vehicle is letting me down. Until recently, I used to think Ford was the best of a sorry bunch of American car companies; at least, it had tried to compete with the imports with cars like the Contour and the Focus, and its build quality was at least above General Motors standards. Now, I am not so sure. There is also a new Chevy van in the company fleet, and it's much better put together. And it used to be GM that was building crappy, generic badge-engineered vehicles in the 1990s.

In any case, if this is all that the American car companies can muster, the industry is in severe trouble. And the worst of it all? High-pay, high-benefits American auto assembly jobs replaced by low-pay, no-benefits Japanese sweatshop jobs in the Deep South. If the Japanese can use southern sweatshop labor and STILL build better cars than the Americans, then there definitely is room for improvement for GM and Ford - but it must be found, FAST.