Bill Stoneberg

Damn Buick Designers

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Don't blame the designers.  Blame the shareholders.  The whole purpose of GM or any big business today is to make as large and quick a profit as possible.  Whatever they are making or selling is immaterial.

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Only true if a company is run by non passionate people. aka... bean counters.  People passionate about the product and customer will do what is required to satisfy the customer.  Usually a funny thing happens on the way is the company makes money. 

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 Good reading if you haven't already done so; My Years With General Motors, Alfred P. Sloan. If I get it out this weekend it will be the fourth time. Then follow it up wit Iacocca's book. You don't have to read far before you notice Sloan says "we" as often as Lee says "I". That might be the message of the books.

 

Bernie

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When I read the DeLorean book, it mentioned that when Engineers were in chard of the corporation, that "product" was more innovative and exciting.  When Accountants were in charge, "product" was more mundane and even stagnant (unless they were forced to do something by either Chrysler or Ford).

 

DeLorean started on the engineering side and then went into the management side of things.  His book has many stories of how engineering presented a new model for final approval, believing they had done a good job of delivering great content (continued from a prior model), which would result in customer enthusiasm and loyalty, plus good trade-imn values, only to have "financial" say the cars were too high-priced and to get, say, another $25.00 our of production cost.  At a time when the cars were about to start production, so about all they could do was to change things easy to change (upholstery fabric, make a piece of chrome trim optional rather than standard, etc.).  Or in the case of the '71 Chevrolet B-platform (Impala/Caprice), use the Olds/Buick front suspension, which cost more, and THEN complain that the Impalas cost too much to produce.

 

That particular story explained, to me, why the seat upholstery in our '61 BelAir came apart after about 2 years of service.  Yet the interior in my uncle's '62 Impala looked extremely substantial and wore very well.  A matter of how the money was spent, and where it was not.

 

There were also stories which explained a lot of the things I'd heard our old-line parts people talk about how the corporation would "bully" the dealers into doing things.  If the parts rep came into the parts department to "sell" a new program, which required the purchase of a particular inventory of parts for the program, if the parts mananger didn't "bite", then the parts rep would head for the dealer's office to make his case for the program.  Usually, the dealer would "bite for it" and the parts department had to deal with those program parts for years, by observation.

 

Regarding Sloan's orientation of "a car for every purse" . . . many talked "bad" about GM for clinging to that orientation longer than they should have.  Yet nobody said anything about Toyota doing the same thing.  Just that they were under one brand name rather than many.

 

So, to me, the DeLorean book was a revelation of how GM really operated and why it was what it was.  At a time when GM was really GM, rather than what we now have.  When GM had over 50% of the new vehicle market, regularly.  When Chrysler had brands which mimicked what GM had, with Ford just having THREE brands to cover the same market.

 

Regarding "shareholders", in the earlier days, GM was the darling of almost every major investor class.  "Rock Solid", they claimed, with good  dividends.  In the '80s, GM seemed to "play" the Wall Street crowd.  WS would predict a particular quarterly sales report.  GM would beat it by a penny.  ALL was well again, to hear them tell it!  When profits started to plateau, GM would sell one of its "divisions" to maintain the level of dividends, which everybody liked . . . more $$$ in their pockets.  But, eventually, their sellable divisions (rear axle and brake production, for example) were all sold.  Whoops!  Now what??

 

When Mr. Smale (of Procter-Gamble fame) finally got to be Chairman of the GM Board, he shoved his "brand management" orientation down GM's throat (my words).  He had touted it for years to them and he finally came to be in position to prove it would work as well for GM brands as it did for sunflasses and toothpaste.  That made each model of vehicle as separate brand.  Problem was that, for example, if a young couple might come in looking for a new Camaro, finding that it would not really work for them, they might decide on a Malibu or Nova instead.  But that orientation of moving them into another Chevy went away, as did the customer that was fixated on a Camaro only.  So, they went down the road to a Ford dealership and got a new Mustang instead.

 

Under Mr. Smale's decade of leadership, GM did make money, with a market penetration of around 25%.  But when market penetration dropped steadily each year, GM was still making money.  But ONLY when market penetration dropped to about 19% and profits stagnated, THEN people got worried about their GM stock.  Wasn't what it used to be!  

 

It turns out that in the pre-bankruptcy days, the circular "money train" between the dealership and the corporation had gotten somewhat lopsided.  The dealers sent money to pay for parts, cars, and such to the corporation.  For which new products were delivered as a result.  But any rebates or such which were attached to new vehicles being sold, when the dealers rolled those rebates into the selling price (dealer gets the rebate and the customer gets a lower financed amount), then that rebate money allegedly started to come later and later.  In some cases, up to 6 weeks later.  Which put some smaller dealerships' finances in peril, as a result.  Which is now "ancient history" of sorts.

 

End result is that "shareholders" can be "fair weather friends", by observation.

 

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

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As I found out this week, its not only Buick who does this.  I had a noise in the front end of the Nissan I drive.  If it wasn't a FWD vehicle I would have suspected wheel bearing.  Well it was a carrier bearing and a hub bearing.   Can you just replace the bearings  No, I had to replace 1 front axle and the hub.  300 bucks in parts just to fix two bearings.

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11 minutes ago, Bill Stoneberg said:

As I found out this week, its not only Buick who does this.  I had a noise in the front end of the Nissan I drive.  If it wasn't a FWD vehicle I would have suspected wheel bearing.  Well it was a carrier bearing and a hub bearing.   Can you just replace the bearings  No, I had to replace 1 front axle and the hub.  300 bucks in parts just to fix two bearings.

 

If it included a hub bearing, that is cheap.  If you side load the tire on a front wheel drive car like hitting a curb sideways, you can almost guarantee that the bearing will be gone in about 3,000 miles.  If you keep riding on a bad wheel bearing, the tire could come off depending on the vehicle.  On cars with anti lock brake systems the ABS light can come on when the bearing is bad.

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Mine started growling first and I got it changed.   I figure after 75 K miles, things wear out.

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75K miles is quite low.  Must have been hit.  Usually those bearings last 150,000 at least that is what I have experienced with my Silverado.

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Yea.  A coyote ran out and jumped in front of my car going 80.  Other then that , we don’t have curbs where I live..I maybe guilty of driving too fast on dirt roads though.

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13 hours ago, Larry Schramm said:

Usually those bearings last 150,000 at least that is what I have experienced with my Silverado.

Silverado is FWD?

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My 2WD Silverado has eaten 3 left front wheel bearings, no lefts, at 174.000. The three bearing were all before 100,000, first at around 50,000.

 

Same with the steering intermediate shaft, twice before 50,000. Third is still going.

 

The evap valve burned me the worst about 50,000. Original valve was no longer available, superseded by new design and recommended relocation old part $75, new one $150. "We didn't make the first one right, but we will sell you a better one."

 

"Why, you mean that part didn't work? Would you be interested in our upgraded model?"

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For many model years, even RWD vehicles have sealed front hub bearings.  They bolt onto the knuckle/spindle.  NO more getting greasy hands and having "the touch" to adjust front wheel bearings!  YEAH!  But as with any sealed bearing, there is a "design life" that can be affected by sudden side-loads or being submerged in "liquid".

 

On the Ford Crown Victorias (and similar), you can tell the change from "inner and outer front wheel bearings" to "bearing hubs" from their wheels.  When they went to front hub bearings, the wheel covers are FLAT, as the wheels are configured (backspacking/offser) like a FWD vehicle has, which also have hub bearings (due to their design).  Whereas the prior model years had wheels that had "offsets" on the outside of the wheels (as their popular aluminum wheels had), such that the wheel mounting surface was about centered between the inner and outer edges of the wheel rim.

 

More "maintenance assemblies" on modern vehicles, by observation.  Including instrument clusters.  To the extent that past 150K miles, the manufacturer's warranty will be long gone, but PARTS WARRANTIES will be in effect.  So KEEP THOSE INVOICES!

 

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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6 hours ago, 60FlatTop said:

My 2WD Silverado has eaten 3 left front wheel bearings, no lefts, at 174.000. The three bearing were all before 100,000, first at around 50,000.

I get better service than that on my 55 with clearly inferior ball bearings.  Probably those huge and heavy wheels/tires on those trucks.

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Similar situation to replacing a basic headlight on my 2013 Enclave. Look up in the owner’s manual and it says to take to dealer. You have to basically remove the front wheel well liner to even get your hand up to the headlight area. Luckily Amazon has those black plastic trim clips for fairly inexpensive since they never really go back the same.

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On 7/19/2019 at 11:20 PM, 60FlatTop said:

 

I remember back in 1978, I was thinking about a new Camaro for my wife. 

 

Wow, some would see that as a good trade! 😉😉😉😉😉😉😉😉

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17 minutes ago, rodneybeauchamp said:

 

Wow, some would see that as a good trade! 😉😉😉😉😉😉😉😉

 

Except for my gravitation to fat cars and skinny women. I kept defaulting to Buicks.

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