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Old 03-17-2001, 09:34 PM
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I've been in the quality Assurance business for over thirty years now and I'm really disappointed to hear and read of the general decay in the quality of today's goods.
I don't mean low end stuff, I mean branded items like Nikon and even our beloved Mercedes Benz vehicles. ( As a ML-320 owner, I was stung by the comments in some posts.)

My specialty is pharmaceuticals and I recently came upon a case of a life saving asthma inhaler made by a major pharmaceutical company but a significant number were made without any active ingredient -inexcusable!
I think the constant cutting back by all the firms is a major cause, along with some of this team based manufacturing, where the team members check their own output.
As Mercedes Benz owners we expect the quality commensurate with the marque. Maybe the owners who had a series of cars through the years can comment on: Are you getting the quality you used to get and expect today? Also, is there any solution? I was going to say, go back to Japan to learn what Dr Deming taught them after the war, or have they forgotten as well.
Just the ramblings of an old QA man.
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Old 03-17-2001, 09:45 PM
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I beleive the quality is still there in todays Mercedes automobiles, but many of the models now have been cut down to a price thanks to increased competition since the mid to late eighties from other maunufacturers.
M-B can no longer just charge whatever price they want today

Additionally i beleive people today are more demanding than ever in regards to other merchandise. We expect the manufacturer to be held accountable for everything including normal wear and tear it seems on items like, shoes, automobiles, clothing, etc.
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Old 03-17-2001, 09:46 PM
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Location: Suwanee, GA, USA
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We all feel that the quality is different from the old days. Less? Hmmm... I don't know. I do know that the cars are less expensive and do still last a long time. The ride has changed with the times. Most people are wanting a sporty feel...And, not to mention Mercedes is now marketing to that younger croud because finaning is so good. ??
Donnie Drummonds
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Old 03-17-2001, 11:03 PM
Ali Al-Chalabi's Avatar
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Knoxville, TN
Posts: 1,837
My theory on this is that quality may have slipped a little recently due to cars being built to a cost. However, many cars today are much cheaper then their previous counterparts. Mechanical longetivity on engines and/or transmissions are probably still the same.

Suppose that car x was built to a cost, and the manufacturer manged to knock $10,000 of the cost of the car. The car then ends up in the dealer 6 times during the warranty period to fix defects. Warrenty expires and car takes three more trips to the dealer to fix defects, total cost $5,000. Car is know good as old car for still a cheaper price. That's my theroy on it. It all adds up in the end, and the current car with all its gadgets is still cheaper than the more basic, previous model.

Also, a lot of the defects are found in electronic gadgets that weren;t even present in the previous cars. So even if present reliability if each individual component were the same, it would still suffer more problems because there is more to go wrong.
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Old 03-17-2001, 11:58 PM
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Driver, Mercedes-Benz
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Malaysia
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I agree with hudoff. Quality has declined out of proportion to the cost we pay nowadays.

It is the global effect of cost-cutting where everyone is doing something not for the love of creating, but for the love of economics.

All they're concerned about the is the ultimate cost of production (quantifiable) versus the cost of satisfaction (priceless but sadly, measured by the volume of sales, where higher sales = higher satisfaction). But irs a load of bull****.

Look at our houses built today. Cracks start cropping up on its first anniversary.

Houses built just after WW2 still stand strong and solid.

The bottom line is, the workforce of yesteryears put more pride and responsibility to the work they invest in. Today, we just do so, coz we're protected by unions and minimum wage/working hours control.

I suppose its quality living for everyone at the expense of quality production. But I just can;t agree with my own statement.

Someone prove me wrong, please.

... Kerry

126 tailed by a 203, 129 leading the pack.
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Old 03-18-2001, 01:02 AM
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Location: ajax, ontario, canada
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maybe the problem is a decline of "perceived" quality. The benz doors don't thunk like they used to. We want that solid sound every time we close the door to reassure us that it is a solid and safe place to be.

But not readily apparent to us are the improvements in the general structure of the car, in terms of torsional rigidity and flexure, and crash protection. For sure, also in terms of strength-to-weight ratio - either improved strength with the same weight, same strength with less weight, or improvements in both.

Longevity is also helped by rust protection/resistance, but this is not readily apparent from the appearance/feel of the materials - only time will tell.

i had the left front fender of my 1989 190e replaced because of rust perforation, and the unit they installed seemed like it had much less undercoating than the original fender. I hope that it is because they used better materials.

probably the parts of the car that contribute most to perceived quality are the interior materials that directly interface with the driver and passengers. Feel, texture and appearance count a lot, but only time will tell whether these will last. It was partly the move to more recyclable materials that increased the amount of interior plastic. I just hope they uphold the tradition of using long-wearing materials. My 12yr-old MB-Tex interior hardly has any wear.

Fit and finish however are another matter, as are the presence of squeaks and rattles, and slips in these areas are inexcusable.

having said these, i still want my solid-thunking doors ...

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Old 03-18-2001, 01:09 AM
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The invisible hand

The market is only responding to customer demands. Sure the quality of most consumer goods is lousy, but only because the market demands it. The average consumer cares only about price whether it is an airline ticket, a dishwasher, or a Mercedes. Those of us who appreciate quality are a distinct minority. Vintage stuff of good quality is rising in value. Just check out the prices on WWII vintage machine tools. They cannot be replaced today at any cost.


'80 300 SD
'80 450 SEL
'73 450 SEL
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Old 03-18-2001, 04:41 PM
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Based on my personal experience, I would not buy any MB other than 85 or earlier diesel models. My MB experience is with a 80 240D and an 87 300 SDL. I religiously tracked all failures in both cars. The 87 just had more failures, and they were all very expensive to repair. I have friends with newer model MBs, and I really believe quality and reliability have gone down.

I think we are all getting shafted by the auto industry, but I think we deserve it. If you look at the ads, and they are that way for a reason (they work), no one ever cares about reliability and longevity. It's all image BS.

Take the idiotic SUVs (stupid utility vechicles). They are prime examples of retro engineering...station wagons on pickup truck frames, with embarrassing fuel economies, handling characteristics of trucks, and stopping distances of a country mile. And they sell like crazy...why...because of image.

I think that collectively we are just too stupid to get a better deal.


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Old 03-18-2001, 04:57 PM
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What must not be forgotten is that the members on this board represent a very small minority of the automotive public. The people here are people that buy cars based on longetivity and drive them for 20 years.

MB's central marketing tactics are not engineered for the people on this board. There is a huge pressure to build cars to a cost. Remember that the person spending $50,000 is probably going to trade the car in after the warranty expires. To this person, failures do not matter, they are taken car of for free, and a new car is acquired in four years. People also want maintenance-free cars. Come on, 10,000 miles between oil changes with regular dino-juice, that was probably a bad idea. No transmission fluid changes ever needed, surely it has to get dirty at some point in time no matter how resistant the fluid is to heat breakdown.

It is my opinion that a great majority of MB's customers want low-maintenance cars, and MB is trying to satisfy those people.

They are, however, still great cars. It doesn't look like they are leaving people stranded, it is just a matter of failures with overly-complex gizmos.
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Old 03-18-2001, 05:28 PM
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OK...lets go back to 1975. Let's see, your PC is running at .....0 MHZ because you didn't have one. Now, they're pushing what... a gig and a half. My 25 inch Zenith color TV worked OK in 1975, and it cost $500 in 1975 dollars. Now for $500 in 1975 dollars you get what...36 inch stereo with PIP etc, etc.

Come on...the auto industry has made only baby steps compared to many, many other industries in the last 25 years. I agree with you, fuel injection is great...and if it weren't for the europeans, Detroit would still be selling us carbs and every cold morning would still be an adventure.

We need to demand more, or we will continue to get less.

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Old 03-18-2001, 06:08 PM
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Location: At the Birkebeiner
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We can't just demand and think they'll supply us with what we want. You think the guys at MBUSA don't cruise this site? Most people on this site own MB's with many many MANY miles on them and they expect their cars to take them another jillion miles. Face it guys, we're not the people who influence the big guys. We complain about not being able to order tex interiors anymore, but when push comes to shove, I don't think there are enough of us to even make them sell us the raw materials.

Also are we willing to pay for what you demand? Basically what we want is a master coachman fitting our body panels together. Next time you walk by a tailor, go ask him how much it costs for a suit. Craftsmanship is rare and getting more and more expensive these days. I'm afraid the days of custom fitted gusseted leather trim are gone. Take heart in the fact that you can at least get yourself a nice pair of Pradas for your feet

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Old 03-18-2001, 06:30 PM
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I think the reason TV's are so cheap is that the technology is old. The money has already been made on the TV. In the restaurant industry we say "it's all gravy from now baby." Back in the old days, we didn't need all this processor speed. A radio shack word processor with a 300 baud modem would work for almost anything. Text was all we had. We walked to school barefoot in the snow uphill both ways and we punched cards with our teeth. Okay maybe I'm exaggerating. Believe it or not, computers have been dumbed down since 1975. We need WYSIWYG interfaces because people just don't have the time to mess with their config.sys. Lotus was invented because nobody had time to write SAS code. What we're doing right now can be accomplished without such a WOB.

I don't think we don't demand excellence from the automotive industry. We just do it in different ways. Airbags, crumple zones, low speed resistant bumpers, automatic tensioning seatbelts, "smart" airbags, MCS, COMAND, teleaid, ESP, HID headlights, seatwarmers, non-collapsible passenger compartments, parktronic and drive by wire systems, CD players, and even more important, cupholders. We want cupholders like we want MS Windows and the manufacturers provide. Perhaps if we stop demanding so much from them the auto manufacturers will return to things dear to the Mercedes heart. We just won't be able to sip our lattes on the way to work without spilling on our tex interiors


PS: Right now I'm using a Mac LC475 with 8 megs of RAM. It's slow as a 240D but it's lasted me 6+ years now.
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Old 03-18-2001, 08:58 PM
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Kuan, I agree 100% with the comparison to PC's. My first computer that I bought back in 1983 was a TI-99/4A. It had a stainless steel case, cost TI something like $134 to build, and they finally ended up selling them for $49.

The expansion box was built like a piece of German stereo equipment, all metal, but the technology was obsolete way back in 1983 when I bought into it.

Now I'm pretty set on replacing my computer every three or four years, mostly because the same $600, spent on a new PC every few years, will buy me a computer that won't be obsolete for another few years.

For me to spend $4000 for a state of the art machine that will be worth under $1000 within a year is bad economy, to me anyway. How many people on this board will pony up $300K for a handbuilt Maybach, vs buying a nice S-class for $75K and then trading it after a few years? The Maybach is nicer, but is it worth $225K more?
Bob Roe
Lehigh Valley PA USA
73 Olds 88, 72 MB 280SE, 78 Datsun 280Z, 71 T-Bird, 72 Olds 88, 83 Nissan Sentra, 85 Sentra, 73 230.6, 91 Integra, 83 300SD, 91 Volvo 940GLE wagon, 84 300SD, 95 Subaru Legacy L wagon, 02 Mountaineer, 91 300TE, 08 Murano, 2007 R320CDI 4Matic 52K, some Hyundai, 2008 BMW 535xi wagon all gone... currently
2007 Honda Odyssey Touring, 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring
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Old 03-18-2001, 10:44 PM
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Location: Surrey, Beautiful British Columbia, Canada
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ergo, in our global state of affairs, no manufacturer
including MB can dictate their price, and at the same token
expect to be solvent. maybe that was then, but not anymore.
hence, for a product to be affordable, quality must be
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Old 03-18-2001, 11:09 PM
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 1,935

Maybe this isn't the best place to post this (or maybe it is). But I'm going to keep it short and sweet anyways..

The main reason I left the dealership and went back to Precision was because I was absolutely disgusted with today's "plastic" Mercedes (sorry to all you new car owners). But having direct experience on them really told me alot about the quality of their products anymore. I prefer vintage models, and that's what we work on at Precision, and it was terrible to see that only a few of us at the dealership knew what we were doing when a vintage one rolled in. Most of the guys there would just stare at a Bosch injetion pump and scratch their heads until one of us came over to assist them. However, those guys who lacked "mechanical" skill are experts on the computer stuff. But all this new modular design, inside and out isn't my idea of what the Mercedes-Benz star stands for. This is a company that built incredible cars like the 540K and the 300SL Gullwing and now they're just going plastic like everyone else. Well, at least Rolls Royce and Bentley still retain their dignity. And now what do I read in the newest issue of The Star??? Mercedes-Benz going NASCAR?!?!?!?! I won't even start on that..
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