Is it Quality - or Maintenance?

The biggest problem with comparing import and North American cars is the fact that the imports have a longer (and more expensive) list of things to check at certain mileage/time intervals.

One magazine, for example, compared the costs of cars such as the Intrepid with cars such as the Accord. They found that Intrepid owners were complaining about the cost of repairs on their vehicles, while the Accord owners weren't. Turned out the Accord owners were, indeed, paying for repairs, but they were hidden in the semi-annual and annual check-up costs. They were having parts replaced automatically, while the Intrepid owners had the parts replaced when the cars broke down.

When the magazine tallied up the true costs, including all visits to the dealer, the Intrepid was not such a bad deal after all, and the Accord's maintenance costs were more than they were leading people to believe.

It was all a matter of PR - what the owners were, and are, literally "brain-washed" to believe. Just like Saturn's "one price, no haggling" policy. All dealers have one price - it is on the car's price sticker. If the sticker says $30,000 (plus taxes), no dealer is going to be upset if you give him/her $30,000 (plus taxes). As a matter of fact, the dealers might be so happy they would put your plates on the car for free!

Webmaster's note: what is recommended routine maintenance on a 1995 Neon? Timing belt after 100,000 miles...wires every 60,000...other than that, just check this, check that, replace the spark plugs ($6), and change the fluids.

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