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View Poll Results: What is Build Quality to you?
Supreme Reliability 354 67.69%
The "Thud" 169 32.31%
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Old 25th November 2008, 12:57   #1
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Default Your definition of Build Quality

What is build quality to you?

Is it the solid feeling, heavy gauge metal, "thud" doors & high quality material (including interiors)? As you see in Mercs, Skodas, VWs & BMWs? They do the "thud" alright, but simply aren't as reliable as the Japanese. Typical problem areas are electronics, air-con, transmission etc. etc. Not to mention, the maintenance costs are killer expensive. You could argue that they are safer.


Is Build Quality all about reliability par excellence? My OHC Vtec (@ 64,000 kms) feels flimsy compared to the C220 (@ 50,000 kms). Buttttttttttttttttttt it has last visited the garage in January ’08 for a scheduled service (11+ months up), versus the Merc which has been to Auto Hangar about 5 times in the same period (4 for repairs). Nothing goes wrong with the damn'ed Hondas, Toyotas & most other Japs. Plus, the Japs cost 2/10th of the Euros to own (in maintenance & repair).

Is build quality about a Honda Accord / Toyota Camry that will see 2,00,000 kms with clinically precise reliability and zero problems? Or a Euro car that will have its fair share of problems & expensive maintenance, but will give you a feeling of solidness. You can see parallels across the segments:

The Swift versus the Fabia
The Altis / Civic versus the Jetta
The Accord versus the Laura / Passat
The Accord versus the C / 3 / A4
The LS460 versus the S / 7 / A8
Montero / Prado versus X3 (Indian prices)
Landcruiser versus Audi Q7 / X5 / M Class

“Thud” solid Euro cars cost about 8 – 12% of their on-road price in upkeep, over a period of 5 years. Japanese sedans typically cost 2 – 4% for the same duration. And with far superior reliability.

My vote is for reliability : I respect the Jap precision in manufacturing, quality control and resultant reliability. I respect a car that just goes on working, day after day, year after year, without a single problem (who isn’t hard-pressed for time anyways!). I respect a zero-problem nature. I see inherent appeal in a car that performs the way it should, each time you take her out. That, to me, is outstanding build quality.

And remember, it’s easier to get the “thud” than supreme reliability. In fact, the Japs are increasingly getting more solid generation after generation. A Jap with the “thud” or a Euro with the reliability will be a dream come true.

So, what is build quality to you? Mind you, I am not asking you whether you’d choose a Euro or a Japanese car. It is your definition of build quality that I wish to know.

Last edited by GTO : 25th November 2008 at 13:32.
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Old 25th November 2008, 13:20   #2
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Another interesting thread.

Met with an accident last week and I was comparing how it would have been if I was in any other car(Alto/Santro) than my Safari.

1) I would have been in hospital
2) More damage to the car.

So, built quality should be thud quality & parts quality and how well they are put.

Thud for me, as I know I will be safe than be at hospital spending money for its bill and car's!

My opinion was based on my experience with Alto/Santro/Safari.
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Old 25th November 2008, 13:21   #3
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Build quality to me is not about the lack of that "thud" feeling. Its about getting into a car and not want to be bothered by squeaks and rattles like the Swift. I dont mind it being tinny, OHC, Baleno are tinny too. But they dont rattle like the swift. Yes, rattles can be eliminated, but the greatness of the Swift is that it comes back to haunt you each time. All I want is a car that doesn't face the same issue each time you rectify it.
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Old 25th November 2008, 13:33   #4
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Its hard for me to vote on this because it's a combination of both:

Initial stages or while buying the car it's the Thud.
Long term ownership it's the Reliability.
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Old 25th November 2008, 13:35   #5
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For me reliability is more important than the 'Thud'. In my Swift there are only two rattles. One is in the doors when they are closed. This is because of the components. This sound is not there while driving. The other is RD ECU jumping around in the glove box while driving. Besides this luckily no other sound in the car.
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Old 25th November 2008, 13:36   #6
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Reliability above anything else.
And no one dishes it out in their cars like the Japs do.

"Build quality" happens to be something that comes up every time a car is discussed and everyone seems to have their own definition for it - there was something about this on the "why only maruti" thread also.

I googled it to get the correct definition, but surprisingly nothing useful turned up. Was surprised that even Wikipedia did not have an article on something that many consider a great attribute to have in their car (and maybe other products also).

Only 1 link I found useful was related to photography (PhotoNotes.org Dictionary - Build quality) and this was what they had to say :
Build quality :

The general quality of construction, design, etc. of a product. How well it’s built.
Build quality is not an easily or objectively defined concept but it refers, generally speaking, to how well designed and constructed the product actually is from a subjective point of view. This includes factors such as reliability, sturdiness, fit and finish (if the product appears smoothly made and polished or is rough and ready), quality of materials and so on.
If the above definition is anything to go by (I think it is pretty good), then build-quality covers different areas. It is not just the thud or sturdiness aka tank-like build, but is also
about reliability. Even quality of materials used.

If anyone has a better definition, please share.

Last edited by supremeBaleno : 25th November 2008 at 13:42.
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Old 25th November 2008, 13:37   #7
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Reliability scores over thud. But i am not sure if they have to be mutually exclusive.

I am living with a thud car, which is pretty reliable, for more than 4 years. Once the entire coolant vaporized in middle of forest because of hose pipe leak. Got over it by using the bottled water.
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Old 25th November 2008, 13:45   #8
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Re: jkdas chettan, an Alto/Santro (which is incidentally, Korean) cannot be compared to a Tata SUV when it comes to how safe it will be in an accident. Compare a Japanese SUV to your Safari and you'll see a different picture. (How much does a GV cost - I'm not certain. But I'm fairly certain that you'll be better off inside one of those during an accident. And probably lose less hair than when owning a Safari when it comes to niggling problems.)

Modern Japanese cars, while being flimsy on the outside (metal thickness etcetera), are no slouches when it comes to impact safety. The internal body structure is what saves you when something decides to occupy the same space as your car with non-trivial velocity of approach.
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Old 25th November 2008, 13:45   #9
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Reliability. If cars can get 5 star safety rating without the thud and last longer, it means good engineering for me.
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Old 25th November 2008, 13:50   #10
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quality to me means a silent cabin. no rattle or squeaks. i agree with time parts loosen and tend to make noise but not when you are taking the delivery of a new car. sheet metal that is strong enough to withstand a punch of a five year old kid.
thud or no thud, a car that doesnt break down every now and then. a vehicle you feel safe when traveling in and can rely upon any time.

Last edited by white_vdi : 25th November 2008 at 13:52.
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Old 25th November 2008, 13:55   #11
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
What is build quality to you?

Is it the solid feeling, ..
I was thinking of this yesterday when you said 'German cars solid feel' in the long term review. If you ask me Japanese cars like Lexus and Toyota are the most solid feel cars, because if they can get their cars to close with that 'thunk' then their internals and engines are already basically bulletproof.

both Japan and Germany were axis powers opposed to the allied ones. If the claim of 'solid feel' is to be shared by that criteria I guess the Japs have the first claim to it.
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Old 25th November 2008, 13:56   #12
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Thud is something very subjective, and in my opinion not a measure of build quality.
A door is not the car. A car is engine, electronics, transmission. So you can have a car with a well built solid door, but rest of it can fall apart.
So build quality is the build of everything, not just the sheet metal, hence I chose the reliability option.

For example, I can argue that my indica has better build quality that our santro, because the doors close with a "thud" and sheet metal is heavy, but the fact remains is that the indica saw 10 times more electrical problems than the santro.
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Old 25th November 2008, 14:00   #13
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the 'thud' factor is a measure of very good heavy gauge metal used plus fabricating them to very close tolerances in ultra-modern CNC facilities. This gives a strong feeling to the entire body as if being crafted of one metal block.

Last edited by Technocrat : 25th November 2008 at 18:50. Reason: Splitting thread
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Old 25th November 2008, 14:03   #14
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The thud. I'd rather the car stays well-heeled during its normal single-owner lifespan of 5-7 years than a dinky car whose engine keeps going till 1.5 lakh kms when the rest of the car has fallen away.

Besides most modern cars are at a very healthy baseline for reliability, that makes concentrating on the 'thud" factor important.
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Old 25th November 2008, 14:03   #15
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IMHO, Reliability and Build Quality are not the same. Reliability does arise from Build Quality, but the word "Build Quality", to me, encompasses a lot of other aspects too. Build Quality is a much broader term, with one of the characteristics of Build Quality being Reliability.

Build Quality should be seen in the way all parts of the car are put together: The body panels, the interior plastics (and other materials), the electrical components and the mechanical components. When built well, the entire car stays "well put-together".

Wear and tear of the 'mechanicals' can cause issues from time to time -- hey, they are moving parts, so we can understand that. But when other parts that don't "move", like dashboard plastics, door panels etc. start working loose very early into the life of the vehicle, that definitely is bad build quality. We can understand a few rattles in a 2 to 3 year old car. But earlier than that -- that is bad build quality.

Coming back to the mechanicals, as Mclaren1885 pointed out, when issues that are solved/repaired recur again and again, that is bad build quality. This is a sign that the car was not built well to begin with. (This is keeping the quality of the service/repair aside).

What can't manufacturers build cards that are reliable as well as built-well? I'm sure it is physically possible.
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