Go Back   Team-BHP > BHP India > The Indian Car Scene

View Poll Results: What is Build Quality to you?
Supreme Reliability 298 70.62%
The "Thud" 124 29.38%
Voters: 422. You may not vote on this poll

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 25th November 2008, 12:57   #1
Team-BHP Support
GTO's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Bombay
Posts: 43,756
Thanked: 63,171 Times
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.
GTO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 13:20   #2
Distinguished - BHPian
jkdas's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Thiruvananthapu
Posts: 9,567
Thanked: 1,211 Times

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.
jkdas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 13:21   #3
mclaren1885's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Bangalore (the city of modded cars) !!
Posts: 4,821
Thanked: 27 Times
Infractions: 0/1 (10)

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.
mclaren1885 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 13:33   #4
Distinguished - BHPian
Sahil's Avatar
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Bombay
Posts: 5,016
Thanked: 1,629 Times

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.
Sahil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 13:35   #5
Senior - BHPian
vikram_d's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 2,374
Thanked: 920 Times

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.
vikram_d is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 13:36   #6
Distinguished - BHPian
supremeBaleno's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Weekdays@Chennai, Weekends@Kerala
Posts: 5,088
Thanked: 1,406 Times

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.
supremeBaleno is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 13:37   #7
gkrishn's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 584
Thanked: 35 Times

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.
gkrishn is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 13:45   #8
Senior - BHPian
ImmortalZ's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Trivandrum
Posts: 2,124
Thanked: 82 Times


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.
ImmortalZ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 13:45   #9
Senior - BHPian
srishiva's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Bengaluru
Posts: 3,302
Thanked: 543 Times
Infractions: 0/1 (5)

Reliability. If cars can get 5 star safety rating without the thud and last longer, it means good engineering for me.
srishiva is online now   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 13:50   #10
white_vdi's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: new delhi
Posts: 842
Thanked: 16 Times

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.
white_vdi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 13:55   #11
Senior - BHPian
lurker's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Tura
Posts: 1,217
Thanked: 479 Times

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.
lurker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 13:56   #12
Team-BHP Support
tsk1979's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: New Delhi
Posts: 22,557
Thanked: 14,842 Times

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.
tsk1979 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 14:00   #13
Senior - BHPian
lurker's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Tura
Posts: 1,217
Thanked: 479 Times

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
lurker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 14:03   #14
Team-BHP Support
theMAG's Avatar
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 6,939
Thanked: 1,346 Times

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.
theMAG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th November 2008, 14:03   #15
Senior - BHPian
hydrashok's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: In my Office
Posts: 2,528
Thanked: 14 Times

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.
hydrashok is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
The Frankenbike Build: My Honda CBR 600 F3 Build-Off ap10046 Superbikes & Imports 16 16th July 2013 14:26
Is Swift Build quality so poor... ?? Rtech The Indian Car Scene 214 1st March 2010 22:40
Sparky proved itself -build quality superb,ride superb bkm Test-Drives & Initial Ownership Reports 4 15th April 2008 13:12

All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 10:58.

Copyright 2000 - 2016, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks