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View Poll Results: What is Build Quality to you?
Supreme Reliability 354 67.56%
The "Thud" 170 32.44%
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Old 25th November 2008, 18:04   #31
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I do not think "thud" (on closing the door/boot) equates to build quality or safety directly. I remember reading an article in an international automotive magazine, sometime in late nineties, about large automotive companies doing research on the "thud" factor. People from different countries had their own preferences of how the "thud" should sound. And many auto giants used to design their cars in such a way, that the "thud" sounded differently in different countries, catering to the local tastes. In short, a "thud" may not always translate to better safety. They are sometimes stage managed. There are better ways to measure safety.

Anyway, for me build quality would mean a car that does not breakdown suddenly (when I have stuck to the service schedules which would be fewer on a well built and well designed machine) and performs as expected and as designed for. This rules out squeaks and rattles, assuming they were not part of the design specifications. No vehicle can be made safe enough, as you will always find bigger/faster/rashly driven vehicles or horrible roads that can kill you even with the best of safety equipments. If there are safety features like air bags etc., I would expect them to work correctly with a vehicle of good build quality. But it may not be enough to save the occupants in the case of an accident.

Last edited by pjbiju : 25th November 2008 at 18:07.
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Old 25th November 2008, 18:07   #32
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For me, build quality means a car that has run 50k feels very similar to one that has run 2-3k.

What I mean by 'feel' is the noises, engine smoothness, steering tightness, gearbox engagement etc.

The thud when closing a door, you can test when you buy. But whether a car ages gracefully is the question.

I always try to drive a well used ar before buying a new one. Tells you a lot more than test driving a brand new car.
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Old 25th November 2008, 18:15   #33
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Originally Posted by jkdas View Post
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.
That's an unfair comparison - don't you think?

Anyway, to me, build quality is about two things: Minimum unplanned expenditure. I'm totally ok with regular maintenance - but nothing else.

Must-have: The car, and its most vital gadgets, have to function when it has to. I hate unplanned visits to the garage.
Nice-to-have: Great sounds - 'thud and the like', rattle-free, solid-looks etc
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Old 25th November 2008, 18:22   #34
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For me supreme reliability is more important than the thud feeling. Now a days the jap cars are also have good build quality though not as good as the germans. But whats build quality in car when it can't work properly each and every time.
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Old 25th November 2008, 20:51   #35
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thud is over simplifying build quality.

for me build quality is a static aspect of mechanical precision with which parts have been finished and put together.

reliability is a dynamic aspect of how well the mechanisms (electronic & mechanical) work together to deliver the goods consistently.

one can appreciate the build quality in a showroom, but not reliability.

or whatever ;-)
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Old 25th November 2008, 21:13   #36
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My uncle has a skoda octavia 2004 elegance 64000kms done and I drove it from bombay to nasik.

It was rainy season that time and the roads were pathetic and when I rode over the potholes the car did not make a single squeak and rattle and made 'thud' noises while going over potholes which inspired me to keep a steady felt great about the build quality seeing the roads the car had gone through.

On the return journey I had my aveo, even though the ride quality and pickup was more in the aveo but when I drove on the same roads the whole car was rattling and was making noises like 'crack katak' which was very very annoying and my car has only done 17000kms.

I know I should'nt be comparing these two different price bracket cars but For me it is sheer build quality which matters.

I hated my car the whole 185 kms
And I have made a decision whenever in future I may buy a car it is 100% going to be a german car i.e--skoda, volkswagen and if luck permits even a merc, bmw or an audi
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Old 25th November 2008, 21:32   #37
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Build quality is also measured by the cheapness. Let me give a simple example.

MSIL has put Jagan brand bulbs as spares in my VDi. Going by their ULTRA cheap packing, I suspect they cost some 50 bucks a pair to MSIL. I'm sure they could've managed halonix pair in like 70-80 bucks at their levels of purchase. No, but they don't.

Its that inherent attitude of cheapness and cost cutting that makes me respect makers like Skoda. No experience with Hyundai, but like Palio even, up till SDX, does not have fabric/inserts in the boot? Can you beleive it? They frigging saved 500-700 bucks on that, and in the best of Palio traditions, its NOT in stock

I love the VDi's reliability but seriously, some things feel so cheap like they've come free
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Old 25th November 2008, 21:45   #38
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for me the "thud" feeling is secondary.If a car with the so called "tinny" feel can equally hold the car, give troublefree drives,is reliable and confidence inspiring even at higher speeds then why would you need the thud feel?
all cars can have the thud feel from the manufacturer but not all manufacturers car need to be reliable,thus proving the engineering advantages over the other.
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Old 25th November 2008, 22:12   #39
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What do you do with a "thud" without reliability? You can only bang your head against the door () when your car breaks down

Some people here think "thud" as safety which is not the fact. The outer sheet metal can never determine the crash safety of a car.
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Old 25th November 2008, 22:16   #40
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A combination of both 'thud' and 'clinical long term reliability' appeals to me as the perfect definition of build quality. And yeah the fact that both these things don't make me go bankrupt over the few years of ownership is another important point to consider. So basically a combination of all three would be the best ! And i feel only the Honda's and Toyota come close to this definition, even though they lose out a bit on the costs front. But as they say, good things never come cheap !
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Old 25th November 2008, 22:40   #41
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
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.
I think build quality is all about the overall feel you get while you drive the car rather than things like the gauge of metal or the number of times you visit the garage. Its whether you feel the quality when you drive the car...its about all the parts functioning together to give you the feeling of wanting to drive more. Its about the overall confidence you get when you are in the driving seat.

talking from my experience i have loved driving my Uno 1.2 and never wanted to let someone else drive. But whenever i drive the zen and the alto and the indica i am always looking around for someone who wants to drive so that i could just sit. I'll call that Build Quality. Its not about just being solid or the numberof times you visit the service centre..

A car is made to be driven and build quality of cars is about ow you feel when you drive it. Just because a honda city does not visit the service centre and the Merc does does not mean that the Merc does not have build quality as the Honda.

Last edited by gemithomas : 25th November 2008 at 22:49.
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Old 25th November 2008, 23:10   #42
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Reliability it is for me. The 'thud' might be indicative of the metal guage used, but overall build quality is determined by the precision and tolerances of the individual components. The Japanese have turned this aspect into a fine art, and while their 'thuds' might not compare with the Europeans, they are definitely ahead on the reliability aspect.
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Old 26th November 2008, 00:01   #43
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I would say, the ageing and fatigue to be added to reliability. Like a marathon runner. If your vehicles looks flimsy but doesn't age much over time, then quality is definitely good. Also the reliability of machine is important. I don't want a bullet proof vehicle which can't go few hundred kms without maintenance, then it is also not worth having it.
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Old 26th November 2008, 00:29   #44
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Interesting thread as always GTO.

For me, reliability is above everything else. Need to have confidence in the heart and brain first and then comes the remaining body and clothes. So the "thud" feeling would take a second priority for me.
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Old 26th November 2008, 11:49   #45
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Build quality in terms of providing safety to the passenger:
The more tighter the cars parts are attached together the better the build quality. When a car encounters a head on crash, the body of the car should be packed in a way that the whole force get transfered from the front to the back. Say if the doors of the car are not packed tightly the car would just crush the passenger. Also by doing this it adds meaning to the Crumple zones

Build quality in terms of noise resistance:
The "thud" sound which we get while closing the car is because of the sound proofing material used to prevent noise from entering the inside of the car.

Build quality in terms of life of the Car
It depends on the materials used to make the car. The steel, the plastics, the seats.
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