We owned a Mazda built in Japan before Ford took over and dramatically improved the build quality. Our Japanese-built pre-Ford Mazda was the second worst car in our family (Honda was the worst). The Mazda was very poorly built, rattled from one end to the other and was constantly breaking down (though not as often as the Honda). At 86,000 miles I traded it for a Mustang with 139,000 miles on it. The Mustang was flawless.
In January we bought a Ford Fusion, which is based on the Mazda 6, but now has benefited from the vastly better build quality Ford puts into all its cars. This is one of the best, most solidly built cars we've ever owned. It also rates higher in reliability than Camry and Accord.
Although I am a patriot and buy ONLY domestic brands, I will concede that Hyundai builds some of the world's best cars, almost on a par with the newer Fords. The World-class Sonata has beat out the frumpy Camry in just about every comparison that has been done. When my current Mustang is ready to be traded (probably at about 300,000 miles) I will look for a good used Hyundai Genesis coupe. I have no issues with buying USED imports because all the money made goes to American dealers.
I see a lot of Hondas on here with 2, 3 or more trans and it's all reported to carfax which made the resale on our 2002 Acura our worse ever. Take a read, we now love domestics.
Well I switched from domestics a long time ago, and I'm STILL happy. I don't like domestic vehicles, they never work for me. I'm a mechanic and I always do scheduled maintenance on time, but things still break on me. Domestics are built cheaply, they're meant to last 100,000 miles and then break so you can buy a new one. My Honda's and Toyota's have lasted much longer. Domestics are meant to be disposable.
When I read "I am a mechanic", it concerns me as it is not indicative that you are a very good one.
I have had to totally redo work done by so called mechanics. If things never worked for you, why not? I would rather do things right the first time. Vehicles today are quite complex. I would rather see someone than had owned a number of late model vehicles import and domestic rather than dwelling on I switched long ago.
Another factor is how people drive just as much as scheduled maintenance. Being a mechanic I am sure you see the same individuals more often than others that possess better driving habits. Some ride brakes, eat up clutches, hit potholes, ignore gauges, drive hard everyday and ignore symptoms and yet change their oil every 3000 miles. I have seen clutches eaten up in a day. No doubt the car will to be blame not the driver.
The older Japanese imports in my opinion were built better the newer ones average to less than average with durability. And when the warranty expires it can be very costly. There are more domestics I am seeing on the road and plenty of parts new and used available. The bodies of the imports I see have rotted out before domestics as well. Where are all the 70's imports on the road? I live in the Northeast and still see many more domestics with the salt issue still out every day.
Ever watch Barrett Jackson? Not disposable. I looked for the Honda and Toyota rows; were they not around in the 60s and 70s era as well? Any ever appreciate or are they disposable??
Toyota entered the U.S. back in the late 60's. You could find an early model, but they're rare. They didn't have the quality they have today obviously, so they didn't sell very well, but obviously enough to become the largest automotive company in the world today. Their early models are quite hard to come buy though.
All my friends who have owned Toyota trucks have had nothing but problems, too. Plus, one must also consider the latest Toyota recall, the largest in history, affecting some 3.8 million vehicles.
My experience as well. We actually owned two Japanese imports in the late 80's and early 90's. Ours were garbage even then, so I doubt the newer ones are any better. We routinely give our Tundra-owning friend rides to the dealership in our GMC to pick up either his Tundra or his Camry. Just last week his wife called him at work to tell him their 2008 Camry with less than 16,000 miles had broken down and left her stranded. Apparently Toyota doesn't even offer the free roadside service that all domestics offer free with all their vehicles. Our friend had to leave work and go get her. He was probably praying all the way that his Tundra wouldn't break down again before he got to her. Our two GM vehicles are 9 years old and 7 years old. Neither has ever required a single repair.
"Apparently Toyota doesn't even offer the free roadside service that all domestics offer free with all their vehicles."
I was thankful for that service when my domestic left me stranded 5 times in a 2 month period for the same problem that had supposedly been fixed or non-existent.
You'd be hard pressed to find an American car that is totally made in the USA. Most of them are made with parts from China, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil. I traveled to Detroit this summer and most of the plants there were shut down. Obviously these companies mismanaged things for a long time. To me most "domestic" cars are about as American as a Dell Laptop: Only the name is American while the guts are all made elsewhere.
The same is true with a lot of Japanese cars. They are pieced together with parts from all over- some of them from the same companies that make parts for the former big 3. So they are foreign in name, but just as internationally sourced as their American counterparts.
I've known people who have had American cars that fell apart almost immediately. I've known people with American cars that ran forever and ever. The same with people I know who own Japanese cars. I had a housemate with a Mitsubishi that blew its engine at 60,000 miles. On the other hand I've owned 3 Toyotas and the worst that happened was the Tacoma I own needed a new wheel bearing after 230,000 miles, and it took me 15 minutes to replace.
The bottom line is that you can have poor quality cars out of either car. Just because a car has an American or Japanese name doesn't make it automatically inferior or better. It's just that American car companies let things slide for awhile and have only made some drastic improvements in the past few years. You can't say that the former big 3 didn't get their reputation from nothing. But I also concede that not ALL American cars are automatically bad either.
I own a 2000 Tundra with 155k miles, and I have never had any differential/drivetrain problems. I use this truck to tow, and have many times filled the bed up over the roof hauling slash without any problems.
It is used up in the mountains 4 wheeling, and in many days in the snow here in Colorado.
I solved the front brake issue by keeping a second set of rotors turned, and change them out at the first sign of warping. This current set of rotors are approaching 20k without warping, so I'm happy.
I just changed the rear brake drums and shoes at 150k. Am replacing the original Bilstein shocks and struts, and other than routine mx, I guess I just got lucky with this truck.
It's holding up, and I hope to get another 150k out of her.