Chris Koepfer, senior editor for Modern Machine Shop, recently asked me when I was going to write something about the Dateline NBC report about paint peeling off cars manufactured by the Big Three. I told him I figured everyone in our industry knew what had happened, and there was really nothing to write about. Well, I was wrong.
Apparently the paint peeling problem occurred on cars and trucks built by the Big Three between 1984 and 1993. What is claimed is that the auto-makers stopped using spray primer and took the car and truck bodies straight from a new electrocoat into the base coating operation. UV degradation due to the absence of primer is said to have caused the delamination.
According to web based sources, approximately 400,000 cars were affected! If you do the math, you will find that this is only 0.6 pct of the total passenger cars produced during those years. This figure does not include trucks since the American Automobile Manufacturers Association lumps them with commercial vehicles.
All of the Web sites I encountered slammed the Big Three, saying they ignored the problem, refused to cooperate, etc. There are law suits and transcripts of the Dateline NBC article. My first reaction to all of this was to say "quit your whining."
Most companies are trying to meet consumer demand for the "best" while making money. That's capitalism. If only 0.6 pct of the cars were defective, that's pretty good. I wish my mistakes were as few. One also ought to consider that paint delamination does not affect vehicle safety.
My friend, Jimmy, who works at a Chevrolet dealer's body shop, told me that General Motors was willing to repaint the cars that were brought in under its warranty. So why does the media feel it needs to attack corporate America and make this a much bigger issue than it really is?
It is interesting that people who feel they have been wronged have the loudest voice and, therefore, get the most press. As Tom Frank stated in his book Conglomerates and the Media, "As a culture, we have lost the ability to tell what is important and what is trivial." Maybe we should just quit whining for a while and listen. Then we can learn and decide for ourselves.