Dismiss Notice

Welcome To CK5!

Registering is free and easy! Hope to see you on the forums soon.

Score a FREE t-shirt and membership sticker when you sign up for a Premium Membership and choose the recurring plan.

I think GM needs to send it's engineers back through GE 241 "Engineering Materials"

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by mikey_d05, Oct 30, 2005.

  1. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Posts:
    10,453
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Minnesota
    A good friend of mine and our family recently moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for his first real job. (recently graduated from college) I got a call from him on Wednesday pretty much freaking out because his car was "spewing" antifreeze all over the place.

    He's a good guy so I figured I'd burn a half tank and go down to the big city and see if I could lend a hand. We drained the small amount of coolant that was left and I proceeded to fill it up with water in an attempt to do a redneck pressure test and see where it was coming from. I didn't even get a chance to fill the system all the way up and it started pouring out as fast as I could pour it in. I thought maybe the block had a massive crack in it but I didn't know how I could have overlooked it if it was that big.

    I had him keep pouring while a reached around to find the leak and realized that it was a broken fitting. I loosened a hose clamp to pull half of the fitting out and realized that it was plastic :eek1: The other half was broken off inside the intake manifold and required a butterknife and a wrench (redneck ingenuity) to be removed.

    Now, to get a METAL replacement with a sealing o-ring was $4 at the local Advance Auto, so it would probably cost GM 40 to 50 cents a piece to use them, whereas the plastic piece probably cost a penny or two. Now, I know manufacturing cars is about making profit first and quality second....but using a large, badly designed plastic fitting in a situation where it has antifreeze running through it constantly? Are these people on crack?

    I'm a freshman engineering student with no upper level experience and this junk is just common sense. This could very easily leave a person stranded and a motor dead. When we walked into the parts store and I started to describe what I needed to the counterman he just laughed and said "oh yeah, those, they're in the help aisle, we just had to order another box of 'em." Have automobile manufacturers actually gotten cheap and chinsy enough that they're routinely using substandard materials in critical applications? I'm glad that the problem with his car was as simple as it was but what a joke...what's next...ceramic ring and pinions and plastic driveshafts?

    [\rant]
     
  2. Z3PR

    Z3PR Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2002
    Posts:
    19,217
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Everywhere
    I wouldn't blame the engineers, but the management. I'm sure it's the "bean counters" that made the decision too use the cheaper parts. By the way, what vehicle ?? I'm wondering if my 2000 Oldsmobile Alero has plastic fitting that need replaced.
     
  3. 84k5

    84k5 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    May 13, 2000
    Posts:
    2,949
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Dublin, CA
    I agree, but...it adds up. Thousands of parts in a vehicle, millions of vehicles made, cutting a dime on every part saves a lot in the end. The main problem in engineering is always cost.
     
  4. ntsqd

    ntsqd 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2002
    Posts:
    3,381
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    So. CA
    Comes back to my rule of thumb when considering changing or eliminating something on a vehicle. "An Engineer designed it, but a Cost Accountant approved it."

    Keep that common sense. An Engineering education will try to educate you away from it, but it's highly valuable to have.
     
  5. zcarczar

    zcarczar 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2002
    Posts:
    2,495
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Apple Valley California
    GM did that so that it will nuetralize the acidity in the cooling system, the acid will attack the weak part instead of everything else, at least thats the way I thought it worked and it seems valid to me.
     
  6. Inu-Hanyou1776

    Inu-Hanyou1776 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2005
    Posts:
    1,345
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Murphy, NC
    Wonder if those same damn 'bean counters' would really like to force the engineers and the rest of us enthusiasts to keep from upgrading our vehicles and getting rid of the cheap parts they want us to use? I bet they do.

    I bet the bean counters dream of being able to tell us all "You WILL use our cheap parts we approve for OEM use, and you WILL NOT replace them after you buy the vehicle with better parts. You WILL enjoy breaking those parts and replacing them, so we get better pay!"
     
  7. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Posts:
    10,453
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I really hope this is not the case. If it is, whoever produced this design is dumber than I thought. Using a "sacrificial anode" (only name I know them by) in the coolant overflow tank would do just as good of a job and not put your vehicles cooling system in jeopardy.

    Designing a system with a weak link purposefully built in can be useful in some cases (like hub fuses) but there are WAY better ways to implement something like that.

    Dumb question of the day...where is this weak link in a standard smallblock cooling system? :crazy:

    As for the motor, it's a GM 3.8. I'd heard of this problem before but didn't pay any attention since the only two V6's in our immediate family are a Ford and a GM 3.1. I don't know if the problem is exclusive to 3.8's, but I will be looking my sister's car over at Thanksgiving and replacing the part if it's setup the same way.
     
  8. OrangeCrushK10

    OrangeCrushK10 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2003
    Posts:
    1,425
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Square State + Suspension Item
    All GM V6's and 3rd gen or newer V8's will have that stupid plastic piece. Anytime we did one at the shop we ALWAYS replaced that piece with a metal one.
     
  9. Inu-Hanyou1776

    Inu-Hanyou1776 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2005
    Posts:
    1,345
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Murphy, NC
    Hope none of GM's bean counters read that. If they did, your shop may just wind up recieving a letter saying on that matter "START USING PLASTIC PIECE INSTEAD OF A METAL ONE, OR YOU LOSE YOUR JOB! BETTER DURABILITY TAKING PRECEDENCE OVER COST SAVINGS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!! WE WILL KEEP CUSTOMERS COMING BACK AND BUYING UNSAFE REPLACEMENT PLASTIC PART TO MAKE MORE MONEY!"
     
  10. OrangeCrushK10

    OrangeCrushK10 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2003
    Posts:
    1,425
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Square State + Suspension Item
    Hey, I don't work there anymore. The pay sucked.
     
  11. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Posts:
    10,453
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Question #1: Did you work at an actual GM dealership?

    Question #2: Was the metal fitting you used a GM part #?
     
  12. Inu-Hanyou1776

    Inu-Hanyou1776 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2005
    Posts:
    1,345
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Murphy, NC
    That's good to hear, but like I said, I hope GM's evil bean counters didn't find out about that.
     
  13. newyorkin

    newyorkin 1 ton status

    Joined:
    May 8, 2001
    Posts:
    16,555
    Likes Received:
    157
    Location:
    Los Estados Unitos
  14. OrangeCrushK10

    OrangeCrushK10 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2003
    Posts:
    1,425
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Square State + Suspension Item
    Woked for an independant shop. Ordered he part from Napa. I unfortunetly forget the part #
     
  15. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Posts:
    10,453
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I replaced the plastic piece with a metal one, I was just wondering if GM actually acknowledged the fact that the design isn't correct.
     
  16. 89GMCSuburban

    89GMCSuburban 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2001
    Posts:
    3,005
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Thornton, CO
    Isn't the manifold that fitting screws into actually plastic as well?
     
  17. mikey_d05

    mikey_d05 1 ton status GMOTM Winner

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Posts:
    10,453
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Not on his vehicle, I do believe that some of them are a two piece design and either the upper or lower are cast out of plastic.
     
  18. Z3PR

    Z3PR Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2002
    Posts:
    19,217
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Everywhere
    What and where are these plactic parts located ?? I have the 3.4 V6 in my Alero. I want too replace them before they can cause a problem.
     
  19. wildbilzrydn

    wildbilzrydn 1/2 ton status

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2005
    Posts:
    118
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Joliet, IL
    I feel your pain....
    As a Injection Molding Process Engineer in a fairly large 2nd tier molder here south of Chicago, I've seen alot of cheap plastic S**t made to go in all makes of cars, whether MoFoCo, CRYsler or the General.
    I'm not a degreed Engineer, But I do have about 20yrs in the industry, and I've forgotten more that most people will ever know about processing Injection Molding equipment and materials.

    Now in my position I get to sit in on all the initial reviews of the products that we will be supplying to our customers, who typically supply the Big Three

    One comes to mind is a really important piece that goes into the 5 speed automaitic transmissions to be offered by one of the three companies represented above.

    This part has a steel insert in it and we mold the plastic around it, and all looks good until it cools, and then it warps, big time.

    We've tried different Materials, with the same result. The Problem is Obvious, but the engineers that designed the thing wont budge on the design, or accept the parts with the warp.

    So we had to cheat to get the parts flat enough for production, and all is well now, but if the People that designed the parts had known even a little bit about materials... all would've been good from the outset.


    2nd example...
    I bought a Pressure washer from sears about two years ago. It's a "companion" brand, but it has a Briggs Engine so I figure its good quality right?

    I'm washing my HD in the driveway with it one fine summer day, and I look in the water on the driveway by the washer and I see that familiar blue reflection of hydrocarbons there.

    I shut it down, and look and see a crack in the plastic gas tank, right by where the material gets shot into the mold when its made. This is a Processing issue and in my mind there is no excuse for it. I could fix it and keep it gone forever. Every one will be good.

    In this day and age with the Wonderful robotics and computerized controllers and QS-9000 and all the rest of that BS, There should be no way that I get a bad one. period.

    Really it boils down to a couple things to me.

    We are competing with third world companies in the plastics Biz and therefore in the automotive Biz. I and the rest of the staff where I work are well paid and for the most part are very sharp individuals.
    The people that we are in competition with are paid in some cases about 5% of our wage, use substandard machinery (at least by my standards) and typically are also very sharp individuals.
    To keep our company in business, we have to ELIMINATE jobs and steps in the process so we can keep some of the money that we get when we sell product to the customer, just so we don't get underbid by some chinese outfit and lose the work. Therefore No inspection takes place during production, and our management is focused on decreasing scrap so bad parts are sometimes shipped because we don't scrap the production immediatly after a process interuption. When we do get parts rejected by our customers, we sort, but the industry rule of thumb is that 100% sorting is about 80% effective. (we catch 4 of 5) we sort because it's too expensive to scrap the production and replace it.


    All I can say is buy American Products. You may pay more now, but You may also have a job 5 years from now, and if manufacturing becomes more profitable, than Quality will improve.
     

Share This Page