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Car Beraters

April 21, 1996

Doron P. Levin refers to "proof of Ford's commitment to listen to its customers" ("How Ford Redesigned Its Future," March 10). I suggest that if the Ford people think they have "found the road to Wellville," perhaps they should have left their automobiles in intensive care longer.

If Ford executives perceive satisfied customers, I refer them to The Times business section of March 19, in which an article on best-to-worst reliability rankings lists Ford as No. 20 out of 29 car makers, as rated by owners and Consumer Reports magazine in 1995. All of that sounds more in line with my own experience with an Explorer "lime"--not quite a lemon--that I gave the utmost in caring attention. In responding to a questionnaire from Ford after driving the car for more than two years, I cited constant brake problems, peeling paint, and a transmission replacement before 42,000 miles were on the odometer. I got a form postcard back stating that "someone has tried to contact you by mail or telephone." Baloney!

I severed this sick vehicle from my life. Our family is now happily in two-Honda heaven, cars that also were made in the U.S.A.

Barbara Nanney

Glendale

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Levin turned in a worthy article, albeit one that stopped short of really telling how bad U.S. cars had become by the time Volkswagen--and, later, the Japanese imports--hit our shores. Our domestic car makers plainly felt that the buyers had no choice; planned obsolescence was the name of the game.

Buy a new car every two years was the motto of the times. Send them out to customers with defects that would never be corrected. Have dealers stall on repairs until their customers traded in their cars, passing the defects on to other drivers.

Our auto companies virtually invited the imports in. Even when the economical, durable, high-gas-mileage Volkswagens were selling well, the phenomenon was ignored by American manufacturers in favor of the gas-guzzling, unreliable, ugly giants that we called automobiles.

My last three cars have been Fords and have been good cars. But I had to really talk myself into going back to Ford.

Robert Binder

Claremont

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