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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As you might know companies are always looking to spare cost and they have groups within each company that are constantly sniffing out cash that can be removed without the customer noticing.

Sometimes they are very clever and some of the design updates are actually truly better designs that save cost, however this is not always the case.

I was doing some research and came across some photographs of brand new Town & Countries and Dodge Grand Caravans on the lot before they were sold, aka brand new vehicles with 2-3mi on the odometers.

So here are some observations that I have made. (Various coatings have been removed for cost savings) With production runs of hundreds of thousands of vehicles, shaving 1-2$ here and there can have tremendous profit benefits for the company.

2008 TC with 3.8L photo looking at the underside from the front. Engine looks as you would expect.
Vehicle Hood Automotive tire Car Motor vehicle




Here is a 2011 3.6L. Mass damper on the right of the motor mount appears to be gone in the later years.
Tire Wheel Vehicle Automotive tire Automotive lighting


Trans View of a 2014 T&C. No Rust anywhere, axle does appear to be rusting.
Tire Automotive tire Hood Automotive lighting Vehicle



Trans View of a 2016 T&C. Bolt coating likely has been altered or removed, thus rusting.
Wheel Tire Automotive tire Hood Automotive lighting


2015-2016 T&C, likely axle coating was removed as well.
Wheel Tire Automotive tire Automotive lighting Hood




Next photos are of the Stow N GO Tubs, and the rear trunk tub. They were initially coated in rubbarized thick coating, adds weight and cost but serves as excelent protection for the steel tubs.

These photos will go in order.

2011-2013 they look like this.
Tire Vehicle Automotive parking light Wheel Automotive tire


2014 seems to be the year I saw partial coatings on many parts. The tubs were the easiest to spot.
Wheel Tire Car Automotive parking light Vehicle



2015-2016 No Coating.
Tire Wheel Vehicle Automotive tire Automotive lighting



Stow n Go tubs were also uncoated 2015-2016.
Tire Wheel Vehicle Car Automotive lighting



In comparison 2008-2013.
Tire Wheel Hood Automotive lighting Automotive tire



Conclusion.

These trends have continued thorugh the production run and these are only things we can see easily. Imagine what may have been removed behind panels such as insulation, or sound deadeners inside the cab etc. This simply makes the later models less desiarable for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Another thing I have noticed is that the spare tire has gone missing from latest years, maybe it became optional? 2015 and 2016 shown. I did not have enough pictures to judge but it is possible that they made it something you option or purchase separately at the dealer.
Hood Tire Automotive tire Motor vehicle Wheel

Wheel Tire Automotive tire Vehicle Hood


2014.
Vehicle Hood Automotive tire Motor vehicle Car




Quick internet search, yes in 2015 the spare tire became a dealer option.

Rectangle Font Parallel Number Screenshot
 

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Yes. Every company (auto makers, food industry and toy makers) are always changing things - to save dimes, nickels and pennies. Just the other day my wife bought "real walnuts" flavored ice cream. In a normal size bowl, we could only find 4 fragmented nuts. Big difference from years ago - when the bowl was loaded with nuts. So much for our world having "more nuts" in it. LOL!
 

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Yes. Every company (auto makers, food industry and toy makers) are always changing things - to save dimes, nickels and pennies. Just the other day my wife bought "real walnuts" flavored ice cream. In a normal size bowl, we could only find 4 fragmented nuts. Big difference from years ago - when the bowl was loaded with nuts. So much for our world having "more nuts" in it. LOL!
And here I thought the world was becoming a nuttier place. :)
 

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My 2016 R/T had a spare as standard but the lower models did not.

Bummer on the rustproofing stuff. I keep vehicles for a long time and while I keep them clean, my GC is currently splattered with salt like every other vehicle in Michigan.

My biggest problem right now is the hood leading edge with the Ford/Chrysler contaminated aluminum panel problem. Ford has gone over 20 years with a number of their models having bad hoods, and Chrysler is over 10 years now. Pacificas are going next. You would think they could fix such an obvious problem easily and save a LOT of customer frustration.
 

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Some of it comes down to the buyers and getting bids for parts. Sure you can find lower priced parts, but what sacrifices in quality are you willing to make? Also, some stuff comes from overseas and sits around before being used. We've had internal engine parts at work be rusty right out of the so-called protective bag! Into the reject pile! Hardware has been a pain as well. When Textron took over in 2017, our hardware supplier changed from Anixter to Wurth. Apparently Wurth was good in Germany, but not so much here. It is worse than what we ever experienced before, with bad threads on bolts, nuts stuck together from zinc coating, and the torx heads being malformed or not able to get a bit in them. It's a lot of time lost on the line when we have to keep picking out more hardware to find something good, bolts that don't pass torque, etc. - - just to save a few cents. It got so bad that every station has to have a little red bin to put reject hardware into, that quality control has to collect and sort every now and then. Cheaper, but adds more work, frustration, and time lost.

I noticed on my 2004 T&C pulling interior panels, that some panels didn't have clips where they should. Were they stuck and forgotten from someone previously removing the panel? Nope, because there were no marks on the plastic where the little clip was supposed to push onto - it was never there from the factory. My 2001 panels had the clips, and there are slots in the van for them. This meant there was a change in instructions to use less clips on some parts to save money. I used the "extra" clips on the earlier panels. That proves build quality in the earlier years of a run is better.
 
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My 2016 R/T had a spare as standard but the lower models did not.

Bummer on the rustproofing stuff. I keep vehicles for a long time and while I keep them clean, my GC is currently splattered with salt like every other vehicle in Michigan.
Not rustproofing IMO, more like rock guard or sound attenuation. It's not a complete cover.
Often seen on rocker panels. Some vehicles had rock guard on the rocker panels from the factory. Good for gravel roads.
I checked my 2016 underneath and it's so covered with Krown corrosion protection that I can't tell what's on there without physically touching it. Krown heals from a rock nick, the asphalt/rubberized coatings don't. They should only be applied on basically new material. They can crack and allow rust to grow underneath.
The underbody of a vehicle tends to hang in there a long time, avoiding corrosion unless it has been subjected to salt spray and allowed to sit for a significant period of time before being driven on a rainy day. Corrosion protection to the rescue. Inside of panels is the worse area for corrosion as it proceeds unseen. Corrosion protection to the rescue there as well.
Honda had a corrosion problem with the rear suspension on 2007 to 2011 CRVs. One solution was to apply corrosion protection if the corrosion wasn't bad. The other solution was to declare the vehicle unsafe if corrosion was bad and give the Customer a rebate on a new vehicle.
 

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And the reason why I stick with my 4th gen van with only 160K miles. It has some cost cutting done, but nothing like the ones in this thread.

2005-07 has the rear single leaf suspension. Dayton and Husky have the add-a-leaf kits to help and Monroe has the coil over shock. Together these bring the 4th gen back on par to the 2001-04 suspension performance.

And in this post-covid era of supply chain woes and parts shortages and part substitutions, it's a wilder game being played. Nobody would know for certain what change and what didn't from model build week-to-week.
 

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I've never seen a 5th gen without the undercoating. I'm not sure if it's a year thing. Might be a "Let's screw over those people that salt the roads." thing. Van lasts less and forces you into another vehicle sooner.
 
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I've never seen a 5th gen without the undercoating. I'm not sure if it's a year thing. Might be a "Let's screw over those people that salt the roads." thing. Van lasts less and forces you into another vehicle sooner.
The coating isn't there for the salt (corrosion). They don't put corrosion treatments on the vehicles or they would be doing more and advertising it. The Dealerships couldn't sell their expensive undercoating, with a third party useless warranty, either.

It's just a half baked rock guard treatment, not of much value actually. Could be on the rocker panels as well.
 

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Not rustproofing IMO, more like rock guard or sound attenuation. It's not a complete cover.
Often seen on rocker panels. Some vehicles had rock guard on the rocker panels from the factory. Good for gravel roads.
I've been buying rusting cars since 1970, had many Ziebarted (internal rustproofing) and had factory undercoating cause problems with trapped wet salt. I sought rustproofed used cars and paid to have new ones done. And I've sprayed inner panels on a few cars where I knew there were problems with my trusty and ancient cans of aluminized wax :)

So yeah, I know the heavy rubberized stuff is not really rustproofing but more of a noise buffer. I am still bummed about the hood on the GC and wish it had a plastic hood like my '02 E150 van (which got replaced by my GC).
 

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They cost-cut in many places inside the vans too! Starting with the one piece dash, instead of the 7 or so piece dash the early 5'th gen vans came with. Easier to produce and assemble a one piece instead of many pieces.

Another cost cut piece, is the mood lighting on the 2011+ vans. For vans with the long overhead console which have 2 storage bins in the middle and 2 outer bins which can be screens, they only put one mood lighting LED per side, opposed to my generation which has 2 on each side, one on each end of the LED tube. It's a small touch that would drive me nuts... really! I love my mood lighting!

How about the rear tinted windows? 2008-2010 vans almost always came with rear tinted windows (I'm not sure I seen a van without them), and 2011+ I see more then half the caravans here without the rear tint.

I'm sure there's a lot more cost cutting measures used as well that I just hadn't discovered yet, and just like mentioned above, since the start of the pandemic there had been so many shortages, it's going to be interesting to see what all was cost cut or outsourced from cheaper manufacturers.
 

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Some employees got suggestion awards for those cost cuts. :) I just hope no one suggests going back to one sliding door, on the Driver's side. :) Ford didn't have a "better idea" back then. They did a people survey and decided against a second sliding door. Chrysler bucked that trend and put on a second sliding door (on the Driver's side). The rest is history. Just goes to show that people don't know what's best for themselves. :)

My 2016 DGC Crew Plus is fine, in my experience, for amenities. Just missing a wiper park defroster grid. Seems to me the 3.6L engine is a cost cut compared to the 4.0L engine, a timing belt change, every so often, being a drawback.

All depends how one looks at it, I believe.

Please note that when I mention corrosion protection, I seldom mention Ziebart, or at least anything positive about Ziebart. They may have a good product today but years back, not so good. They may be using a different product inside the body cavities these days. Perhaps on a brand new vehicle??
A Tacoma Truck Forum is a good place to glean something about corrosion protection. :)

 
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@Jeepman, Ziebart worked very well on cars that I have owned as early as 1968 models. Ziebarted cars did not rust, non-Ziebarted cars got holes as soon as 2-3 years out. As with any rustproofing, the person who applies it is the whole equation. Their process used a lighter wax inside and a tougher material outside panels.

Single doors on vans were always on the passenger, or curb, side. I drove full size vans with single side doors for 30+ years and they made more sense on big vans because you could move around the interior. Minivans are cramped in comparison.
 

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Ziebart is decent but if you don’t re-spray it every once in a while, or put an oil based rustproofing on top of it, it will eventually dry out and crack, allowing water to get under.
Ziebart has always used 2 compounds, a rustproofing material for inner panels that was soft aluminized wax and a heavier tar-like "undercoating" type stuff for outer panels. The inner-panel aluminized wax did not dry out or crack in my experience but that experience was mostly in the last century. I have had Ziebart resprays destroy the door speakers in one car (Wife's 1986 Escort GT, bought new, sold off in 1992).

There was an old Texaco product (applied by a company called Snyder's) that was a vaseline-based product and likely similar to fluid film, that used to be available in the 1970's and 80's.

I've only had one vehicle rustproofed this century, a 2002 Ford E150--manufacturers are doing a better job these days and I don't keep vehicles as long. I am 70 years old now and look forward to buying a few more cars/vans in my life :)
 

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Some employees got suggestion awards for those cost cuts. :) I just hope no one suggests going back to one sliding door, on the Driver's side. :) Ford didn't have a "better idea" back then. They did a people survey and decided against a second sliding door. Chrysler bucked that trend and put on a second sliding door (on the Driver's side). The rest is history. Just goes to show that people don't know what's best for themselves. :)
I am a family of five, with two single car garages, and a condo complex with limited parking. I can’t imagine having a passenger van with a door on just one side. Mind you, I grew up with one, but in my scenario… I would’ve likely bought something else.
 

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There was an old Texaco product (applied by a company called Snyder's) that was a vaseline-based product and likely similar to fluid film, that used to be available in the 1970's and 80's.

I've only had one vehicle rustproofed this century, a 2002 Ford E150--manufacturers are doing a better job these days and I don't keep vehicles as long. I am 70 years old now and look forward to buying a few more cars/vans in my life :)
No Vaseline in Fluid Film or Woolwax, lanolin is their key ingredient.

A new product on the market, Blaster Surface Shield, seems to be a concoction of Fluid Film/Woolwax and Vaseline.

These non-hardening products, including Krown and others (without lanolin), have the added advantage of lubrication, plus always being active in penetrating, creeping, healing and repelling moisture.

Fluid Film is used on farm equipment, marine equipment, trucks and snowplows. Protects electrical connections and keeps hoses from drying out. Fluid Film is all over the engine bay of my Jeep.

Yes, 99,999 miles is probably as long as a vehicle should be kept. :)
 
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2005-07 has the rear single leaf suspension. Dayton and Husky have the add-a-leaf kits to help and Monroe has the coil over shock. Together these bring the 4th gen back on par to the 2001-04 suspension performance.
The 2001-04 also had single rear leaf spring suspension, except for maybe the AWD and cargo vans.
 

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Some employees got suggestion awards for those cost cuts. :) I just hope no one suggests going back to one sliding door, on the Driver's side. :) Ford didn't have a "better idea" back then. They did a people survey and decided against a second sliding door. Chrysler bucked that trend and put on a second sliding door (on the Driver's side). The rest is history. Just goes to show that people don't know what's best for themselves. :)
I owned a Windstar and attended a Ford market research focus group. This was before Mopar had the second slider. They asked about a driver side sliding door and nobody in the room said they wouldn't take one. But when they starting asking about how much more people were willing to pay for it, there was a lot of resistance to paying anything.

The Windstar had an excellent (optional) rear AC/heat system that was housed in the panel where the driver slider would be. In turn, the spare tire was behind a rear panel where the rear AC is on the DGC. I would take a single slider, good AC, a side panel spare any day over a second slider.

During the focus group, they asked what people thought about the rear AC. They loved it, and said the option was worth every penny. I think Ford knew it was either a second slider or excellent rear AC, but not both. I think Ford had it right technical decision, but bungled the marketing side.
 
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