The general manufacturing objective during the fabrication of automotive components, particularly through machining, can be stated as the striving to achieve predefined product quality characteristics within equipment, cost and time constraints. The current state of the economy and the consequent market pressure has forced vehicle manufacturers to simultaneously reduce operating expenses along with further improving product quality. This paper examines the achievability of surface roughness specifications within efforts to reduce automotive component manufacture cycle time, particularly by changing cutting feeds. First, the background and attractiveness of aluminum as a lightweight automotive material is discussed. Following this, the methodologies employed for the prediction of surface roughness in machining are presented. The factors affecting surface roughness as well as practical techniques for its improvement through optimizing machining parameters are discussed next. Emphasis is placed on portraying the dominance of feed on surface quality over other controllable machining parameters, thus substantiating the motivation for this study. Controlled milling experiments show the relationship between feed and surface quality for 6061 aluminum, and the results are used to recommend machining practices for cycle time reduction while maintaining quality requirements.