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Jalopnik: German Reliability: The Greatest Myth Ever Sold to American Car Buyers


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As a journalist, I feel that it's my duty to provide you, the reader, with carefully researched columns that employ unbiased facts to present multiple sides of today's most complex issues. So today I'm going to use a lot of hyperbole and anecdotal evidence to write about German cars.

I came up with the idea for today's column – that the only thing less reliable than a German car is a Happy Meal wristwatch – a few weeks ago while talking to a German friend. He told me, with absolutely no hint of irony in his voice (because Germans don't have the capacity for irony; just cleanliness), that modern German cars will "last forever." He was also stunned when I began violently coughing after several minutes of uncontrollable laughter.

Read more: http://dougdemuro.jalopnik.com/german-reliability-the-greatest-myth-ever-sold-to-amer-1572026115

Bruce

2016 Cadillac ATS-V gray/black

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Great reading! It's always refreshing when someone challenges "established facts". I for one use the JD Power dependability studies as a measuring tool to compare different brands in terms of reliability. Since I'm a typical function over form guy I regard those studies as almost the only facts important to me. Then there are the fit and finish people who rather have THE perfect closing door sound than a reliable automobile.

I remember once when some of my working collegues questioned why I didn't drive an Audi just like the rest of them. In their opinion real quality cars, not american crap. They seriously believed that their A4s and A6s were at least near luxury cars by the way. Well at least I don't have to wear hearing protection over 50 mph. After their bold statement they continued to discuss how much the dealer was going to charge for fixing their front suspensions which must be fixed at least every 60000 miles or so. Mostly by replace every bushing ever built in.

I had so much fun reading the article that I had to buy Dougs two iBooks. I can strongly recommend them.

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To be fair, there were decades in which Mercedes produced a very reliable car in several models, and the later Volkswagen bugs were pretty reliable if you didn't abuse them. My criteria of whether a car is reliable or not is to see how many old ones that are still on the road, apparently being driven every day, by ordinary people. This is important because the average age for a car on the road in the USA is 9.5 years, I believe. Until the mid 1990's you could say that about Mercedes but lately you don't see many over-10-years-old German cars out there. You see Toyotas, Fords, GM cars, Hondas, Subarus, some Chryslers, a lot of pickup trucks of all kinds (which tells me that they all know how to do it if they want to), Nissans, and a very few BMWs. If I really want to find out what's what, I can talk to a few neighborhood mechanics. One of those first told me that the STS-V and CTS-V drivetrains were "surprisingly" reliable.

I think that you need to watch what you see on J.D. Power, Consumer Reports, and such. J.D. Power ratings don't distinguish between a weatherstrip drip and a transmission design flaw, and they and Consumer Reports also use voluntarily submitted and unverified user reports. There is a lot of good information there but the sampling is not controlled and the data is not verified, and lack of classification of "defects" and "warranty claims" can be misleading. I was first sensitized about this in the 1970's when Consumer Reports owner ratings said that Corvette bodies rusted out more than other makes. When I got my new Cadillac in 1997, it had three warranty claims: loose windshield weatherstripping cover, broken A/C vent in the center of the dash, and weatherstripping on the driver's door that had an anchor not properly inserted into its locator hole. All were noted in the factory notes for the car; there was even a magic marker "X" on the A/C vent, and the dealer is supposed to deal with these things on make-ready. All of them were fixed permanently as part of the first service. But three "defects" made my car "worse than average."

A lot of car makes have a culture that is imbued on the customer as part of the first sale and with any ensuing dealer service. Most of them include a code of silence about maintenance issues; you *never* discuss the sludge problem with your four-cylinder Toyota with a Buick owner, for example. You never tell *anyone* that you had to have a loaner for three weeks while they tried to figure out why your A/C whistled "Das Lied der Deutschen" and the engine died when you were pulling a hill, and only when no one was in the car to witness the event. And, I've heard FUD about American cars since the 1970's, such as the of-repeated "fact" that everything breaks at 60,000 miles and such. In the last couple of decades, you look at the service departments of dealers of any make, and the number of bays and the cars in them are all about the same proportion of recently sold cars.

"Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see." --Benjamin Franklin

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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I agree to just about everything you said. I would never on the other hand rely on the judgement from mechanics simply because they are very biased because they only see the problem cars. It is good to hear that they regard the V drivetrains as reliable. But even if they didn't you can't be sure if the failure rate is "normal" or not. It is possible that the problem they percieve isn't a problem at all compared to other vehicles. The only thing you can be certain of is that the component isn't bullet proof. But I still think JD Power is credible as a source simply because I assume that an average Cadillac owner is far more picky than say an average Ford owner. The Cadillac owner bashes the whole car if it blows a headgasket even if the rest is fine, while the Ford owner is extatic simply because it started earlier that morning, even if he had to use jumper cables. My father in law is one of them.

Then it is good to know that Cadillac has good initial quality ratings and good long term dependability ratings.

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You make a good point about not relying on mechanics. I take negative opinions from mechanics with a grain of salt and positive opinions as something to look into. The only thing that I have heard about happening to a lot of supercharged Cadillacs and Corvettes is a noisy supercharger bearing. My suspicions are that this happens a lot when people change the pulley, which tends to apply axial force or even impact on the bearing when you pull the old pulley and press or tap on the new one.

I've decided not to change the pulley because a whole lot of well-instrumented work that Bruce did on his STS-V showed me that the true limit on the supercharged cars is the intercooler, and that is where the gains are to be had. My car is capable of 15 pounds of boost and that is plenty. It will never use that at lower altitudes because IAT2 will limit boost and retard spark timing. Better intercooling will bring down IAT2 and allow more boost, which is available with the production supercharger and pulley.

CTS-V_LateralGs_6-2018_tiny.jpg
-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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