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Hot off the presses: luxury cars less dependable!


I don’t know why people would ever think luxury cars would be more reliable.

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But, but, we pay more for them!

Actually, the article got it right, saying that lux barges are more complicated. More things in the car mean more things that might go wrong. Add to that, new technologies are tried in the expensive cars first, then propagated to the less expensive lines where profit margins are lower. The least reliable Mercedes Benz is the S class. It gets all the doo-dahs first. The E class gets them last, and that is their real money maker.

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Yep, the article’s right, but I think it has always been that way.

I remember folks saying they didn’t want things like power door locks, power windows, power seats, steering, etc. because there was just more stuff to go wrong. Now of course I can’t ever remember having trouble with any of this stuff. So yeah, after the bugs are worked out makes the difference.

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Dog bites man…

This isn’t new news.

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J.D. Power is just an ad agency. And their surveys are almost entirely junk. If interested, check who employs them for this work, and really read the survey questions and fine print. Their surveys are done and paid for by car makers to communicate a commercial message, pure and simple.

Sure luxury cars are more complicated. But that alone doesn’t mean they are inherently less reliable. For example, Lexus is very highly rated by Consumer Reports. Meanwhile, Range Rover–not so much. For people with more money, unreliability isn’t necessarily a showstopper. Otherwise, I can’t imagine brands like Range Rover or out of warranty German cars would have much of a following.

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While I agree that luxury vehicles may not be more reliable…I’m not a big fan of J.D Powers. Not the most reliable source.

My theory is that people who buy luxury vehicles have high expectations that the car will be wonderful and perfect, and they complain loud and long when things don’t go well. The rest of us buy regular stuff and we are more patient with the slip-ups and screw-ups that come with everything in life. And some of us here are people who just fix stuff anyway.

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I remember in the late 1950s that one of the cars Consumer Reports highly recommended from its survey of subscribers as a reliable used car was the 1954 and 1955 Cadillacs. The 1955 Oldsmobile was high on the list. On the other hand the Fords and Mercurys of that vintage didn’t do as well in the survey. However, the 1958 Rambler did very well. The 1955 Pontiac also did well in the survey.
However, I had a 1955 Pontiac and it was a disaster. It was the first year of the V-8 and it had some teething problems. Specifically, an oil filter was an option. The used Pontiac I bought didn’t have that option and the oil passages were sludged up.
A mechanic that I knew adviced me when I was buying a car back then to stick with the Fords and Chevys. Parts were readily available and mechanics had seen a lot of them and knew how to fix the problems. I am sure parts for a Cadillac cost more than parts for a Chevrolet. I would have been better off back then with a 1955 Mercury than the 1955 Pontiac that I did own, even though CR reported a poorer reliability record for the Mercury. Mercury had the same V-8 engine as the Ford. Even though this engine did have oil sludging problems, outside oil line kits were available to bypass the oil passages in the block and were easily installed. There was no such kit available for the Pontiac engine.
What I am saying is that what the surveys show does not necessarily translate into lower cost of operation. The old advice of sticking with the Ford or Chevy might translate today to stick with the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic.

I am one of those folks! I want a basic car with hand crank windows, door locks that open with a key, seats that adjust with a lever, no alarm, no OnStar, no sunroof/moonroof, and definitely no touchscreen gadgets anywhere! The only “autonomous driving” feature I want is a 3 or 4 speed automatic transmission. Any more speeds, or a CVT just adds a lot of unnecessary complexity and higher repair costs.

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And also one of the very few .

I grew up driving vehicles like that. Don’t want to again. And most people I know agree with me.

I remember having to pull over so I could reach over and roll up the other three windows because of a sudden rain fall. Technology advancements do make life easier.

I think the vehicle I thought was most fun to drive was an early 1970s MG Midget. Roll up windows are for wimps. Power windows are for the wimpiest. want side curtains. One could show one’s driving ability by selecting the right gear in the four speed manual transmission to keep up with traffic with the 50 hp engine. The non-power steering gives an excellent feel of the road.
For daily use, the MG Midget wouldn’t be practical. I guess a Mazda Miata would be today’s equivalent. I guess I could lower my standards to having roll up windows instead of the more reliable side curtains.
I did see a Mazda Miata with an automatic transmission. I wanted to sit down by the side of the road and bawl. I took it as a sign that the world is coming to an end.


Heh heh. By the same consumers that demand a hydrostatic lawn mower transmission because they can’t figure out what a clutch is or what gears are. I do admit though that I like automatic transmissions in a car, but I can drive anything.

@Bing I’ll take an automatic transmission over the terrible shifting three speed column shifts of the late 1950s. My 1947 Pontiac, 1948 Dodge and 1954 Buick had smooth shifting column shift transmissions. My 1955 Pontiac and 1965 Rambler Classic 550 had really hard to shift linkages. One of the easiest shifting transmissions was in my 1950 one ton Chevrolet pickup. The truck had a four speed manual floor shift. I always started in second gear for normal driving. I only used low gear when I used the truck to stretch wire fence.
The last column shift I drove was a 1977 Chevrolet Chevelle that I tried out. I think it was the last Chevrolet offered with a 3 speed column shift. The car was a year old with 10,000 miles and was offered at a good price. After driving it, I didn’t want it at any price.

Methinks your memory has faded over the years! Side curtains leaked like screen door in a submarine. But that was OK, 'cause many English cars didn’t fare well in the rain anyway. IF they ran at all, it wasn’t well or for long! The plastic curtains, like the rear window, yellowed and fogged up in a few years. The bodies rusted as bad if not worse than Pintos and Vegas. The build quality wasn’t even good for the day, let alone today. Zero to 60 took 14 seconds and if you were hit by an American car, they’d have to bury you in that Midget. It would be fun for a few hours but…

Even a manual transmission Miata has electric windows, power steering, power brakes, door side beams ABS, stability control and airbags.

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And ATs in sports cars is nothing new. Guy I knew had a Porsche 944 with an AT back in the early '80s.

I am glad this was posted. My experience testing cars (and I am very thankful for my situation) has been that not only do pretty much all of the owner surveys point to there being little correlation between premium brands and quality, I would say that the mainstream brands in most cases, offer a better overall product. Here is one perfect example. Mainstream brands have closed the real-world performance gap, have better infotainment, and I find they have more luxury features than do luxury cars. More here if interested.

@Mustangman I was never in the position to own an MG Midget or Austin Healey Sprite. One of my colleagues when I was a graduate student and rented s room at the same house where I had rented room, bought a 1962 MG Midget. This was back in 1964. It really was a fun car. I didn’t have the money for a car like that. Some years later in 1971, I had completed my second round of graduate school and my wife and I moved into a duplex. The husband of the couple that lived in the other half of the duplex wss a salesman for a foreign car dealer. This dealer sold Datsuns, Jaguars and MGs. My neighbor had National Guard Duty one weekend every month and would leave an MG Midget demonstrator for me to drive. These 1971 models did have roll up windows instead of side curtains, but were still fun to drive.
I did look at an MG Midget about 10 years ago. I think it was a 1972. It needed a lot of rust repair and a new clutch. The price was right at $700. I hadn’t retired at the time and didn’t have the time to fix it up.

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