How come German car makers?
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Community Lounge, Introductions and General Discussion Discussion, How come German car makers? in General Discussion; How come German car makers like Mercedes and VW/Audi can design and build cars that appear to be of high ...
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    orconn's Avatar
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    How come German car makers?

    How come German car makers like Mercedes and VW/Audi can design and build cars that appear to be of high quality of design and construction and yet don't seem to be able to equip their cars with electrical components (or mechanical ones for that matter) that stand up to the rigors of American usage? Why for more than sixty years have reliable electrical components been the Achilles heal of European cars?

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    orconn's Avatar
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    Re: How come German car makers?

    oops, posted this in the wrong section. Moderator please move to Community Lounge. Thanks

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    Re: How come German car makers?

    Do you have a specific example you can mention?

    My Father's 2006 performance package DTS and 2007 Escalade had far more electrical issues than any of the German vehicles (S600, 760Li, S500) they owned. Their current 2008 Mercedes S63 has been pretty reliable after 28K miles.


    ... and my Grandfather still has the Mercedes 280E he bought new in 1978. Running strong (original motor) with 320K.

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    Re: How come German car makers?

    The answer is that the Germans feel there is no point in using a simple mechanism if a complicated one will do the job.
    Don't mess with Binky Bear!


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    Re: How come German car makers?

    Gee, I am glad your folks have had such a good experience with their Mercedes. I can say that I have never had any problems with the Jaguars that I have owned, most of which were purchased new, but from what I hear from a lot of other Jag owners I am unusual in not experiencing problems. From having lived among Mercedes-Benz owners for over fifty years I can tell you that I do not remember a singe decade when Mercedes didn't have electrical problems. In the seventies the 450SE and SLs gave their owners problems that were so severe that the cars had to be towed to the agencies. Again in the eighties both S Class and E class cars again were plagued with electrical problems. In the nineties the C class cars as well as the S and E class cars were afflicted.

    In the new millennium, while my CLK was generally problem free, the Mercedes mechanics I talked to kept mentioning that the cars had even more problems than previous models. A jaunt over to the Mercedes forum confirms that among other problems, electrical problems have plagued Mercedes owners for many decades.

    Mercedes is not unique, among European auto makers to have problems with electrical components. Audi and VW, not to mention Peugeot and Fiat have certainly had their problems with electrical component failures. When Lamborghini began production back in the 1960's they acquired there various components from around Europe and even the United States. When it came to electrical components the early Limbo models relied on American electrical components and the 350 and 400 engined cars won a deserved reputation for excellent reliability. When Lee Iaccoca was thinking of adding Alfa Romeo to Chrysler's scuderia he had Chrysler engineers go through the 164 replacing electrical components with U.S. sourced components before introducing it to the American Market with a 4 year 48,000 bumper to bumper warranty ( the first warranty of this duration to be offered in the U.S.).

    Electrical components have always been a weak point with European cars and Mercedes was not exception.

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    Re: How come German car makers?

    Just thought I'd mention a few of the Crossfire's issues:
    No power locks
    No alarm
    Bad wipers
    Bad wire harness

    Engineered by Germans. Made in Germany with German parts and German labor in a German factory managed and owned and operated by Germans.

    A hoot to drive. Glad its gone.


    The Volvo had a bizarre electrical system where the airbag was routed through the stereo.

    The Saab, after 20 years, has only needed a starter and ignition switch.


    Never had an issue with any BMWs, however.

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    Re: How come German car makers?

    Yeah, come to think of it, I had a lot of weird electrical issues with the S320, which was designed and built in Germany by Germans.
    When it was damp out, the radio wouldn't work at all, but rather it would say "Phone not found" on the screen, which would have made sense if it had the optional factory installed cell phone in the console....it did not. Also, when it was damp, the power antenna wouldn't rise at all. And when it got below about 30*, the mode door in the HVAC wouldn't work at all....and if you hit the throttle, it would default to defrost position....but when it got above freezing, it worked perfect. That made no sense at all and the dealer couldn't figure it out.

    Again, like Jesda and the Crossfire...it was fun while it lasted, but I'm glad someone else has it now.
    "They call Alabama the Crimson Tide, call me Deacon Blues."

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    Re: How come German car makers?

    Quote Originally Posted by dkozloski View Post
    The answer is that the Germans feel there is no point in using a simple mechanism if a complicated one will do the job.
    Here it is.... This is one of the main reasons.

    Here is one of my previous posts in another thread. It is about Porsche and how some complications in design result in problems instead of efficiency and performance....

    I have a friend who purchased a Porsche Boxster as his after retirement car. One day he came late to a meeting and said his car's battery was dead since he left the key on ignition for couple of days. And he continued his speech with an smile on his face: my car is not like the normal cars that you have seen, some special procedure needs to be followed if the battery dies. The battery compartment door is electrical and if battery dies you can not access the battery anymore! Someone should growl underneath with a portable battery, and connect the portable battery somewhere to open the electrical door of battery compartment, and then replace the battery!
    The next day I saw him with a 600-700$ bill for battery replacement! And the funny part is he paid the money with an smile on his face and he was so proud of this specicility that his Porsche has, "Battery compartment door is powered by battery itself!"

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    Re: How come German car makers?

    Wait, just remembered... my 1990 BMW 525 had issues with climate controls. Functions were integrated into a circuit board/heatsink called The Sword.

    http://www.bmwe34.net/E34main/Mainte...ical/Sword.htm



    It did NOT have automatic climate control, so why all this electrical idiocy was required to operate the fan was beyond me. To the car's credit, it had 230,000 miles at that point, and the engine and manual transmission were rock solid, never leaking a drop of anything. BMW also simplified it over the years, replacing the $140 circuit board/heat sink with a simple $30 resistor pack, a very un-German thing to do. I love older BMWs.

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    Re: How come German car makers?

    We're about to get Rick Roll'd 3.....2.....1....
    "They call Alabama the Crimson Tide, call me Deacon Blues."

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    Re: How come German car makers?

    Quote Originally Posted by ben.gators View Post
    The next day I saw him with a 600-700$ bill for battery replacement! And the funny part is he paid the money with an smile on his face and he was so proud of this specicility that his Porsche has, "Battery compartment door is powered by battery itself!"
    The new Cadillacs are just as bad. How about the $980 dollars my Father just paid to have the left low beam Xenon bulb replaced on his 2006 DTS. Apparently they have to remove the front bumper to do this..... Now the right side started flickering... I told him to sell the car.

    It is not just the German cars... or American cars.. etc etc. Look at all the 50K+ luxury cars and price out electrical repairs when they are out of factory warranty.

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    Re: How come German car makers?

    Quote Originally Posted by 96Fleetwood View Post
    The new Cadillacs are just as bad. How about the $980 dollars my Father just paid to have the left low beam Xenon bulb replaced on his 2006 DTS. Apparently they have to remove the front bumper to do this..... Now the right side started flickering... I told him to sell the car.

    It is not just the German cars... or American cars.. etc etc. Look at all the 50K+ luxury cars and price out electrical repairs when they are out of factory warranty.
    I guess you could say Cadillac is a success at trying to be more of a German car!

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    Re: How come German car makers?

    Lexus gets a point for at least not needing electrical repairs as often.

    We'll see how the Genesis and Equus do.

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    Re: How come German car makers?

    Quote Originally Posted by I~LUV~Caddys8792 View Post
    Yeah, come to think of it, I had a lot of weird electrical issues with the S320, which was designed and built in Germany by Germans.
    When it was damp out, the radio wouldn't work at all, but rather it would say "Phone not found" on the screen, which would have made sense if it had the optional factory installed cell phone in the console....it did not. Also, when it was damp, the power antenna wouldn't rise at all. And when it got below about 30*, the mode door in the HVAC wouldn't work at all....and if you hit the throttle, it would default to defrost position....but when it got above freezing, it worked perfect.
    Bizarre to say the least. I never experienced any of those problems but I am in Florida.........

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    Re: How come German car makers?

    Elias hit the nail on the head, the origin of the car has a lot less to do with this than the price and the AMOUNT of gadgets does. The proportion of electrical issues I've had in my German to American car experience is probably just about split right down the middle. I had a flawless 330i (all of my 3 series were actually electrically flawless and guess what, those are/were sub 40k vehicles), and a worthless 745i. I had at least one miserable Seville and a flawless Escalade. My 2000 Expedition, which couldn't fathom in its wildest dreams being called a luxury anything, has an intermittent oil pressure sending unit, sticking door locks and just ate an alternator. Oh, and on a long drive recently I discovered the digital odometer likes to randomly blink off for NO apparent reason. Different cars, different levels of complexity, different problems. Even my Lexuses have had their share of quirks.

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