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Old 21st January 2013, 18:43   #1
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Exclamation Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

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Link : German cars 'among worst for engine failures'

A firm in UK conducted a special survey for finding out reliability of engines from various manufacturers. And it turns out, German automotive giants have fared the worst in the study!!! BMW, Audi and VW engines are in the bottom 10 list for reliability. VW came 9th from the bottom, BMW came 7th from the bottom and get a load of this : Audi came 2th from the bottom!! Just before MG Rover!!!

We in India are buying overpriced VW's thinking that they will be the most reliable bullet-proof cars in the world, but in UK this firm has, on paper, proved otherwise! And heck many of our the well heeled ones are buying Audi's and BMW's (overpriced again) for 4-5 mill Rupees and they have been put down so bad! I can't believe it that Audi stands 35th out of 36 manufacturers they surveyed.

I don't know how reliable or authentic this info is or whether it was biased, but for a normal man sitting at home looking at these stats it is astonishing. But Japanese companies won the 1st and 2nd place (Honda and Toyota respectively). And Mercedes (which is slowly loosing the battle against Audi and BMW) came 3rd. It is 100% true that Jap stuff is more reliable than German. So it cannot be called untrue. But we didn't expect such a huge gap!!!

But as food for thought, are we buying these overpriced Euro cars just because of a reputation that has been imprinted in our minds by the media? Is a normal person who is shelling out 1-2 lakhs extra to especially buy a VW getting cheated? There a few people in India complaining of problems with the VWs and Skodas and especially giving so much less for the cost. Now, I own not a single German product right now or never have. So there is no personal experience. But I get really amazed as to how we get influenced by media and build up stuff in our heads and take decisions not guided by complete truth. Same holds in the opposite way too. I may say that German cars are less reliable just because I read this article not knowing the real truth. Who knows?

What do you, my fellow petrol-heads and of course our selection of experts - mods and distinguished BHPians - feel about this? I really want to hear what you guys have to say.

P.S. -

1) Do go through the original article. It is of course more comprehensive than what I have written

2) The firm is some 'Warranty Direct' which conducted the study. They deal in online warranty and stuff, like the Insurance sites which give us the best deal on insurance and blah blah.

(So it is possible that this might be a payed survey by Mercedes to put BMW and Audi down because sales of Mercs are going down. Really, how can Audi be worse than 34 other manufacturers? Don't know, but this is what I feel.)

Last edited by thumpingheart : 21st January 2013 at 18:47.
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Old 21st January 2013, 18:53   #2
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Default re: Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

Good Find thumpingheart, but are we sure on the authenticity of this information ? I mean even americans are crazy about german cars and they are considered luxury, atleast thats what the impression i have from my colleagues when i was in US.

But yes, Japs are reliable and second to none on that. This is will raise many eyebrows for sure.
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Old 21st January 2013, 19:01   #3
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Default re: Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

I don't think any of us really think German cars are more reliable than any others. I think its a known fact that with Japanese cars you can fill it and forget it, truly. But what German cars give us are better dynamics, better build, more features, a feeling of sturdiness, and therefore more comfort or a better driving experience. German cars are less abuse friendly than Jap cars, and you have to be much more careful with them.

I find it odd that VW and Audi are placed so far apart, considering many of their engines overlap.
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Old 21st January 2013, 19:17   #4
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Default re: Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

That is quite a revelation ! But then some "studies" are known to be tweaked to suit certain patrons - no ?
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Old 21st January 2013, 19:57   #5
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Default re: Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

Quote:
Originally Posted by thumpingheart View Post
...


Link : German cars 'among worst for engine failures'

A firm in UK conducted a special survey for finding out reliability of engines from various manufacturers.

...


P.S. -

1) Do go through the original article. It is of course more comprehensive than what I have written

2) The firm is some 'Warranty Direct' which conducted the study. They deal in online warranty and stuff, like the Insurance sites which give us the best deal on insurance and blah blah.

(So it is possible that this might be a payed survey by Mercedes to put BMW and Audi down because sales of Mercs are going down. Really, how can Audi be worse than 34 other manufacturers? Don't know, but this is what I feel.)

There are many problems with this "survey" so the results must be taken with dollops of salt:
  1. sampling bias - the survey is neither a comprehensive survey of car owners no a random survey - the target user group is online comprehensive warranty buyers (NOT insurance buyers - third party warranty buyers) from Warranty Direct.
    1. It is to be expected that buyers of more expensive cars would be buying more third-party warranties. Honda and Toyota are known to be cheap cars in UK, and buyers rarely buy third party warranties, let alone from Internet (they may buy form high-pressure salesmen at dealerships)
  2. Exactly how the "failure rate" is measured is unknown here - e.g. a blown gasket is a failure, and a seized engine is another kind of failure with very different implications to the owner.
  3. The age of the cars and how much default warranty the manufacturer offered matters a lot here (since this is third party extended warranty). E.g. two makes of engines - similar make (may be made in the same factory) but sold by company A and company B. Company A offers 2yrs + 1yr extended, company B offers 3yrs + 2yrs extended. Any customer of brand A is going to see fewer failures in "extended warranty" simply because he went into extended warranty with a younger engine than a customer of brand B.


Designing a survey and interpreting its results has to be done carefully and with absolute honesty. Warranty Direct had incentives exactly opposite of that - buyers of extended warranty on Honda will pay much less than buyers of extended warranty on a BMW.


Merc is an exception in the list, but there may be reasons for that too - Merc is one of the most popular taxi vehicle in Europe and better/careful drivers with more regular maintenance means less failures overall and especially for parts like engine.






The above is not to say that BMW/VW are better than the survey indicates. They most likely are not - both the brands actually have a reputation (including in India) of being relatively unreliable.


But for surveys, reliance on uninterested third parties like Consumer Reports and JD Power is much better (both give Toyota/Honda top marks anyway)


EDIT: Here's a more complete survey detail link (found with a little bit of search on the internet; may be the same survery, may be different, but based on same database):

http://www.whatcar.com/car-news/what...ey-2012/263555

Apparently the survey is rather an analysis of data provided by Warranty Direct, done by What Car magazine. This lists overall failures rather than engine failures alone.

While Honda seems to far ahead of everyone else, Toyota and Suzuki are rather close - with Hyundai also close behind. This is in agreement with anecdotal evidence we have from rants of BHPians.

Last edited by vina : 21st January 2013 at 20:06.
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Old 21st January 2013, 20:59   #6
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Default re: Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

German cars are bought for their driving dynamics and build quality. They have their quirks especially those related to electricals. Japanese cars on the other hand are inherently more reliable but do not offer that indestructible feel provided by the Germans.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 03:41   #7
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Well to a certain extent l agree to the survey, Germans were durable but not reliable all along, Japanese came and changed the game, they are reliable and do what us desired nothing else. But times are changing, and Germans have learned too and have now almost sorted out. Take in case Skoda India cars, earlier lot of issues, now almost all gone. Maruti on the other hand never had those niggling issues to start with. But ask many and probably 90% will vote for German tough they will not buy.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 10:15   #8
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Default re: Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

Quote:
Originally Posted by thumpingheart View Post


But as food for thought, are we buying these overpriced Euro cars just because of a reputation that has been imprinted in our minds by the media?
The Germans were very good at engineering mechanical products and that is how they acquired their reputation. It is not just a media hype.

However, the problems started creeping in once electronics were introduced and they have still not managed to sort out these issues. The mechanical engineering is still good but they are being done in by the high failure rates of their omnipresent electronics.

Also, I have noticed that cabin space is a lot lesser in German cars as compared to their Japanese counterparts. It really seems as if they want most of the space for their machines and dole out only leftover space for the occupants of the car.

Cheers!

Last edited by lapsi : 22nd January 2013 at 10:16.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 10:49   #9
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Default re: Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

The reliability ratings will leave out a variable, how many owners lease their cars, use a plug and play engine mod chip and then trade it in when the lease is up. The car will most likely have a failure, because it has been abused.

Lets say a 3 series owner chips his car, it's worth the effort as it the car has the capability to let the owner enjoy driving it. The car will have some sort of trouble with the second owner or later in its life. The same won't happen to an Innova as it will only send the owner to an early grave, the engine will last for 5L km or whatever.

Reliability with automatic transmission is another case, when the Germans are offering 8 speed versions, Toyota takes out a half page ad declaring that they offer 5 speed now, nearly a decade behind. The Germans built their reputation on reliability, the best examples being the W124 mercedes and the early generation Golfs, the electronic gremlins do exist in their newer cars, they are there because newer tech is on offer versus the Japanese with 20 year old transmission tech and decade old variable valve timing. Reliability isn't everything which is why the GS/IS series or Acuras have never been real competition to the German big three.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 10:51   #10
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Default re: Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

Quote:
Originally Posted by thumpingheart View Post
Mods : Starting a new thread because there is no discussion in this particular story. Please merge to relevant thread if I missed out on it or inappropriately started a new thread.
Chckout GTO's thread for examples
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/indian...rman-cars.html (PICS : How flatbed tow trucks would run out of business without German cars!)
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Old 22nd January 2013, 11:18   #11
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Default re: Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

Any word on Korean reliability here? Is there some matrix where they are gauged against the Germans? Taking into fact that the Koreans are giving good competition to the "very reliable" Japs, it'll be interesting to see how would they fare against the Germans.

Also IMO the term "reliability" has a varied definition. Germans are reliable for their build and Japs are reliable for their engines. What definition of "reliability" does a car owner look forward to when purchasing either a Jap or a German or a Korean or an American can be different.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 12:17   #12
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Default re: Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

German engines, like any other engines are pretty good. Because most of them have a complex electro-mechanical architecture, they must be maintained, serviced and repaired with care. Most A.S.S are simply performing basic maintenances such as washing, oil-change etc., and they lack the expertise on these engines. As such, they fail to maintain the engines properly or even tweak them irrationally resulting in catastrophic failures! German engines are also sensitive to the oil and fuel properties.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 12:50   #13
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Default re: Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

"Overpriced" is in the eye of the beholder.

As suggested by others, I have some doubts as to what this survey really means. It certainly doesnt' correlate with my own experience.

At some point in time in my career I was responsible for a.o. company lease cars. So we negotiated and dealt with various leasing companies. Leasing companies maintain huge databases on reliabillity and basicly any other cost they incur as part of full operational leases. Now admittedly they also have a somewhat limited clientele basis. In essence those people that have company cars. In Europe you will find, although it has come down a bit I believe, there are still a lot of people who have company cars.

I can tell you from the data we got from the lease companies, Audi, BMW and Volkswagen were without a doubt very, very reliable. Lease company typically trade their cars in after 120 -140.000 kilometers. And most of these cars would only require regular servicing during that period, without any other mishaps, save the odd little thing.

My team and I drove on average between 75 - 100.000 kilometers a year. We had on average some 450 company cars.. I can not recall that we ever had any real serious trouble with engines. (nearly all diesels)

Japanese cars tend to be even more reliable, but we just provided our employees with a certain lease budget and they got free choice of car within that budget. Very few chose Japanese cars.

There are some interesting statics floating around. Here's the American JD Powell 2012. http://www.jdpower.com/content/press...lity-study.htm

Interesting mix of American, European and Far East brand. Everybody knows that American built quality is total crap with the possible exception of Ford for those models that are also sold in Europe. Still, in this survey you will have Chevy, Buick and Lincoln ahead of Audi?

In the UK JD Powell Customer Satisfaction survey Jaguar is amongst the top, whilst in the US JD Powell reliabillity survey it's amongs the worst!

I do prefer the customer satisfaction survey over these reliabillity surveyes. The customer satisfaction includes a wide range of topics that are factored in, including how satisfied owners are on their dealers etc, how they like their car handling etc. Obviously any car that has real reliability issues would show up. Interestingly enough in the Uk Customer survey you will find that the top European brands, by and large do much better that some of the Asian company. Maybe not on reliabillity, but certainly in how they feel they are treated by their dealer, how the car drives/handles etc.

The problem with the reliability surveys is two-fold. Overall it just doesn't correlate with my own experience. Secondly, without understanding how it was put together it is pretty meaningless. You need to have some level of detail understanding on how they count, Big problems, small problem. On modern cars there can be problems that don't even show up for the driver, but you hook it up to a diagnostic analyser and you'll see all sort of mishappenings. Are those included?

How relevant this data is, is again very much in the eye of beholder as well.
Let me give you an example. As we all know Alfa Romeo built quality has been pretty awfull, and they rust badly even the newer ones, bits will fall off. You pick up a new Alfa Romeo it will come with lots of issues. There will be squeeks, some buttons might not work, a panel won't fit. And they break down all the time. Believe me I know, I've owned several of them, been on the technical committee of an Alfa club for years, and still own an Alfa Romeo Spider. Alfa owners are extremely loyal to their favorite brand and just put up with all of this. In fact they would consider it their particular "brand charm".

So don't get bogged down to much in data and rationlizing car purchases.
If you have ever been on sales courses you will know that every purchase ultemately is an emotional decision. And people just look for the rational that makes their decision seem logical.

So if statistical reliability is relevant, by all means buy a Japanese car. If you prefer a beautifull, but rusty, car where bits fall off go Italian.

Jeroen
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Old 22nd January 2013, 14:50   #14
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Post re: Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

I have a bit of a 'yes and no' take on this.

It is not for nothing that the Germans have earned a reputation when it comes to engineering and technology. It shows in every aspect of their lives; from manufacturing to engineering to sports and more. There is a reason why the words "clinical", "precision", "efficiency" etc. are often used in the same sentence where you'd find the word 'Germany'.

Germans aren't necessarily driven by flair and panache; instead for them the keywords are functionality and efficiency. So in their car-making, they may typically skimp on fancy features or electronics choosing instead to build their cars with better dynamics, sturdier builds and more driver involvement. These folks are ill at ease with electronics - given a choice they'd rather put in more under the hood than inside the cabin. Just how their psyche is.

Allow me to cite a case in point: Even their national football team popularly called 'Die Mannschaft' has built up a reputation over the years for being drab/mechanical but ruthlessly efficient - unlike say the Brazilians or the Argentines - when it comes to winning and closing out games. It is only now i.e. in the last 5-6 years that a lot of flair has crept into their game thanks mainly to the growing influence of immigrants in the national league and a various schools of coaching therein. At any rate, the Germans are not ones to give up easily and the famously German 'never-say-die' attitude is now a common facet across not just their sport but also their commerce.

Anyway the point is that Zee Germans take great pride in their engineering and the innovations they bring into that in order to simplify/improve lives. I have known engineers in Germany pursue a project for years on end if they are convinced in its long-term merit and benefits. As a result, apart from their obvious pioneering representation in the world of automobiles with marquee brands such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche etc.., the German also have companies with global market leadership in varied sectors such as sportswear, energy, infrastructure, banking and finance and so on. These guys just know how to do business and it shows in the health of that nation's economy.

On the other hand, it is a well-known fact that mechanical engineering does not marry well with electronics. Perhaps this is where the Germans are still struggling to come to terms with the reliability of their own machines. While the Japs and Koreans go about setting new benchmarks in electronics and bringing them into their manufacturing, the Germans haven't exactly been able to replicate that.

Last edited by Omtoatom : 22nd January 2013 at 15:04.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 16:43   #15
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Default Re: Study : Germans make the least reliable engines

It's a good thing tata and mahindra arent yet seriously in those markets. They would have certainly stolen the german's thunder.
And does the mag not know how to count? they say top 10 and list only 5?
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