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Toyotas and Chevys Are Holding Up Better Than Most Luxury Brands (bloomberg.com)
90 points by santix 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 143 comments

This article seems to be written using results from a J.D. Power report. J.D. Power's methodology is commonly known to be extremely flawed in that they weigh all "issues" equally. So an engine failure is the same severity as Bluetooth not connecting.

Furthermore, tiebreakers are broken in pretty nonsense ways, and many suspect it's by whoever pays the most. For example, they crowned Buick the most dependable brand, but by their own ratings, both Lexus and Porsche scored higher.

If you rank by only mechanical dependability by their own numbers, the ranking is as follows (alphabetical w/in tiers):

10: Lexus, Toyota

9: BMW, Buick, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Infiniti, Kia, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes, Nissan, Porsche

8: Audi, Ford, Honda, Jaguar, Mini, Subaru, Volkswagen, Volvo

7: Acura, Cadillac, Dodge, Fiat, GMC, Mitsubishi, Ram

5: Chrysler, Jeep, Land Rover.

So the old adage still holds true for mechanical reliability, Japanese > German/European > American/British.

Also, the luxury brand of an automaker falls pretty damn close to where the non-luxury brand lands: Lexus/Toyota, Buick/Chevy, Hyundai/Kia, Infiniti/Nissan, Audi/Volkswagen, Cadillac/GMC, Fiat/Dodge/Ram, Chrysler/Jeep. Which would make sense since they share mechanical parts, but not infotainment/luxury features. When infotainment/luxury features are factored into the dependability score, it leads to the conclusion the article is trying to draw.

But, you gotta understand that's for the first 3 years only and the consumer reports is only for the first 10 years.

Once you get beyond 10 years, any mechanic will tell you the European cars are absolute garbage. Especially BMW, Audi and Mercedes will self destruct at some point after 10 years. And those parts cost a heck of a lot more than non-luxury brands. Sometimes, they won't even sell you a part by its own piece so you have to buy the whole assembly for 1000$ even if all you need is a tiny part that's supposed to cost no more than 50$.

Last quarter I quit my job at one of the world's largest automakers and for twelve years I've had a small business on the side that serves specialist mechanics of all kinds, so I talk to dealership and indy mechanics all the time. I think you need a lot more experience with automobiles before you are qualified to say such things.

I have a 22 year old 3 and a 26 year old 5. Neither have ever been in the shop for anything but tires. It's not fair or accurate to lump this in the same bucket as vw or mbz. I have bought quite a few parts from the dealer that cost less than $1, like plastic rivets or clips that I broke in the process of getting to something else. Toyota and VW want almost ten bucks for these sometimes. GM won't sell them to you. But my coolant is cheapest at the mbz dealer.

Unlike japanese makes, for anything that people have a need to replace, the original parts are sold on the aftermarket at fair prices. For my toyota, if I want a ball joint, I have to pay three times what it should cost at the dealer parts desk, or deal with junk from the aftermarket - and it's all junk. Datsuns, honda, same boat. Mazda, you're lucky if they even support your car anymore.

You're conflating cost of ownership with frequency of issues (reliability). The Germans don't break often, but when they do, it'll cost a bunch. American cars break continuously, but it's cheap and easy to fix.

Also, Americans and Germans have different definitions of "reliable".

Americans define "reliable" as "runs forever on zero maintenance". Germans define "reliable" as "runs forever as long as you stick to strict maintenance schedules".

I like the antifragile definition more. Go ahead and try to kill a 2008 Crown Vic. :)

Your car gets better the more you abuse it? Could be true if you replace broken parts with better ones.

Google "Audi service position" for the visual explanation of German car repair costs

Or dare I say anything made by PSA.

Very tempting cars with some of the nicest tech you'll find anywhere for as long as it stays working..

Given that a Lexus is a fancy Toyota, this doesn't surprise.

I had it explained to me once by a MOT tester (a safety and emissions test in the UK that cars more than four years old must undergo annually) while my old Corolla was on the ramp that Toyota's process basically involves hardening parts from the last model for the most popular defects, with as little re-design work of the internal components between generations as possible. I have no idea if the chap knew what he was talking about or not but it would certainly seem to stand up to my own anecdotal scrutiny - the car is 18 years old and still drives like new (it stayed in the extended family), which is more than can be said for the Renault that replaced it >:-(

Toyotas are extremely reliably, especially in the long term. In the long term, toyotas beat anything out there even hondas.

My 315k mile 2005 Prius agrees. I got it, replaced the traction battery, got new struts, and bam, new car. I've had it for 60k miles, and I've spent more on oil changes than any repairs besides the initial outlay.

My 2006 Prius is at 388k. I've promised myself I wouldn't get another car until this one quits. But, it just won't die. I've also priced out getting an EV for my 42 mile commute but the ROI is not there compared to a used-paid for high mileage Prius.

it's the antithesis of a Prius, but my 1992 Landcruiser with 362K miles is still on the road, and until recently, daily-driven. Daily driver now is a 1997 Landcruiser, with 172K miles.

AOL. (I have two - daily driver is a 20 year old KZJ95 with some 220k miles to its name - I have owned it for the past six years (80k miles) - it has cost me less in parts and labour than wife's 2012 VW Passat 3c which has covered less than 20k miles in the same time. The Passat wins on gas mileage, though. Cough.)

The other is a 1981 BJ42. For the first 35 years of its life, it was owned by a utility company which put more than 420k miles on it doing HV line inspections. Still just works. As long as I can keep the rust worm from taking hold, this thing will outlive me.

Now that's a beautiful rig.

If you look at GP, hondas are not particularly reliable by either metric discussed. Even american Chevies rank higher.

They always seemed well made but weirdly designed.

Not sure what year the shift started but Hondas stopped getting high ratings for reliability some time in the 2000s. I retired my 2002 Civic with 250K miles on it a couple of years ago.

honda is having some issues with some of their newer models (too many changes leading to more faults). But, after 10 years, I bet hondas still rank really high.

Every Acura and just about every Honda North America buys is made in USA now. But yes, their latest 1.5T engine has a tendency to grenade itself in cold weather or frequent short trips.

A very different story in China. Chinese made Toyotas are horrid, possibly worst cars on the market, completely opposite of imported ones.

My 19 year old Toyota agrees. It runs just about as well now as it did 10 years ago.

I have a Subaru beater with ~250k on it, it's going strong. Have had Toyotas with almost 300k miles on them before selling the car for ~1k bucks. I love Japanese cars. I have a Dodge Caravan, at 140k miles the thing is about ready for the junk pile.

Yea, older Toyotas are really dependable. Late 80's, and early 90's are dead simple. Make sure it's a manual tranny.

I'm in the process of buying a newer car/truck for a family member, and it's depressing. So many sensors, and computers that dealership mechanics barely comprehend.

I understand it's for emissions, but so many of those sensors are for comfort systems, and selling gizmos. The problem being is when they malfunction. A dealership mechanic will not tell a customer we are basically learning on your new computer on wheels, but they put that in the price to fix.

I went to automotive school in the ninties, and these new vechicles still scare me.

My trusty Snap-on Mt2500 is practically useless on newer vechicles.

And there will ge the guy whom claims, "I just plug a scan tool in, and that lovely system (CAN Bus system, and multiple computers), just spit out a PID, and the fix is found."

It's just so much more complicated.

On a positive note, my New Years resolution is trying to master these new electrical systems.

There's a market for a simple vechicle, like older Toyotas.

I don't see any company offering a simple vechicle? And yes, I understand emissions are a problem, but it doesn't seem like an impossible problem to get a manual four banger, with just the basics on the market.

And I won't get started on automatic transmission problems.

Sorry for the rant.

lol simple vehicle? maybe a lada niva (not sold in the US I think?) nothing fancy but easy to fix

I wish vehicles like that were available in the US. I'm afraid the market for them might be tiny. Americans often view their cars as an extension of themselves and their lifestyle rather than a utility.

My Subaru died at 20 years old and 200k miles, but that's still pretty good longevity for a car that isn't a Toyota.

Older Toyotas rust horribly, especially the trucks, but are mechanically very solid. I've had rust issues with Nissans also. Honda seems to have it figured out.

I've been quite happy with Ford also.

Chrysler products are the worst I've ever owned from a reliability standpoint, most of my issues with them have been electrical not mechanical though.

Have to say that the Corolla I referred to above is spotless wrt rust. Undercarriage too.

This is all the more impressive given that our roads are salted constantly in the winter months here.

The worst I've seen for it are mid-2000s Fords. It's like the frames aren't galvanized at all, but that may be a problem limited to UK models.

That said my (beloved) Nissan Leaf is starting to go orange underneath but thankfully it looks like surface rust rather than rot.

I live in an area that goes crazy with salt at the slightest threat of snow or ice. So any shortcomings in corrosion protection are exposed here.

Subaru is rusted badly. Toyotas didn't have any. Caravan problems are terrible and mostly electrical...window motors have all failed, door locks are failed, weird problems with the car not starting even though battery has charge (starter is fine but the computer refuses to allow the starter to try to work if voltage reading isn't correct). Weather stripping that covers the seams on the roof is all coming off. Anything that is not the engine is falling apart.

  Older Toyotas rust horribly, especially the trucks
My 25 year old Toyota SR5 pickup has no rust at all.

Reliability variation between models > reliability variation between brands.

Generally speaking cheap disposable appliance cars are cheap and disposable. OEMs put much more effort into their flagship products and the products that define their brand image.

Also just a friendly reminder that owner demographics have a large effect on reliability over the kind of 5+yr timeline many commenters here seem to be talking in. The wealthier the owner the better the vehicle is treated (at a statistical level, we all know one or two rich guys who never change their oil). Rich people years vs poor people years is like highway miles vs city miles.

I don't know. High-volume cheap cars can certainly be more reliable than low volume, expensive high-end cars, simply because that's how manufacturing works.

Corollas and Civics can last forever.

> So the old adage still holds true for mechanical reliability, Japanese > German/European > American/British

Or not.

Buick/Chevy/Lincoln > Audi/VW > Mitsubishi/Acura

I thought Fiat stood for Fix It Again Tony?

Broke my waterpump. Lots of trouble usually serious.

As electric vehicles mature and increase their share of the consumer market, it will be interesting to see how these sorts of reliability measurements change to maintain relevance. Already today, a luxury EV is probably more mechanically reliable than a mass market ICE car.

Electric batteries and drivetrains have their differences in reliability for sure (IIUC, the 1st generation Nissan Leaf lacked a battery temp management system). However the difference between the reliability of EVs isn't likely to be that big since EVs are much simpler machines.

A lot of the complexity that provides the luxury ICE driving experience (smooth, quiet drivetrain, strong acceleration) comes for "free" in an EV, even in mass market models. With that complexity gone, there's much less to differentiate cars from a reliability perspective.

> Already today, a luxury EV is probably more mechanically reliable than a mass market ICE car.

Tesla is among the least reliable car brands at the moment:


But I think that says more about the relative immaturity of Tesla's manufacturing than it does about EVs generally.

It will be interesting to see how Volkswagen's modular MEB electric car platform goes in the long term. The MEB platform designed to be used across multiple VW brands (VW, Audi, SEAT, and Skoda) and Volkswagen is interested in licensing it to other manufacturers so it will be widely used.

Had a Tesla Model S. Got rid of it, went back to Toyota. Dumped the reservation on a Model 3, too.

Would you care to expand on what pushed you to do that? Was it purely reliability, or were there other factors involved?

From that CR article:

> Tesla fell six spots from last year and now ranks third-worst (27 out of 29). The Model S dropped to “Below Average” this year, and its Overall Score is no longer high enough to be “Recommended” by CR. Owners reported suspension problems and other issues that included the extending door handle. (Please see chart below.) The Model X SUV remained “Much-Worse-Than-Average” for reliability, with ongoing problems including the falcon-wing doors and center display screen. On the flip side, the Model 3 sedan has “Average” predicted reliability based on owner feedback

Note that none of those issues appear to be related to the electric battery and drivetrain. They are design and manufacturing issues with systems that are present on ICE cars also. It's a demonstration that the goalposts of "reliability" are themselves shifting away from focus on the propulsion system.

Admittedly, ICEs have become incredibly reliable themselves over the last few decades. But there is an order of magnitude more complexity required to achieve that reliability in an ICE vs an EV.

> Note that none of those issues appear to be related to the electric battery and drivetrain.

I don't think it makes much difference what the failure is if the end result is that you can't sensibly drive the car.

If the display fails in a Tesla Model 3, for example, then that's a critical failure because you lose all dashboard information. In contrast, if the display failed in my car then I'd lose access to some features (like sat nav and the reversing camera) but I can otherwise safely drive the car.

If you can't drive the car safely then it doesn't matter how good the drivetrain is. You still need to fix the problem to make the car drivable.

> If the display fails in a Tesla Model 3, for example, then that's a critical failure because you lose all dashboard information.

That's a design issue with Teslas, not with EVs in general.

What denotes a luxury car for the most part is the cabin interior quality, and that will stick around in the EV era too.

Toyota has a bunch of somewhat related experience with the Prius, so they might still come out on top in the end of these EV wars?

This comment seems wrong to me:

  There is no inherent reason why a more-expensive car should
  be better or worse in terms of reliability than a
  less-expensive car, so my guess is they’ll track each other
  fairly closely going forward.
If the metric is per car faults, then surely more features mean more opportunities for defects, given an equal attention to quality across all features?

I'd say that there are reasons that both higher and lower price vehicles should have fewer defects, but it's not clear which reasons would dominate. (And probably different factors dominate in different periods of car production).

High cost: more attention to detail, higher quality parts, more care with fit and finish, should yield fewer defects.

Low cost: simpler vehicle systems, fewer moving parts, fewer unproven features, mass production with consistent processes, should yield fewer defects.

The shift is a combination of mass-market cars catching up in overall quality and less new technology in these vehicles that can increase the chance of something going wrong

Part of it seems to be that there aren't more features in luxury cars. If you look at the graph, we're seeing mass market cars getting fewer problems and luxury cars remaining relatively flat.

Automotive EE here.

In the last 5-8 years there has been a DRAMATIC change in the way vehicles are tested and released. Everyone has become much more focused on electronic features - while at the same time almost everyone is completely outsourcing electronics design and firmware. Cars hit the lots with 10 new flashes waiting. When I started, it was a BIG DEAL if you had a lot held up somewhere in Detroit because of a pending flash.

I've worked with two of the big three, and right now, neither own their traction control, radio, trans, body, ignition, steering, etc controllers. Basically anything. Even engines are being outsourced. I don't just mean the module, but the code on it. One of the mfgs, their engineers can't even SEE radio code or anything much more than general documents. They used to have compiler access to most things, now it's extremely rare.

The mfgs wanted to outsource the development, and now when they need an adjustment to traction control it's a $50, 100, 250, 500,000 charge, BUT, they've also moved the responsibility to the mfgs like Bosch, ConTevis, etc.

Short version is everyone is playing the game to get hot new electronics in cars, to make them seem as advanced as phones - but the work is not being put in besides surface level customer view. I've found obvious glitches in zero mile vehicles this year, but none I can think of from 2000-2013

I would not purchase a 2019 anything right now. I'd allow for two-three years worth of flashes before considering a new car. And that doesn't mean you're "safe" with your old car. You think your 2001 Subaru Outback is going strong? Well, surprise, you're likely to fall victim to a different issue.

As to the article, yes, luxury cars are worse. Most people that don't realize you can't leave your touring Ferarri in the garage not hooked up to a trickle charger, or also picking on Ferarri that the LaFerarri when runs battery dead may require to be loaded on a truck and shipped to a dealer before it'll charge again, or that the new Range Rovers will attempt to void your battery and electronics warranty if they find a radar/laser detector hooked up because THAT is how finicky the electronics system is.

It's funny to me the amount of work that your average Toyota or Chevy vehicle gets relative to lux models that skirt by with less engineering and more features.

As to Cadillac and Lexus, those are just GM and Toyota, all the same things plus some. So fundamentally they're the same, but yes, add features add problem areas.

With the exception of safety features (think blind spot monitoring, backup cameras, lane keep assist, parking sensors) and mobile connectivity features like bluetooth, frankly I'm getting tired of all the crap they're throwing into vehicles these days for many of the reasons you mention.

It seems every manufacturer or parent brand has their own infotainment system, NAV, etc. and you pay the price for it when you buy the car. And god forbid you want the upgraded safety features or leather seats, but don't want any of the other bells and whistles, because you can't have it without tacking on $4000 for the "technology" package.

My ideal car these days is one with the safety bells and whistles, limited luxury features (automatic and heated/cooled seats, climate control), but without any complicated infotainment beyond bluetooth/Android auto/Apple Car Play connectivity. There's no reason to have redundant technology built into cars by companies that aren't as good at it when we have perfectly capable, and generally more up-to-date mobile devices with us at all times.

Is anyone making reasonably well-appointed vehicles without throwing everything and the kitchen sink in there?

>Is anyone making reasonably well-appointed vehicles without throwing everything and the kitchen sink in there?

No. Honda, Toyota, Fiat, GM, everyone seems to have the same problem. For what it's worth, FiatChrysler and GM have at least had the sense to set higher requirements for vendor/suppliers than Toyota.

Specicially, after Toyota's "unintended acceleration" issues (mostly floor mats, some APPS/Pedal issues) it was discovered that their ECU taking accelerator pedal position (I'm not sure if it was the PCM/ECM specifically) had over 12,000 GLOBAL VARIABLES! Let that sink in for second.

After a code audit by iirc UPenn the bug was not found, but that wasn't a glowing review, it was ad admission it was impossible to prove/disprove.

Edit: I take that back. There are Chinese brands I drove in Malaysia and export-only Nissans that while being wholly illegal in the US or Europe are still barebones vehicles.

I've read the audit and basically it was done by a guy with no clue about the automotive world. He compared the code with the one made at nas. In the end they indeed did not find the root cause, but they had to say something as they are the "experts". So they pointed at "bad practices" like global variables.

What if i tell you that a pretty big chunk of the cars on the road are running software which are using global variable as means to exchange data between modules ? Well, that's how it is done and it isn't less safe. The last SW i worked with had 20000 global variables and 60000 parameters that the calibration guys could fiddle with.

Serious suppliers are applying safety standard and methodology and are not rushing the FMEA. Countless times my customer cursed at the safety guys for postponing the SW because they were not finished with testing, but this very same customer never had to stand in court for a safety issue with the SW, and so are many other carmaker.

When the Toyota pedal issue came out, we just could not believe that Toyota did not have the gas pedal override by brake safety in their SW.

> over 12,000 GLOBAL VARIABLES

How many global variables do each of Toyota's competitors have?

honestly, in the context of an embedded system, I'm not bothered by this.

I'd expect to see very little dynamic resource allocation, so you could probably put a permanent name to almost every byte of data in the system.

Remember, once it's compiled, everything's a global anyway, especially on chips small enough to not be set up with a strong multi-tasking and memory management model.

Does it matter if all your friends jump off a bridge?

Toyota got caught with inexcusably bad software practices. There is a reason Chrylser, GM, Ford, and others are pushing it out of house to suppliers.

Look for trims of vehicles designed for fleet use. Those remain pretty spartan.

They look it, but they aren’t. The RAM truck that has manual windows and manual door locks - has the same ABS/ESP, Radio Hub, body controller, battery modules, 7 CAN buses (2018+), three or more LIN buses, etc etc as the full load models.

Same body controller guts in as an Alfa Romeo.

He wants heated and cooled seats. You're not going to find that in any fleet vehicle.

Those aren't necessarily mandatory, but it certainly seems a lot of the safety tech is not available unless you also get things like that.

For reference, my wife and I bought a 2014 Mazda 6 Touring, which seems to be one of the few cars with a well-balanced mid-tier that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and still has good safety features (and did not come with heated/cooled seats).

Yeah, I got a 2015 Mazda 3 Grand Touring so I could get the heated seats, among other things (like xenon headlights, which are an important safety feature; halogen headlights should be banned, and the IIHS agrees with me).

But of course it also comes with a clunky and nearly useless nav system that costs a fortune if you look at the line-item cost. They only recently, finally, started supporting Android Auto.

Yep, I've been mulling some DIY work on replacing the headlights and adding foglamps... Despite appearing bright on my garage door, the actual street visibility of the standard headlights is pretty awful on this car.

I'm not sure about 2015 Mazda 3, but I know 2016 and later cars can be upgraded to support Android Auto for a fee at the dealer (I want to say ~$500, which may or may not be worth it).

The AA upgrade is available to all Mz3 vehicles starting with the 2014 model year, since that's when they came out with the MazdaConnect system. The Mz6 is similar.

As for foglamps, I have the factory foglamps on mine and they're completely useless; I can't see them at all. Maybe it's because my xenons are so bright, but regardless, I never use them.

It should be possible for you to swap in the factory xenons if you want, though you might have to set something with ForScan to allow it to work. Not really sure about that.

I completely despise the new consumer facing electronics in cars. Not because I find anything inherently wrong with electronics, but because I find the software/electronics in every car, in literally every car made today, cheap or expensive, to be an epic disaster both from an industrial design, and security standpoint.

Sadly, I think "normal" cars will go extinct the way non-smartphones and non-smart TVs went extinct. It's impossible to buy a TV these days that is not infected with Internet of Shit.

Where's the 70 Series Toyota Land Cruiser of today? The 70 series is still being made, it's just not sold in developed countries. Why can't they just make it emission compliant and sell that car in the EU and US? That's the car I want!

> It's impossible to buy a TV these days that is not infected with Internet of Shit.

It's possible, they are just called monitors or commercial displays; there's a significant premium for them at typical living room TV sizes compared to things marketed as “TVs”, though.

Yes, the "dumb" version is much more expensive than the "smart" version.

But that is not all of it. Most monitors approximate (some better than others) sRGB, while TVs approximate (again some better than others) Rec. 709. Rec. 709 and sRGB share color primaries, so they have the same gamut, but Rec. 709 uses a different transfer function. If you use the (profiled) monitor with a computer that does color management, and use a color-managed video player, all is well, but if you use the monitor as a "TV", without a computers, there's no profiling and no color management, so the broadcast and movies will not appear colorimetrically correct.

But wait, now we have Rec. 2020. I don't know if Rec. 2020 TVs are common now, but they will become common soon enough. Computer monitors are very different than Rec. 2020, even wide gamut ones. You MUST use color management to display Rec. 2020 on a computer monitor. Without a computer involved, computer monitors can't display Rec. 2020 properly.

But that is not the final story still. TVs can generally do both 23.976 fps, and 24 fps. Computer monitors very rarely can do this, generally reserved for expensive models designed for professional media creation.

So even if you pay the huge "dumb monitor tax", you still can't get the same result.

Buy a J5005 NUC and be done with it. There's your computer.

You can sit around and wait for the next Steve Jobs to release the iPhone of cars but it won’t happen. Too much regulation, some for good reason.

If you buy an iPhone and it crashes, no big deal. Not the same for your car.

>Where's the 70 Series Toyota Land Cruiser of today?

Wouldn’t pass emissions, homologation / pedestrian impact, safety, etc. Everyone loves regulations until they don’t. Jeep Wrangler is the closest you can get, and the new Wrangler has two or three microcontrollers in the steering wheel alone even on the base model.

> The mfgs wanted to outsource the development, and now when they need an adjustment to traction control it's a $50, 100, 250, 500,000 charge, BUT, they've also moved the responsibility to the mfgs like Bosch, ConTevis, etc.

I can see where this would complicate and slow delivery of bugfixes, but if you ask me who I'd rather have mucking around with my ABS firmware, a GM engineer or a Bosch engineer, that's an easy answer.

Except Bosch is doing almost all of their real engineering in India right now. GM has their testing ground with cars and data on hand.

It's not as simple as you make it out to be. There are times I would want the system to be looked at holistically not just as components.

But that's been that way for some time now. My 2002 (E46) BMW 3-series has mostly Bosch parts inside. The transmission is made by... GM. The only thing that's BMW is the engine and the body. All the sensors on the engine are Bosch. It's a fairly smart way of developing a car in my opinion: concentrate on what you're good at. But to add to your point: you can also tell from the problems what BMW had outsourced -- it's often the accessories that don't age well. The engine in the E46 BMWs are fairly reliable. I had to open the valve cover once after 10+ years of driving and everything looks pristine inside. The biggest defect I had to deal with was the VANOS valves, which only required some bearing replacement, and gasket replacements.

My 2013 (F30) BMW 3-series is similar in its parts sourcing. The turbo is made by Mitsubishi and the transmission is made by ZF (which is pretty much industry standard). Other than the engine, body, and maybe the steering components, everything else is again outsourced. So far it's been pretty damn reliable though.

That's been the case for a very long time. I have a 1980 BMW 528i, and it's the same. BMW motor, but everything electric is Bosch, including the L-Jetronic fuel injection. Transmission is ZF as well.

Even my 1975 bmw 2002 has a getrag 4 speed manual. The m10 engine I have was still being made in the late 80s for the 318i (with electronic ignition and fuel injection), but still mated to a 5 speed getrag.

That's some interesting insight... I wonder where it'll all end up... it's kind of difficult for markets to function well with things so utterly opaque to the average consumer. I wonder if it'll end up regulated, or if the fear of lawsuits or something else will knock people in line.

That said, the best answer is clearly to ride bikes more! A lot better for the environment, your wallet, and your own health!


You almost touched on something car manufacturers aren't doing, and that's providing software updates.

My Subaru's infotainment system has strange intermittent bugs with the Bluetooth system. I get annoyed that even if the developer fixes it, I'll never see an update without buying a new car.

It's one of the reasons I'm such a Tesla fanboy. They do software updates. What's really great too is that they're done over the air. You don't need to bring it to a dealer and pay a ridiculous fee for it.

It'd be really nice if the other manufacturers could get on that.

My Porsche and my mom's Acura can both do OTA updates, though they both require user acknowledgement to install. Honestly, nothing coming OTA should be urgent enough that it can't wait until the yearly service.

> My Porsche and my mom's Acura can both do OTA updates

Are those updates for vehicle control software, or the entertainment/nav system? I would be surprised if you could, for example, change the engine control software or the ABS software, or the anti-collision safety system via OTA updates.

Updating the entertainment/nav console is more common. My 2018 Ford does that too.

Has there been a trend to bring controls back in house? I used to work in another mature industry, HVAC. It also went through a period of outsourcing all electronics/software, and then they realized that all the IP/secret sauce going forward will be in the controls and related software.

My former employer had plenty of unpleasant experiences outsourcing firmware, which contributed to bringing it all back in house.

>Has there been a trend to bring controls back in house?

Best I can tell it's still going out, not pendulum back in.

Part of the issue, and the thing almost no one realizes about Carpocolypse 2008 is that all these suppliers are 100% dependant on supplying to 5 vendors and that if one stops buying X module for 6 months, they fold. Blame in on JIT strategy, or regulation, or whatever, but Johnson Controls would have folded if GM and Chrysler weren't bailed out. Ok, but that means no seats for Toyota, Honda, Ford, etc. Very few people outside of Germany and Detroit realize what was really at stake there.

> Part of the issue, and the thing almost no one realizes about Carpocolypse 2008 is that all these suppliers are 100% dependant on supplying to 5 vendors and that if one stops buying X module for 6 months, they fold.

This was widely pointed out at the time, including, IIRC, by the CEO of Ford, who used it in pointing out why the bailouts, which Ford did not directly receive, were essential for Ford.

>Part of the issue, and the thing almost no one realizes about Carpocolypse 2008 is that all these suppliers are 100% dependant on supplying to 5 vendors and that if one stops buying X module for 6 months, they fold

They didn't have to wait until 2008 to learn this lesson. They could have learned it in the 90s if they were watching.

This is exactly why it's so hard to source vehicle parts for old Chrysler products. Every time they go bankrupt their suppliers go bankrupt and 3/4 of the tooling winds up turned into tin cans.

I did at the time, I'd have to dig around to find my comments then - I looked at the bailout as cheap, compared to unemployment for the big three, and their dependent manufacturers.

Yes, Autosar enables the carmaker to develop code in house for their cars, but it still needs the suppliers for the HW and the controls of specialised parts like injectors, rpm or lambda sensors.

The trend is for the carmaker to develop vehicle functions like start stop or cruise control, and give the object code to the supplier for integration.

> I would not purchase a 2019 anything right now. I'd allow for two-three years worth of flashes before considering a new car

Do you mean a model that is all new for 2019 or do you mean literally any car assembled in 2019?

The latter basically. I have seen no one that has their shit together right now.

I've always shied away from luxury brands because repairs are so expensive. Little things like a switch, or a seat lever, or even trying to replace the middle console lid because your kid scratched it up, is always more expensive when its a luxury brand. Just because it comes from BMW doesn't mean it should automatically be more expensive.

I bought a plain, no turbo Volvo 940 for $1000 ten years ago. It's 25 years old now, and still is very reliable. Newer Volvos seem a lot more complex, and I can't help thinking that there's a lot more electronics and mechanisms that can break than in the old construction. Edit: ugh, I just realised I have become a grumpy old man.

Volvo is Chinese nowadays, the 940 you've bought is Swedish and no cost was spared in making it that reliable. That's also why Volvo is Chinese nowadays.

By that logic Toyota should of been Chinese 20 years ago?

Toyota has always been very frugal while delivering quality, Volvo was not, so no. And I think you meant 'have' instead of 'of'.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Toyota_Way , pay extra attention to section #2.

Volvo took a much more 'premium' route towards quality, starting with galvanized steel bodies and other such costly measures, as well as producing on less efficient lines than Toyota. Even so, their reputation until the Chinese take-over was excellent, since then the division is as far as I know profitable so maybe this is a happy medium between baked in quality and cost to produce. But it will never go back to the 'tank' status that their older line-up has, which in a way is good because the modern ones fare much better in the crash tests than the oldies, even against mid-range cars in head-on or side-on collisions.

On another note, given the history between the two countries I don't see the Japanese government ok'ing a take-over of one of their prime brands by the Chinese.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China%E2%80%93Japan_relations


I drive a 2010 Toyota Corolla :') - the philosophy sounds great but the implementation is poor.

Volvo's reputation for reliability tanked during the Ford years.

A few words about J.D. Power:


I think one thing to remember that people who buy a Toyota drive it like it's... a Toyota. Cars that are driven hard will break down faster than cars that aren't, and I'm guessing the average BMW is pushed harder than the average Toyota. My wife can put a hole in a pair of nice running shoes faster than I can even wear tread off of a junky pair. Use matters, not all miles are equal.

Doesn't explain the Porsche tie with Toyota unless you're suggesting Porsche drivers are more like Toyota drivers than BMW.

I’m not saying it’s the only factor just a single factor that people tend to overlook. But I think Porsche has a higher percentage of car enthusiast in addition to a higher quality build process. So the owners will take better care of the car, won’t drive it in poor weather etc, where a BMW is often a daily driver. Again, not saying it’s the factor just a factor. Like I just saw something that was “Here are states with the worst drivers” but the data was based on speeding tickets etc. So to me they should have really said “Here are the states with the most enforcement”. Ok, maybe not related at all.

porsche builds their cars for track work, so even hard driving around town is light load for them (maybe not the macan).

Hard launches are among the toughest thing you can do to an ICE car. Most cars with launch control can do a few launches and then something overheats and the car refuses to do any more for a while. A car journalist tried to launch a PDK 911 until it failed. He got bored after 50 straight launches and stopped.

Well, boredom and to commemorate the 911's 50th birthday.

Porsche began to copy Toyota's Production System a while ago and is now a leader in lean manufacturing. I know this sounds weird.

The story behind Porsche, Toyota, and how the Boxster came to be is pretty fascinating: https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/car-design/a28621/a...

If you look at CR's most reliable brands, it's Lexus, Toyota, Mazda, Subaru in that order. Funny coincidence that they're all Toyota affiliated.

You can get fun Toyotas. Celicas and Supras will be driven hard. They are still reliable.

You're lying to yourself if you think that's the case.

Which part? The part that BMWs are driven harder than Toyota’s or that driving a car to its limits more often negatively affects its long term reliability?

The people that buy luxury cars don't care. It'll be under warranty during this time and the dealer will offer a free loaner car while it is being repaired. Most of these cars are leased and the ones that aren't will likely be sold around the 3 year mark. There isn't much incentive for the manufacturers to make them reliable unlike with mass market cars.

This is true. But there is an important corollary: never buy a used luxury car that's in it's third phase of life (>120k mikes). Both the amount and the cost of repairs are significantly higher. But it's a sucker's deal where people can get a nice car for a while, but which will end up costing them way more than, say, a moderately used Toyota.

A good channel does exactly that for entertainment https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdEczn3MVkx_4PnMZ10MVFA

Is a used a Lexus a good hack for getting a higher-end car that will also be cheap to fix, because it uses the same parts as a Toyota?

"Luxury Brands" is a vague concept. Maserati, MB S Class, Cadillac Escalade, BMW 7 Series are all luxuru vehicles but aren't supposed to hold up well. They are expensive luxury toys, and cant be used as work horses like Lexuses or Acuras are.

I don’t think the survey takes into account the differing expectations of the buyers of the different brands. Someone buying a Mercedes has different expectations than someone buying a Corola and this would strongly influence issue numbers.

Definitely true. I knew a guy who bought a BMW 5-series and was annoyed at a whistling sound that it made. When you pay $50k+ for a vehicle, you expect that it will perform at exacting standards.

Also, the fact that it's under warranty and the BMW dealership will give you a loaner makes you more likely to take it in for extended troubleshooting/repair.

The title here, the title in the actual article, and the content of the article aren't telling the same story.

Here: "Toyotas and Chevys Are Holding Up Better Than Most Luxury Brands"

Article: "Toyotas and Chevys Are More Reliable Than BMW and Mercedes, J.D. Power Finds"

Article content (paraphrasing): "Lexus, Porsche top the list" "Most German manufacturers lag behind US"

So which is it? Bloomberg doesn't appear to be trying too hard here.

Bloomberg reporting can barely be called reporting. It's half-assed regurgitated content that's often inaccurate these days.

This is always true, the mass produced thing is going to have manufacturing lines that are tuned. And Toyota or Chevy can't afford to have a recall on something they made 100k of . Bespoke luxury vehicles are nearly hand made, with all the errors that hand building entails.

Wear a timex, drive a toyota, compute with a thinkpad, listen to a yamaha and process with a cuisanart.

I've driven a number of older Toyotas and (fingers crossed) that seems to be my experience.

God bless my Mazda 3 2012.

I spent a total of $1200(wipers, tires, engine oil) in 100k miles and still gives me 39 mpg on highways.

Love the car. My next Car is going to be either Japanese or a Korean.

Most people I know that have German usually have electronic/electrical issues. The actual drivetrains are good but the electrical systems have a lot of issues.

Assessing "reliability" between brands is very hard (and a lost cause IMO) because there's tons of things that have a large effect but are hard to measure and quantify.

Reliability variation between models > reliability variation between brands. Generally speaking cheap disposable appliance cars are cheap and disposable. OEMs put much more effort into their flagship products and the products that define their brand image.

Owner demographics have a large effect on reliability over the kind of 5+yr timeline many commenters here seem to be talking in. The wealthier the owner the better the vehicle is treated (at a statistical level, we all know one or two rich guys who never change their oil). Rich people years vs poor people years is like highway miles vs city miles. As vehicles get older they get cheaper they move down the economic ladder which tends to complicate things a little. In states with road salt wealthier people are much more likely to keep their vehicles in garages or wash them regularly.

When it comes to vehicles >8yo (or whatever the oldest banks will write a loan for at present) you see on the road is not necessarily what's reliable or what's popular. The dealership auction system tends to siphon off vehicles over a certain age and/or under a certain value to the South American (from North America) and African/Middle Eastern (from Europe) markets. This means that vehicles owned by the demographics that tend to trade in regularly (wealthier on average) will not stick around as well as the vehicles owned by people who don't or who tend to buy/sell private party (less wealthy on average). So the old vehicle you see driving around are not necessarily a 1:1 representation of what was or wasn't reliable or what was or wasn't popular back in the year they were sold. Different demographics keep vehicles for different amounts of time. People tend to get new vehicles at life milestones younger people are moving up in the world commuting, starting families and this prompts them to change vehicle more often. Grandpa bought a 'Vic in '94 and has been driving it since.

Replacement cost greatly effects a how long a vehicle is kept in service. Replacing a compact SUV is cheap compared to a 1-ton truck so at any point in time the owner of the big truck is much more likely to fix any problem that comes up rather than go looking for a replacement. Look at the 90s Fords you still see around. Ford sold a TON of Explorers yet 1st and 2nd gen Explorers are a rarity on the roads compared to F-series.

Also, just because you never see a particular make/model where you live doesn't mean they don't exist in large numbers elsewhere.

There's probably a few things I'm forgetting but people would do well to keep in mind all the things that aren't being controlled for when they read about vehicle "reliability".

Lexus came in #1 followed by Porsche but that didn't make for as good of a headline I guess.

Isn't this well known? Toyotas have legendary reliability

But their truck frames are also legendary for rusting out -- a very expensive repair.

Are they anymore so than other cars driven where they salt the roads? I have not heard that.

Anecdotal experience (Long-time Land Cruiser owner in Western Norway where the SOP at first snow is to salt the heck out of it) suggests that Toyotas do rust like mad; I work hard all year keeping my Land Cruisers (a 1981 BJ42 and a 1998 KZJ95) reasonably rust-free. I have to treat them to lanolin twice a winter season.

Yes. There was a decade or so of production truck frames for Tacoma and Tundra trucks where Toyota paid to replace the frames due to rust. It was supposedly a supplier problem.

Yes -- just search classified ads in northern states for Toyota trucks with new frames.

this is common knowledge among farmers here.

A Cadillac is not just an expensive car, it is an expensive car to own. (Gas, repair bills, etc.)

If you are a W-2 worker you have to be at work at a certain time and you need a car that can start every morning so you can get to work on time.

Higher class people can afford multiple cars, take time off from work, take a cab, etc.

The Cadillac brand is appealing to many lower class Americans so you often see them in "bad" neighborhoods. Some would say the people there are not in a hurry to get anywhere.

Higher class people can afford multiple cars, take time off from work, take a cab, etc.

It's a pattern. People with money will deliberately show they can spend more money. Those wide, droopy sleeves you sometimes see in historical shows? Rich people simply bought clothes that used more fabric, just so they could show they could afford it.

The Cadillac brand is appealing to many lower class Americans

According to the actress who played "Snoop" in "The Wire" the appeal of Cadillac in lower class urban neighborhoods was entirely gone by the 2000's, and replaced by the Lexus.

>Those wide, droopy sleeves you sometimes see in historical shows? Rich people simply bought clothes that used more fabric, just so they could show they could afford it.

As far as I know it was to demonstrate that the owner of such clothes doesn't have to work. Because such clothes make it extremely difficult to perform any manual work.

> If you are a W-2 worker you have to be at work at a certain time and you need a car that can start every morning so you can get to work on time.

That has nothing to do with being a "W-2 worker". Being a W-2 just means you're not an independent contractor. I'm a W-2 worker, and if my car breaks down, I can just send an e-mail to my team and tell them I'll be working from home.

Puzzled why you would mention this brand, as it's never mentioned in the article.

There seems to be a strange element of "smear the working class with themes tangent to whatever the discussion is" lately on HN. It's a bit troubling.

I mentioned Cadillac because it's a textbook case of a brand that has gone through a long life cycle.

My grandfather, a retired bricklayer who immigrated from Poland, would drive nothing but a Cadillac in the 1980s and he was by no means rich. Many people his age drove them, particularly if they were from populations attacked by Germans in WWII such as Italian, Jewish, etc. A similar prejudice existed towards Japanese cars in the U.S. and in parts of Asia violated by Japan.

That was good for Cadillac for a while, but it became associated with old people and objectionable people (like my uncouth neighbors or my relatives who get the beat down from time to time in bars or parking garages)

GM has busted their ass and has had some success at keeping Cadillac successful despite that.

Thus Cadillac is a good base for a "theory of luxury car marketing," and calling a "BMW" a "Cadillac" is a bit like calling a "Pepsi" a "Coke".

Perhaps because Cadillac is a brand by GM, the manufacturer who also makes Chevy. Cadillac is the luxury brand of GM which would compete with luxury brands.

Ditto for Infiniti (Nissan), Acura (Honda), and Audi (VW).

I realize none of those brands are useful for making unrelated demographic-based comments, however.

For the Volkswagen group, I would list Bentley, Lamborghini or Bugatti as their luxury offerings. Audi is more middle class and sold in large numbers, at least in Europe.

In the US, Audi, BMW and similar European brands are intentionally marketed as a mid to high luxury vehicles to preserve their brand mystique. None of these companies sell mass-market cars in the US in the same tier as mass-market cars by Toyota, GM, etc. Most of these brands do sell mass-market cars in Europe, though.

It's also worth noting that in the US, most families have had multiple cars due to the lack of alternative transit options, and so families of modest means buy lower cost vehicles as a result.

Only recently are multi-car households are seeing a big uptick in places like the UK [1], and in many developed urban areas of Europe, the car is used by families as a "weekend getaway" vehicle, not a daily commuter. When you only have to buy one car, you might be able to afford more luxury.

[1] https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/cars/912000/two-cars-ho...

It took me a long time (really seeing an awesome Audi with a V-10 motor) to perceive Audi as a luxury brand. For me it was mostly notable for self-driving accidents back in the 1980s. Yet another outpost of European Mediocrity like Renault, Fiat, Trabant, Lucus, etc.

Over time I learned more about the inline 5 cylinder engines that are common in Audis and many special characteristics but before I overcome my ignorance I had a wrong idea of the brand.

And that is the difficulty of branding luxury cars. Few of us experience a wide variety of luxury cars, so our brand image consists of some old news stories, word of mouth, seeing them on the road, etc.

In the US Audi is positioned alongside Lexus, BMW, etc. Those luxury brands you listed aren't the level the article was addressing.

I assumed because of the other comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19154864

> Higher class people can afford multiple cars, take time off from work, take a cab, etc.

Some can, the rest of the higher class people literally just drive Camrys, Accords, and Fusions because they need to be places just as much as the next guy.

I have multiple beater cars. What class does that put me in?

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