04 September 2023


While marveling about my past few cars getting high miles without effort...

And mentioning that it was unheard of that American cars could do that...

I forgot something.

There was once a time when if you had a BMW or Mercedes Benz, you could count on hundreds of thousands of miles trouble free if you just did basic routine maintenance.

Now, try to find a Beemer that doesn't rack up catastrophic repair bills once the warranty expires.

Go on, I'll wait.

Damn short list, ain't it?

BMW has over-complicated basic, routine, maintenance to the point where it's included in the purchase price and warranty.  That complication means that you get ass-raped once that service plan expires with the warranty.

Of all the brands, they appear to have embraced the "elegant" solution of burying wear items under many layers of other assemblies to the point that it's simply not cost effective to repair them.


  1. I'm with you on this. Have owned VW on and off since 1972. All my cars through early 2001 (Jetta TDI) were very or relatively easy to work on. The 2005 I currently have is pushing the boundary, I had to find a few special tools but still, could do it myself. Now we get to 2019 (my latest VW). When the warranty expires it is going to get interesting. Can't do brake flush (well, can do the actual flush, but need VCDS tool to re-calibrate the ABS of all things). Removing a battery without having a secondary 12V attached can cause all sorts of gremlins, of course, also requiring the VCDS computer tools). I can do basics with what I have, but not in depth re-programming or re-setting.

    My wife's Honda series is also getting more complex and I am finding more and more of the we built it so you can't easily service it features.

    Makes the urge to find a low mileage 1970's or older and fix it up more tempting every day. Who the heck would have thought that I would be pining for my 65 Impala Wagon, Olds Vista Cruiser or Dodge Coronet 440 this late in life?

  2. I've noticed that also about BMWs. It happened sometime in the 1990s I think. In the 1960s-1980s they built a pretty solid, and in some ways simple car. The 2002, 5 and 7 series of those earlier years weren't horrible to maintain other than parts were expensive, which is true of all German made cars including VW. My brother-in-law is a Mercedes mechanic at the big dealership over in The Woodlands (north of Houston). I've heard horror stories from him about how much of a PITA some things are on Mercedes, especially the SUV models. The past couple years he's been the shop lead for Sprinter vans. He has less bad things to say about them compared to most of the other model lines. His dealership rolls in the $$$ for maintenance on those though because one of the local Mopar dealers sends all of their older (Diamler Chrysler era) vans over because they don't have anyone trained in them and they also do all of the Sprinter maintenance for one of the local Freightliner dealers which sells a rebranded version. Most people who own BMW and Mercedes take their cars back to the dealers for service because a lot of other shops, except for a few specialty ones won't touch them with a 12 foot pole. The demographic of the people who drive used BMW and Mercedes is different than new. I won't say how, although probably a lot will guess. People who put a big emphasis on status, overpay, often at a scammy dealership like Drive Time or Car Max (where they pay out the @$$ on interest and fees) and don't seem to know there is a reason why the resale value falls off a cliff for the 3rd owner of those cars. I'd feel worse, except that it's self inflicted. The problems with fragile and overcomplicated cars get magnified when someone buys them who half asses maintenance because they paid way too much for the car in the first place.

  3. The wife had a 2012 TDI that blew a $1200 A/C hose. Took months to get it from Germany (in 2014 before the planned shortages) then less than four months later it blew another. I was SO glad that they f*cked up and got caught scamming the EPA on their diesels.

    Wife now has a 2013 F-150 that hasn't been in the shop except for a recall on some transmission programming.
    The 2013 Silverado has 200K mile on it and the only thing it's been in the shop for was the top ball joints.

    The 2017 F-250 4X4 (gasser) has almost 200K miles on it that I bought at about 150K. don't know what it's had done to it, but it was a fleet truck. All of them have had oil changes when needed and the older trucks have always had synthetic oil.
    I almost forgot, all of them have gone through at least one set of brake pads.

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  5. Several years ago I commented on the change in definition of "luxury", as applied to German cars when the W220 Mercedes S Class started having reliability issues. Back in the day, think W123 Mercedes or E30 BMW, luxury was a beautifully made but basic vehicle that would run forever if maintained. Then "luxury" became a gadget laden status symbol with the reliability of a 1996 Kia Sephia. On a side note the decline in Mercedes and BMW reliability was the springboard for Lexus in the late 90s since the LS offered the look and feel of a Mercedes, with Toyota reliability and quality.


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