In Reply to: but the NATURE of the problem is more important posted by triode on March 14, 2005 at 13:10:29:
and would suggest that, based on my own experiences, the problems extend beyond those annoying electrical glitches to which you refer. I keep hearing that those glitches are the result of the adoption of "cutting edge" technology in the design of electronic controls and gadgetry. But what is so advanced about the design of power windows and other accessories, which fail with depressing regularity in so many German-made (or designed) autos? As a relatively minor but typical example, the power antenna on my Audi failed after less than two years, and I discovered the fault to be in the choice of a flexible plastic "tape" as the drive mechanism for the antenna mast. This material simply dried out and broke into multiple, unconnected segments, immobilizing the antenna in its retracted position. After being told by the dealer that the antenna was unserviceable and that the only remedy was a $275.00 replacement, I installed a $75.00 aftermarket unit, constructed with, guess what?--a proper, stainless steel drive cable, which worked flawlessly for the rest of the time I owned the car.
I wish those were the only types of problems I had, but major mechanical problems (fuel and coolant systems, a/c malfunctions, etc.) were all part of the fun, appearing well before one should expect such headaches.
As far as the breadth of the surveys, there are plenty which specify other than mere frequency of defects. Have you ever taken a look at (for the last several years) the Consumer Reports surveys? Internet complaint forums? The most amazing eye-opener I've read in recent years is the Tech Q&A column in Bimmer, the author of which is responsible for the most brutally honest assessment of the types of problems faced by BMW owners that I've ever seen. It's a wonder he's still an enthusiast!
Re: the proclivity of "perfectionist drivers of high $$ cars" to complain about minor problems: I would argue that just the opposite is true; that the greater the outlay, the more likely an owner is to deny the reality. I'm always amused to hear former owners, glowingly effusive during ownership, bemoan the experience once they've rid themselves of the burden.
I do think that duration of ownership is a huge factor, and for those who replace their cars while still relatively new, the experience may indeed include nothing more than an occasional failure of some electrical gizmo. But for those who purchase for the longer term, caveat emptor.
I know--I've been there.
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