Why Luxury Cars are Designed to be Unreliable

Why Luxury Cars are Designed to be Unreliable


Rev up your engines,
today I’m going to answer joey b ball’s question, why are luxury cars unreliable these days,
luxury cars are a status symbol, and as such what do they do with a status symbol, the
put every fancy thing they possibly can and often the newest technology, to give you one
of numerous examples, the 98-2000 cadillac seville they came with water cooled alternators,
think about it an alternator is charging your car with electricity yet it has the cooling
of the coolant system going inside to cool it down so it doesn’t overheat, now when they
did that as a mechanic myself I thought, what a stupid idea, combine your charging system
with electricity with the coolant those things are going to leak and short out,
guess what happened, the all leaked and shorted out and they only used it from 98-2000 then
they gave up with that idea, but if you bought one of those cars tough luck on you,
and since they are luxury cars, hey their expected to ride like a dream, now they put
some insane technology into modern cars, you take some of these mercedes, the have shock
absorber air bag assemblies, one on each corner, two in the front and two in the back,
and they run off of all kinds of things, hydraulic pressure, electrical computer signals, and
they have a little air bag built into them that runs off of an air compressor, we’re
talking about high tech, and guess what high tech stuff wears out,
yeah they ride like a dream there’s no arguing that, but when they break down and break down
they do, they cost a fortune, not something a normal person is going to want to have,
and if your talking about a German luxury car like a mercedes, they have very tight
tolerances, I remember when I was a young mechanic my grandfather said to me, this is
stupid look at this German car, he said they have this thing machined so perfectly that
it fits right on without a gasket, but it costs a fortune to machine them,
and compare that to an American car that hey they would just put a gasket there, it would
be just made in a factory stamped out and then a gasket it put on it and it’s bolted
on so it doesn’t leak instead of making a really fine tolerance,
the closer and finer the tolerance the more maintenance you need, to give you an example
from the military world, in Vietnam the M16 was the average guys rifle, a highly designed
machine, had pretty tight tolerances, where the Vietnamese were using the AK47, which
not only was an old design it came from world war 2, but it had very wide tolerances, so
if you threw one in the mud or buried it in the ground and got it out later, the thing
would still fire perfectly fine, because it wasn’t that high tech and the tolerances being
that wide and things being off a little here and there it still worked perfectly fine,
so if we go back to the car world and I see this all the time, let’s say you got a few
years old luxury car, somebody buys it, luxury cars often have very low resale values, so
if somebody says, oh I’ll get this used mercedes really cheap, now you might get it really
cheap but when people do that then often they don’t spend the money to maintain the vehicle,
and if you don’t maintain a luxury vehicle guess what, it will fall apart and people
will say, boy that’ an unreliable car that thing was always breaking down,
now of course there are exceptions to the rule, this is a 17 year old lexus, I do nothing
practically except change the oil in the thing and it doesn’t have those problems, but then
again that’s toyota and that’s a completely different ball game,
unless you go into the realm of a lexus hybrid luxury car, because as they age hybrid cars
can get very expensive to repair, batteries can cost thousands of dollars and the parts
on them cost a ton and being electric part of the time with over 200 volts, anybody that’s
going to work on that is going to charge a lot of money because they need a lot of specialty
tools and a lot of knowledge because they know the average guy can’t work on that kind
of voltage they could kill themselves, now recently there’s even more reasons that
luxury cars can be unreliable, and that’ because being a luxury car it’s got the snob appeal,
and if your going to be a snob you can’t be driving around in an old luxury car, so you
have to buy a new luxury car, and knowing that they can put a lot of planned obsolescence
into a luxury car they make sure things start to break when they get a few years old, you’ll
go buy another one, your going to do it anyways if your trying to impress people by the newer
car your driving, but they kind of push you along with planned obsolescence,
now the average person with a luxury car does think that way, as an example I got a customer
on the opposite end of the spectrum, he bought a mercedes s600 and that thing was $120,000
when it was new, he got it when it was 7 years old for $10,000 dollars, and yeah the electronics
were breaking down, some of the windows don’t roll up and down anymore, he doesn’t care
because he’s using it just to drive around in, but he’s the rarity, most people don’t
want to be driving a luxury car where half of the stuff on it doesn’t work anymore,
and this might sound a little bit crazy but it’s true for a lot of people, I remember
when I was a young mechanic, we had a customer and he’d buy a new cadillac every two years
and he did zero maintenance on the car, he didn’t even change the oil in the thing, I’ll
never forget talking to him one time, he said when my cigarette ashtray get filled up with
ashes, I’ll just go buy another car, he was joking but to some extent was wasn’t joking,
now it’s not that they can’t make reliable luxury cars like the lexus that my wife drives,
it’s totally possible to do, but it’s against a lot of their own business interests especially
in American cars to make a luxury car that lasts a long time and doesn’t break down because
they want to keep selling you new ones every few years, and since most people with luxury
cars they want a fast car, it’s a luxury car it’s got to be fast, so modern cars their
throwing in GDI fuel injection, their throwing in sometimes dual two turbochargers on an
engine, yes they go fast but when you put all that added strain on the engine guess
what, it’s going to wear out faster, and in the case of some luxury cars these
days, they tell you to use premium gas which costs a whole bunch more, I’ve seen a lot
of people with luxury cars, they’ll just put regular gas and they’ll say, oh look it runs
fine to me, now it does run fine to some extent, but you’re always going to lose some power
that way and unless it’s an ultra modern one with computer controls that can compensate
for the different octane of the gas, eventually the engine will carbon up from not running
perfectly and then it won’t be as reliable, now it is kind of strange how times have changed
with luxury cars being unreliable because when I was a young mechanic in the 60’s a
cadillac everybody was singing about great luxury cadillacs, well those things were actually
extremely reliable, but of course times have changed now cadillacs, hey they made the list
of the most unreliable cars this year, and if anybody ever owned a rolls royce from the
1980’s, those things just fell apart as you were driving down the road, well now BMW owns
them and their v12 BMW engines their completely different than they used to be, but just because
your paying all this money doesn’t mean your going to get a reliable vehicle these days,
and even something as simple as tires and wheels on a luxury car, some of the modern
ones they come with really fancy low profile tires, and expensive rims that if you hit
pot holes they’ll bend and break, the car will get out of alignment, suspension parts
will break down, things that if they didn’t have these crazy high tech designs wouldn’t
be happening in the first place, I’ve even had personal customers who had those
low profile tire and rims taken off of their luxury car and put on normal tires and they
were happy with it, and the same goes true with people that have luxury cars with those
fancy suspension systems, hey if the struts cost $1,500 a piece now a days, you can get
a kit for maybe $800 that does all 4 and you can turn it back into a normal suspension
system instead of one that’s run by computers, but really who wants to get involved in that
nonsense in the first place, my advice is don’t buy one of those cars to begin with,
so now you know why luxury cars these days, hey they can become very unreliable over a
very short period of time, that’s why I’m still driving my 94 Celica, and since this
is the Thursday segment where I answer a viewer’s question, place your own question on the YouTube
comments below and I’ll pick the best ones to make a single video to answer your question,
and where else can you find a guy with 50 years experience of fixing cars to answer
your own question with a video, so if you never want to miss another one of my new car
repair videos, remember to ring that bell!

About the Author: Michael Flood

100 Comments

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  2. Hey Scotty. Great vids man. Could you do a video on the reliability of the mercedes 1950 cc diesel engine dubbed OM654. theyve been putting them in the Cs and Es

  3. Mercedes small cars are garbage. the giant ones are great as long as it not an SUV. BMW makes the worst large cars in the world but the 3 series work excellent, You'll notice he says nothing about those. The ar 15 was not chromed inside like the ak 47 something he FORGOT to mention if the ar15 was chromed on every part inside then you could drop it in the Vietnam mud and fire it anyway exactly like a Kalishnikov!

    All NEW cars are made from parts made in China because the union in charged way too much money to the companies to work half a day and spend the rest of the day in the bar. so they had to buy bad parts from zero QC China.

    All Japanese cars I ever owned fell apart while I was driving them. The Prius was the worse piece of S*** I ever drove, the Corolla fell apart and would not go faster than 25MPH. My Nissan the doors fell off right after the electrical system fried itself in the engine bay, My Honda had an oil problem the seals let all the oil drain out and to fix it forget-about-it, you can't because the Japanese don't make aftermarket oversized parts for their cars, You are supposed to fork over another $40,000 for anew one!

    I am a mechanic, a master welder, and a journeyman toolmaker machinist, not just a mechanic and all for the last 45 years too!

  4. My first car was an ‘01 DeVille…rode like a dream when it started up…but the problem was starting it up every other day 😂

  5. have you any ideas why the check engine light never comes on a 96 caravan ? i cant pass calif smog without it. i tried another light bulb and another housing and another bcm. thanks

  6. Hey Scotty I have a few vehicles too many and am trying to narrow them down to two.   What I have is an economy car and on old G series chevy van, the 80'-90's type.    I swapped in a 6.2 diesel into one of them and it worked great.  Get near 30 mpg in a camper van.  I'ld like your opinion on whether or not the van is worth the effort to rebuild the engine, .. suspension…..etc etc. I can do almost all the work myself, so it's financially not a real hardship.  Those old vans have issues though as i'm sure you know… windshield leaks, wiper motor/switch problems, door seals,  RUST…      The old van worked much better than I expected with the diesel motor, overdrive trans and 3:08 gears.   I tows well, drives well, as of now it leaks well, paint fades well, windshield cracked and leaking, .. some rust around rear wheels but solid where it counts.     I can weld and have the tools.   Would I be better moving up into the express/savaanna vans or rebuild this old truck ????

  7. I just lease mercedes. Currently on a 3 yr lease with a s560 4matic. Awesome cars. I couldn't care less about reliability; they're reliable while I'm driving them.

  8. Taking the AK-47 as an example of solid technology is one step to far in bad taste Scotty.
    You might as well not give a damn about anyones feelings, but we follow you never the less and we expect you to be considerate at your age, as some of us have other opinions on that gun beside "working just fine". You should apologize.

  9. Hey Scotty I’m planning on buy 2016 Lexus RX 350 for my wife and two small children. What do you think of the car ? Thanks in advance .

  10. My 1966 Coupe De Ville was miles better than anything that Cadillac produces today. The only drawback was its poor fuel economy, but when it was made, gas was dirt cheap so they can be forgiven for that.

  11. actually ar guns do better in the mud though idk about sand but the rifle seals itself better is really the reason. keep in mind that this point is still valid as with the looseness with the ak it was really that you could neglect the maintenance of it and it would run. hense fourth why on gods earth design a high maintenance car for people who know so very little and then go get ripped off by dealerships. there are very good cars out there that you would not expect to last and all it would be is just making sure the oil and fluid was good on them. but for the well being of the average person design a car to not just be neglected but easy as hell to work on. america needs to have a diplomat sign an executive order directed at auto makers for their disdain against customers.

  12. All what you mechanics can do is telling bmw or Mercedes owners that they need to Change wheels And break pads and desperately trying to cheat them into buying something that does not have to be replaced lol

    You even admitted that in one of your videos

  13. He used a photo from InRanges mudtest that proved the opposite. The AR's tight tolerances prevent the ingress of dirt while the loose tolerances of the AK accept debris.

    The AR AK myth came from poor issueing of rifles and incorrect ammunition. Amd from the GI perspective, when he isnt shooting, but the enemy is shooting cause the enemy cleans his rifle. It can feel like they have the better rifle.

  14. Murphy's law!!!
    I really hate all this hi tec CRAP new cars today will fall apart or be to expensive to fix before to last payment is made!!!
    Then your upside down on your trade and no one in there right mind wants a 5 year old car!!!
    I want a old truck with a carburetor and a standard transmission!!!
    Piss on all this new crap!!!

  15. Scotty, the funny thing is the AK-47, Mikhail Kalashnikov copied the STG44 – German made thing. So as you see German technologies are quite reliable 😂😂😂

  16. I still remembered my Mercedes E320 wagon … I was young, and I wanted to look "successful"… and a couple years later, its Check Engine light was always on, no matter what maintenance/repair did to it. Now, I am not so young but wiser and much richer, but I will never own another german car again!

  17. Hey Scotty I’m a big fan of your videos and I learned a lot but I was wondering when you say that all GM products are being cheaply made are you including the 350 Silverado Chevy motors also

  18. it's worse. High end brands, especially BMW and Mercedes, design their parts to fail, knowing that the dealers will make most of their money on parts and labor to fix. It's part of their financial model. These premium owners care less about TCO because they want the fancy brand. lol.

  19. Scotty,

    My parents want to buy a new 2020 Lexus RX 450h (Hybrid). They want the hybrid since they're made in Japan vs the 350 non-hybrid models. They're recently retired. If they get an extended warranty, do you think it would be a good buy for them? Thanks.

  20. Back in the 50s and 60s they used to try out the new things on the Olds 88 and once they work the bugs out they put them on the Cadillac. That's one of the reasons why the caddies were so dependable. No more Olds 88 crappy Cadillac. I know this because whenever I was in need of parts for my Cadillac I just go order a cheaper price same thing Oldsmobile 88 part part

  21. I'm thinking of buying a Lexus LS 430. What do you think of this model? Are certain years more reliable than others?

  22. I bought a new Mercedes in 2005 and took very good care of it but this last June it just stopped on The Bay Bridge (in CA) I was kind of shocked because it was so reliable, to get it fix was going to be quite expense, so in the end I opted to just buy a new car, and before that I bought a new BMW (manual transmission) that lasted me 19 year, I gave it to my brother and that car continue on for about another 5 years. Before that I had a Datsun B210 which was a nightmare, always something needed to be fix gasket, and I even had to buy a new engine … I didn't buy a Luxury car to show off, cause I don't care what people think, I'm too old for that I bought it for reliability….I know you're an expert and I respect that, but sometimes there's are exception to the rule, What about the Tesla love to hear your thoughts. Gas is very high in CA ($4 a gal) .. I like you channel a lot BTW I sub'd

  23. Scotty, why did the American cars I bought in the '70s and '80s rattle, rust and LITERALLY fall apart? I've been told it was because of corruption in the UAW combined with greedy investors. Any input?
    BTW: This is what pushed me to buy my first Toyota … which I owned totally trouble free for THIRTEEN YEARS!

  24. I own a 2001 BMW E53 4.4i X5 with Two hundred and four thousand trouble free miles on it. How bout them apples Scotty. You once said, the Germans made great engines. Well, you know, you sure are right!! It's been one of the BEST SUV's I have EVER owned. I also own a 1996 Toyota Avalon with over Two hundred thousand miles on it. I love them both. Must be a BMW / TOYOTA Marriage. LMAO

  25. I have a BMW 535i Xdrive. Never an issue of any import. Yes, maintenance cost more, especially brakes but so what. Driving luxury cars especially BMW’s and Mercedes is a true joy to not just a status symbol and I can afford it. I guess we should all get a Toyota

  26. My dad is like that one customer. Now granted, he does do basic maintenance, but the instant something minor acts up on it, he trades it in for something else.

    He jokes all the time, like "one of my tires is low, time to trade it in!"

    And the tires: if I got one of those new Civic Type Rs, first thing I would do is change those 20in rims out for some 18s. They look really nice when the rim fills out the wheel well, but damn paying for new 20" tires.

  27. @ScottyKilmer Hey Scott I have a question about true luxury cars, why does Lexus are the best and only true Japanese luxury car that’s most dependable, most reliable that doesn’t give u any issues at all, and last for a very long time like a million mile Lexus, and most people are blind and don’t realize that, and they go for fancy smanshy Benz,bmw,Audi that doesn’t last that well?

    I personally go for Lexus for a true luxury cars, period.

    I mean yes Lexus can a little bit expensive to pay for simple maintenance, but there still cheap as Toyota is. Thank god for that.

    And why do u like of love to own that celica u have? And how many miles it has? Those things are amazing underrated models

  28. I'm kinda new to this guy and his videos. Naturally, a lot of common sense is said and I suppose a lot of is backed up by experience fixing cars etc. But if you went by his moto on cars and I suspect that applies to anything that could remotely labelled as 'luxury; you literally would be living the most frugal, boring, one dimensional, lacking in any excitement and just generally run of the mill lifestyle imaginable. Give this guy the tastiest food in the world and I'm sure he'd find an issue with that as well. Somehow it almost feels like I'm listening to an almost communist era broadcast. A mouthpiece warning the masses vs any sort of exuberance or luxury.

  29. Scotty what are your thoughts on the 98 Honda Civic 1.6 L I've had this car for over 6 years the odometer stopped at a hundred and sixty Thousand Miles about 5 years ago and I've been driving it long distance for work everyday runs great probably has close to 300000 miles what do you think I should do as far as maintenance at this point like I said it runs great and I've always been told don't fix something that's not broke?

  30. i have been driving a 1999 DAEWOO SINCE THEN, without any problems !!! I paid $ 9000 dollars for it. No one wanted a Daewoo, so they stopped making them in the USA…

  31. Scotty-I have always wanted a Studebaker Avanti-1960 MY. Can you still get engine parts for these?Is a engine swap (with a modern V-8) an impossible job on these? Always loved these cars!

  32. I had the same exact issue, the tech charged me $3,000 to re/re the massive oil pan gasket leak. Whole suspension front end had to be removed along with lifting the motor half way up with a special brace/lift. He told me the known BMW leaks will all come back soon, so I dump it shortly for a new Lexus ES 350 and never look back !!!

  33. i love the way he makes fun of the pretentiousness, & low profile tires for stunt, etc. it reminds me of Pink Floyd, Us & Them philosophy.

  34. I call used up luxury cars “section 8” cars. Watch for yourself. Earned income tax credit per child time? When those 5600 per child checks show up, watch the dented, broken down luxury cars you’ll see everywhere, As a section 8 inspector, my observations are: the preferred (by far); Mercedes, BMW is easily second but for some reason (more leather per dollar?) INFINITI Nissans are the clear winners. Every single child pumping section 8 babbymomma wants a Mercedes, but she usually ends up with an Infiniti. Predictably, watch the shoulders of the highways 6 to 8 months later. They have no real idea how to maintain ANYTHING: regular gas, optional or NEVER having oil changed and the driving habits of a deranged animal, these already broken cars start leaving their drivers stranded. Then watch and see how many orange tagged cars are retrieved by their buy here/pay here owners vs. how many end up in city impound. And the part i like best: WE PAID FOR ALL OF IT. At least we can all feel progressive, whatever TF that means. Watch the highways for yourself. If it needs weave to attract guys, Mercedes Benz is what it wants to drive

  35. I always assumed the German cars had quality + reliability built into them due to their expense. Everything Scotty says in this video makes complete sense. Glad I learned it without having to experience the pain, aggravation and expensive the hard way. Thank You.

  36. We see all kinds of luxury cars in SoCal, and the "snob appeal" is in full effect (like the proliferation of Land Rover products down here)… its a lot like this really expensive restaurant down here that all the fat cats go to called Maestro's. I asked somebody that worked there once, "Is the food really that good?" She said, "It's ok… the people that go there just want to brag about being able to drop 500 bucks for dinner."

  37. Looking to get a new used car. How are infinite as a vehicle? Especially if it an old luxury vehicle you just want to drive an not concerned about tech?

  38. My best friend and his wife bought a first gen BMW X5 SUV used. I told him not to, think they kept it a year and unloaded it after their first $2000 repair job. Same with my sis in law and the first gen ML SUV she bought used.

  39. I just got a used 2016 Acura aka a Honda.. isn’t going to be expensive to maintain it fix it etc through out the years?

  40. Hey Scotty.
    What are your views on the 1989 – 2001 R32 Nissan skylines and the engines they came with (ca18, Rb20,25,26). I ask because I currently have one that I practically rebuilt from scratch, all electrical and mechanical work) It took time, yes but what I also found was that it shared parts with so many other Nissan vehicles such as the 200sx, 240sx, 300zx, pathfinder, u14 Nissan bluebird…

  41. Ok so I’m looking at a 1974 Volkswagen Beetle with 52,000 miles and a rebuilt engine but still being that Volkswagen flat 4

  42. Scotty ….. I am a huge fan … here is my question: I have a Mercedes C-230 2006 … low mileage 62,000 …. it has low miles because my wife does not drive much snd we use my Grand Cherokee 2000 for the bulk of our driving. In 2017 the computer went and we were ready to have it towed to the junk yard but decided to revive it at the dealership by having them put in a new computer module for $2,200. Well, once that was invested we then went for reupholstering, new headliner, new brakes all around, new tires, new headlights …. dents out etc until the tab hit $12,000. Now we find the resale is around max $4,000 retail … $2,000 wholesale. The car drives like a smooth rocket ship and the low miles are really nice as it feels new … but one mechanic said the front suspension needs all new bushings and such for around $800 and I can see the roof paint is getting dull from car washes …. and of course it is Russian Roulette as to what expensive part could go wrong such as the sunroof, or the transmission or the air conditioning which could be very expensive. Should I just give it up and sell it for the cheap amount they offer …. or hang onto it and take the risk and ride out our – not so wise – investment ? I can’t expect a video as the car is here in Miami Beach …. but maybe you could do a video anyway …. or even a comment response would be great.

  43. Scotty wouldnt there be a substancial market for a car thats easy to work on? i mean a simple car that was designed with modern tecnology but with less components etc that was low maintainence? say a modern day peoples car.

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