Discussion in 'Warranty questions' started by BMRDRVR, Feb 28, 2011.
Too much gadgetry and electronic wizardry? I sometimes think so.
I guess it's a matter of keeping up with the other makers' gimmickry. M-B had horrible reliability issues in the early 2000s and attempted to simplify their electronic systems.
I like my old CARS, and I'm not interested in a mobile infotainment center.
A couple or three random thoughts....or opinions....
1. I subscribe to Consumer Reports, but I don't accept their "take" as the superbly flawless opinion. I won't go into detail, but in my particular experience, there have been a couple of times they have been clueless about problems with products they "tested" and recommended as compared to reported issues/problems in other reporting venues.
2. It seems natural that the more complex cars get, the more things there are to break or malfunction. And, in a sense...the "pricier" the car, the louder the complaints.
3. A Toyota Corolla may be more dependable than my 328i, but I know which one I want to be in if I'm involved in a head-on accident.
4. I do think there is validity to the assertion that German cars have reliability issues, but I don't limit it to the electronic "gadgetry". An couple of excellent examples are the HPFP issues and the oil circulation/lifter noise issues in the N52 engines.
5. My main worry is this: We put so much emphasis in adding new bells and whistles inside the cabin, but next to nothing in training the driver. Getting a license in 1969 is virtually the same procedure as it is today. The electronics in my first car (1969 Chevy Nova) consisted of an AM radio. The driver's test in my state today is virtually identical to the one I took in 1969, with the exception that the questions are now asked on a video screen rather than a piece of paper. As far as I can tell, the actual driving test is identical to the one I took.
So, that's my 2 cents worth ...
Automobile makers have made tremendous progress in automobile design safety. It is remarkable how safe the passenger cell is in even a tiny Smart Car or Fiat 500. The electronics design is completely independent of safety design but they are too often put into the same basket. Every year, cars become more crash-safe but, so far, increasingly unreliable in their operating systems.
Electronics completely change the soul of the automotive transportation machine. Our local newspaper (San Francisco Chronicle) runs one of those "My Ride" features every Sunday, where a reader sends a picture and writes a little about why they like their car. A few weeks ago, a teenager wrote about finally getting to drive his Dad's 1966 Porsche 912 after it sat idle in the garage for years. He words shocked me: "I love the primitiveness of the car, something that I feel is underappreciated in today's world of lazy automatic transmissions, electronically adjusted suspensions and computer-controlled everything,... the Porsche is the truest and most pure of all behind-the-wheel experiences ... just a few seats, a steering wheel, three pedals and an engine." That a teenager notices this and values this and loves this primitiveness is very profound to me. It is testimony to me that lovers of "primitive" cars are not somehow stuck in the past, that there is validity to the passion for a mechanical connection and that it transcends generations.
Modern cars require less driver skill to operate than old ones, so I don't think that new cars need stricter testing requirements. Heck, people now just use their cell phone to call AAA when their tire goes flat, so they hardly have to know the mechanical stuff either.
The real issue is how driver license renewal does not require competency maintenance and how low the initial competency requirement is set. My teenage daughter told me a story of a friend-of-a-friend who was so incompetent, she couldn't pass the road test. She failed it three times. She was put on the mandatory waiting period before she could retest. The time finally came. She failed a fourth time. She studied the testers and cancelled when she got a "hard marker". Fifth time was a charm. She's licensed for life.
I agree. Now BMW, and other companies as well, are looking into providing internet access in your car. Really? Is that necessary? When I get in my car I love to just drive. I don't want to talk on the phone, hear my e-mails read out loud, worry about some twit's twitters, etc.. All this trivial crap can wait until I get home or to work.
Maybe... There was a NOVA program on a couple of weeks ago that covered the Air France 447 flight that crashed in the ocean last year.
The point that I really found interesting was when some of the investigators postulated that, because we have automated so many features in a modern commercial airliner, most pilots today simply don't have the "gut feel" and total understanding of how an aircraft operates, and therefore are at a disadvantage when trouble arises as compared to pilots with the background.
"Sully" Sullenberger said about the same thing after he successfully put his plane in the Hudson. And, Chuck Yeager siad that 2 things gave him the edge in flying and combat... excellent eyesight, and a complete understanding of the physical "mechanics" of his airplane.
I think this applies to cars in the same way. Still, I personally do like having the electronic "gadgetry" as an option. I once owned a 1941 Dodge 3-window business coupe that I restored to original condition, and it was fun to take out and drive, but I never would have wanted it as my daily driver...
So, that's just my opinion.
But this, I do know...
When I was 16, living in the Southeast, there were many of 4-lane roads you could ride on for miles after 10PM on a Saturday night and never see another car. In fact, we used to go out and actually race on some of them because thay made excellent "tracks".
Not so today. There's been an incredible increase in traffic and vehicles since I was 16, yet there seems to be no shift in driver's education to deal with the change. All one has to do to see that is ride on any Interstate highway and look at the left-lane riders...
Our traffic scenario has evolved greatly, but our driver's educational requirements have not.
Ahh, agree and disagree. There are plenty of electronic "gadgets" in a Lexus or Acura as well.
ex: the Acura TSX has a feature that follows the path of the sun while you are driving and manipulates the climate control accordingly, that is on a 29k car.
If we busted open a Lexus LS/GS/ES or Acura TL/ RL brochure I am sure we would be inundated with all the cool toys that are now present on a car and my guess it is the same on BMW/Audi and Merc.
Where I think BMW and other European car manufacturers run into problems is when they don't address issues that occur on a consistent basis.
How many automatic window regulators do we have to go through before we get one that will work for 40k miles? I am sure there are a few BMW owners out there that can attest to this repair as well.
Don't get me wrong, I have had a regulator go out on my Acura at 39k miles, but guess what, the replacement they dropped in has worked flawlessly for the last 70k miles and I completely forgot that I had the problem on the Acura as I was focused on the nuances of my BMW as of late.
VW/Audi can't shake the reputation (deserved or not) of having simple electrical wiring issues. VW has "electrical gremlins" and make sure you get an extended warranty is what has been entrenched in my thoughts for I dont know how long.
Are the European manufacturers getting better, I think so, but are they up to pace with the competition, not yet.
Maybe the Asian car manufacturers just spend more time developing and testing than they do in Europe?
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