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Old 12-19-2017, 11:40 AM   #1
GroceryGTIer
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Let's talk reliability

For years I've heard the words "German engineering" and I've always liked the look of the GTI, so ultimately, I bought one. At 46k there's no major issues (or many that were not because of modding).

There are the questions, however, such as "why are there always new revisions for so many parts on these cars, cant they get it right"?, "why do many of their Japanese counterparts seem to last so much longer without major issues"? "What about the waterpumps, carbon build up, manifolds, timing chain tensioners, etc?"

In fairness, my response is typically along the lines of just agreeing that some cars just cause more issues than others. Thus, they must be maintained and small parts prone to failure need to be replaced.

One could argue that though our cars expense is lower at initial cost, you end up paying a lot more in the long run, and may as well just spend more to begin with though.

German cars overall seem to be plagued with high failure rates from what research I've done (this is as a whole, there are obviously exceptions). While the A4 seems to have moved into the to 10 most reliable cars. What parts are they using that we dont get?

Just thought I'd start a discussion on this to get opinions.
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Old 12-19-2017, 11:59 AM   #2
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Germans are great at engineering. They arenít great at execution. The cost cutting happens on the manufacturing side. Usually at the suppliers. The Germans have always been at the forefront of dynamics and technology. The Japanese then perfect it years later.
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Old 12-19-2017, 12:14 PM   #3
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It's pretty hit or miss as to whether or not you'll have problems too. The only issue I've had is the intake manifold, but other than that my car has been really good to me. You'll have other people with similar mileage as me saying they've replaced 3 water pumps and 1 or 2 manifolds.
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Old 12-19-2017, 12:20 PM   #4
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Define "high failure rate". What leads to a high failure rate? Generally when you talk about German cars and them being unreliable time after time i see one constant, and that is the failure to properly maintain and service the car. German cars have to be maintained regularly and with quality parts. A relative of mine has a repair facility and you would be surprised the amount of people who bring in their BMW/Mercedes/Audi's with parts they bought online because they found a great deal. Well, sorry to break it to you the $40 china water pump you bought instead of the $180 OE/OEM pump won't last long. Eventually we started turning away customers who supply their own parts. Simply because its not worth the head ache.

The other problem when it comes to maintaining them is the general public finding a good mechanic. The average joe gets a check engine on their German car and they take it to a dealer whos pushing almost $200/hour for labor and throwing a 25% mark up on list price parts.

Unfortunately revisions due happen to initial cost cutting. Manufacturers need to be able to advertise the lowest sticker price to be competitive. Personally i would pay the extra 2k for a more reliable car/parts but i don't think the average person would, or understand.

Personally my GTI has 88k miles the only things that have actually failed were the throttle body (replaced by dealer under warranty), and recently i had to change the upper timing cover gasket and cam magnet gaskets because they leaked. My car is a 2010 model pushing 8 years old. Over 8 years of being on the road the only thing failing are throttle body and (2) gaskets? I call that pretty reliable.
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Old 12-20-2017, 12:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dans GTI View Post
Define "high failure rate". What leads to a high failure rate? Generally when you talk about German cars and them being unreliable time after time i see one constant, and that is the failure to properly maintain and service the car. German cars have to be maintained regularly and with quality parts. A relative of mine has a repair facility and you would be surprised the amount of people who bring in their BMW/Mercedes/Audi's with parts they bought online because they found a great deal. Well, sorry to break it to you the $40 china water pump you bought instead of the $180 OE/OEM pump won't last long.
So....you're trying to tell me the superior quality water pumps found at your local VW dealership is failure proof? LOL....Not sure what you've been taking/smoking but get real.
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Old 12-20-2017, 12:28 PM   #6
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So....you're trying to tell me the superior quality water pumps found at your local VW dealership is failure proof? LOL....Not sure what you've been taking/smoking but get real.


No need to be nasty. A lot of repeat failures of the VW water pumps have been to improper install by the monkeys at the stealership. Iíve seen it.
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Old 12-20-2017, 12:43 PM   #7
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No need to be nasty. A lot of repeat failures of the VW water pumps have been to improper install by the monkeys at the stealership. Iíve seen it.
Not being nasty, just stating what I've experienced.

I will have to agree with you about those monkeys at the stealership though...
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Old 12-20-2017, 02:20 PM   #8
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So....you're trying to tell me the superior quality water pumps found at your local VW dealership is failure proof? LOL....Not sure what you've been taking/smoking but get real.
Where did i say they are failure proof.
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Old 12-23-2017, 10:19 AM   #9
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German cars are meant to be properly maintained and this, historically, has been something outside the scope of the average American.

Most Americans want a reliable car that they dont have to do a DAMN thing to for 10 years. Think early 00s, late 90s Honda or present day Toyota. You can literally forget to change the oil on those cars for 20k miles and you would barely notice the difference. As a previous commenter said... the second something goes wrong its not the owners fault at all... its the manufacturer of course!

I lived in Germany for years and learned a thing or two about how much respect they have for driving. Its not like you go take an easy test and then hop in a car for 30 minutes and then they sign you off... you go to whats called a "fahrschule" or driving school. You start on a manual... you drive day, night, rain, snow. The TUV inspection doesnt focus as much on emissions as they do shocks, brakes and tires. In Germany you HAVE to run Winter tires or Snow qualified A/S between OCT-APR.

They just have more respect for cars... Americans just want their cake and to eat it too
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Old 12-23-2017, 12:08 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Injen1us View Post
German cars are meant to be properly maintained and this, historically, has been something outside the scope of the average American.

Most Americans want a reliable car that they dont have to do a DAMN thing to for 10 years. Think early 00s, late 90s Honda or present day Toyota. You can literally forget to change the oil on those cars for 20k miles and you would barely notice the difference. As a previous commenter said... the second something goes wrong its not the owners fault at all... its the manufacturer of course!

I lived in Germany for years and learned a thing or two about how much respect they have for driving. Its not like you go take an easy test and then hop in a car for 30 minutes and then they sign you off... you go to whats called a "fahrschule" or driving school. You start on a manual... you drive day, night, rain, snow. The TUV inspection doesnt focus as much on emissions as they do shocks, brakes and tires. In Germany you HAVE to run Winter tires or Snow qualified A/S between OCT-APR.

They just have more respect for cars... Americans just want their cake and to eat it too
That's true, and a fair point, but I would say most of us here are car guys/girls? and pay pretty good attention to maintaining our cars. I don't like going passed 4k on oil changes... with rotella T6, I could easily do 7 or more, but it's cheap enough to change at 3-4 k. Brakes? I'm close to 50k and the stickers are fine, but I'd like to take it all apart, see how it's wearing, clean everything and put my stoptechs on. Tires I replaced pretty early at about 30 ish? With a UHP A/S, trans was done at 35 instead of 40k etc etc.
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Old 12-23-2017, 12:19 PM   #11
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That's true, and a fair point, but I would say most of us here are car guys/girls? and pay pretty good attention to maintaining our cars. I don't like going passed 4k on oil changes... with rotella T6, I could easily do 7 or more, but it's cheap enough to change at 3-4 k. Brakes? I'm close to 50k and the stickers are fine, but I'd like to take it all apart, see how it's wearing, clean everything and put my stoptechs on. Tires I replaced pretty early at about 30 ish? With a UHP A/S, trans was done at 35 instead of 40k etc etc.
I think thats exactly the difference with people on here vs "average consumer." Most of us are either willing to do the work/maintenance or pay to have it done right.

You know how many people i know who have automatics that cannot tell me when or if they have ever had the fluid changed?! its absurd.

I tuned my car at 1200 miles; have every bolt on available including a new turbo; spray water meth and track her about 4 times a year. I have had two failures:

-Clutch for very predictable and obvious reasons of adding double the torque

-Intake manifold that failed at 60k and was covered under warrenty.

These cars are excellent if you care for them
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Old 12-19-2017, 12:30 PM   #12
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99,743 miles. My only issue has been the Intake Manifold.

I replaced the timing chain tensioner at 85,000 for peace of mind (however timing had skipped 1 tooth, chain was very stretched, and tensioner had signs of upcoming failure) but it was a non-issue because I got in there and did it.

5,000 miles oil changes and 40,000 DSG services and she's been great!
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Old 12-19-2017, 01:03 PM   #13
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In my professional experience with the American auto industry, American cars fail just as much.
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Old 12-19-2017, 01:25 PM   #14
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In my professional experience with the American auto industry, American cars fail just as much.


But American cars have been crap dynamically and fit and finish wise until just recently. And even then itís still been about average for most models.
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