Are cars going to be reliable when they're old?

Tim203

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I was out with a mate who works for a well known car hire firm delivering vehicles. They do a lot of courtesy cars for prominent car manufacturers. Quite an eye opener just how many cars have problems.
So, probably covered this before but when people like myself can afford one of these cars around 120k miles and 10 years time, will the various can bus, modules, CPU s, ECUs, ignition control units and all the rest of the stuff that can't wait to go wrong from new, be sorted or writing off more vehicles than ever before and do any of the manufacturers contemplate any brand devaluation because of it?
People who are well heeled just seem to accept this cost as part of the ownership and indeed are stuck with it, but as vehicles become older some of these parts make it a bad buy for your average Joe.
I'm currently in the middle of putting a Renault Dci engine and box in my old Citroen Relay camper and took all the wiring loom and immobiliser etc. from the donor Scenic out so I can make it all work. I couldn't believe the amount of wiring behind the dash and half of that went to the heater control!
A friend has a 307 and just spent £500 having an ABS module replaced that lived in the inner arch of all places!.
Electronics should work indefinitely providing they don't get damp or hot. Yet we have wastegate actuators sat in a nice hot place on the turbo, wiring looms going through oil soaked cylinder heads and various other parts sweating away in damp places.
In light of more cars than ever before being leased I'm very curious as to how these costs of repairs are going to affect future pricing.
As another example a friend who has a garage had a mondeo with power steering failure. It turned out some internal plating had caused pump failure, mean't engine out to do the pipe work etc. and subsequently a good vehicle was financially written off.
We constantly have to accept the latest Euro emission b@llox invented to get more cars off the road and help sell the next batch in the name of saving the planet whilst the emissions they're coughing out making them gets quirky forgotten.
Amazing to think that years ago people would purchase a W123 and it would be a part of the family until the children left home at least!
Anyway, this isn't a rant, just thought it could open up a discussion.
 

Charles Morgan

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I only buy classics of limited complexity and I will only lease new cars for a period covered by the manufacturer warranty. I'm not sure whether the extremely complex nature of contemporary cars will enable them to stay reliable, and I most certainly have no intention of finding out with my own money. I learned from a recent automotive engineering graduate that new Jaguars have over 50 million lines of code.
 

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It's for this reason I am not convinced the E55K will ever become a sought after classic.

Cracking car no doubt, but the complexity of it as it ages makes me think it will not reach those heights - although I am happy to be wrong about that.
 

moonloops

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I was out with a mate who works for a well known car hire firm delivering vehicles. They do a lot of courtesy cars for prominent car manufacturers. Quite an eye opener just how many cars have problems.
So, probably covered this before but when people like myself can afford one of these cars around 120k miles and 10 years time, will the various can bus, modules, CPU s, ECUs, ignition control units and all the rest of the stuff that can't wait to go wrong from new, be sorted or writing off more vehicles than ever before and do any of the manufacturers contemplate any brand devaluation because of it?
People who are well heeled just seem to accept this cost as part of the ownership and indeed are stuck with it, but as vehicles become older some of these parts make it a bad buy for your average Joe.
I'm currently in the middle of putting a Renault Dci engine and box in my old Citroen Relay camper and took all the wiring loom and immobiliser etc. from the donor Scenic out so I can make it all work. I couldn't believe the amount of wiring behind the dash and half of that went to the heater control!
A friend has a 307 and just spent £500 having an ABS module replaced that lived in the inner arch of all places!.
Electronics should work indefinitely providing they don't get damp or hot. Yet we have wastegate actuators sat in a nice hot place on the turbo, wiring looms going through oil soaked cylinder heads and various other parts sweating away in damp places.
In light of more cars than ever before being leased I'm very curious as to how these costs of repairs are going to affect future pricing.
As another example a friend who has a garage had a mondeo with power steering failure. It turned out some internal plating had caused pump failure, mean't engine out to do the pipe work etc. and subsequently a good vehicle was financially written off.
We constantly have to accept the latest Euro emission b@llox invented to get more cars off the road and help sell the next batch in the name of saving the planet whilst the emissions they're coughing out making them gets quirky forgotten.
Amazing to think that years ago people would purchase a W123 and it would be a part of the family until the children left home at least!
Anyway, this isn't a rant, just thought it could open up a discussion.

If you can't afford to run a car don't buy it? :dk: as the old saying goes - buy cheap, buy twice, buy french, buy thrice :D

ALT=Bus Ticket.
 
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Tim203

Tim203

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moonloops said:
If you can't afford to run a car don't buy it? :dk: as the old saying goes - buy cheap, buy twice, buy french, buy thrice :D ALT=Bus Ticket.

On that note I know someone who bought a 55 plate S class with £30,000 of service history and bills for repair. The old chaps 406 that he's had from new on an S plate with £246K miles still hasn't had a shock absorber, starter or alternator.
Clearly Pug have followed other manufacturers examples since then having once made brilliantly reliable cars!
 

grober

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I have serious doubts about the economic longevity of todays ECU ridden cars. Mercedes in particular appear to have gone out of their way to restrict access to their cars electronic systems unless accessed by their own diagnostic systems. I predict that in future people will no longer be able to even purchase these Star Diagnostic Systems but will have to lease them from the manufacturer if this is not already the case . Couple this to software upgrades direct from the factory via data downlink and this situation does not bode well for owners of Mercedes no longer in their prime. :dk:
 
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Tim203

Tim203

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grober said:
I have serious doubts about the economic longevity of todays ECU ridden cars. Mercedes in particular appear to have gone out of their way to restrict access to their cars electronic systems unless accessed by their own diagnostic systems. I predict that in future people will no longer be able to even purchase these Star Diagnostic Systems but will have to lease them from the manufacturer if this is not already the case . Couple this to software upgrades direct from the factory via data downlink and this situation does not bode well for owners of Mercedes no longer in their prime. :dk:
The ETO are fighting this so it doesn't affect the tuning market. I believe the likes of Mercedes have to tread a fine line here. If vehicles are no longer sensible to own in their Autumn years then surely second hand values will drop which won't bode well for new sales. I mentioned a while back that there was an intention to stop putting OBD2 ports in and interrogation online will/ could eventually kill off small garages and tuners alike. Just the same as BMW trying to force genuine parts on people. The German government won't have this as the tuning/spares market is too big and helps sell cars. My old business partner used to joke ' that's why VW put ugly wheels on their cars so it gives people something to personalise!'
 
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KennyN

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, buy french, buy thrice :D

That was my exact thoughts when we purchased our Scenic six years ago , in which time it has has NO mechanical faults what so ever and the only electrical fault was a dodgy handbrake switch which had a faulty , due to lack of use, internal micro switch.

Over the six years of ownership - two sets of tyres , one set of front and rear pads and apart from annual oil and filter changes that has been it.

My son has a 90k mile mk2 Clio which has had around six owners and i would think nothing of driving to London and back , as it has been uber reliable needing only a Lambda sensor in terms of repairs.

Daughter has a Pug 107 that has just cost me £85 for a full set of front brakes inc pads , oil / air filter and 4l of oil , which cant be bad.

No complaints about French cars here i am afraid , so much so we are looking to replace the Scenic and one car on the shortlist is a new Clio.

Kenny
 
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Tim203

Tim203

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KennyN said:
That was my exact thoughts when we purchased our Scenic six years ago , in which time it has has NO mechanical faults what so ever and the only electrical fault was a dodgy handbrake switch which had a faulty , due to lack of use, internal micro switch. Over the six years of ownership - two sets of tyres , one set of front and rear pads and apart from annual oil and filter changes that has been it. My son has a 90k mile mk2 Clio which has had around six owners and i would think nothing of driving to London and back , as it has been uber reliable needing only a Lambda sensor in terms of repairs. Daughter has a Pug 107 that has just cost me £85 for a full set of front brakes inc pads , oil / air filter and 4l of oil , which cant be bad. No complaints about French cars here i am afraid , so much so we are looking to replace the Scenic and one car on the shortlist is a new Clio. Kenny
I'm with you there. I think that the German manufacturers are still very good at reliability propaganda.
 

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No complaints about French cars here i am afraid , so much so we are looking to replace the Scenic and one car on the shortlist is a new Clio.
A good friend of mine used to have senior position within Renault. His view was that, as far as reliability went, their products divided almost totally into one of two camps: those that were absolutely reliable, and those on which everything went wrong - there was no middle ground.
 

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The more bits and pieces manufacturers add to a car the more potential faults that car will have. Also with EU engine emission standards due to get tougher the appeal of a diesel engine and the cost of repairs will put many people off.
 

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I've had three Citroen's in the past a ex reps Xantia that was used to tow caravans,a C4 and one of the first DS4's in the country. None ever put a foot wrong , the MB on the other hand is six months old and has been back to the dealership four times and I've just had a letter from MB to take it back on a recall!
P.S . The leather was better quality on the DS4 as well.:dk:
 

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This is exactly why I won't have anything beyond my own DIY capabilities .

I tried the S203 and found it to be a step too far . My plan these days is to make the 190E last as long as possible ( which should see out my driving days with any luck ) and run the R129 as a rolling restoration project , whilst always having the other one to fall back on .

I wouldn't be averse to having another older classic , but my days of lying under cars are mostly behind me now and I'd prefer not to do much more than routine maintenance .
 

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The ETO are fighting this so it doesn't affect the tuning market. I believe the likes of Mercedes have to tread a fine line here. If vehicles are no longer sensible to own in their Autumn years then surely second hand values will drop which won't bode well for new sales. I mentioned a while back that there was an intention to stop putting OBD2 ports in and interrogation online will/ could eventually kill off small garages and tuners alike. Just the same as BMW trying to force genuine parts on people. The German government won't have this as the tuning/spares market is too big and helps sell cars. My old business partner used to joke ' that's why VW put ugly wheels on their cars so it gives people something to personalise!'


Your thread touches on what may have a greater influence on car ownership in the future. Manufacturers don't sell second hand cars they sell new cars. In the past income was derived from individuals buying new cars and owning /passing them on for many years till they wore out . Now in common with USA that model is changing. Car manufacturers often make money from selling finance rather than cars and car "ownership " and I use the term loosely is often a transitory 3 year experience. Now while acknowledging second hand values may play a part in this new model of car ownership it may also predispose car design towards built in obsolescence if only for final disposal reasons.
In short as the the ownership model changes so do the cars--- and in answer to the question--- Are cars going to be reliable when they're old? the answer may be- do they need to be???
 
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st13phil

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and in answer to the question--- Are cars going to be reliable when they're old? the answer may be- do they need to be???
I think this is a valid point for the reasons mentioned.

However, I think there's also an element of rose tinted spectacles when it comes to these sorts of discussion. The reality is that even cars that are thought of as unreliable now are an order of magnitude more reliable than many cars of yesteryear. The difference is that due to the "hidden" nature of software and electronics, fixing something that does stop working on a modern car is beyond the capability of the average DIY mechanic and, indeed, lots of "proper" mechanics if they don't have access to the correct diagnostic equipment.

When I look back, 40 years ago the most common form of "beyond economic repair" for cars was corrosion, as most other parts were generally simple and easy to refurb or replace. As corrosion resistance has improved, electronics (in one form or another) has replaced that as the main cause for a car to be scrapped.
 

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The ETO are fighting this so it doesn't affect the tuning market. I believe the likes of Mercedes have to tread a fine line here. If vehicles are no longer sensible to own in their Autumn years then surely second hand values will drop which won't bode well for new sales. I mentioned a while back that there was an intention to stop putting OBD2 ports in and interrogation online will/ could eventually kill off small garages and tuners alike. Just the same as BMW trying to force genuine parts on people. The German government won't have this as the tuning/spares market is too big and helps sell cars. My old business partner used to joke ' that's why VW put ugly wheels on their cars so it gives people something to personalise!'

I'm not fussed about brands per se but I certainly wont be buying another MB if things become difficult or impossible to use an independent agent - so I hope they know what they are doing!
 

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My beef with Mercedes and other car manufacturers is their reluctance to release sufficient information on their electronic systems to third parties permitting open market competition to improve efficiency and reduce servicing cost . Unlike rust which is in essence a natural chemical process of degradation which can only be slowed rather than prevented, restricting the dissemination of service information is an artificial business profit construct. These electronic systems are not super esoteric tech but consist of industry standard digital control circuitry no more complicated than stuff in your wide screen TV or laptop computer available at a fraction of the price.
One could argue that this is a valid business model and there may be economies of scale arguements [ on a mass produced item??] but it could also be argued that this movement of ownership expenditure from purchase to running costs is not entirely transparent to the prospective buyer?
 

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Interesting debate and I guess that ultimately we'll have to wait see...

Alternative view

Around 40 years ago I worked in the motor trade (trucks not cars) but the workshop I was in did handle cars too. Couple of observations:

40 years ago most were on the scrap heap a lot quicker then today, the 'tin worm' eat them to death. I had a Mini - foot wells leaked like crazy, the rear sub frame broke in two because it had rusted through. Points, distributors, carbs all these needed almost constant attention to keep an engine running in top condition. Service intervals were a lot shorter, in the 1980's I had a W201 (190 diesel) 6k service interval, I was on first name terms with the reception staff at MB Bham, I was in every 6-8 weeks!).

From memory the Mini I had only did around 40mpg and that was on a run... My last car (Saab 95 1.9TiD) averaged 43, current E320 averaging 33 and some of those miles is with 1500Kg of caravan hanging off the back. The Mini had 'Windows' based A/C :eek:, no ABS, no seat belt per-pensioners, no air bags and a fuel tank that to all intents and purposes was in the passenger compartment.

Yep people will increasingly scrap cars because one expensive component has failed but much of that will be down to ownership cycles. If you have a car that you paid £15k for 8-10 years ago and has largely been trouble free you may well be prepared to pay for that expensive component to keep, what to you has been a good car on the road. The owner that purchased that same car 6 months ago for £1k, well they may have a different perspective...

Overall I think we're in a much better place now then 40 years ago, faster, safer, more comfortable and I'd suggest overall more reliable. Be interesting to see data on total cost of ownership adjusted for inflation, my guess (and it is just a guess) cars are cheaper now then 40 years ago.
 

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My beef with Mercedes and other car manufacturers is their reluctance to release sufficient information on their electronic systems to third parties permitting open market competition to improve efficiency and reduce servicing cost . Unlike rust which is in essence a natural chemical process of degradation which can only be slowed rather than prevented, restricting the dissemination of service information is an artificial business profit construct. These electronic systems are not super esoteric tech but consist of industry standard digital control circuitry no more complicated than stuff in your wide screen TV or laptop computer available at a fraction of the price.
One could argue that this is a valid business model and there may be economies of scale arguements [ on a mass produced item??] but it could also be argued that this movement of ownership expenditure from purchase to running costs is not entirely transparent to the prospective buyer?

Interestingly, Land Rover allow authorised independents to update the service records and work history on all cars registered from 2013 onwards without affecting warranties etc.
 

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I think they will be.

Several things come to mind:-

1. Old cars were generally unreliable (or more accurately, could;t be relied upon) and we've forgotten how bad they were, with a couple of exceptions.

2. Whilst some are content with basic mechanical skills , modern mechanics isn't out of reach of anyone with a modicum of intelligence and the willingness learn and to buy tools other than a hammer and a spanner set

3. An increasingly large majority seem to be renting cars rather than buying and ownership terms seem to be limited, even further along the time line

4. Many components on modern cars are made by suppliers and are fitted to more than one vehicle so something costing a fortune with one make might be cheap with another

5. As time has gone on, more and more enterprising souls have delved into the dark arts of black boxes, ECUs etc and the number of solutions to otherwise very expensive parts is increasing. It could be said that the more expensive these parts become, the greater the incentive there is for the third party guys to find cheaper solutions/products. I was surprised at how many companies have the ability to programme an ECU from scratch nowadays and standard software is relatively easy to locate, all at a fraction of the cost.
 
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