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Having Realistic Expectations When It Comes To Your Car

Published on August 30, 2012 under Humble Mechanic

I know that I have mentioned before, I try and spend time reading people’s posts in forums. I want to get the unfiltered opinion of how customers feel about their car. Sadly it almost always focuses on broken cars. I am actually fine with that. I get to hear about issues that I might otherwise not hear about.

There does come a point where I get really frustrated. It generally comes from statements like

My car is broken and it is only a year out of warranty.Then VW only offered me $1000 extra for a trade in.

Now, let’s break down that statement a little bit.

  • My car is broken
    Yes, all cars will break at some point
  • It is ONLY a year out of warranty
    Fact, it is out of warranty
  • VW offered me $1000 extra
    The manufacturer is offering to help

Let’s take just about any other product and see what you would get a year out of warranty.  A few years ago, the A/C in my house went out. It was just 4 months after the warranty went out. They told me that They would send someone out to give me a quote. They also said because I was out of warranty there was nothing that they could do. Believe me I pushed the issue as much as possible.  That repair set me back about $2500. Try holding out on fixing your home A/C in the middle of July. That ain’t happening. Would you be happy about making that repair? My guess is no(I was not).

So what is the point? There is a term called Mean Time Between Repairs. That basically means that failures are very predictable. In a machine with thousands of moving parts and millions of circuits running everything from safety systems to interior lighting, is it a shock that things will fail?

Then there is also the old saying “Never buy the first year of a model”. I am sure if you asked anyone that owned a 2004 VW Touareg this would totally agree. That is actually how my wife and I got our first dog. The customer had a 2003 Beetle Convertible. She works in dog rescue and was in the shop all the time with her Beetle. She was fostering a beautiful little brown dog named Brighton. Now that little girl is my FooDog.

Fast forward to the 2012 Beetle. VW is having issues with the windows. They are hitting pinch protection and not closing properly. It is a completely frustrating thing for customers. Having to screw around with the buttons until the window closes properly.

My overall point is this. Your car will break! It is that plain and simple. It might break under warranty. It might break 2 days out of warranty. If it is a reasonably time after the warranty, the manufacturer should help you out. But at some point your warranty will end. As much as it stinks, it will happen. Even if your warranty was 150,000 miles. At some point you will have a repair to make. The only thing we can do is prepare for it, and bite the bullet when it comes.

Oh, one last thing. Don’t think that I am saying manufacturers don’t have their part to play.

 

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5 Comments

  1. Peter Young

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Why are we all so surprise when failure does come. Warranties all come with either a date or mileage on our cars. It would be helpful if the car warranties were more helpful with the cost of repairs when they do expire like if the warranty expiration date is less than 1 year past maybe you could get something like a 25% discount on the part and than 2 years past a 15% discount something of this nature could be helpful.

  2. Uwe

    I dunno why everyone loves to hate 2004 Touaregs. We had one for a few years and the only trouble we ever had with it was a blown from air shock, which VW replaced under warranty. Of course, there were a lot of campaigns and recalls done on it. I had ’em all done at the same time and the tech made out rather well on the job; he got paid for roughly double the time it actually took to do all that work by multi-tasking real work with software updates.

    What I’ve always told people is: “Never finance (or lease) a car for longer than the bumper-to-bumper warranty.” That way you’re not paying for repairs on a car you’re still making payments on.

    1. Charles

      @Uwe,
      That is good advice on the finance! Making repairs on a car you are paying for stinks.

      As far as the Touareg, I have very mixed feelings. On one hand, they would come in the shop with 20+ concerns. Issue after issue, and many had no repair. Part of it was customers didn’t know how to use the features, and part was they had issues(think TPMS). It was tough for customers to. I had know my dealer was involved with a few buy backs.

      On the other hand, I made a ton of money on them. I was the new guy so I got to work on almost all of them. I figured out how to fix them, and write my stories for warranty to make bank! That was awesome until everyone figured out I was crushing it. I did one of the first alternator/starter cables in the US. I got paid 15 something hours. Later they figured out that it could be done with out taking the engine out.

  3. Pat McCloud

    One thing I have realized with forums, is that people usually post there when they have problems and need help, or want to vent. It seems that most of the people who post that things are great often seem to be either bragging or trying to defend their vehicle of choice.

    It can make forums a great resource to fix cars, but not a good representation of owner satisfaction.

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