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The car thread

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I thought we should have a general auto thread. I'll start with an interesting article I saw from Consumer Reports. It compares the total cost of maintenance and repairs over three years and ten years for each manufacturer. Note that some manufacturers provide free maintenance for the first few years, which is evident in the chart.

CR-Magazine-Inline-Maintenance-repair-costs-3-web-09-17.thumb.png.1c29b90d075d3273c4961e17c317656a.png

All of the ones in the upper third make sense to me. At first I was surprised to see Pontiac so low, but then I remembered that there aren't many left and that ten year window probably has a huge sample bias.

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Makes a lot of sense to me as well. It will be interesting to see how these numbers look again in a few years as 2007 was a very different time for these car manufactures. 

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What this doesn't seem to consider is 'required' vs 'optional' vs 'deferred' maintenance and repairs. And therefore this chart might say more about the owners than the brands.
One interpretation of this chart is: if you can afford (or care to own) an expensive car, you can afford (or care) to do any and all maintenance and repairs. Conversely if you buy a cheap car you might not be able to (or care to) spend money on maintenance and repairs. A simple maintenance example would be putting off oil changes for a few thousand miles if you're cheap about your car. A simple repair example is that a dent in a Mercedes might be more likely to be fixed than a dent in a Buick (for a number of reasons).
Another interpretation is: All cars require the same number of maintenance and repairs, but expensive cars have expensive M&R. Which would be no surprise to buyers in either end of the spectrum.

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45 minutes ago, Cannonballer said:

What this doesn't seem to consider is 'required' vs 'optional' vs 'deferred' maintenance and repairs. And therefore this chart might say more about the owners than the brands.
One interpretation of this chart is: if you can afford (or care to own) an expensive car, you can afford (or care) to do any and all maintenance and repairs. Conversely if you buy a cheap car you might not be able to (or care to) spend money on maintenance and repairs. A simple maintenance example would be putting off oil changes for a few thousand miles if you're cheap about your car. A simple repair example is that a dent in a Mercedes might be more likely to be fixed than a dent in a Buick (for a number of reasons).
Another interpretation is: All cars require the same number of maintenance and repairs, but expensive cars have expensive M&R. Which would be no surprise to buyers in either end of the spectrum.

I think there are a couple of dimensions here. First off, expensive cars tend to require expensive parts (synthetic oil, etc). That is likely a big part of why all the luxury cars jump to the top of the list. On a similar theme, expensive cars have more parts / features that can break so you'd expect more repairs and maintenance required.

Once you control for the luxury vs mainstream factor, then I think you're likely seeing real reliability signals. Note Subaru, Volkswagen, and Jeep being the three most expensive. That is consistent with other reports of brand reliability.

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Interesting thought on the oil expense. I own a Mazda that requires 0W-20 synthetic oil. So, my oil changes run $60 vs typical $30 Jiffy Lube change you can get for most cars. This added expense is reflected on that chart with Mazda showing to be slightly more expensive for the first three years of ownership vs most non-luxury brands.

The second number appears to be more about the long term reliability of a brand, which my experience with my car is reflected in that chart as having been very good. I recently had to do my very first "significant" repair on my car after five years and 162K miles. Serpentine belt went and it costed $140 to repair. Other than that it's just been tires and oil changes plus voluntarily doing the spark plugs at 100k miles. Still on my original brake pads!

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Though it's interesting that GM's brands are all over the place, which to me suggests the manufacturer is not too important, and other factors such as the nuances of individual models and the drivers are more important.

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A lot depends on the amount of driving.  We drive a lot and often put 30-40K miles per year.  The expense of brakes, tires and oil changes does not match any of the numbers they have.  I also am replacing tires early if the tread on the tires seem thin before winter,  They might still pass inspection in NH but I replace them anyway.  Figure a tire replacement alone on my SUV was over $600 for all four.  Even if you cut the miles in half, two tire replacements and two brake jobs alone beat the numbers they list.

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As I Volvo owner, I can confirm. Luckily several of models from 2005+ can also use Mazda parts in the suspension which saves money. Had to replace an axle last spring because two 7/8" bolts pulled out of my transmission which led to the transmission literally falling out of the car and down on the axle snapping it. A culmination of a previous owner who I think could not drive stick and all the speed bumps in Amherst. The cheapest I could get the damn thing for was about $600. 

My favorite commuter car was my 2001 Buick LeSabre. It was like driving a tank while sitting on a couch. If you are looking for a daily beater/driver and can find some older individual selling one, do it. Chances are it has been serviced regularly with the receipts are in the glove box, it was kept in a garage, and meticulously maintained. Mine never broke down on me, maybe spent $900 (including tires) during the 4 years and 110k miles I put on it. I bought it for $2000 with 80k on it and in mint condition. It was also better than any truck/four-wheel drive vehicle I ever owned in the snow.

 

I think over the winter I might be picking up another truck. The days of 80 mile commutes and $4 gas are over for now. When I need to start commuting long distances again I will be buying another old Buick.

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17 hours ago, Flying Yeti said:

 

My favorite commuter car was my 2001 Buick LeSabre. It was like driving a tank while sitting on a couch. If you are looking for a daily beater/driver and can find some older individual selling one, do it. Chances are it has been serviced regularly with the receipts are in the glove box, it was kept in a garage, and meticulously maintained.

This reminds me of my great Aunt Toni.  She passed away in 2006 at 97 years old.  Her car was a 1982 Plymouth Reliant she purchased new.  It had 16K miles on it when she died!  For all that time she only used it twice a week with very few exceptions on holidays to visit family a couple of towns over.  One trip to the grocery store and one trip to church was it.  So, she used it about 13 miles per week on average for the life of the vehicle. LOL.   

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On 8/14/2017 at 1:07 PM, Glenn said:

Curious if most respondents to the survey use the dealer vs. independent shops. 

It's a Consumer Reports survey. They generally have an upper middle class suburban clientele. Perhaps that is why I am always drawn to their publications. Unfortunately I have entered that phase in my life.

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My Subaru was giving me "eyesight is disabled" warnings this evening. It seemed to be triggered by the sun shining directly on the cameras during sunset, I have had the car for a few months now and never noticed this era message. Does anyone else have this issue? 

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My Subaru was giving me "eyesight is disabled" warnings this evening. It seemed to be triggered by the sun shining directly on the cameras during sunset, I have had the car for a few months now and never noticed this era message. Does anyone else have this issue? 

Did you clean the pollen off the windshield? I don’t have any first hand experience with the Subaru EyeSight. But I do know that Subaru uses a purely camera based system. There are two cameras that sit behind the top of the windshield. The offset in the images betweens the two cameras yields that distance to the object. If one camera can’t see then the system won’t work. So clean off the windshield. Most other manufacturers also use radar sensors in the grill, but not Subaru. The result is that the Subaru system is cheaper and actually performs really well with good visibility. But it is very susceptible to being blinded due to dust, precipitation, road spray, or direct sunlight.


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The latest round of IIHS crash tests for mid-size SUVs  is out. Quick summary: the only "Top Safety Pick+" was the Kia Sorento. The Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee were both rated poor.

 

Because I didn't post here before, the small SUV ratings were released earlier this spring. None were rated high enough for a "Top Safety Pick+". The Mitsubishi Outlander was marginal, and Ford Escape was poor.

 

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On 8/2/2017 at 9:09 AM, Benski said:

Though it's interesting that GM's brands are all over the place, which to me suggests the manufacturer is not too important, and other factors such as the nuances of individual models and the drivers are more important.

 

I disagree with this interpretation.   Combinations of two or three corporate factors can produce the scattering effect way before one considers individual drivers. 

First factor:    Defunct brands.  Two of the GM brands have no new vehicles (Saturn and Pontiac) so we're sampling only well-maintained units that have survived to be counted. 

Second factor:  Luxury groupings.    GM brands group luxury vehicles - and we see that GM's luxury brands  GMC and Cadillac have remarkably similar long term operational costs.   The short term ownership difference between the two is 

Third factor:   Car / truck product mix.     We absolutely should not be comparing average operational costs of Chevrolets with averages of GMC when pretty much all of GM's CAFE leaders are grouped under Chevrolet. 

And that's just the top 3 skewing factors I can think of. 

 

 

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JD Power Initial Quality ratings for 2018 are out. This is essentially a rating of new cars with the least problems / complaints. The top three brands were all corporate cousins from Korea.
http://www.jdpower.com/cars/articles/jd-power-studies/2018-us-initial-quality-study-results
Quote from article that I found to be very true: "Audio/communication/entertainment/vavigation (ACEN) remains the most problematic category for new-vehicle buyers."

Obviously this is a first world problem and we all got by fine without this stuff. But since it's available it's fair game to critique. My experience with this in the past few years:

2013 & 2015 Subarus: absolutely terrible. Ended up just disabling all features in both cars because it performed so poorly it was worse having it on than not.

2017 Honda: kind of ok. I started with all features turned on. Over the course of 18 months I've gradually turned more and more features off because they perform so poorly. For example, the navigation is a joke. If I followed their directions my ski stats would take a huge hit because I'd be showing up late every day! Actually, I'm trying to think of any of the good features and I'm stumped. The Bluetooth interface is hit or miss, the controls are inconsistent, the satellite radio controls and display are terrible. I guess the map view (without nav) is decent.

2018 Audi:. Really good. Biggest downside is that there are almost too many options so it's hard to manage. But all of those options work really well so you can't miss.

I don't think I'm very picky. I'd be happy not to have any of these features. But if they are present they should work as advertised without a lot of effort.

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2 hours ago, Cannonballer said:

Quote from article that I found to be very true: "Audio/communication/entertainment/vavigation (ACEN) remains the most problematic category for new-vehicle buyers."

2013 & 2015 Subarus: absolutely terrible. Ended up just disabling all features in both cars because it performed so poorly it was worse having it on than not.
 

1

 

This seems pretty common sense, In 2005 who would have thought, "I want some good software, let's have Subaru develop it." Unfortunately, I don't many car companies got the stupidity of saying that and developed software in-house for there cars and it was predictably terrible, meanwhile, the rest went with Blackberry for systems, literally, a sinking ship and Ford went with Microsoft, which may have been Microsofts biggest failures. If you were to redu it, the obvious choice would probably use a modified version of Android or IOS for the Infotainment.  Carplay is a Godsend for iPhone users as it finally but a competent software company in your car. The other day I tried android Auto and is it impossible to open or am I unlucky

 

I have a 2018 Subaru its built-in software works well and has Pandora, Bluetooth, and a full-screen Carplay/Android auto mode but the built-in software feels extremely dated. Only thing is they dropped the "category" option from the radio, which was good for dead zones

2016 Volvo- a little difficult to use, and dated but not pretty good by car standards. 

2017 Mini- Terrible, just terrible, I recently had to pull off a highway to change a song that repeated 3 times in a row and not use Bluetooth because the car could not be paired with 5 devices at a time. 

2012 Subaru, this was a basic, no navigation system, using a classic interface that could pass for 1999, except the for 4 buttons for Bluetooth. For some reason, this car could only store one phone for Bluetooth, so basically only the primary driver could use the Bluetooth. 

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Trying to figure out why you would want 5 devices paired at a time with bluetooth in a Mini???

Because pairing it is a whole process that requires you to go into the settings. Once the two are paired you can easily connect them.

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3 minutes ago, Benski said:


Because pairing it is a whole process that requires you to go into the settings. Once the two are paired you can easily connect them.

Not connected but paired - got it.

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I drive a 2016 Chevy Silverado and really like that infotainment system. But I rented a 2018 Chevy Malibu this weekend and was not a fan -- at all. I'd much rather have "downgraded" the rental to the Hyundai Elantra. It amazed me that both Chevys were made by the same company.

My wife really liked the iPad-like layout of the 2019 Volvo XC40 we have on order. I thought it was a pain to have to swipe to do everything including adjusting the climate control.

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I just leased an '18 Legacy 3.6R. Its leaps and bounds better than the super basic Impreza that was being leased before. Infotainment stack is much, much, much better in this car than the previous one. They clearly put less effort into the cheaper models. 

Eyesight is pretty badass, though- and I'm not a fan of the whole self-driving and detaching from the car thing. It isn't going to lower insurances or do anything except keep me from enjoyment. Its unlikely that I'll use it during winter unless the road conditions are clear enough to give me confidence that it can stop in time the same way it does in the dry. 

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