Why are luxury cars (BMW, Mercedes, Audi) so unreliable?
Some of the answers that you’ve received here are exactly why German luxury cars are so unreliable: because the buyers don’t care.
All cars will need repairs at some point, but the frequency with which some German cars need repairs is problematic. What’s far more problematic is the expense that will be involved when your German luxury car breaks. I speak from experience on this: my American and Japanese cars have been much cheaper to run and have been much cheaper to repair when something does go wrong.
Some people will tell you that German cars are more expensive to run because they perform better. That’s nonsense. First off, even the less-powerful German cars have higher running costs. Second, the Japanese, the Koreans and especially the Americans are putting out high-performance cars that are much cheaper to run.
So why are people still buying German cars? Primarily, four reasons. One, brand prestige. It’s stupid, but this is a huge part of it. Two, the Germans are excellent at interior luxury, which matters a lot to buyers. Inside, German cars just feel premium compared to their Japanese, Korean and especially American competitors (American interiors are laughably bad). Three, many people lease German cars instead of buying them. That means that they own them for a brief amount of time before they start turning to trash. Four, many people still buy into the myth that German cars are reliable. This belief arose primarily because of Mercedes, which until the 1990s really did build some of the most reliable cars on the road. BMW for the most part was like that until the 1990s, as well, while Audi has always and probably will always be crap. They’re basically nicer Volkswagens, which also are crap.
With all this being said, I’m still a fan of older BMWs and Porsches because of their very unique driving dynamics. But I also know what I’m getting into. I know these cars are going to be pricey to run, and I’m ok with that. If you’re not prepared for high running costs and you’re not leasing, don’t buy a German car.