Five Euro Car Myths?

Joined
Mar 8, 2012
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Colorado Springs
The 2002 Beetle I just picked up for my daughter to drive has sworn me off of European cars. I had to do a pile of work to get it safe for her to drive, and give me peace it would not leave her stranded.

The interior is junk. This car has lived in the Midwest it's whole life, so Southern sun isn't an issue. It's just cheap junk that cracks easily, and formed a gooey, sticky mess. it smells like melting crayons in side. Don't get me started on the junk headliner.

The wiring is brittle....even worse than my 95 Wrangler that lived out West in the heat most of it's life.

Working on it was better than I thought, but there are hoses and plastic parts all over that are in the way. There is an air injection system that broke that is $1500....thankfully glue and zip ties fixed that.

The use of cheap foam for the blend doors in the HVAC is one of the dumbest designs I have ever seen.

A special scanner was needed specifically for the car.

I started life as a MOPAR guy, moved into Nissan and Toyota, and my preference goes to the Japanese cars now. They are a dream to work on, during the rare instance they need repair, and just hold up to the salt much better than any American car I've owned ever has. Before anyone brings up the CVT's in the Nissan, my son is driving my old Rouge with the original trans at 129000 miles, whereas this Bug (106,000 miles) is most likely going to need transmission work in a year or so (bad 2-3 shift and doesn't like to move immediately after putting it in drive). I'm just holding off to see if my daughter wrecks/totals it first......she is a good driver, but a brand new one.

My youngest son's GTI is darn fun to drive though.....he plans on getting rid of it soon knowing that it will have many issues, and it's in a sweet spot for selling.
2002 vehicle is hardly representive of brand (which didn’t bankrupt). Transmission from that time was STA, later Aisin. While Aisin was better, it is nothing to brag about.
unlike in my Toyota that has failed brake booster, it ain’t gonna happen on VW, even one 13 years older.
 
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
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I just bought my first German/euro vehicle (assembled in Chattanooga with a Japanese Aisin transmission, go figure).

I’ve had to pick up some new tools (triple squares, etc.) and learn a bit about VW oil specs, but otherwise it doesn’t look too terribly challenging to do basic maintenance and service. I’ll take it case by case if I want to farm out any work.
Aisin transmissions are used in VW vehicles for a long time. Unlike Toyota AWD, VW didn’t have too many issues with 8 speed Aisin. They were decent solution for transverse engines as unfortunately, ZF8 is longitudinal transmission.
 
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
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CA
Aisin transmissions are used in VW vehicles for a long time. Unlike Toyota AWD, VW didn’t have too many issues with 8 speed Aisin. They were decent solution for transverse engines as unfortunately, ZF8 is longitudinal transmission.

Yeah, I was unaware. I now have Aisin transmissions in both of my vehicles (toyota Tacoma and the Atlas.
 
Joined
Apr 15, 2010
Messages
6,745
Location
Connecticut
The 2002 Beetle I just picked up for my daughter to drive has sworn me off of European cars. I had to do a pile of work to get it safe for her to drive, and give me peace it would not leave her stranded.

The interior is junk. This car has lived in the Midwest it's whole life, so Southern sun isn't an issue. It's just cheap junk that cracks easily, and formed a gooey, sticky mess. it smells like melting crayons in side. Don't get me started on the junk headliner.

The wiring is brittle....even worse than my 95 Wrangler that lived out West in the heat most of it's life.

Working on it was better than I thought, but there are hoses and plastic parts all over that are in the way. There is an air injection system that broke that is $1500....thankfully glue and zip ties fixed that.

The use of cheap foam for the blend doors in the HVAC is one of the dumbest designs I have ever seen.

A special scanner was needed specifically for the car.

I started life as a MOPAR guy, moved into Nissan and Toyota, and my preference goes to the Japanese cars now. They are a dream to work on, during the rare instance they need repair, and just hold up to the salt much better than any American car I've owned ever has. Before anyone brings up the CVT's in the Nissan, my son is driving my old Rouge with the original trans at 129000 miles, whereas this Bug (106,000 miles) is most likely going to need transmission work in a year or so (bad 2-3 shift and doesn't like to move immediately after putting it in drive). I'm just holding off to see if my daughter wrecks/totals it first......she is a good driver, but a brand new one.

My youngest son's GTI is darn fun to drive though.....he plans on getting rid of it soon knowing that it will have many issues, and it's in a sweet spot for selling.
I don't blame you, those were awful. The MK4 time period was known for so-so quality from VW. My sister had a 2001 Jetta, and it was a huge POS at only 100k miles and was basically falling apart. Everything we touched on it seemed to crumble. Her current 2013 Jetta is worlds ahead of it in quality. I think the sweet spot right now is a 2014-2018 Jetta with the 1.8T and manual transmission, or the 2011-2013 2.5L Jetta with the manual. Great bargain for what you get and fun to drive while being pretty easy on maintenance.

I've learned with Euro cars you really have to do your research before buying. Some are great to own, and others even of the same model but just with a different engine option can be a nightmare.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2015
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missouri
Originally Posted by ragtoplvr
I have always been impressed at how European cars, particularly MB and Audi, seem to know if you did all the required service on time, and then fail in expensive ways if you don't. That is some fancy engineering right there. Biodegradable plastics. That one term on later model European cars says it all. They by definition, will not last. They will degrade regardless of what you do. You like replacing radiators because the tank rotted. How about limited life brake hoses. Wire harness? Rod
Originally Posted by ragtoplvr
I have always been impressed at how European cars, particularly MB and Audi, seem to know if you did all the required service on time, and then fail in expensive ways if you don't. That is some fancy engineering right there. Biodegradable plastics. That one term on later model European cars says it all. They by definition, will not last. They will degrade regardless of what you do. You like replacing radiators because the tank rotted. How about limited life brake hoses. Wire harness? Rod
wonder how euro made lawn chair straps hold up?
It is not that the Europeans do not know how to make plastic. They can make the best plastic. The regulators in Brussels hate cars, motorcycles etc. so they pass recycling requirements that the plastic must degrade. I think this is MY last set of Michelin tires weather cracked severely before they wore out. It is not that BMW, MB and Audi do not know how to make very good cars. The drive for excellence often leads them down the rabbit hole of complexity for minimum gain and hidden flaws in the features. Like the power assisted antilock brakes in my BMW motorcycle. You need power brakes on a MOTORCYCLE???? In Europe they have to take back and recycle cars. They have beautiful clean and organized factory’s to do just that. So what if you have to pay 1000 to dispose of your own car, they do not care. it goes on.

Rod
 
Joined
May 7, 2020
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Ames, IA
After completely rebuilding our 2002 Beetle instead of junking it, I have to say that I find the construction of the cars to be impressive. The complexity, on the other hand, is ridiculous.

Finding a used engine that can be successfully swapped was a nightmare, so I did a garage rebuild instead. I had a mechanic friend tell me I was better off junking it than saving it due to it being a VW and the electrical gremlins and letter code compliance that will haunt me.

It’s in my garage for repair more than my YJ, and I have not touched my Chrysler minivan for anything other than an oil change and tire rotation in over a year.

My Rouge only needed a water pump and oil changes when I had it. 128,000 trouble free miles, and my son continues to drive that car.

I appreciate the car now, but I’ll stick to Japanese and American from here out.
 
Joined
Oct 10, 2021
Messages
140
Location
Wisconsin
I don't see how this is busting any myths.
Quote
Myth #3: European cars are hard to work on
Point by point:
Quote
there sometimes may be more steps to completing a certain service or procedure
Quote
familiarize yourself with the design language of the car
Quote
avoid the desire to skip steps in the process
Quote
make sure you have the appropriate tools to work on your car. Most modern European makes have certain kinds of hardware that require tools that your average Advanced Autoparts, Autozone, Harbor Freight, Lowes, or Home Depot isn't going to have on the shelf
Let me get this straight: Service procedures for European cars have more steps, you can't skip these steps, you need to have experience working on the particular make, and you're going to need special tools you just can't get anywhere. Yeah, that's just confirming that Europeans cars are harder to work on.
Not at all. But you need to have real sets of tools. Having gear wrench open and box wrenches and 6 point sockets and u joint sockets can be very helpful. Once in a while a 24 inch or 36 inch 3/8 extdnsion can be very useful. So your looking at a set of tools more than a typical homeowner.
If your just going to be changing out tie rod ends and brakes on a half ton truck you can get bye with minimal tools.
Torque wrenches and cutoff wheels and e torx are common on new cars as a 10mm socket to do a leaky valve cover gasket.
I have worked on wisconsin rusty cars for decades. From a air chisel to 1/2 inch drive milwaukee impact and 6 point sockets to a magnetic pickup tool for dropped bolts I find that having a bunch of different tools.. some stubby.. some huge. Some teeny 1/4 inch drive allows me to get at stuff that most homeowner mechanics cuss as for a long time.
And I have needed some fancy tools for ford trucks and chevy cobalts and lincoln towncars and mercury grand marquis.. not just my bmw or audi or vw porsche cars.

Remember the 60's american cars with ignition wrenches.. and bent distributer wrenches were special tools you needed to work on a 67 gm car as well. Even the brake spring tools to remove drum brake parts and clutch centering tools were needed back in the day..
 
Joined
Oct 10, 2021
Messages
140
Location
Wisconsin
I don't see how this is busting any myths.
Quote
Myth #3: European cars are hard to work on
Point by point:
Quote
there sometimes may be more steps to completing a certain service or procedure
Quote
familiarize yourself with the design language of the car
Quote
avoid the desire to skip steps in the process
Quote
make sure you have the appropriate tools to work on your car. Most modern European makes have certain kinds of hardware that require tools that your average Advanced Autoparts, Autozone, Harbor Freight, Lowes, or Home Depot isn't going to have on the shelf
Let me get this straight: Service procedures for European cars have more steps, you can't skip these steps, you need to have experience working on the particular make, and you're going to need special tools you just can't get anywhere. Yeah, that's just confirming that Europeans cars are harder to work on.
The proof that your on the wrong track thinking american cars are easy is this. Change out the water pump on a ford edge. Have fun
 
Joined
Apr 15, 2010
Messages
6,745
Location
Connecticut
The proof that your on the wrong track thinking american cars are easy is this. Change out the water pump on a ford edge. Have fun
I find each one to have their negatives.

With Euro cars, most of them aren't necessarily terrible to work on, there is just a process for how things come apart. An example would be there is some coolant pipe on a car that the seal fails, and to get to the $10 seal you have to disassemble half the engine. A ton of work, but not really hard.

Japanese cars are easier to service (not too many coolant pipe inside the engine type of deals) but they don't seem to hold up well to corrosive environments.

American cars have a lot of stupid engineering, like a bolt being difficult to remove because you can't physically fit a socket where the bolt is.
 
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