Why Are German Cars Unreliable?

German cars are known to be luxurious, but for the past few years, they are also known to be unreliable. As they are luxury cars, they are also expensive. A person spending around $50,000 on it would expect it to be great, so if you are wondering why German cars are called unreliable, this article is for you.

In the mid-90s, Japan began incorporating electronics into its higher-end exports (for example, initially Acura, then Lexus, and Infiniti); the Germans were forced to include more “extras” in their products to compete in the American market for luxury upgrades. Due to this, German cars began to experience serious problems, including coolant leaks, oil leaks, water ingress that would damage the chassis, timing issues, chain problems, and air suspension that settled out in the vehicle. As a result, it would collapse entirely or fall to one side, making driving conditions extremely hazardous. But why did all of this happen?

Reasons Behind the Unreliability

There are many reasons why German cars are considered unreliable. We will be discussing 10 of them.

Wrong Expectations

You can’t use just one standard to evaluate the reliability of a vehicle, but the first step is not to place all of your faith in the manufacturer’s marketing. It is essential to point out that German car manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes have been able to combine reliability and luxury in their products inadvertently.

image credit: Damian Ochrymowicz

It’s only sometimes the case that the most reliable products are those made by luxury brands. The frequency of necessary repairs and the relatively low maintenance cost are two factors that define the reliability of a vehicle. Unfortunately, as German cars are luxurious, their parts are also expensive, which makes them unreliable.


When it comes to most German car designs, there is a fixation with having a beautiful mechanical composition of the engine and other sections of the vehicle, which translates to an unneeded complication.

Consequently, it will cost you more to repair German cars, given that most of its spare parts are specialized and specifically created. As a result, these parts sometimes need to be imported and cost more to purchase.

Expensive repair parts cannot be considered reliable for a vehicle in any way, shape, or form. Nevertheless, based on the observations and reports of thousands of car owners, notably in the United States, German cars have been ranked among the least reliable vehicles in several recent polls conducted by the automotive industry.

Electrical System Issues

German cars have a single computer that controls everything in the car. So, a part that breaks in one place can cause problems in other areas that could have been avoided.

image credit: Devon Janse Van Rensburg

For instance, the BMW iDrive system has been giving people trouble lately. Also, the Car Communication Computer from BMW has been known to be broken.

Because German cars have complicated systems, it can be hard to figure out what’s wrong with them and fix them.

As a result of German cars being so complex, they need to be fixed by mechanics who only work on German cars. Also, it’s hard for a mechanic who isn’t an expert to figure out what’s wrong with these cars and fix them.

Plastic usage

The widespread usage of plastic is a significant cause of problems, or why some people view German cars as unreliable. When it comes to BMWs, plastic components are nothing new. BMW’s usage of plastic and other materials is common knowledge.

In the case of cooling systems, water pumps, and radiators, for instance, the use of plastic means that they quickly wear out. That causes leakage and maybe malfunctions.

Turbocharging is excellent for performance but not for reliability because plastic is used abundantly in the process. The turbocharged pipe or boost pipe is weak. If you put more boost on them than what was expected from the factory, they would often split, and boost would leak out. So you’re in a situation where your boost is leaking, and your power is going down.

Rust on the body

Regardless of how meticulously the owner of these automobiles takes care of them, the rust will invariably start at some point.

German automobiles are infamous for having body rust concerns, as well as rust issues in the undercarriage; thus, rust protection is essential.

image credit: Michael Pointner

When considering the purchase of a German car, you should make it a point first to determine whether or not it has enough rust protection. Rust on the body can cause further problems, such as roof leaks and component failures due to corrosion.

German cars fit European roads

If you’ve ever driven a German car on a winding and twisting road, you know how much fun it can be to take quick curves and know that the vehicle can handle it. If you haven’t, you should. The roads in Europe are notoriously winding and congested, which is excellent for European drivers but may not necessarily be ideal for drivers in the United States.

The average width of an American road and its length are significantly greater than those of a European highway. Unfortunately for drivers in the United States, the power of the vehicle’s engine could be better for driving on long, straight roads.

Drivers who crave raw, rapid power may be disappointed by the performance a German car delivers on long, straight roads.


How the BMW and Mercedes electronic and electrical systems have been implemented is one reason why these systems sometimes behave strangely or become less reliable. Certain portions of the wires have been arranged in such a way as to produce pinch spots.

image credit: sshepard and https://www.istockphoto.com/

Drain plugs and primarily improperly situated drain plugs that allow water to dissipate away from collection sites are another typical source of fires and other problems that have been linked to their occurrence. These causes have been the root of several incidents.

The water pools there move around, occasionally contaminating the wire and the wiring connectors, eventually making the connections less reliable. 

Issues with the Engine’s Cooling

It’s common for German cars to have a lot of horsepower, which might be a problem if you drive them too aggressively or for too long. The overheating of German cars is one of the most prevalent issues that drivers have with their vehicles.

The water pumps in German cars frequently break down, and the repairs can be pretty pricey. In addition, if your water pump breaks down, it might cause your engine to overheat due to the buildup of heat.

Because of these issues, the engine will overheat, which can result in damage and a shortened lifespan for the machine.

Low-profile Tires Can Easily Pop

Sharp handling can be expected from low-profile tires like those seen on Porsches, Mercedes-Benz, and Audis.

Large rims improve the vehicle’s appearance as a whole, but they come with their own set of complications. Traditional passenger car tires are much more sturdy than their low-profile, high-performance counterparts. Therefore, it is possible that you will have some flat tires while driving with low-profile tires until you become accustomed to going with them.

image credit: Serjan Midili

Tires with low profiles have difficulty dealing with road hazards like potholes and debris. As a consequence of this, items that you may run over without giving it a second thought can cause a German car’s tire to blow out.

A flat tire is not only an inconvenience, but it may also be an expensive problem to fix. When compared to other types of tires, the cost of low-profile tires is significantly higher. In addition, the fact that low-profile tires, unlike different kinds of tires, cannot have their treads mended means that there is no easy solution to the problem, which adds to the expense.

Leaky Oil Pan

The internal engines of the automobiles produced by German automakers are problematic. In addition, problems with the oil pan and oil filter gaskets are common in German cars.

The leaking of oil is a significant problem that can cause a wide variety of other complications. Most vehicles are not designed to go for more than a few days without oil.

German vehicles suffer from oil pan leaks, making them unreliable. A puddle of oil under the automobile can indicate an oil pan leak.

If you find a leak in your vehicle, you should immediately stop driving it and contact a German car-certified repair in your area as soon as possible.


When it comes to purchasing a car, doing research is necessary because the prices of German cars are noticeably more than those of their local equivalents. Additionally, reliability is an essential component that must be taken into consideration.

Checking the fluids, performing the necessary maintenance, and staying on top of repairs will save you money, regardless of the type of vehicle you drive. Unfortunately, German cars are simply more expensive than those made by other manufacturers.

So, if you are planning on buying a German car, do your research. You don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a vehicle that will make you regret it later.

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7 months ago

Not a very accurate article on German manufactured cars. Most of these vehicles are nowadays more reliable than ever but you must do the maintenance on it like any other fine luxury vehicle, and it doesn’t have to be necessarily more expensive than other vehicles are. I’ve owned one a number of years and it does fine.