Why are German Cars Unreliable? Next Wheeler Found the Truth

At some point, most vehicle owners have heard the term “German Engineering.” This term is usually used to highlight the context of top-tier quality, cutting-edge technology, high-performance equipment, and significant manufacturing methodologies of German cars. But regarding reliability, each German car owner tells a different story.

The prime features of German cars are excellent driving performance and luxury. German cars are reliable in many ways, such as craftsmanship, performance, etc., in comparison to other cars. Meanwhile, they lack reliability in other features, including cost, mileage, etc.

I shared my findings regarding why German cars are unreliable in this comprehensive guide. Let’s fasten the seat belt and begin the ride.

What Makes a Car Reliable?

The answer seems a really straightforward one. But the reality is that learning about the reliability of a car is quite challenging.

The reliability rating of a car depends on the below factors,

  • Mileage
  • Experienced problems
  • Engine performance

Generally, a car doesn’t require maintenance except for typical repairs, including tire or oil changes and these repairs are inexpensive. In such cases, you can tell that the car is reliable.

Here we shared a few tips and tricks;

Don’t Rely on the Marketing

Marketing of different car manufacturers will let you believe that luxury equals reliability. This is not the case at all. Make sure to research yourself to learn about a car’s reliability. When researching, you will find that luxury cars are not always the most reliable performer.

Look at the Reliability Reports

Several consumer reports are available these days, such as JD Power. Did you check those reports before buying a car? Read which car brand ranks top in the reliability rating. Surf at least 5 websites instead of 1 to get a precise result. You will better understand how a car brand ranks in the reliability chart.

Read Reviews

Reading reviews is one of the best ways of learning a car’s reliability. Good long-term reviews are available online, giving you a better idea of how reliable a car is.

Ask Family and Friends

Ask friends, colleagues at work, and family. Opening a thread in a different forum is also a good idea. People are always happy to share their knowledge and wisdom online. Facebook, Twitter, etc., are other 2 great ways to ask a question.

Research is always the best way to know whether a car is reliable or not.

Why Are German Cars Unreliable?

The straightforward answer is that German cars are well-known for their luxury construction and amazing driving performance. German car manufacturers put more emphasis on the design and performance of the car. At the same time, reliability is their 2nd preference.

However, buying a German car will never be a wrong decision. German cars are incredibly durable and offer high mileage performance.

With my experience handling most German cars over the years, there are certain explanations as to why are german cars so unreliable in comparison to others cars.

why are german cars unreliable

Consumer Beliefs vs. Statistical Evidence

The reliability of the German automobile still holds strong today.

In the UK, Warrantywise surveyed more than 750 people regarding the reliability of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes Benz. According to the subjective consumer rating, all these brands are placed in the top 10 regarding reliability.

Surprisingly, empirical data if Warrantywise ranked the same car builders as 27th, 28th, and 29th, respectively.

In another survey done by J.D. Power, which looks at how satisfying it is to buy and drive a new car based on the owner’s assessment, VW, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi achieved 4-star out of 5.

Moreover, in 2019, the JD Power Vehicle Dependability survey is done only according to reliability. Sadly, there were no German Car brands in the top 10. In the same year, Mercedes got 4/5, Audi hit 3/5, and VW scored 2/5 in their Initial Quality rankings.

However, the dependability score of German Cars is increasing gradually. In 2007, German cars scored above average for reliability as per Consumer Reports. The same reports showed that BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi each ranked industry average of 20th, 17th, 19th, and 20th, respectively.

The Truth of German Cars Reliability: Facts vs. Myths

There is no confusion that German Cars are renowned for their excellent driving performance. By the mid-1980 German cars were more reliable and manufactured using premium-quality materials compared to their global competitors from Japan, Italy, England, and the US.

In the first consumer reports released in 1972, German automobile companies named Mercedes and VW would typically come out in the top 10.

Over time, the competition became tough, and other countries started gaining popularity among the consumers for updated design, quality performance, etc. Japanese car builders like Acura, Toyota, Infiniti, and Honda built the most reliable cars of that time. A few Korean makers named KIA and Hyundai also joined the revolution of Japanese cars.

Gradually, German cars began going behind Japanese cars regarding reliability. However, despite having less reliability than Japanese cars, German cars are still widely popular for their technological advancements, great performance, and luxury.

German Cars vs. Other Cars Reliability

Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index released a research report a few years back stating that a few German Luxury car brands named Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Porsche are the least reliable cars in Europe.

The report said that the Japanese Cars beat the German cars in the case of reliability rating. Most German cars failed to ensure the industry standard compared to other car manufacturing countries.

What is the Most Reliable German Car Brand?

Some of the most reliable German car brands are BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, etc. They have produced highly powerful and monotonous vehicles over the years. See the below list of the most reliable German car brands.


Volkswagen is a widely known reliable German car brand in the world. The German government established VW in 1937. The prime goal of VW is to offer reliable cars at an affordable price. Therefore, they earned a name from the consumer, “people’s car.”


Mercedes-Benz has taken a revolution by introducing innovative technology in the automobile industry. They have several luxury cars in a wide range of designs and body shapes. Also, this company manufactures electric and hybrid cars since the market is gradually shifting to electric ones.


Audi cars come with driver-focused interiors and feature different technological advancements in every version. The interiors are polished to a higher standard, which makes them a renowned luxury car brand.


The short form of “Bayerische Motoren Werke” known as BMW, hit the market in 1913. They built high-quality and powerful engines and supplied them to other teams. This company participates in different touring racing championships, including Formula One. 

You May Also Like: American BMW vs German BMW – What is the Difference?

Most Unreliable German Cars?

All German cars don’t come with the same quality. A few brands and models of German cars deliver unreliable performance. I recommend you not to buy these models, whatever the condition is. Find the list of the most unreliable German cars.


Trabant is a terrible car that consists of a 2-cylinder motor. This motor is hardly able to move the car at a decent speed. Moreover, the engine requires oil just after refilling. Undoubtedly, it is one of the worst cars in the German automobile industry.

R56 Mini Cooper S

The worst thing about the R56 Mini Cooper S is that it needs roughly a quart of oil every 1000 miles. Also, the maintenance cost per year is extremely high, so you can buy a new R56 with the cost.

Cadillac Catera

Although Cadillac is a good car manufacturer, Cadillac Catera’s performance is hideously unreliable. This model strands its owner regularly on the road.

Why are Japanese Cars More Reliable than German Cars?

When the discussion comes to automobile engineering, German and Japanese car makers are top of the list. Both have loyal fan bases and have been manufacturing high-quality luxury cars for many days.

But still, they have differences in style, performance, price, speed, and, more importantly, reliability.

Japanese and Germans work on designing and manufacturing every part following the best technology. Also, they follow each condition that engineers recommend while manufacturing a car.

German car makers focus on detail while they have a significant failure rate. They respect the country’s regulations of making cars deliberately and expect others to do the same. This means that rather than focusing on user-friendliness, German cars aim to ensure the country’s rules and regulations are followed. For this reason, whoever buys a German car must follow the user manual.

On the other hand, Japanese car manufacturers prefer user-friendliness and design a car accordingly. They look at the features and benefits and consider the car’s usability. Japanese manufacturers consider what consumers do to keep their vehicles long-lasting. As a result, Japanese cars can withstand much abuse and deliver long-term performance.  

However, don’t assume that German cars are poorly designed. In reality, German cars are precise, and the engineering is also detailed. Also, they are designed to deliver the highest performance without any modifications. 

Meanwhile, Japanese car engines are less powerful than German cars, requiring modifications to reach the same level of performance as German cars.

If German Cars Are Unreliable in Comparison to Japanese Cars, why are they Still Popular?

Japanese cars are more reliable than German ones, but they are still popular among many customers.

Here are a few reasons for the popularity of German cars,

Supreme Technology

German cars used fuel-efficient technology in their passenger cars, making them popular in the automotive industry. Also, other innovative technologies like improved braking systems, polished interior, etc., are some of the best features of German cars.

Affordable Price

Price is always an essential factor. German cars usually have an affordable price tag and offer the same features as other premium luxury cars.

A Confident Attitude

German car manufacturers are confident about their cars and what they are selling. Looking at the title of different German luxury car companies, you will understand that. Mercedes-Benz says “the best or nothing” and “the ultimate driving machine” is the title tag of BMW. 

Meets Customers Satisfaction

People in the growing economic country has different requirement. According to Economics, “Germany knows the requirements of people in growing economies. Based on that, they manufacture the car.” They are marketing their vehicles to potential customers.

Conclusion – Are German Cars Reliable or Unreliable?

Why are German cars unreliable – this is a never-ending debate. According to some reports, German cars are above average for reliability, while others gave them less reliability.

Carefully planned maintenance schemes, leading-edge innovations, etc., are the prime features of all German cars. These features help a customer to enjoy the long-term performance.

There are thousands of reasons to buy a car from German car builders like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, VW, Audi, etc. But if reliability is your prime concern, research yourself and think twice.

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  1. Actually. Prompt, where I can find more information on this question?

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