Are Japanese Cars More Reliable Than Their German Counterparts?

Automotive experts and car enthusiasts all over the world have been debating whether Japanese cars are more reliable than those made in Germany, while American vehicles haven’t even been brought into the discussion. Brands that are mentioned the most in this context are Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen and Mercedes. Although German cars were considered the most reliable up until the 1970s, during the last couple of decades it seems that Japanese automakers have managed to dethrone them.

German cars have always been praised for their incredible performances, powerful engines, engineered to perfection, luxurious interior with plenty of high-tech features, but have proven to be more susceptible to defects. They are pretty fast, and have excellent handling and steering. But, those high-tech pieces of equipment, such as touch screens and intricate climate and navigation systems, are a huge part of the problem, with frequent failures that often affect the car’s overall performance.

Another reason why German cars are not so reliable, is that their larger car makers, such as VW, Audi, BMW and Mercedes are investing most of their resources and turn their focus towards making high-performance cars, and when it comes to segments that don’t affect the car’s acceleration, or horsepower output, they tend to use cheaper parts that are more defect-prone. That’s why there are more reported defects for their models, than for Honda or Toyota, for example.

Almost every Japanese vehicle nowadays comes with a 5-year/100,000 miles warranty, which is enough to assure customers that they won’t need to worry about some serious failures, such as engine breakdowns and having to pay for expensive repairs for a long time after buying one.

However, reliability should not be confused with safety. German vehicles are pretty safe, equipped with the latest in car safety technology, such as anti-lock braking systems, parking assistance sensors, traction control systems, multiple front and rear airbags, electronic stability control, and so on.

All this arguments might sound strange, considering how much vehicles have been recalled by Honda and Toyota in recent years, due to various flaws in electrical systems, transmissions, door and window mechanisms, but it seems that they have been able to overcome those issues and come back on track, especially during the second half of 2012, when huge increase in sales were reported. That shows that consumers are once again confident in their safety and reliability. So, it’s no surprise that Toyota returned to the top of the best-selling cars list last year, with over 9 million units sold, which is their best result in more than 5 years.

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