Dan e-mails to share the pain of German engineering:
Have enjoyed your expensive and annoying stories regarding German automobiles. My love for my BMW is great but $200.00 for a car battery is just silly. I'm not up on car repairs or battery expense but something tells me if I ever have to replace a battery on my Suburban it would be about $69.
And Henry weighs in on a couple of recent posts:
I can't get as exercised (exorcized) as you over the misuse of quotation marks. Let's dig into the real lexical tragedy--the misuse of what used to be perfectly good collective nouns. Behaviors is the most recent example--academic argot that has infected the language. Behavior is a collective noun. There are forms of behavior and instances of misbehavior, but not--among literate people--behaviors. E-mail is another. There is e-mail and there are e-mail messages, but nah to e-mails." We should allow behaviors only when newspapers run advertisings and send e-mails only when the post office delivers mails.
As for Volkswagens, I've been twice bitten by the bug, so shame on me.
The first time was in 1961, when I acquired a Beetle that had a sunroof but no gas gauge. When the engine sputtered, you flipped a switch that gave you a reserve gallon to find a gas station. That wasn't high-tech, but neither was an engine that required a valve adjustment every 1,500 miles. The battery was under the back seat, which meant it got precious little service attention. I used to park it on hills, so I could get rolling and start up by popping the clutch in first gear. The fuel pump ran off a steel rod that was sheathed in plastic and the damn thing would freeze up at about 30 degrees. I worked nights in Omaha, at the time, and could get the damn thing going most winter nights only thanks to the assistance of a bartender who worked in a place across the street from my job. I'd stop in to meet friends after work--at about midnight--and the bartender would send me on my way with a fifth of hot water to thaw the fuel-pump. Oh, and the back bumper was so flimsy that it could be pushed forward with no more than a tap, making it impossible to open the rear-engine hood--except by sitting in the street, with a foot against each wheel and tugging hard with (if you were lucky) gloved hands. It was a safe car, though. It the rain, at any speed over 40, water would splash from the highway, causing one of the four cylinders to cut out.
The second time was in 1968, when the Jetta was introduced with a warranty that covered two years of unlimited miles. My Jetta was a hoot to drive but a mechanical disaster. Lets see, two transmissions, a heater radiator core, shifting mechanism, several sets of CV joints up front and sundry rear-wheel bearings. A short in the ignition coil killed the engine on the highway. Many drivers on I-94 must have had an intuitive knowledge of VW misadventures, because people always would back off and let me coast cross the traffic lanes to the shoulder while I had momentum. When I traded the car, in about five years, neither right-side door could be opened from the outside, thanks to overly delicate innards made out of pot metal. There's more but, but you get the idea.
My son bought a Passat which, like my Jetta, was a hoot to drive--great on long drives, if you could fit one in between trips to the service department.
UPDATE-- More from Avonelle:
I have loved the German automobile stories you have been posting. Here's mine:
When my husband needed to replace his Honda Civic, he selected a new Volkswagen beetle. My husband is not a car buff at all, but he really thought the beetle was cool. I think he had it about 6 months when the car decided that windows were optional. It was raining (of course), and he had pulled into a drive-thru window for some fast food. When he rolled the automatic window back up, he heard a big cracking noise, and the window broke, falling back into the door. Unbelievably, he let them charge him to fix it. A few months later, in the snow, the other window did the same thing. This time, they paid for the window and replacing whatever was required so that the automatic windows didn't break the glass.
We also had a couple of Jettas that had power problems. Apparently, some sensor would get flummoxed up, and the car wouldn't let you drive more than 40 mph. Nothing wrong with the engine, mind you. Just the sensor. Phooey. Also, we had the ABS light come on once in a snow storm. Apparently, if too much snow builds up under your car, it can mess up the sensors.
We traded in our Jetta last year and bought two Honda Elements. They are fairly ugly cars, but we can haul bikes with them and they just work, you know? The car we owned the longest was a Honda Odyssey, and it just ran and ran and ran. I think the Volkswagen vehicles are over-engineered. Since we aren't car people, are objective is to own cars that get us from point a to point b without lots of stupid problems that require us to constantly head back to the dealer. I would never buy a Volkswagen again.
For the record, I should say that other than the confusing and needlessly complicated tire-changing procedure, my wife's Jetta has had very few problems. Although we did have a somewhat similar experience with an automatic window falling into the door as we were preparing to bring our newborn son home from the hospital. It wasn't a big deal and Volkswagen corrected the problem sans charge.
I do share Avonelle's feelings about cars. All I'm really asking is that it get me where I'm going in modest comfort and that it doesn't break down. I'll leave the muscle cars and giant SUVs to those guys who feel the need to compensate for other "shortcomings" in their lives.