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Primer for buyers – Buying a car

Primer for buyers - Buying a car 1

Primer for customers

Quite often, one has to face questions on the Hot Line that people do not fully understand the meanings of a number of terms that they use in formulating their requirements for the machine. In this review, we will try to formulate on our fingers the basic concepts that form the attitude to the car, as to a complex of certain consumer properties. At the same time, I want to emphasize that many of these properties contradict each other, as a result of which the choice of a car is always a compromise between the desired and the possible.

Reliability is a purely theoretical concept. It is laid at the development stage in the form of such parameters like the intensity of the flow of failures and the mean time between failures in a PRESET TIME. As a rule, within a certain period, any car should not break down completely, then certain minor failures can occur and then the first scheduled maintenance or maintenance is carried out, designed to prevent the occurrence of failures. After a certain period, the prevention of failures will require more work, and so on, up to the point where investments in repairs begin to be irrational, as they often arise and require such investments that it becomes unprofitable to continue operating this vehicle. Ensuring high reliability costs a lot of money, as it requires the use of expensive materials and technologies. Many often think that buying an expensive car, a person pays for the image. This is partly true, but to a very small extent. With the competition that is present in the automotive market, a negative trend with a particular make of the car will suffice, as competitors will crush this manufacturer, and rumors of poor quality will lead to the loss of the acquired name over the centuries. You can argue for a long time about why Mercedes or BMW are much more expensive than Ford, or you can remove certain units from ten-year-old cars and send them for comparative analysis to understand that the bolts, gears, bearings, wire insulation and the quality of microcircuits have been worn over the years and aging to a completely different degree. From some you can expect a failure at any time, while others have not practically changed their properties. Accordingly, the mileage of 150-200 thousand for some cars practically does not lead to an increase in the frequency of failures, while in others, breakdowns follow one after another, since the car has almost exhausted its life.
But it is not strange, in Russia often, not reliability determines the feasibility of buying a used car, but its maintainability.

Maintainability and maintenance costs

Russia is a country of skilled people with limited incomes. When we showed the Germans in the early 90s repaired gas pumps, blockhead gaskets made of paronite, US pistons for Mercedes and BMW, made from domestic ones, clutch discs and pads, and even carburetors, they forgot German in surprise and switched to international. True and the cars were simpler – Mercedes W123, Opel Cadet, Golf 2 and. etc. Yes, and they cost 3-4 thousand dollars.
Now the situation is moving with great speed towards Western approaches to cars, but, unfortunately, the population’s incomes are not keeping pace with this speed. This leads to the fact that thirsty for comfort and options for low-income Russians, they are actively offering, something that the West has long given up. Inexpensive budget cars for that reason and inexpensive, because the savings affected not only the quality of materials and technologies, but the ability to easily and inexpensively change worn parts. When a person buys a new car for a short period of time, this does not play a special role. But when a used car is bought, maintainability comes first even with respect to reliability. You can give an example of a very reliable car Honda or Subaru and less reliable Opel. In the first years of life, the number of Opel failures may be greater, but there is a period of planned replacements, and our pits, gasoline and weather ahead of time lead to the inevitable failures of any, the most reliable car. And then it turns out that eliminating three failures a year in Opel is much cheaper than one on a Honda or Subaru. Repair of such prestigious cars around the world as Jaguar, Rover, SAAB and a number of others is so complicated and expensive that used cars of these brands in our country practically have no demand. But the farther the progress moves, the more demands are made on cars and, above all, on comfort, and you have to pay for it. Many are now happy, as children, that in an inexpensive budget car they are provided with a bunch of options, including climate control, airbags, automatic transmission, ABS and much more. In BMW, the climate control system costs 4,800 euros, which is about 7-10% of the cost of the car, automatic transmission costs about 8 thousand euros. As a result, the cost of climate and automatic transmission in BMW stands as the average ‘Korean’, which also has a climate and automatic transmission. So what are they made of, how will they serve, and can they be repaired in the event of a breakdown?

The question often arises that the multi-link suspension of modern Volkswagen and Audi is less reliable than previous models of these cars. But we should not forget how much the requirements for comfort have changed, which we had not thought of before. Not everyone is aware of how difficult and expensive it is to provide high comfort. Its main components are both external attributes, which are not so difficult to provide, using various interiors and “bells and whistles” in cheap cars, the cost of which is not too high, as well as the main ones. The main components of comfort include:
– sound insulation, which is very difficult and expensive to provide. To do this, it is necessary to provide for the installation of protection against the penetration of external noise in the body, and to ensure a minimum of “sound” in the cabin of their own sounds from the engine, transmission and aerodynamics. On expensive cars, a system of engine balancer shafts is used, which reduces the vibration level to almost zero and turns the sound of powerful engines into a quiet rumbling with the help of multi-stage silencers. Who more than once came out with a “square” head from a howling domestic transmission from Voglg and Niv. And modern cars, even with all-wheel drive, move completely silently. How difficult and, most importantly, expensive is it to prevent the car from turning into a “music box” from the vibrations of numerous upholstery sheets, lock and window drives, under conditions of large temperature differences and vibrations of various ranges.
Vibration control is a very difficult task. The spectrum of frequency effects on a car during movement ranges from a few hertz to kilohertz. It is very difficult to make numerous interior parts not have a resonant frequency in all this range and to “sound” with different voices and require the use of very expensive materials. It is enough to recall how many complaints there were on the first Mercedes ML 320, when, despite the brand and cost of the car, its American manufacturers decided to save on interior trim, using plastic, albeit very decent,. And only after they switched to natural leather trim from 99-00g, the noise level in the interior of this car began to correspond to its brand.
Even more difficult is the fight against the transmission to the body of passengers of bumps from road bumps at various speeds. It should be borne in mind that in addition to acoustic impacts in the frequency range from 60 Hz and above, there are the most harmful and close to very harmful infra-sound low-frequency impacts. To make the suspension energy-intensive enough to dampen the effects of large amplitude on deep bumps at low speed and at the same time to parry small irregularities at high speed is an extremely difficult task. For this purpose, multi-link suspensions are used that have a very wide range of “swallowing” of impacts from irregularities or hydropneumatic suspensions. In addition, the bodywork itself plays a huge role. The “crew” has to experience the greatest discomfort from double impacts when passing an obstacle with the front and then the rear axle of the car. The shorter the time interval between these effects, the more discomfort from the longitudinal vibrations of the body is experienced by a person. Accordingly, driving comfort in long cars with a long suspension travel is much higher than in short cars with small wheels with shock absorbers, slightly more than a ballpoint pen. Naturally, the use of a suspension of 16 levers on the Passat B5 requires an average of once every 60 thousand to replace them, unlike the B4, which had only 4 levers with a short stroke. And here everyone has to decide for himself what is more important to him – comfort or saving.
Another feature of the comfort features incorporated into the vehicle is that they are less susceptible to aging. As a result, a prestigious old car, even after 10 years, will be much more comfortable than a new car of the same class, but from a budget line.

It is clear that this question plays a big role not from a good life for many of our compatriots. Well, if there is money for an expensive powerful jeep. But if a person wants to set the requirement for patency when buying for 10-12 thousand cars, he must understand that the clearance of 18 mm compared to 16 does not solve the problem of patency. A car that has to make its way to a summer cottage along a country road must first have small overhangs. Its aggregates from the bottom side should not be a lower point and at least have protection either in the form of a bridge beam or corresponding additional mechanical protection. A major role here is played by the travel and softness of the suspension. A car even with a high ground clearance, but a soft suspension, can swing on a lane and hit the obstacle with the biggest vulnerability on a large scale. Do not exaggerate the presence of all-wheel drive for the patency of cars. But when repairing Mercedes 4matik, BMW “synchro” and others, the repair costs are several times higher than the cost of standard modifications.

Every year, the requirement of automatic transmission is becoming increasingly common. If 10 years ago no more than 2 out of 10 people asked for an “automatic”, today, on the contrary, almost 70-80% of buyers dream of automatic transmission. The cost of a modern automatic box with electronic control is very high. The difference in the cost of cars with manual gearbox and automatic transmission starts at around $ 1,500. For cars of the budget sector, it is less, and with the cost of a new car about 15-18 thousand, of which at least 40% is overhead, it is difficult to understand which automatic transmission was installed in this car and how long it will last. One thing is clear that repairing a budget automatic transmission is always significantly more expensive, since in practice it comes down to replacing it.
Buying a used car with an “automatic” contains an element of a certain risk. So how to check its wear, as is done for the engine, is not possible. The electronic check by the scanner does not evaluate wear. So here, first of all, it is necessary to evaluate the resource reserve of cars of different brands, counting on the fact that a car with a resource of 400 thousand km. with a mileage of 150 thousand, the risk of box failure is much less than a car with a resource of 150 thousand, even if its mileage is less than 100 thousand.

In conclusion, I would like to recommend car buyers to correctly distribute their comfort requirements based on their budget. Overloading them with a large list of options with a limited budget, you always do this due to the quality of the car itself.


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