In a way it’s funny to see how stuck in linking quality to countries. So called scrap from China, while most of our products are manufactured there.
I always think of the disaster surrounding the THP engines, which were mainly used in Peugeot/Citroën. These engines have a timing chain and direct injection, which can cause “timing problems” when the chain is extended: because the valves are not fully synchronized with the piston/ignition, the valves open to a minimum before/after ignition. This resulted in internal contamination of the valves, which eventually leads to erratic operation and worse: engine damage.
This engine was developed by PSA (Peugeot / Citroen), which corresponds to the “French two-stroke”. But BMW was closely involved in the development and used it in Mini models, which BMW owns, among other things.
There are also a lot of sacrifices on southern European brands in terms of reliability, while studies show very different results. Reliability is also difficult with cars, because it is better to talk about different classes there:
1. Driving reliability (how stable the car is due to a faulty part)
2. Frequency reliability (how often something breaks).
3. Cost reliability (Euro 4,500 engine repair once every 12 years vs. every 2 months to change lamps €3 per bulb).
4. Cognitive quality (rattles/whistles/vibrations)
Person A will complain because he is in the garage 3 times a year. But how bad is it to exchange something for free and have no effect on driving/safety?
Person B complains because their brakes squeak every now and then and internally squeak.
Person C thinks his car is reliable, but every year he loses an additional 750 euros due to early replacement of rubber / hoses / coolant / electronics.
Cars are designed and built globally. I think there is no factory left that designs and manufactures cars in one country. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. The phenomenon of valuing something locally produced is often pure emotion. Something isn’t necessarily bad if it’s made somewhere else.
Of the cars I own (Toyota / 2x Ford / Peugeot / Škoda), I would call the Peugeot the most reliable, but it was also the smallest when I bought it (4 years compared to ~10 or 6 years).
THP drive example, those are untrusted states. Renault Laguna (2nd generation) was also known to have problems with electronics and therefore there are more typical cases. For example, I consciously chose a TSI with a timing belt instead of a chain and manual transmission, because DSG can also cause problems and is expensive.
It is often a matter of knowing: first find what you want in terms of appearance / driving characteristics / practical usability, and then, once you have found some models, check if there are any specific issues with them.
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