Way Too Much

Insty posted a link to the Car & Driver  long-term road test of the Porsche Cayenne SUV, and while I am generally a fan of Porsche (other than their Germanic penchant for over-engineering and the fact that all their cars are pig-ugly), there were still a couple of things pointed out in the study which set my teeth on edge, to whit:

The perfect long-term car is one that delivers 40,000 happy miles, and our 2019 Cayenne is well on its way to achieving that platonic ideal. It’s never left us stranded, and so far all of our gripes have been handled by the dealer.

You know what?  That reliability is a given nowadays, thanks to manufacturers like Honda and Toyota,  In fact, after shelling out the ~$100K for a fucking SUV, I would demand that nothing breaks in the first 40,000 miles.  But that’s not the end of it.

While that 10K service and recall work didn’t come with an invoice, the 20,000-mile service reminded us that Porsche ownership is just as expensive as it sounds. It set us back $632. In addition to the work done at the 10K visit, the 20K visit calls for replacement of both the cabin and the engine air filters. The dealer also replaced some worn-out wipers for $82.

I know, I know:  if you can’t afford the maintenance, don’t buy the car.  Over six hundred for a lousy 20k service, and eighty-plus bucks for a pair of windshield wipers?   Ah don’ theenk so, Manfred.

But that’s not the worst of it.  Enter the most useless fucking technology ever inflicted on car owners, all for the sake of eco-consciousness:

An aggressive stop-start system often kills the engine too early, and the restart occasionally comes with a horrible driveline thud. Disabling stop-start eliminates the thud, but we can’t help but wonder if the occasional transmission stumble on cold mornings is related and a sign of something else going on with the ZF automatic.

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again:  if I buy any car, this stupid stop-start bullshit would be turned off before I left the dealership.  (And if it couldn’t be turned off permanently, it’s to a different car brand I’d be going.)  As for the Cayenne, any kind of “driveline thud” is a Bad Thing.  I can’t believe the C&D testers didn’t address the issue after the first hundred miles, let alone after forty thousand.  (Don’t even get me started on the engineering philosophy behind an “aggressive stop-start system, or we’ll be here all day.)

I seldom pay much attention to new-car tests because all new cars are going to be okay.  It’s the long-term tests that are interesting because that’s what exposes faulty materials, engineering or design.

And I’m sorry, but all the joys of “90mph cruising” (with the concomitant shitty fuel consumption) don’t  compensate for all the above.


  1. My youngest car is 8 years old. The way car development is headed, my next car will definitely be something from the 20th century that is easy to maintain and cheap to work on. It might even be a stick shift to deter today’s thieves. Plus all the cars and SUVs of today pretty much all look the same. You could line up 5 or 6 different makes and models next to each other and not be able to tell them apart.

  2. OK, what’s all this start-stop stuff, never heard of it before.
    We still drive old vehicles around here as we loathe unnecessary debt especially for unworthy things.

    1. It’s to save the environment by stopping the engine whenever you’re at a light. Or at least that’s what they say. I think it’s to burn out the starters to sell more of them. Because the drivetrain on most vehicles is good for well over 100K miles as long as you change the oil regularly do they are trying to find other parts to sell you. Sort of a high tech version of built in obsolescence.

    2. > OK, what’s all this start-stop stuff, never heard of it before.

      “Automatic Start/Stop.” You can call it “ASS” for short. It stops the engine when you’re stopped and restarts it when you mash down the go-faster pedal…supposedly to save the polar bears, or something. It’s as idiotic an idea as it sounds.

  3. 40K miles is considered reliable? And $82 for wipers? I’d want them to wipe my nose and ass too for that price.

    My 2005 Jeep Liberty is approaching three times that, and except for things you EXPECT to wear out (tires, brakes, batteries, oil changes, bulbs), my repairs have amounted to:

    Muffler, and about due for a new one, although one could consider that a wear-out-item too.
    Radiator (I think I caught a rock with it)
    One wheel-speed sensor
    Window actuators (a recognized issue with the part, and the warranty was extended specifically because of it)
    Fan-speed resistor
    Damage caused by being rear-ended at a stop light.

    Total cost of ALL those repairs (not counting the damage from being rear-ended, which HER insurance paid) was maybe double the Porche’s 20K maintenance bill, and spread out over 15 years.

    I recall when a car was considered a lemon if you couldn’t get 100K miles out of it.

    1. My last three Ford/Lincolns all went over 100K without a drivetrain problem. They were replaced because other parts were started to break or — in one occasion— because I was run into while stationary and the repairs would cost more than the car was worth.

    2. Same with my Ram 1500 pick up, 124K miles, never thought about leaving me stranded. My repairs, other than tires, brakes and fluid changes have been:

      New water pump this spring.
      New wiring harness for left front headlight – $24.00 and I did it myself.
      Could use a new rear view camera ( picture is getting a little blurry)
      That’s it, 2014, almost seven years old and 124,000 miles on the clock.

  4. The typical car magazine journalist (spit) doesn’t own a car. None of the repair or maintenance bills come out of his pocket. That explains the priorities.

  5. When my 2007 Cayman needed a new battery several years ago, the cost of the OEM Mahle was $400 plus installation. Off to Walmart for a $95 special. That lasted 8 years. CTEK battery tenders are your friend.
    I grew up in western NYS near Lake Ontario and I remember when a three year old car used for winter commuting was well on its way to being a rusted-out hulk, independent of mileage. When you saw a white road, it was just as likely salt as snow that you were looking at.

    1. We have an automatic car wash near where I live (in the Pocono Mountains in PA), we just moved here in Spring of 2019, but last winter we used that car wash a couple times for each car. Basic wash IIRC is $10.

    2. chuckR, you can’t get away with that anymore. At least on my BMW the computer needs to be “reset” to know it’s got a new battery or it will overcharge the battery and cause it to die in 12-18 months.

      Like I said in a previous comment, my next car will be old-school. The only tech will be in whatever stereo I can afford to put into it.

      1. Yeah, Audi used the old ‘reset’ argument on me. Screw’em. I wouldn’t pay the ‘reset’ shop fee, stuck a battery in and it lasted long enough. Damn ‘reset’ fee was as much as the battery, which itself was overpriced. The less expensive third party battery, IIRC, lasted a few years, so I was better off.

    3. > When my 2007 Cayman needed a new battery several years ago, the cost of the OEM Mahle was $400 plus installation. Off to Walmart for a $95 special. That lasted 8 years.

      8 years? You’re lucky to get half as much in Las Vegas…heat kills ’em. I once managed to get six years out of the factory-installed battery in a 2004 Alero, but more recently have had a somewhat expensive AGM battery (replacement, not original) in a 2012 Rogue crap out after only one year. (That one got replaced under warranty, at least.)

      1. My car was subjected to two environments – garaged or driving. The advantage of a semi-toy car. That Audi I mentioned above spent the last few years I had it on a CTEK battery tender for 8+ months of the year – in SW Florida. Third year, I tried to start it after 8 months snoozing, the battery did need replacing. I couldn’t complain.

  6. Our 2003Toyota Tacoma is at 195000+. I’m hoping to make it to 300,000. Just regular maintainance.

    1. I looked this morning after I posted and its at 295000 I goofed. I’ll post apic of the odo if want!

  7. FFS, 40,000 “happy” miles? Are you kidding? At 40,000 miles, I still haven’t scraped the dealer’s sticker off the bumper! 40k is barely broke in, if you buy products that are more transportation than computer.

    I’ve been driving since the mid-60s, and I could bore the hell out of you with “I drove my (insert vehicle name here) over (insert distance number here)” stories, but it all comes down to this: if a dummy like me can do a lot of the maintenance with the assortment of tools in my garage, if you don’t need a degree in computer science, then you’re going to get some respectable service out of your vehicle.

  8. The Auto-start -stop feature is a solution created to deal with Fuel economy regulations. It can generally be disabled by selecting “”Sport Mode” on most cars. I agree it’s hard on the drive train znd requires a more robust starter system than necessary. Almost everything built in the last 5 years or so has resorted to this “Fix” in the effort to meet mandated fuel regs.

    As far as “other than their Germanic penchant for over-engineering” goes it’s just a different set of priorities as to what’s important for the brand. Porsches are built to cruise all day at triple digit speeds. No other brand can withstand that sort of use. As a result you can take your bone stock lightly optioned Porsche to a track day event and run 4 sessions a day for three days straight and just replace the consumables after you drive the car 500 miles back home. Granted your track gas milage will be in the single digits. a set of $1,200 tires will last for 6 track days, new brake pads and fluid changes will be another $ 500 but nothing will brake or result in lost track time or a flat bed ride home unless you do something dumb.

    And yes, Cayenne’s will do Track days as well ( more frequent tire and pad changes ) .

    and as an aside – every time I have the Porsche serviced at my independent non dealer shop it’s at least $ 1,000. BUT YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

    1. “Porsches are built to cruise all day at triple digit speeds. No other brand can withstand that sort of use.”

      Uh, no. Maybe way back, but most modern cars can run over 100 mph and hold it indefinitely on the freeway. Now track driving is different (harder on brakes, brake fluid, tires, etc.), I’ll agree, but just cruising down the highway at speed? Hell, my ’67 Dodge muscle car could do that all day long. Back in the 80’s when it was already 20 years old. My 2013 Ram truck can run 90 mph all day while towing a 9000 lbs trailer. My wife’s old Oldsmobile minivan with a V6 ran 120 mph for hours on end with her driving and me sleeping, 2 kids and 3 dogs in the back.

      Track days are different. No argument. But cruising at speed down the interstate is an American past time. In BIG American cars.

      1. The difference is that Porsches , BMW M cars and S Class Mercedes are designed from the start to run long distances at sustained high speeds and they come with tires rated to match those speeds. it’s a difference in design philosophy – hence the ” impression that they are Over Engineered” . And yes to the same extent, they can also be overly complex … and the option list can easily increase the base price by 50% , but that a different subject.

        True , American designed Cars can be driven now at higher highway speeds and the traffic also now flows at those higher speeds, but they were not designed with that in mind as the end product for the vast majority of customers. Current Porsches are quite stable 140+ and faster and those speeds are not a fatiguing as driving the average GM / Ford car at the higher end of their speed range.

  9. The stop-start is just about as stupid as GM’s “Displacement on Demand”‘s deliberately disabling four of the eight cylinders in an LS motor. The fact it’s not disable-able without a ~$160 add-on is particularly annoying.

  10. The first truck i bought was a Tacoma 02 manual transmission V6 4wd. It ran well. Toyota put a new frame on it through a recall. I had 235k on it when it was 12 years old and a deer did some body work to it. The insurance company junked it.

    It was replaced by a 09 Tacoma double cab V6 4wd TRD. It was ok but the transmission starting giving me trouble a few months ago. Bought it with 65k miles on it and turned it in with 180k or so. bought around 2014 or so.

    The new to me tacoma is a 19 with V6 TRD double cab 4wd. It has a lot of electronics on it that I’m very leering of. The gas pedal isn’t a mechanical connection, rather it is connected electronically. I don’t like it. acceleration is sluggish and the I guess the fix is a $300 pedal master or something or other.

    When the frame on my 09 was repalced, they gave me a rental car that had that automatic stop and start. It was very annoying.

    Considering the changes between the 02 an d09 tacomas and various cars I have driven over time, I do not see any car or truck has been truly improved. I prefer the 02 Tacoma if I could find a good one.

    my wife’s 05 Camry was close to a base model with a standard transmission. The car lasted 315k miles, burnt a little oil but ran well. She was the middle car in a three car accident so at that point we got rid of that and bought her an almost new camry. Unfortunately the newer one is an automatic. Runs well, gets good mileage but it lacks the enjoyment that a manual transmission gives.

    I see the electronic as mostly more stuff to break, wear out or the software to suddenly decide to go TU.


  11. 40K miles trouble free?

    Every Toyota I’ve owned has gone 200K with nothing more than maintenance and replacing worn parts.

    The only reason I still don’t have them is they’ve been wrecked, or destroyed by hail.

    I have never replaced; an alternator, water pump, starter, or muffler on any of my toyotas the whole time I’ve owned them. I’ve replaced any or all of that, including a catalytic converter once, on every one of my GM purchases.

    I love driving BMW, Audi, and Porsche. But I’d never buy one. I had a friend that crowed endlessly about his new 3 series Beemer. I’ve ridden in it. Nice car. A few years later, he says that he had to replace an injector (at 50K) for a cost of $2000. That happens at about this mileage, he chirped matter of factly.

    I’ve only ever replaced an injector once, on any cars of mine or my kids. In this case it was the Boy’s ancient Lexus. A rebuilt one cost me $40.

  12. Try pricing a set of OEM spark plugs for that Cayenne.

    I bought a 2002 cayenne in 07 with 50 thousand kilometres on it.

    Over four years the R & M bill was more than the price of the car. 7,000ks out of a front pair of Z rated Pirelli tyres. New ABS control unit. Water leaks into cabin. Hoses failed between engine and heater, lucky not to destroy entire engine. It just went on and on.

    It took all the fun out of owning that car. People literally laughed at me when I tried to trade it.

    My father told me years ago, never buy the first year of a new model. I guess we all have to find out the hard way.

  13. …what’s the cost to replace a starter motor on a Cayenne?
    Probably similar to an alternator.
    I have a 2001 BMW 740, (love the car, will keep it forever if possible) and the Stealer wanted $1,600 to change my alternator when the bearings failed – $1,000 for the alternator and $600 labor. The labor is because the Bavarian over engineering geniuses made the thing water cooled. To change it, you have to drain, refill and purge the air out of the entire cooling system, which takes hours because of all the air traps in it.
    Who the hell needs a water cooled alternator, when the *^%&* water is 215 F?
    I bought the alternator directly from Bosch for about $450 and did the job myself. The stealer had the gall to mark up the part more than 100%. Fuck him, whenever possible.

  14. Was on eBay yesterday looking for some bike parts, and stumbled upon a listing for air-filters for the Italian Stallion: $158! AYFKM!
    Yes, the world has gone mad.

    1. No economies of scale at Stallion production levels. OTOH, they could slum and use a standard size/shape air filter.

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