Why Are German Cars So Unreliable? (11 Reasons Why)

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Bruce Coleman

Bruce Coleman is a diesel mechanic and car tester with 20 years of experience. He's a member of various vintage car clubs, and he loves restoring old motorbikes.

When spending $60,000 or more on an import car, you expect reliability. Unfortunately, German cars are gaining a reputation for being unreliable.

There are many reasons why German cars are unreliable, including leaks and faulty components. This article reviews 11 reasons why German cars are so unreliable.

Why Are German Cars So Unreliable?

1. Expensive To Repair

Repairing a German-brand car like Mercedes is more expensive than repairing other brands of vehicles. German cars are way more costly to repair, making them less reliable.

German cars are more expensive to repair. If something goes wrong, it can cost you a lot of money to get it fixed.

Parts for German cars are very expensive, and finding a qualified mechanic can also be challenging. 

Having an unqualified mechanic work on a German car could lead to more problems, so do not cut corners when hiring a mechanic. Make sure you are not skimping on any of the repair cost. 

German cars are often very fragile and require extensive repair when something goes wrong. If a non-certified mechanic repairs it, the vehicle is not reliable.

Despite being mass-produced as high-end luxury cars, German cars can be unreliable if not fixed properly. 

If you allow problems to persist, it may make any repairs needed way more expensive to fix or possibly even leave you stranded.

2. Gasket Leaks

A common issue with German cars is leaky valves cover gasket. Leaks are usually caused by improper engine maintenance and wear over time.

One of the common signs that the engine’s gasket may fail is an oil leak, overheating, and significant damage to the whole engine.

Prolonged neglect of this problem could lead to problems from high heat exposure like cracking and warping.

German cars are notorious for experiencing differential leaks, so get the gasket fixed as soon as possible to maintain the driveability of your car.

If you experience a gasket leak, whether it’s from your car’s engine or not, it’s crucial to take action and address the issue. 

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3. Electrical System Problems

German cars have an all-in-one computer for the entire vehicle. Therefore, any part failing in one spot can lead to avoidable problems with other parts of the car.

For example, the BMW iDrive system has had problems recently. In addition, BMW’s Car Communication Computer has been known to be defective.

Because of the complex systems found in German cars, it can be challenging to troubleshoot and repair. 

Mechanics specializing only in servicing German cars are necessary because of the complexity. In addition, it’s difficult for a non-specialist mechanic to diagnose and repair these vehicles. 

4. Current Open Recalls

German car manufacturers have had many issues, but they’re working on them. One of the main reasons German cars are considered unreliable is that they have had numerous recalls.

The latest German car recalls are a reminder that Takata airbags can be dangerous. For example, Audi and BMW have had recalls with Takata airbags.

Cars with airbags made by Takata are being recalled due to injuries and fatalities they have caused.

With all the recalls of airbags manufactured by Takata and other problems, it’s no surprise that German cars were affected by this recall.

5. Engine Cooling Problems

German cars often have a lot of horsepower, but that’s an issue when you drive them too hard or excessively. One of the most common problems German cars experience is overheating.

German Cars often have water pump problems, which are very expensive to fix. In addition, a malfunctioning water pump can heat your engine, leading to overheating.

These problems cause the engine to overheat and can cause damage by reducing the engine’s lifespan.

6. Suspension Problems

Suspension Problems

Some owners of German cars have reported trouble with their vehicles’ air ride suspension features.

With the suspension unable to support the car, uneven bumps will cause the vehicle to bump up and down with a harsh ride that could lead to further damage if not fixed.

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Inoperative air suspensions can cause a car to sag or cause an accident. German cars are known to have suspension problems.

7. Ignition And Spark Plug Failure

German cars have ignition coil and spark plug failures. Though most problems are minor, troubleshooting them often adds up, making German cars less reliable.

If the engine does not start, check all the electrical connections and make sure everything is clean. If you are still experiencing problems, contact a mechanic.

If your car is not speeding fast enough, it may be because the engine is firing with bad timing or the engine has already been damaged.

Misfiring is a common problem with German cars, so if you feel the vehicle is not accelerating properly or feels like the engine is “cutting out” it might be misfiring.

8. Transmission Problems

German cars have a reputation for quality, but some models have had issues with transmissions.

One of the most common failures with German car transmissions is that the torque converter can become damaged over time.

German car transmissions are often affected by worn or defective parts, clogged fluid lines, and faulty sensors.

When there are problems with the transmission, it cannot keep up with the demands of the driving system and can lead to jerky movement and stalled vehicles.

9. Body Rust

The corrosion will inevitably begin regardless of how much care the owner shows to these vehicles. 

German cars notoriously have body rust issues, and the undercarriage has problems with rust, so it’s vital to have rust protection.

Make sure you inquire about proper rust protection before purchasing a German car. Body rust can lead to roof leaks and component failures from corrosion.

10. Oil Pan Leaks

German car manufacturers produce vehicles with internal engine problems. In addition, German cars have oil pan and oil filter gasket issues.

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Leaking oil is a serious issue and can lead to many other problems. Most cars will not withstand more than a day or two without oil.

German cars have problems with oil pan leaks, which makes them so unreliable. Oil pan leaks can be spotted when there is a puddle of oil under the car.

If you discover a leak, contact your local German car-certified mechanic as soon as possible and stop driving the car. 

11. Over-Engineered

Overengineering a car makes systems and components more complicated to use and work on when things go wrong.

When German car engineers design their automobiles, they think of convenience for their customers.

They fail to realize that too much convenience and too many components can cause problems in the design.

All of the features and fancy gadgets look cool, but it’s hard to know if they will hold up over the long run. 

German cars are computers on wheels, so if your computer can get hacked, so can your car! Keep this in mind when shopping for your next car.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why BMWs are so unreliable, why Mercedes are so unreliable, and why Jeeps are so unreliable.


Because prices are significantly higher for German cars than their domestic counterparts, research is essential when buying a car. In addition, reliability is an important factor to consider.

No matter what car you buy, checking fluids, conducting proper maintenance, and staying on top of repairs can save money. Unfortunately, German cars are just more expensive than others.


  • Bruce Coleman

    Bruce Coleman is a diesel mechanic and car tester with 20 years of experience. He's a member of various vintage car clubs, and he loves restoring old motorbikes.

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