Safest car?

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My neighbor has a 1990 LS400 with almost 200,000 miles on it. Here in Pittsburgh ANY car lasting that long is fantastic. His looks like new on the outside although the interior does show wear. As for me and for most people,
the issue really is not how many parts you'll buy after 200,000 miles...it's how many parts you'll buy from the end of the warranty at about 50,000 miles to something less than 150,000 miles. And my 7 Mercedes cars along the way cost me BIG BUCKS during that interval.
Also, it's not always a function of miles. It's really a combination of miles and age.
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I would agree that it's a combination of miles and age. I would say all bets are off after 200,000 with any car. The only car I've ever driven well over 200,000 miles is a Mercedes. My Japanese cars have approached 200,000 miles but they have never made it there. However, what I found with the Japanese cars I've owned, parts prices increased significantly after the car was ten years old. For most owners it doesn't matter how many parts they will buy after 200,000 miles. My issue with Japanese cars it simply that their parts prices increase at a earlier age than with a Mercedes or BMW. A 12 year old Lexus will have parts prices which are significantly higher than anything you will find on a Mercedes of similiar age. So owning a fairly low mileage ten year old Japanese car becomes an expensive exercise. If you're not going to keep the car that long none of this really matters but I still would like to be able to keep a car after it's ten years old.
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Why don't someone who has the time or convenience price out some comparable parts for a 12 year old Lexus and a 12 year old Mercedes ? For example, starters, headlights, antena motors, evaporaters, belt sets, gaskets, shocks, etc.
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Over the years I've owned considerally more Mercedes and more Japanese cars than you, but my real world experiences differ very much from yours. Parts for Japanese cars are more expensive than (I imagine) for Chevys and Fords, but not in general more than for the Mercedes. The listed price was $120 for a little plastic cup holder bracketinside the center armrest on the 1998 S500, not including installation (which is only a 5 minute job). An oil change and filter was $105 (with synthetic oil). I just had more than $9000 work done on it (car to be picked up tomorrow) after it rear ended into a Nissan Maxima, causing damages to the front bumper, hood, and lights. It wasn't high speed collision and the damages didn't seem that bad. But when the shop detailed the list of work to be more than $9000 it was an eye opener. When you own a Mercedes you are expected to pay more - that's what other people keep telling me. My insurance for the S500 is $900 each half year, $350 for the LS400, $225 for the Honda Oddysse.
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You may have owned more Mercedes and Japanese cars than I have. But I very much doubt you have driven more miles than I have in the past 25+ years. I have a total of over 750,000 miles on my Mercedes. Another 375,000 miles on Japanese cars. When I talk about parts prices, I'm referring to mechanical parts prices and not important things like cup holders. But you really have no idea the actual cost of those parts used to repair your S500. You never actually priced the parts because you were simply given an estimate from a repair shop which likely used dealer list prices. I'm talking about things like suspension parts, brake rotors, brake calipers, brake boosters, engine mechanical parts such as valves, pistons, cylinder heads, belts, hoses, electrical parts, etc. It will be expensive if you are simply going to your local Mercedes dealer and having work done. However, often there are other sources for the same parts and the dealer probably isn't the best place to have your repairs done.
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Lexus Gs300 HID head lamp module costs double the MB's xenon head lamp module here.
Beast E14 4NS Docklands
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VCoplan, you hit the nail right on the head. When I first got my BMW 635CSi I was prepared to pay a pretty penny for the service on it, however when I got my first repair bill I had to look twice. Five hundred bucks, I had a complete tune-up done, valves adjusted, AC recharged, new belts and hoses, ABS sensor rings replaced in the back, and a few other things. Point in case, a lot of work for very cheap! Before my BMW and Porsche, I had a money pit Supra. Let me just go over some of the repairs during my first year of ownership. Blown Head Gasket ($1500), new blower motor ($500), new power steering rack ($800), new exhaust system ($450) and a starter ($250). Yeah and that doesn't include all the little stuff that didn't work like the AC, climate control, various electronics, cruise control, the torn leather seats, the misc. plastic pieces that fell apart or broke in the interior. Now, that car was a 1988, and since selling it, I have a 86 Porsche 944 and a 85 635CSi. Despite being older cars, they are flawless and everything works. No rust, no torn leather, no electrical gremlins and bugs, and they still attract attention and turn heads. To me this is a mark of quality, the fact that these cars have changed little from their showroom condition over a period of 20 years, where as my Supra literally fell apart in my hands. These J.D and Consumer reports surveys may not put German cars high on the charts, but I can promise you that a German car will out last the competition every time during the ultimate test....the test of time.
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Probably because in Japan they don't have the same badge and size snobbery we have in the west...
Furthermore, Honda doesn't bother with "Acura" in the UK.
DAS --
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I always thought the Japanese car makers marketed their more expensive cars with different brand names to make buyer believe they were getting a better car for the extra money. Otherwise, how would you justify buying a Lexus 300 instead of a Camary which can be exactly the same vehicle.
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Because it's NOT the exact same vehicle. Different interior, better paint, better wheels, better tires, longer warranty, more "toys" standard. True, it's BASED on the same vehicle but as General Motors, Ford & Chrysler have done for years and years, there are "tiers" for each bodystyle and Lexus is just the top Toyota tier.
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But it could be called Toyota LS 400 or Camry LS 400 and have a Toyota badge on the grille...
IIRC these brands were specifically introduced in the west a couple of decades ago or so precisely to persuade us that we were getting real equivalent alternatives to Merc et al. Hence hiding of Mother's name and separate dealerships, at least in Europe. Of course you could hide the Toyota name from the Lexus only for so long.
What about Honda's policy? According to the website, in the US the NSX is labelled Acura, where here in Europe is a Honda NSX. The Acura brand doesn't exist.
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Over here in Germany, japanese cars are known for their high prices for spare parts. This may not bother Toyota owners, as their cars seem to hardly ever need spare parts, but other japanese brands can be awfully expensive to maintain. On the contrary, Mercedes parts and labor are not at all overpriced. BMW is expensive, yes.
Frank
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Are you saying that, e.g., Mazda and Suzuki parts cost more than Toyota parts? I find that hard to believe.
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No, i was talking about japanese parts in general. Mazda and Toyota have the highest reputation for being bulletproof, so they may not need any spare parts, at which price whatsoever ;-). The cheapest spare parts are those you are not required to buy...
Frank
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True!
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That statement couldn't be farther from the truth. About two years ago I traded a Lexus SC400 on a SL500. The service coasts for the SC400 were just unreal, my last was a 900 dollar breakjob ! It was a nice car, but over all I have found the Benz to be more solid, have better quality, more features and waayy more fun to drive. The copcats (japanese) make very nice cars for the first ten years, after that time period rust becomes a huge factor and the interiors start falling apart.

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Bill Freeman wrote:

It was the OLDER generation E-class. This is important, as the newer ones are not nearly as reliable. The older E-class thanks - they were nearly indestructable.
> I don't think GM has ever been known for quality or reliable

One or two examples. Still, those specific vehicles are very good to own.
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Joseph Oberlander wrote:

No, that was a 280S from the S-Class W140 model.
And YES, I AM sure!
Juergen
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Please consider checking the real world Injury Collision and Theft results at:
http://www.hwysafety.org/default.htm
They are produced by the insurance industry based on what they actually pay out, not artificial testing methods. The primary problem with most artificial tests is that they ignore weight issues. Sure, in the fine print they say you can only compare vehicals of similar weight but putting 4 stars on minicars with sickening real world death rates (I'm talking about you EU and Japan) seems criminal to me. People without alot of money should know the truth, that statistically they would be much safer buying a quality used car than a cheap new car. Cars with better insurance profiles are also much cheaper to insure which can actually save money over the course of owning it compared to buying a cheap death trap with high insurance.
As for reliability, most major car manufactures have both good and bad models. For example, GM makes both the LeSabre, which actually rates better than an average Toyota (JD Power 2003 3 year study) in reliability and the Hummer H2, which rated dead last in quality of all consumer vehicals sold in the US last year. Any *real* car guy will tell you the same. For example, the classic 300E was solid in pretty much every way, but the C280 is infamous for costing more to fix than to buy. BMW 5 solid, Z3 junk. Lexus LS400 solid, RX300 not. I know many people and Consumers Reports disagree with this, but the numbers back it up. Another thing to consider is the same model can be made in different countries. For example, the VWs made in Germany and sold in Europe are much more reliable than the same cars made in Mexico and sold in the US. Similar story with the Camrys made in Japan vs the early ones made in the US. Also consider where you will drive with the car and what parts and service cost there. An E320 is great to drive around San Diago or Germany, but would be no fun if you needed service in say, North Dakota. I have a friend that's been waiting weeks to get parts for his 500SL in Vegas when he can still get parts for his classic Mustang at almost any autoparts store.
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You might find the not-for-profit consumer education and advocacy organization "ConsumerAffairs.org" website & newsletter quite interesting >> http://www.consumeraffairs.com/ Very well done automotive affairs coverage.

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