Home » Mercedes Brought Nick Saban To Plant Ahead Of Union Election And It Might Have Backfired

Mercedes Brought Nick Saban To Plant Ahead Of Union Election And It Might Have Backfired

Tmd Saban Mercedes
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I don’t often talk about sports-ball here in The Morning Dump as an appreciation of sports at The Autopian is fairly mixed (Me/David/Jeff are baseball fans, Thomas enjoys hockey, and Jason only watches Spanish minor league Jai-Alai [Ed Note: I”m huge into basketball, but let’s nots talk about that today. -DT]). So when I heard that Mercedes-Benz invited legendary Alabama football coach Nick Saban to speak at its Vance, Alabama plant ahead of a union vote I was excited.

Even more amusing, it sounds like Saban’s speech might have revved up the Mercedes workers to vote for the union, which is probably the opposite of what the company intended.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Is there news today? There’s so much news today. It’s been a little slow this last week but, like a Dodge Charger in a Fast & Furious movie, we’ve shifted 900 gears ahead. General Motors is first out of the gate today with its Q1 earnings and, as predicted, a mix of savings and profitable vehicle sales show GM is in good shape.

While GM isn’t making EVs profitable just yet, the company says it plans to see EVs become profitable this year, which is good timing because the International Energy Agency says EV sales should be a little more robust than everyone is saying.

And, finally, American cars are among the cheapest to maintain according to a Consumer Reports study that shows the total cost of ownership for new cars.

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Nick Saban, Accidental Union Organizer?

The recent unionization of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee is the latest victory of the United Auto Workers union and a sign that the growing unionization effort in the United States is succeeding.

Volkswagen was an easier target, though, as the plant had almost been organized twice before, which might be why the UAW saw such a large margin of victory (73% voted in favor). Tennessee’s Governor, a Republican, was one of five southern Republican governors who have attempted to thwart the union drive.

Up next in mid-May is the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance, Alabama. This is expected to be a harder plant to organize as there’s less of a history there for the UAW and Alabama is, historically, a more conservative place than Tennessee.

Perhaps that’s why Mercedes invited Nick Saban–longtime Alabama hero and coach of the University of Alabama football team during that program’s historic run–to speak to workers.

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Reporter Alex N. Press is one of the better labor reporters, which isn’t exactly a deep bench, so I always like to hear what she has to say. She does write for Jacobin, which is a very left-leaning publication, but who else is going to regularly write about labor?

She filed a report from Alabama’s organizing effort and it has a lot of interesting detail on the folks who are doing most of the work on the ground, who sound more like empty nesters than flame-throwing socialists.

The part I’m interested in, though, is what happened when Nick Saban showed up to speak. In addition to being one of the most (the most?) famous people in Alabama, Saban also co-owns a number of successful Mercedes dealerships. It sort of makes sense, though maybe it doesn’t?

As the article points out, Saban seemed largely fine with college athletes organizing and has spoken positively about the UAW. Here’s how it went, according to Press:

In a recording of the meeting obtained by Jacobin, Saban did not directly address the organizing drive — it’s unclear if he was even aware of it — and the event felt like a retirement party and pep rally. Perhaps most relevant to the Mercedes workers’ union drive, he stated that workers should think about “all the things that we have and not the things we don’t have. Just say to yourself: I’m glad to be here.” It all added up to an odd scene, and one wonders if Mercedes had wanted Saban to make more explicitly anti-union comments (I wanted to contact Saban to find out, but as one veteran sports reporter told me, “That’s like trying to get an audience with the Pope.”)

I did reach out to Mercedes to see if they could explain the thinking here, but haven’t heard back as of yet.

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Here’s the kicker to the article, and it’s pretty great:

As Coach Saban told Mercedes workers last week, “You reap what you sow, and there can be no great victories without overcoming adversity.” The company may have hoped bringing Saban in would spur pro-company sentiment among the attendees, but his talk of overcoming enormous odds brings to mind what Kimbrell and his fellow workers will have done should they unionize MBUSI. As Saban put it on Friday, “Leadership is about helping someone else for their benefit” and being “someone that somebody can depend on.” You’d be forgiven if you thought he was describing what makes a good union organizer.

I don’t know for sure why Mercedes did this and maybe it was just a coincidence that it happened before the vote. In Alabama, there’s no bad time to have Coach Saban visit, and maybe this is just what worked for his schedule. If it encouraged union workers that’s highly amusing, though I’m not quite sure even that’s enough to sway many votes.

Update: Mercedes-Benz provided this statement:

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) has a long-standing relationship with Nick Saban and he has visited MBUSI numerous times throughout his time as Head Coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide to offer his insights on leadership and team performance. Shortly after his retirement announcement in January, we invited him again to speak to our Team Members. We are honoring his retirement and incredible success as the Football Coach for the University of Alabama, while thanking him for his motivational words over the years and for his impact on the community.

GM Hits A Homer

Investor Relations Meeting At Gm Tech Center
Photo: GM

General Motors gets out first with its earning statement (which you can read here), and it’s a big win for the automaker, which has managed to increase its margins and even boost revenue a little bit. The big news that the market is going to care about is that GM has revised its 2024 guidance upward to a net income of $10.1-$11.5 billion, which is $300 million more than previously estimated.

There’s a lot of normal, mostly expected stuff in here, but there are a few standout pieces of information I’d like to highlight.

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  • Total revenue was up 7.6% over Q1 2023 to $43 billion, and, more importantly, GM’s margin increased to 6.9% from 6.0% over the same period.
  • GM has been cutting back on staff, raising dividends, and trying to save money so this is mostly what you’d expect would happen. Am I concerned that this is a long-term existential threat to the automaker? Yeah. Are stock buybacks just a way for automakers to avoid investments and boost share price which, in turn, boosts exec pay? Yeah. Is GM taking a few quarters to boost share price going to doom the company? Maybe not.
  • Cruise only lost about $519 million, down from $588 million, which happens when you stop running cars.
  • In a shareholder letter CEO Mary Barra says “In our EV business, we’re seeing good early sales momentum for vehicles like the Cadillac LYRIQ. We also continue to see sequential and year-over-year improvements in profitability as we benefit from scale, material cost and mix improvements.” The idea is the company could be net profitable on EVs by the end of the year.

The thing that stood out to me most, though? Check this from Automotive News:

Jacobson said GM has built in an assumption that new-vehicle prices will drop 2 to 2.5 percent this year, though pricing “was essentially flat” in the first quarter as small crossovers such as the Chevrolet Trax and Buick Envista accounted for more sales.

This is kind of fascinating and somewhat counterintuitive. In theory, you make your money and your margin on big SUVs and pickup trucks and that’s still probably true, but if your big volume play is a cheap car like the Envista or Trax, there’s a lot less price flexibility so the more popular the better for your average price.

I love this. The Chevy Trax and Buick Envista are among the best cars for sale in America, and affordability is a big reason why.

America Makes Affordable-To-Own Cars!

2024 Chevrolet Trax Activ 051 644ac9eb4988a Copy

While I’m on the topic of affordability, props to America for making cars that are decently affordable to own. At least according to this report from Consumer Reports:

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When comparing cumulative costs by brand for years one through five and six through 10, we found that Tesla had the lowest maintenance costs. At the opposite end of the rankings, several German automakers are clustered as the most expensive brands, namely Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche.

“If you are considering a luxury model, it may be wise to purchase one from a domestic brand that may have lower maintenance and repair costs,” says Elek. “For example, over 10 years, Mercedes-Benz models are more than double the cost to maintain and repair as those from Lincoln.”

Those American brands in the top five were Tesla, Buick, Lincoln, and Ford. The one non-American brand was Toyota, which isn’t a shock.

One-In-Five Cars Sold Globally In 2024 Will Probably Be EVs

Byd Seagull

For all the doom and gloom of the EV market, the success of EVs in China and other places means that globally we might see EV sales rise to 20% of the overall global car market.

The big annual Global EV Outlook is out from the International Energy Agency and it’s pretty positive:

Electric cars continue to make progress towards becoming a mass-market product in a larger number of countries. Tight margins, volatile battery metal prices, high inflation, and the phase-out of purchase incentives in some countries have sparked concerns about the industry’s pace of growth, but global sales data remain strong. In the first quarter of 2024, electric car sales grew by around 25% compared with the first quarter of 2023, similar to the year-on-year growth seen in the same period in 2022. In 2024, the market share of electric cars could reach up to 45% in China, 25% in Europe and over 11% in the United States, underpinned by competition among manufacturers, falling battery and car prices, and ongoing policy support.

Neat!

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What I’m Listening To While Writing TMD

Caroline Polachek is a huge weirdo, which makes her music a lot of fun. There was a lot of debate in yesterday’s TMD and the one I’m going to focus on is the boygenius convo, which led Nsane In The MembraNe to suggest this song. I love the hypnotic, almost semaforic choreography in the video as well.

The Big Question

How affordable has your car been to own and service?

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TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago

Both my cars are 20-plus years old, and basically toys. I run stuff hard when I play, so pay—and wrench—comensurately. The BMW cost me way too much because I didn’t spend ~$300 and spend a weekend taking care of something, but the Subaru is fine.
what? No: it’s not on fire. I’ll get to that valve cover gasket one of these days 😉

DadBod
DadBod
1 month ago

I have a 2016 Odyssey with 92K miles, bought new, that has been trouble-free until the past year, where stuff is failing like the door switch, door sliders, and window regulator. That van works hard for a living.

Also a 2007 Acura TSX with 91K miles, bought new, that was trouble free until old car stuff started happening like leaky door seals and interior lights failing. It just got handed off to my niece.

Bought a 2003 Eurovan Weekender a couple years ago, 150K miles, that is a nonstop whack-a-mole of old VW shit like locks failing and sensors crapping out. But it’s a pop top! My dog and I love it.

I just bought an F150 Lightning and immediately installed spendy Nokian winter tires. Now it’s at the dealer, dead, waiting for a module of some sort. I’ve only put 2K miles on it. Sigh.
I will say that an EV has the up front cost of installing a charger at home. And eventually the expense of solar.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 month ago

I just got my car a few months ago, so the deferred maintenance is still hitting. I’ve fixed almost all issues for free (loose hose clamps, improperly plugged in switches, A/C vent popped out of place), but overall, parts haven’t been bad. We’ll find out what the final check comes out to when I finish tracking down the cause a pesky lean code, but so far I reckon I’ve dropped a total of 2600 including a PPE, Summer and Winter tires (these account for 2000 of that bill), air filters, oil and a couple switches and solenoids. I imagine my lean code will either be a faulty air-oil separator (around $200), a bad vacuum hose (anywhere between free and $80 depending on which one), a fouled fuel filter ($50 that I plan to change regardless for peace of mind) or something in the EFI system (injectors or pressure regulator, $1-200). I know I’ll need brakes some time this year, that’s another $600. Assuming the lean code only has one cause, and factoring in a couple missing panels of plastic under-body cladding, I’ll probably be looking at just under 4k by the time I’m all caught up on maintenance, not bad for a 26 year old garage queen turned daily.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ricardo Mercio
TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

But…what, exactly, is it?
🙂

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 month ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Oh right, should have led with that. 1998 Boxster 2.5L manual in Arena Red, 50k miles (52 now)

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

Sweet
I hope you & it enjoy many, many miles of happy motoring!

Ben
Ben
1 month ago

I’m shocked that a college coach who spent his entire life building teams that are a tightly knit group who have each other’s backs would not be the best anti-union spokesman. Shocked!

Everything I own has required some unexpected replacement part. The truck needed a new plastic clip for a latch that insidiously caused it to fail to lock, a new door handle, and a new DEF injector. I also had a fix a bad wiring harness to the transmission.

The Corvette has needed a new door control module (which also prevented the door from locking properly – apparently I have a type when it comes to failed components) and a new oil pressure sensor.

The Prius needed a new coolant valve (no heat, brrr) and various things that are arguably not wear items (door detent mechanism, rear hatch struts). Oh, and opposite of my other lock failures, a pin corroded in the door harness and caused the passive unlocking feature to fail intermittently. I guess that’s better than leaving things secretly unlocked.

I’ve pretty much accepted that parts are going to fail on any car and it’s one of the things that prompted me to start wrenching more. I feel better knowing that I can fix a lot of the things that might go wrong, especially as I drive increasingly older cars. Any one of my current vehicles is as old or older than all of my previous ones combined.

Drew
Drew
1 month ago

My Niro, now at just under 39k miles, has needed:
Oil changes (full synthetic, pricing varies)
Tires (the first set got to around 30k miles) (~$600, If I recall)
One accessory battery (~$200, would have been cheaper if they didn’t insist it needed to be replaced to complete warranty work while it was in for that work)
Warranty work that was done poorly and therefore had it in and out of the shop for a couple months (frustrating, loss of time and use, but no cash out of pocket)
One recall (lost time and use, no cash out of pocket)

I’ve had worse, but it’s not ideal for something under 50k miles to have needed a new battery and that much time in the shop.

Last edited 1 month ago by Drew
Bearddevil
Bearddevil
1 month ago

My current daily I’ve only had for 6 months, but in that time, it’s just been oil changes. Previously, my daily that I had for 4 years and went from 20K miles to 110K miles only needed:
-oil changes
-a set of brake pads
-a set of plugs
-air and cabin filters (3x)
-one engine mount (changed it myself in the driveway in 15 mins for $70)
-tires (2x sets of continentals one set of Michelins)
-and because it was a DI-only engine, a couple of rounds of intake tract cleaning, which was mildly annoying, but not all that expensive.

That was a 2018 Volvo V60 T5 AWD. It was quite economical to own, and a nice car to daily. I’d like to get another Volvo when the long range PHEVs come down in price.

Sensual Bugling Elk
Sensual Bugling Elk
1 month ago

I got my daily with 40k miles in 2013, and it’s now at 170k miles. I manage somewhere between 30 and 34mpg on every tank and have spent about $100 lifetime on maintenance other than routine fluid changes. $60 for two serpentine belts (a 5-minute, one-tool home job to replace) and $40 for a new ABS sensor and sway bar link, both of which were mauled by a giant rock kicked through the front suspension on an unmaintained road near Moab.

Turns out that, when owned by people who keep up on routine maintenance, Nissan Altimas are pretty darn robust.

Last edited 1 month ago by Sensual Bugling Elk
Drew
Drew
1 month ago

Turns out that, when owned by people who keep up on routine maintenance, Nissan Altimas are pretty darn robust.

FTFY. Ever wonder why Big Altima Energy is such a thing? Because you can run one without caring about it at all and not have many major problems crop up. And you can defer minor repairs forever without them turning major, so you can run a partially broken Altima for years.

BOSdriver
BOSdriver
1 month ago

The Trax, Trail Blazer and Envista are gaining traction in the Boston area. Typically, GM cars wouldn’t really even be stocked in this area, they were almost always rental car only. Cost has a big thing to do with it, as well as seeming to be pretty solid small cars.

AlterId
AlterId
1 month ago
Reply to  BOSdriver

Ironic that the Trax and Envista are gaining traction since they’re both front-drive only.

No, I’m not anyone’s father. Why do you ask?

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 month ago

> How affordable has your car been to own and service?

The daily has been 100% consumables and nothing else in 10 years. The old Mercedes has been an old Mercedes.

SNL-LOL Jr
SNL-LOL Jr
1 month ago

That a football coach is a hero to University of Alabama, instead of winners of Nobel/Fields/MacArthur, shows what’s wrong with this country.

It’s an university. It has ONE job.

Jb996
Jb996
1 month ago
Reply to  SNL-LOL Jr

I just finished looking at the article: <a href=”https://www.theautopian.com/i-dont-think-its-my-fault-says-person-who-somehow-did-30k-worth-of-damage-in-a-single-car-low-speed-parking-lot-accident“> “I Don’t Think It’s My Fault”</a>
So… there’s alot wrong with this country. Ironically, much it seems to be coming from those who claim they are trying to make it better again.

DadBod
DadBod
1 month ago
Reply to  SNL-LOL Jr

Unfortunately a modern university’s one job is attracting alumni donations through athletics. The notion of higher education through publicly-funded schools is laughably anachronistic.

SNL-LOL Jr
SNL-LOL Jr
1 month ago
Reply to  DadBod

There are plenty of public universities delivering the goods:

Oxbridge
Tsinghua/Peking/Jiaotong
Those French Ecoles
Tokyo/Osaka

Sadly, there seems to be something common among them that I can’t quite put my hands on.

3WiperB
3WiperB
1 month ago

Cars in general seem to be so much better in the last 15 years or so. Even our 2008 STS has been pretty cheap to maintain for the 6 years that we’ve had it. The Northstar sucks down the gas, but we’ve only done a battery, rear brakes, tires, and oil changes on it. I may finally put some money into the front suspension this summer. I’ve been hesitant to spend a lot of money on it, but it just keeps going. It’s definitely feeling like it needs a few parts replaced in the front end due to wear. My son just mainly uses it to commute to get between college and the house 2 times a week, and to work in the summers, but it’s generally just about 4,000 miles a year.

Shockingly, the MG is even pretty dependable for me, but I drive it a lot and I think it just likes to be driven regularly. Even after it’s Michigan winter slumber though, it has started right up in the spring every year I’ve had it. I just leave it on a battery tender and that’s about it.

CampoDF
CampoDF
1 month ago

Re: maintenance costs – Come on Consumer Reports. I wonder just how many Mercedes/BMW/Audi owners keep their cars beyond a lease or warranty term. During that time the maintenance costs are limited to oil changes, maybe brakes, and tires. Yeah, those get expensive. But I’m not buying a Lincoln to save a hundred bucks on oil changes.

Maybe I’m psychotic though. I have an 11 year old Porsche diesel and a 6 year old Audi which are both out of warranty (of course) and a 3 year old VW that is in warranty (thankfully – it’s a problem child). As long as these stories continue to be propagated, I’ll keep reaping the depreciation benefits. My Cayenne cost less than a late-model Corolla with 80k miles on the clock. I’d rather pay more for maintenance and drive a nice car, but hey – that’s just me.

SaabaruDude
SaabaruDude
1 month ago
Reply to  CampoDF

The actual graphic in the report splits the costs from Year 0-5 and Year 6-10. It’s very enlightening how much of the cost (on a % basis) occurs 6+ years in.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
1 month ago
Reply to  SaabaruDude

Well many Big 3 vehicles are sitting broken & rusted in someone’s backyard after 6-10 years, so their maintenance costs are very low…

AlterId
AlterId
1 month ago
Reply to  CampoDF

Most of the Germans and several other brands (including Toyota) have some kind of manufacturer-sponsored free maintenance period for the first few years after initial purchase.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 month ago

Sounds like Saban is about as good at his union-discouraging job as that other coach from Alabama is at his representing-the-people-of-Alabama-in-the-US Senate-job.

Waremon0
Waremon0
1 month ago

I replaced a totaled car with an 09 Honda Fit with over 250k miles just as used car prices were jumping up in 2020. It was pretty rough already and in my mind, not worth spending a dime more than I have to to keep it on the road. The seller replaced the clutch as part of the purchase agreement and I paid for an A/C service last year. Other than that, I have had no mechanical issues whatsoever and I’m now past 286k miles. I’m thinking of changing the belt and starter pre-emptively to get it past 300k.

A Man from Florida
A Man from Florida
1 month ago

Are people still classifying Tesla as a luxury brand?

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
1 month ago

For the purpose of comparative sales numbers, Automotive News no longer does. They had an article about three weeks ago announcing the change and why. I would think most media outlets would do the same at some point, but who knows.

Jdoubledub
Jdoubledub
1 month ago

You guys need to do an article on the black wizardry that makes modern belts last 100k miles plus. I must check my owner’s manual 4 times a year in disbelief that there are still no maintenance items required.

10 years and 100k miles in I’m on original belts, bulbs, and even the battery. Just oil changes and a pad replacement at 40k because the stock pads were aggressive. Replacement pads have 60k on them and tons of life left.

Mike B
Mike B
1 month ago
Reply to  Jdoubledub

The belt in my 172K mile 2013 4Runner is likely the original. I should probably change that soon.

Jdoubledub
Jdoubledub
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike B

I bet the manual just says to inspect at 150k. I keep inspecting mine and they look great!

Parsko
Parsko
1 month ago

I have to agree, at this point. I’m on my 2nd american car in my life, and they have been the cheapest to own. Followed by Japanese, and lastly, German.

re: German. “When they run they are great!” is getting old at this point, and has lost it’s Shaniqua.

Max Headbolts
Max Headbolts
1 month ago

I easily dumped 1.5x the purchase price of my ’03 Civic into it after buying it in ’21, and it’s ready for a clutch and engine mounts. Most of what I did could have been done a little cheaper if not for the extensive salt-belt embrace. It’s CEL illuminated a few weeks ago for the catalytic converter I already replaced, going almost cheapest possible has it’s benefits!

I think I’m still ahead of what I’d have spent on any moderately priced new car for the past 3 years. No, I don’t want to do the math.

DadBod
DadBod
1 month ago
Reply to  Max Headbolts

I first read this as a ’21 Civic and I was wondering what kind of hell you are putting that poor car through

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago

With the exception of an abused and rotted 240Z and a nice 260Z that wasn’t driven enough before I bought it, all my cars have been very affordable to service on pretty rare occasions service is needed and reliable. (More reliable than average vs other owners because of the options I choose or refuse and, though I might drive more aggressively than most, I also conversely drive with more mechanical sympathy and take care of problems early, which also helps to handily beat mileage ratings, though my tires do not last as long. I also drive well more than average and miles accumulated quickly tend to result in reduced parts wear vs average mileage even if they might last about the same amount of time.) Before buying, I thoroughly check out the engineering and construction before hand as best as possible for general quality, design layout, simplicity, and serviceability and buy lower end cars that don’t sell on status or being bargain priced, so they have to rely more on reputation in a segment that is reliability sensitive. I do somewhat factor in brand/model reputation, but I’m not generally drawn to the cars that are problems as a daily to begin with.

My Skoda is the Most Superb
My Skoda is the Most Superb
1 month ago

My MK6 GTI has been not bad but not amazing in terms of servicing and owning. It’ll be 12 years old this year and has 67k miles on the odo and things started giving up the ghost about two years ago. Water pump needed replacing (now on it’s third), pressure plate snapped taking the clutch with it, ABS module peaced out, and as of last week I got my very first check engine light because it seems my intake manifold is having issues and will need replacing very soon. Still adore the car and the first 10 years were trouble free so I’m not going to ding it too hard. Again, could be better, could be worse.

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago

-3 water pumps

-pressure plate/clutch

-ABS module

-intake manifold

None of those things are what I would consider normal replacement items for 67,000 miles, but for a VW that list might actually be below average.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

Those water pumps are entirely plastic, to the point I doubt there is even metal anywhere in it. Being all plastic they generally have a life of 4 years, not a life of miles.

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago

I’ve changed a grand total of one water pump in my life, on an economy car that was 18 years old.

I maintain that whether measured in years or miles, that lifespan is far far too short.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

I agree, it is too short, but its how they make cars cheaper. Every car can’t be built to 10 year 100k mile quality. Heck even VW went from 6yr 72k warranty to 3yr 36k coverage since the mk6 was built. They know what they are building, and letting everyone else know based on warranty coverage.

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago

Every car can’t be built to 10 year 100k mile quality. 

I could not possibly disagree more vehemently with this.

Toyota builds to a price point too. Somehow I don’t see an epidemic of water pumps (or any of the other stuff on his list) failing just outside the warranty period, even on their cheapest models.

For some reason, VW owners seem willing to put up with/excuse a lot more hassle/expense as “normal” than owners of other models.

Waremon0
Waremon0
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

I was about to say the same thing. This seems more like planned obsolesce than cost cutting. Though, I’m sure it’s both.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

This is some of the worst VW brain I’ve ever seen. No disrespect to our dear Taco Shackleford intended, but this is some real automotive Stockholm Syndrome that seems to run rampant in the German car community, particularly “not everything can be built to last 100,000 miles”.

Everything in fact, can. And should. The vast majority of econoboxes you can buy new today will last that long easily with nothing but preventative maintenance. This conversation right here is the very essence of why my GTI lost me quickly and why I’m really not interested in ever owning a fun German car again unless it’s a Porsche.

The very essence of a hot hatch is a regular ass car that you can have fun with. If you have to worry about fancy sports car level maintenance, upkeep, and fussiness, is it a good hot hatch? Golf Gang will say “absolutely”, but me personally? After my 3rd or 4th unexpected trip to the service bay in the first 5,000-10,000 miles I didn’t think so.

If you have a friend or family member who’s suffering from VW Brain help is available. Don’t wait. Head to your nearest Honda or Toyota dealership today.

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago

To be more charitable to Mr. Shackleford, I interpreted his comment to mean “built to a 10 year 100k mile *warranty* standard”, not “built to last 100k miles before the junkyard” ala 1970s cars, but admittedly the latter is plausible for modern VWs.

That said, as you know already, I’m in complete agreement with the majority of your post. The idea that a mass-produced VW economy car would be more temperamental or more expensive to run than a Dodge Viper or Corvette seems ludicrous to me, and yet here we are.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

I should have said ” not every part can be made to make 100k mile warranty.” I do think that water pump schedule is crazy, and by no means defend VW for going entirely plastic. However when one sees a company go from offering a 6 year/72k warranty to 3 years 36k, you need to ask why it is they did that. In my experience with VW it is because in their attempt to make them more affordable to more people there were parts they skimped on, and were unwilling to stand behind. At no point should my comments have been seen as accepting the lack of quality come out of some manufacturers.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
1 month ago

So, I do not have VW brain. I married into a Jetta that disintegrated it’s water pump on the way to the airport for the honeymoon. 3 months later that car was gone. I do currently have a Golf, however there is no water pump to worry about, or 90% of the other mechanicals that can go wrong.

My point was mainly cost vs durability have changed over time, and the length a manufacturer is willing to stand behind their product is obvious when it comes to warranties offered.

Parsko
Parsko
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

LOL, lucky you. I’m at probably 10+ in my life at this point. Some twice!

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago
Reply to  Parsko

Water pumps, I strongly feel, must have some redeeming quality that I am unaware of: anything that fragile and located such that one often gets a chance to buy fun & expensive new tools because the bolts that like to snap are invariably the ones with the minimum access, actually needs to come with time off from hell or some such.

I have drilled holes in structural members to remove broken WP bolts. My first extractor set was because of a water pump. I have only ever owned one transverse-engined car in my entire life because of water pumps. At one point, I seriously considered going fully back to air-cooled because of them. Water pumps should be either (really, really good) metal or electric in my opinion.

ok, so, I know I’m actually better at wrenching because of those experiences: I don’t break bolts now like I used to going after them with abandon. Still not a fan of WPs in a transverse engine

Parsko
Parsko
1 month ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I agree with every word of your comment! 🙂 WP just suck. This is probably a bad and wrong take, but the external, electric BMW one is actually the best solution I have seen to date, even though my car is one it’s 3rd (2nd time was preventative).

At the end of the day, if they don’t last the life of a timing belt, 100,000 miles, then there should be a class action lawsuit.

My Skoda is the Most Superb
My Skoda is the Most Superb
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

You are absolutely correct! I make excuses for the car because I love it, even more so these days since hot hatches are thin on the ground, making me not want to replace my MK6.

The best part about the water pump stuff is that the first one was fine. It was replaced under a “service action” by Volkswagen back in 2018, with the “improved” part failing on me last August.

Last edited 1 month ago by My Skoda is the Most Superb
V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago

It gave me 10 years of trouble-free motoring after all!

The soft bigotry of low expectations.

Genuinely curious what else you’ve owned, because if I had a new car experience half of what’s happened to you, I certainly wouldn’t call it trouble-free.

My Skoda is the Most Superb
My Skoda is the Most Superb
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

You might probably be able to guess, but it’s been all VWs! None of which I kept more than 4-ish years, with my GTI being the exception.

Alexk98
Alexk98
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

This is exactly it. my 18 Golf Wagon had the water pump start to go out within 4.5 years and under 60k miles, threw a low coolant warning the day before I bought my CX-30. Compare that to our families 2012 V6 Accord which has been in no less than a dozen accidents (only one was my fault, all others were no fault to my family) and has STILL had zero components break, short of Cats getting slightly clogged after 12 years and 130k miles of stop and go traffic.

I got a great deal on that VW new, but a stellar chassis and wagon form is still not enough for me to put up with something that needlessly expensive to own. Sure I’m spending more on a new CX-30, but nearly double the torque from the turbo, and an extra 80hp, much lower running costs, and dare I say it, a more practical form factor (for me, roads here suck, I like outdoors stuff) is an absolute slam dunk, and I can keep it past 100k miles and have no concerns.

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago
Reply to  Alexk98

which has been in no less than a dozen accidents

Does someone have a voodoo doll of this car somewhere? Jesus.

Alexk98
Alexk98
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

Just a consequence of being exposed to suburban Maryland traffic. It got rear ended every 6 months from new for 3 years, down to the month, and then just sporadically since then, hit while street parked (which we almost never do) I rear ended someone once in High School, and my dad ran over a crowbar/pipe wrench (I think) on the highway that punctured and got stuck in the passenger floor.

That one was fun, insurance adjuster almost totaled it because they thought it would need a new floor pan. And if this poor car can somehow cost insurance companies multiple times over its MSRP in crash repairs and still not break down mechanically, VW has zero excuse. Somehow every other vehicle our family has had in the same time has had I think zero at-fault accidents, car must be cursed.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 month ago
Reply to  Alexk98

Maryland drivers are also the most antisocial, reckless vehicle operators on the face of the earth. Part of that opinion could be influenced by the fact that DC and MD refuse to have ticket reciprocity, so Maryland drivers in DC disregard all traffic laws at all times (there are plenty of horror stories about this, include a Maryland driver causing a fatal accident in Rock Creek Park in a car that had about $10,000 in unpaid DC violations) and I have to deal with them doing so every day I commute as well as watch them treat our residential neighborhood at the very edge of NE DC like the fucking autobahn during rush hour.

But I also do plenty of driving in the state and I’m not going to say it’s Fury Road out there but it’s not far off. I had to do an extended, painful drive through the MD burbs two weeks ago (essentially from Mt. Ranier to Wheaton and back because the Beltway was a parking lot) and I saw some absurdly egregious shit, including an S650 Mustang GT stopping in traffic and swapping driver and passenger. The person who took the wheel didn’t look older than 15 or 16 so I high tailed it out of there.

The highways in Maryland are nucking futs too. People do 90+ on the BW Parkway, the Beltway, 95, and US 50 without even breaking a sweat. The last time I drove from DC to Annapolis and back it was a torrential downpour for my return and I was getting blown by while doing 70 in a 55.

I don’t know what it is about that state…but I’ve driven all over the place and the only drivers that truly scare me are Marylanders. I am a fast driver by nature (too fast if we’re being honest) with a car that’s designed to go fast safely but as soon as I cross the border into MD I am camped in the right lane, which is usually doing 15-20 over the speed limit.

Last edited 1 month ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Alexk98
Alexk98
1 month ago

I agree with every single word of this wholeheartedly. Currently living in the anti-vehicle state of Virginia means I’m used to watching service areas and the like for cops doing 6-over, but the second I hit the MD border on the way to visit the folks, its pure and unadulterated chaos, and 15 over wont cut it, or is 20 mph too fast, depending on the attitude of whichever maniac you are unfortunately near.

One drive up, the moment I hit the MD border (going through WV even, simply to avoid the beltway) I saw three separate people with MD tags miss an exit each, for the first three after the border, and yet not a single issue the hours proceeding it.

The unfortunate reality is there are simply not enough repercussions for bad behavior on the road in MD, and cops let far too much go, when in VA I occasionally will get tailed all the way home from work by a cop for even thinking about maintaining the speed limit (has happened twice in a bone stock CX-30) and at no point from first contact to my driveway was I even 1mph over the limit.

Moral of the story if anyone else is reading this and is curious, avoid MD/DC/VA you’ll either get ticketed into bankruptcy or slaughtered by an Altima lane surfing.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 month ago
Reply to  Alexk98

I agree with all of this too. The Virginia State Police are like the vehicular gestapo. If you do more than 6 or 7 over in VA you WILL get a ticket and it will be expensive, especially if you have out of state tags. Anything above 80 is an automatic reckless, which is absolutely absurd considering there are VA roads with a speed limit of 75, and there’s a good chance you will wind up spending time in jail because they will push for the harshest punishment every single time.

In my experience they’re a little more lax if they see you as “one of their own” (your imagination can fill in the blanks) but if you are driving a fun car in VA within an hour’s drive of a major city/town or an interstate you’ll run into cops probably every 5-10 miles or so at minimum, and there are 3-4 tucked away that you can’t see but trust me…they’re there.

My family has always had some fun property on the Northern Neck and every time I have friends driving down for the first time I have to tell them not to speed repeatedly…and if there’s a large group coming down you can get your life’s savings that someone is getting pulled over. I remember in my college days literally every single person I was friends with who drove down got at least one ticket. Some got 2 or 3.

I don’t think VA’s borderline fascist, incredibly punitive approach is a good way to do things personally, but when Maryland lets people do whatever the fuck they want with 0 repercussions the result is a state full of dangerous drivers…and it makes the DC area a unique melting pot for horrific driving between Maryland being completely lawless, DC having automated traffic cameras every block, and VA effectively being a police state when it comes to the roads.

Last edited 1 month ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Alexk98
Alexk98
1 month ago

The law has changed a bit so 85 is now the threshold (15+ over is reckless I believe now) but it is absolutely absurd, especially as the ONLY state with the combo such aggressive speeding laws and a blanket radar detector ban.

I genuinely spend more effort while driving on I-81 on medians and merge areas for cops than I sometimes do on the traffic around me, and I hate that, but it’s what I have to do sometimes. That and adaptive cruise control makes it far easier to scan without worrying about distance constantly. Somehow I’ve never gotten a ticket, but most of that is just down to situational awareness and letting someone else go juuuuust a few mph faster than me to keep me from being the biggest suspect.

At least my VA county has no speed cameras, while where I’m used to in MD used red light and speed cameras as their blanket enforcement. The worst being the very wealthy in the area just blatantly do as they please because its just a (to them) small fee and no license or insurance penalty, and actual cops do zero traffic enforcement.

Couple that to the fact that people in MD tend to be hostile, cold and confrontational for zero reason, aggressively defensive of their bottom-third tier state (I lived there for over a decade, I can say it) and have a cost of living so out of proportion for what you get, that I genuinely can’t ever complain about VA because I live far enough away from MD/DC that existence is relatively quite nice.

Spikersaurusrex
Spikersaurusrex
1 month ago

I moved to MD a couple years ago, up in the northwest, near Hagerstown. I don’t experience the things you’re talking about very often. Most of the time people around here are withing 5mph of the speed limit, though there are occasional aggressive and/or reckless drivers, but they seem to be in the minority. The closer you get to the DC/Baltimore/NOVA wasteland, the worse it gets, leading me to believe it’s more a product of the population density than the local laws.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 month ago

Thanks for reminding me to never buy a Volkswagen. My dad replaced fewer parts on his ’82 Saab-Lancia 600 (Lancia Delta).

My Skoda is the Most Superb
My Skoda is the Most Superb
1 month ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

I truly envy people who have no love for the brand! Lord knows I’d be better off if I hadn’t been bitten by the bug all those years ago!

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
1 month ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

I, um, I don’t suppose you have any leads on finding a Saab-Lancia 600 for sale by any chance?

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

Nope – that one was rusting visibly after three years… I know someone in the Netherlands who got one, but he ain’t selling! His IG handle is saab_lancia_600gls, so he knows what he’s got.

Clark B
Clark B
1 month ago

If your water pump goes out again, they make an all metal one that should be more durable. I got mine at ECS Tuning. Can’t speak to the longevity of it, as my CC lost all compression on cylinder one about six months after installing the new water pump, and I traded it on a TDI Sportwagen.

CampoDF
CampoDF
1 month ago

For a Mk6, not too bad – get a Mk7.5 and drive the last best Golf VW has made. You’ll probably still have water pump issues though 😉

My Skoda is the Most Superb
My Skoda is the Most Superb
1 month ago
Reply to  CampoDF

Adore the 7.5. Would love to find a mint Great Falls Green example one of these days as my 6 is definitely entering its twilight years. But used prices are still too elevated for my taste and I also love the 8 (I know I’m in the minority) and wouldn’t mind grabbing one of those instead. I’m sure water pump issues are still a thing with the 8!

Data
Data
1 month ago

Warning!!! Danger to Manifold

Griznant
Griznant
1 month ago

I can concur that aside from it’s appetite for expensive tires, our Tesla has been incredibly affordable to own for 75k miles. Well, a couple bottles of washer fluid too, but beyond that, it’s been pretty cheap (so far).

Loudog
Loudog
1 month ago
Reply to  Griznant

Same here. I feed it the good tires because they’re oh so lovely on the local roads… but other than washer fluid and the occasional air filters change, it’s effortless.

Griznant
Griznant
1 month ago
Reply to  Loudog

Oh crap, yeah, cabin filters too a couple times when it gets smelling funky. Forgot about those.

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
1 month ago
Reply to  Griznant

We just put Hankook Ion EVO tires on our Model Y. Total cost was about $400 more that it would have been on the Grand Cherokee we previously had. That $400 covers DIY synthetic oil changes for the 40,000 miles we should get out of the tires.

I’m not sure if I will spend big money on tires for my Model 3 when it’s time. It’s mostly an around town car. Efficiency losses from non-EV tires probably wouldn’t affect me.

Side note, we find we are driving more as an all EV household. We didn’t realize how many times we chose to stay home rather than put gas in a vehicle for an unnecessary trip. Our typical annual mileage used to be ~12k miles combined over two vehicles. We are doing ~20k miles combined now. People talk about EV range anxiety, but no one talks about staying home because both cars are at 1/4 tank and the motivation to get gas is less than the desire to shop at the outlet malls.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
1 month ago

I received my car 4 years ago for free from family. Since I have taken over ownership, I replaced the water pump. 10 minute job, easiest thing I think I have ever replaced. Did brakes once, and fixed a corroded battery cable. So besides normal wear and tear items, I have spent about 200$ and an hour of labor.

Parsko
Parsko
1 month ago

Nice Cheat Cheats McCheats!

Musicman27
Musicman27
1 month ago

You know what Toyota did? They paid their workers and treated them well so they did not have to unionize. That means both parties are happier. This also allowed them to use their workers during COVID for maintenance and retooling tasks instead of them all getting vacations and not working because of their “union”. They did something that benefited Toyota, and they got paid for doing it because they were still working.

If you just treat your employees well in the first place they don’t need to unionize and the company benefits, and so do the employees.

Of course, this doesn’t prevent unions entirely. They still form despite being treated well.

Parsko
Parsko
1 month ago
Reply to  Musicman27

Exactly, when companies do this, you don’t need unions. Sadly, this is rare, and we DO need unions.

SaabaruDude
SaabaruDude
1 month ago
Reply to  Musicman27

It’s almost like they believe their Toyota Operating System pillar of “Respect For People” and manage accordingly!

Ben
Ben
1 month ago
Reply to  Musicman27

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Toyota did that only after the UAW secured huge concessions from the US manufacturers.

I’ve been pretty critical of the UAW in the past, but the benefits of this last strike for everyone in the American auto industry are pretty hard to dispute.

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
1 month ago

The sneaky Christmas version of “So Hot” was funny as hell, as is her recent single “Dang”. Bummed about missing out on a convo about boygenius yesterday.

Slower Louder
Slower Louder
1 month ago
Reply to  DialMforMiata

Ms Polachek is a pop genius with an operatic voice. On a different note, in “So Hot,” do you catch the choir singing “ Show me the banana?”

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago

I own a Toyota and three vehicles powered by large and understressed engines, so my running costs for everything other than fuel and tires has been extremely low, and expectedly so.

Ottomottopean
Ottomottopean
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

To me it is an odd thing I am seeing in the comments where most people here are saying, “except for gas and tires and regular wear and tear items…” but this is still a part of total ownership. You have to add it all together so if your hybrid consumes way less gas but requires an annual water pump/headlight bulb/O2 sensor/whatever replacement you might not save anything.

But really I read most of what everyone is saying and I don’t want to think about my total cost of ownership. It would be a frighteningly high number for the Boxster. I just remind myself how much I enjoy it and that all the expensive maintenance has (so far) resulted in very high reliability levels and no repairs yet.

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago
Reply to  Ottomottopean

To me, there is a difference between planned and unplanned expenses.

I plan for my daily drivers to get less than 20 mpg, so even though that is objectively expensive, it doesn’t feel that way.

The inconvenience and annoyance of one of my vehicles breaking down and being unusable is the same as paying for a month’s worth of gas to me or more, even before factoring the actual cost of the repair.

That might not make objective sense, but it’s just kind of how I operate. With small kids and their activities, I don’t have time or patience for emergency repairs anymore, and reliability is among my top considerations when buying a vehicle.

Ottomottopean
Ottomottopean
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

I wholeheartedly agree. But then I think that anyone who thinks like this probably finds the total cost of ownership metric should be reserved for those that want to spend all their time staring at a spreadsheet and trying to squeeze the last penny of value out of the vehicle before deciding whether it’s time to get another Corolla or fill the gas tank one last time.

If you buy the car for more fun or practical reasons there are better metrics.

If we’re gonna measure that, gotta load up all those expenses and total it up and compare all that shit.

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