Latest Reader Question (April 15, 2018)

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Here are the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Nick asks: I am currently driving a reliable 1998 Toyota 4Runner with 125k miles that I still like. But since it is approaching its 20th year I have started thinking about possible new cars. I am attracted to the 2018 VWs because of their 6 year warranties and that they are a beneficiary of Audi technology. What are your thoughts on the VW Passat with respect to reliability and in particular electrical issues.

My reply: Your 4Runner is hardly broken in, first of all!

Seriously – unless it’s got rust issues or you’ve grown tired of it, keeping it would arguably be sound policy. It ought to run reliably for at least another 50,000-75,000 miles. And if the metal is sound, that side of things should be good for at least another 5-10 years or more, depending on where you live (exposure to road salt – or not – etc.)

That said, I personally like VW’s car a lot, and not just for the reasons you’ve mentioned (Audi engineering kinship). They are a notch up over other cars in their class as far as attention to detail, the intangible “feel” you’ll read about in car reviews. They do not, however, have as impressive a track record for reliability as Toyotas do. That is not to say they are “bad” cars – there really isn’t anything “bad” today in the sense that some cars were “bad” 20 or 30 years ago. General quality control is vastly better, regardless of brand – but there are better and worse brands. Also, some specific parts of certain cars have specific problems.

In the case of VWs, one of these is the direct shift (DSG) automated manual transmission used/offered in some models. I would avoid this transmission – instead, go with either the manual transmission (if you like them, if offered) or the conventional (non-automated manual) automatic.

That – plus VW’s new upgraded standard warranty – and you should be covered!

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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