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Luxury cars and what problems you should look out for when buying them

Tuesday, 9. February 2021 | Benedikt Lüchinger

When you buy or rent a luxury car, you expect it to be elegantly styled, comfortable, powerful, fast and equipped with the latest technology. But even luxury cars can have their pitfalls. This is what you need to look out for when buying.

In the world of high-class and prestigious automobiles, some things are taken for granted. When you buy or rent a luxury car, you expect it to be elegantly styled, comfortable, powerful, fast, and filled with the latest technology. Although all luxury cars seem that way in general opinion, the reality of owning a prestigious car is somewhat different. Yes, the high-end vehicles are impressive in every way, but their reliability is often questionable to say at least. In fact, it is safe to say that luxury cars, regardless of the brand or segment, are less reliable than cheaper, everyday models and are destined to give their owners a headache.

However, there is a perfectly logical explanation for this, so today, we will tell you why the luxury car of your choice, regardless of the price, could be problematic.

Innovative Tech

One of the main aspects of any luxury car is advanced technology; innovative systems and features always had their premiere in luxury models. Simply, the cost of implementing new tech is high, and investment can be justified when offered to buyers for whom prestige is more important than the overall price. Only once new technology has proven its worth is it offered in lower car classes and to a broader audience.

However, cutting edge technology is always (too) advanced and complicated. When installed in luxury cars, it is bound to be problematic and develop unexpected problems during real-life use. It rarely happens that something innovative or even revolutionary works as it should and proves to be dependable. Simply, this is one of the unofficial but true laws of engineering.

Insufficient Testing

Automotive engineers are always under pressure from car company executives to deliver innovative systems on time. The engineering process takes a long time, as well as the testing. Still, most car companies deliberately skip on time-consuming, real-life testing and rely on computer simulations in a controlled environment. That results in insufficient data and rushes the systems to production. As we all know, real-life conditions are significantly different than the laboratories of major car companies, and very soon, lack of testing and adjustments turns into problems and malfunctions.

Car Technology

Numerous Examples

As you can expect, there are dozens of examples of very cool, expensive, and advanced cars being a real nightmare for their owners. Recently, we found out that one of the best sports cars Ferrari ever made, the sublimely good Ferrari 488 Spider has issues with its folding hardtop. Ferrari installed a very advanced system which doesn’t fit as it should. However, this is not all; lots of Ferrari customers complained about electrical issues, problems with windows, alarm going off for no reason, central locking not working, and so on. These issues are very annoying, and you wouldn’t expect it from such a reputable and expensive car. Some owners reported that those inexplicable problems could be sorted by removing the car battery for a couple of minutes (like resetting the car’s electrical system). Still, some found that only professional mechanics could help them.

Ferrari 488 Spider

Ferrari is not the only one with such problems. One of their biggest competitors McLaren, has similar electrical issues with their fantastic McLaren 720S. This low-flying missile was plagued by strange problems with electric systems as well as with its highly-advanced, twin-turbo V8 engine, from the beginning. However, the most embarrassing is a problem with interior trim. Apparently, 720 S’ carbon-fiber interior details look amazing when the car is on the showroom floor. After a while, the lack of fit and finish forces those components to start squeaking and feel loose. This includes the door cards, steering wheel cover, and center console, and it is very frustrating to see it in such a high-tech and expensive sports car.

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Lack of testing proved very problematic for Lamborghini when they introduced the Aventador. This incredible supercar performed flawlessly on the track and during high-speed testing. However, when used on the street, like all of them are, at low speeds and in stop and go traffic, the Aventadors started over heating, which caused numerous early demises of legendary V12 engines.


Even luxury SUVs are known for strange issues due to innovative technology. Range Rovers are notorious for their failing air suspension. It isn’t such a big (albeit an expensive) problem when the car is stationary, but it can be hazardous when you are on the move. Range Rover is trying to hide it, but numerous crashes happened when owners lost air springs in a split second, and the car’s handling is compromised. Therefore, it is advisable to sell your Range Rover before 100,000km have been driven.

Exceptions To The Rule

Although all luxury car companies have the same problems and work in the same economy and environment, some brands are known for holding on to quality and dependability as their most significant assets. That reflects their vehicles’ prices, especially on the second-hand market, which is very discriminating to unreliable cars, luxury or otherwise. That is why the German car brands have such a stellar reputation, especially in premium car segments. Of course, German brands are not perfect and have their share of issues but compared to some other luxury brands from Italy, UK, and even Japan; their reliability ratings are somewhat better.

Selection cars castle Hallwyl

Perhaps, this could be entirely explained by using the Porsche 911 as an example. Compared to equal Ferrari or McLaren, 911 is maybe less exciting to look at but far more user friendly and dependable. The secret is the approach and concept of engineering. Porsche 911 evolved over the course of 60 years and has been meticulously developed and steadily improved over time. Each component has been tested in racing and in real-life conditions. This means that when it finally gets installed in a production vehicle, it is 100% ready for the road.

But let’s be honest, you don’t buy a sports car because of its reliability, the long-lasting timing belt or the headlights that rarely need replacing. You buy a sports car because of the innovations, the emotions when you press the gas pedal and the incredibly sexy-looking bodies. Or do you?

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