When you think of cars that are considered luxury brands, what are the first names that come to mind? Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Bentley, Porsche, Ferrari- just to name a few, most likely. And what to these cars have in common (besides their whopping price tags?) They all happen to be of European origins.
European carmakers seem to have hit upon a winning combination of style, mechanical excellence and luxury that has largely eluded carmakers from other parts of the world. That’s not to say that Japanese and even some American carmakers do not produce well-designed or high end vehicles; it’s just that European cars have a certain cache that a simple Chevy or Ford tends to lack.
If you are considering a European car and have not owned one before, there are some things you need to know before you sign on the dotted line.
European Cars Are Highly Tuned Machines
Sure, you’ve probably heard the jokes about Fiats and any make of French car, but in actuality, most European made cars that are imported into the U.S. are high-tech, finely tuned engineering marvels. The technology in many of these cars is so complex that it’s certainly in your best interest to connect with an experienced mechanic who possesses an in-depth knowledge of your particular make of car. However, such expertise often comes at a cost; anyone who owns a European car will tell you that maintenance and repairs costs significantly more than more common Asian or American models.
One reason for the higher expense? Parts, it seems. In many cases, you can’t just walk into the parts store and grab any generic part off the shelf. European cars require specialized parts to run well and like the cars themselves, the parts need to be imported all the way from Europe. And since, generally speaking, there are fewer European cars in the U.S. than cars from other countries, the market isn’t as strong, also driving up the costs.
You Can’t Beat on a European Car
Here’s the thing: driving in America is easy. States will give a driver’s license to pretty much anyone who can steer a car straight and not crash into a building and cheap cars are readily available. Compared to the rest of the world, owning and driving a car in the U.S. is fairly inexpensive, as well. That means that most Americans take a different view of driving than Europeans and quite frankly, have a tendency to abuse their cars.
European cars, while they have come a long way in terms of reliability, are still more delicate than some of their American counterparts. That means that if you drive your Mercedes or Beemer through harsh conditions, or over bumpy dirt roads, they are going to need some TLC faster than other cars.
You Can Watch Your European Car Being Made
Since the market for European luxury cars is comparatively small in the U.S., there are fewer dealerships where you can pick up one of these cars. If you live in a rural area, you may have to travel a fair distance to find a dealership – and a mechanic to work on your car.
However, you aren’t just limited to the dealer’s stock when you want to buy a European car. In fact, you can make buying your new car the experience of a lifetime, by traveling to Europe to see it processed. If you take delivery of the car while you are overseas, you can often save a great deal of money on the cost of the car, plus receive perks from the carmaker like free hotel stays, free meals and more. There are restrictions on these types of trips – and you usually need to spend at least ten days in Europe to process all of the paperwork – but the reward is the experience of seeing your car come right off the assembly line and knowing that you are the only person to have ever driven it.
Owning a European car has become a status symbol in the U.S. and for justifiably good reason. European cars have a refined sense of luxury unmatched by other types of cars and in most cases, with proper care, auto part updates (click here for a large inventory on your vehicle auto parts) and maintenance; they will serve you reliably and stylishly for many years to come.
This post was written and contributed by Edson Farnell. Edson writes about various automotive topics. Many of Edson’s friends refer to him as the Auto Parts Geek.