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brake anomalies

We seem to have had a spate of possible brake problems in the last few
days, including one lister who suggested that brake anomalies seemed to be
common in Audis and perhaps that's why we see so many Audis in junkyards.

Lets be careful here . . . 

1) The reason we see "so many Audis in junkyards" has nothing to do with
the brakes. Most of what we see are older type 44 cars (5000 series), and
usually non-turbo, 2WD automatics. These have the lowest market value and
lowest "enthusiast" value, and are often junked when for instance, the rack
leaks, and the non-listmember non-enthusiast owner goes to the Audi dealer
and gets quoted $1,100 plus labor . . . (plus whatever else the car needed
all along anyway), and when their heart starts up again, the next stop is
trade-in or junkyard. If the car gets traded in, the dealer (who knows
he'll have a tough time selling the car because of it's "evil reputation")
simply junks it.

2) We have to be careful about saying "My Audi had a brake problem, two
other lister's Audis reported brake problems, therefore all Audis have
brake problems." The sample here is far too small. If statistically one
percent of *all* cars have brake problems (and that percentage is pulled
from thin air), then two or three listers reporting brake problems out of a
population of 1,500 Audi list members (more or less) is far less than one
percent, so the "correct" conclusion is that "Audis have a LOWER incidence
of brake problems than other cars!" In the absence of sufficient
information to make a valid comparison, we cannot draw ANY conclusion that
makes sense.

3) Be aware of the "bad guys are everywhere" syndrome. Why do many
policemen have a low opinion of the populace at large? Because the people
they come in contact with are almost always the bad guys - "Everyone I meet
is a dirtball, therefore, the world is full of dirtballs." Problem is that
they don't often meet nice guys (and gals) like us, so their sample is
skewed and unbalanced. Many years ago I had a motorcycle repair shop and
found myself thinking "All motorcycles are always broken" because I had
what seemed like a never-ending parade of broken motorcycles coming in my
door. Then I realized I was only seeing the broken ones - why would anyone
take a properly running motorcycle (or any vehicle) to a repair shop? We
just happen to be seeing a few reports of Audi brake problems right now,
and that does NOT mean there's a widespread problem.

4) Other vehicles have brake problems as well - I've had brake problems in
Jaguars, Dodge Vans (exactly one day after the warranty expired!), Dodge
K-cars, Cessnas, BMW motorycles, a Studebaker (a long time ago in a galaxy
far, far away), a Karmann Ghia, some VWs, and so on and so on and so on,
*AND* I have had brake problems in my 5Ks - but they were due to a total
lack of maintenance by the previous owners, and not to any inherent fault
of the vehicle.

I'm sure this will generate a lively debate, but unfortunately I am out of
town for a week on business, so I'll have to wait until I come back to
participate further. (I'm going to try one of the e-mail forwarders - I
probably won't respond to anything but the most urgent, business-related
e-mails during the week, so please don't be offended if I don't answer
anyone personally on this subject for a few days.)

Best Regards,

Mike Arman