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Which vehicles are the easiest to maintain?

Roasted Kiwi
05-04-2008, 02:58 PM
I can't stand it. I have a Mitsubishi Galant and I have to take off the upper intake to get to the rear spark plugs. I can't. I don't know how, and I don't like having to pay someone to do it for me. I really miss my old Honda Prelude. I'd like to get an easier car to work with, but I don't know what to look for!

05-04-2008, 03:53 PM
you have to love Honda's, they keep going! VW's if you don't mind payin a little more, Toyota even? but take it from me NO Daewoo/Hyundai etc

05-04-2008, 04:02 PM
I agree your safe with a Toyota, my first car was an '86 Camry and that thing ran trouble free for over 200,000 miles before the body fell apart, well not counting the winter I filled the radiator with coolant from my dads garage not knowing he had already mixed it 50/50..... (I of course mixed it again)

That turned into one solid block of ice... that I discovered after the smoke cleared and the head had cracked!

Just threw in a cheep head from a salvage lot and the thing ran for several more years. :smile:

05-04-2008, 05:19 PM
VW's if you don't mind payin a little more, Toyota even? but take it from me NO Daewoo/Hyundai etc

Hmmm, not sure I'd agree with the comment re: VWs. It depends a lot on the model year I suppose, but their reliability wasn't that great. While general maintenance on my wife's 1999 Passat wasn't too bad, it was plagued with problems. After research and talking to a friend who sold European cars, I was not alone.

Of course on that one, you had to remove the air diverter underneath in order to change the oil and filter. It could have been pretty simple to install a little access door like my Infiniti has.


Roasted Kiwi
05-04-2008, 11:18 PM
I've also been given an overall recommendation of rear-wheel-drive Chevys. Is there any truth to that?

05-05-2008, 03:22 AM
GMs might fail a little more frequently than its asian counterparts, but with the cost of parts it makes little difference. For instance; on most RWD cars, replacing an alternator, power steering pump, or water pump is a super simple job. They are all on the front of an engine that has plenty of room around it, the parts themselves are insanely cheap, and often times it can take a very short time to replace them. FWD cars tend to have accessories buried in nooks and crannies. I tried replacing an alternator on a Saturn which was on the rear bottom of the accessory drive. Not only did I have to remove the passenger-side driveshaft, I had to remove the transaxle case. That meant new CV joints (might as well while you're in there), new axle seals, new tranny case seals, a new alternator, plus crazy labor just to replace an alternator.

A comparison for you. I had a 1973 Impala Station wagon with a 454 big block. I replaced the front brake pads, calipers, and hoses, the rear shoes, cylinders, and had the drums and discs machined. I also bought a new master cylinder. Total cost for parts and machine work was $170. An alternator for that car was $35 and could be replaced in 10 minutes.

Contrast that with my wife's Mercedes 99 E300. A fan blade broke off and killed the radiator. It wasn't a big deal since I could epoxy the radiator and use a junkyard fan, but it took me a good 4 hours to remove the radiator. Then replacing it required an impossible combination of inserting tab A into slot B while also keeping item C and component D inline with item E.

It took me two days to remove and replace a radiator on her Benz, but on my Impala I could do it in 20 minutes, and that included draining the coolant.

Do a search for parts costs of commonly failing items and then compare that with how easy it is to replace them. If you want a real challenge, try replacing the timing belt on a Toyota FWD car. It needs to be done every 60k miles or 100k km. Cost of parts is pretty cheap, but when you look at the 1/4" clearance between the timing cover and the shock tower it gets pretty daunting.

Roasted Kiwi
05-05-2008, 04:29 AM
Well, that's it then. I'm chucking this FWD for a RWD of some kind. I hope I can get away with it without having to replace anything else.

05-05-2008, 07:36 AM
One of the biggest advantages of front wheel drive is decent performance in the snow, which makes up for its disadvantages. If you do not get snow, then IMO RWD is better, for the most part.

As for ease of maintenance, get a truck. I owned several compact pick up trucks; they got the same mileage as a smaller car, nice to drive, but had easy maintenance and repairs, parts were cheap and IMO the basic design was more robust and durable that a typical car.

Roasted Kiwi
05-05-2008, 01:05 PM
Thank you all for the advice. Now.. I just have to figure out how much this vehicle is worth for a trade-in.. probably not much..

05-06-2008, 12:40 AM
Hmmm, not sure I'd agree with the comment re: VWs.
I agree completely. VW's are not one of the friendlier cars to work on in general (or diagnose...or buy parts for)

In general, anything japanese, preferably 4 cylinder will be reliable, mostly-easy to work on, and fairly cheap to maintain....and lets not forget mpg also. Of course, there's always exceptions to any rule, but thats a pretty safe generalization

05-06-2008, 01:04 AM
As for ease of maintenance, get a truck.

Especially a 4wd one. Being able to roll underneath on a creeper and still having room to move is fantastic.:smokin:

05-06-2008, 01:40 AM
As a very general rule, American RWD cars have below average reliability, but the parts are insanely cheap and easy to replace with duct tape in 20 minutes.

UK cars are metallurgical nightmares with poor electrical systems. Parts are poorly reproduced, often times difficult to find, and have a high rate of defects.

Mainland European cars are metallurgically brilliant, but the high-ish cost of parts can be prohibitive. I find the VW to be very American-like, but the earlier models like the A1 and A2 are a dream to work on and parts are dirt cheap. I replaced both axles with new VW parts, a water pump and housing, timing belt, valve cover seal, and some various other parts and the total bill was $300 for parts. BMWs are wonderful little gems and they have gone to great lengths to make maintenance and repair an absolute breeze. Mercedes tends to get a little mired down in packaging and neatness, so some repairs require rather invasive surgery with little regard for mechanic comfort, but they're fine cars.

Japanse cars rarely fail, but when they do it can be a little more costly on parts and sometimes a horrific nightmare to repair. I had to replace the alternator on an early Civic once. Not only did it require removing it from the bottom, it required a complete disassembly of the right suspension, removal of the axle shaft, and removing the side cover of the transaxle. On any of my RWD American cars, its 15 minutes tops. On that civic, it was an 8-hour job that required gaskets, lifting the car, mondo disassembly, and an alignment job when it was done.

There are huge exceptions to all of those, but I just thought some generalizations could help.

05-06-2008, 02:30 AM
There are huge exceptions to all of those, but I just thought some generalizations could help.

And of course it all changes if your in a different country. :licka:

To give you some idea of American parts costs here, a 1 year old, second hand V6 mustang sells here for about twice what it costs in the US.

While I was able to replace the alternator on my partners Civic for a total of US$40.

05-08-2008, 05:34 PM
'86 Chevy Silverado K20. I have had to replace the following: Master cylinder, water pump, rear brake lines/hoses, P/S pump, tierod ends, fuel pump... the $40 and two bolts kind, not the drop-the-tank module nightmare on today's cars. 170,000 miles on it (I've owned it since 124,000) and as far as I know nothing else has been replaced (and I drive my vehicles HARD). It failed to start on me two times. One time a rodent chewed through a fusable link. The other time the starter housing cracked while cranking on a VERY cold morning. That said, I strongly disagree about the unreliability of older RWD American cars.

I've also got a '96 Beretta (171,000 miles) and a '98 Grand Am (192,000 miles). The Beretta has had the A/C compressor, sway bar links, and the head gasket replaced, all easy jobs and cheap except for the compressor. I also had to replace a rear wheel bearing, but that was probably my fault, right before I rolled it the rear swung around and hit the ditch pretty hard. The Grand Am has had the head gasket replaced and needs a water pump as it is begining to leak from the weep-hole (long job, but not too hard and fairly cheap). Both have had the heater cores replaced (very common on the ones that use PLASTIC pipes)

In general, the smaller the engine is in the same car, the easier it is to work on it. I like the compact and midsize GMs with a 4-cyl that had a V6 option.

05-09-2008, 03:29 AM
I've got an 89 Honda Prelude that has had the igniter, cam belt and 1 set of brake pads replaced in 19 years and 140,000kms, it is now due a new set of front pads, and could use a clutch.

My mother has a 96 Accord with 213,000kms that has had even less work done. Just oil, cam belt and brake pads.

Of course anyone can end with a good example of a model, or get the lemon that should have never left the factory.

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