We see people asking questions about their cars here frequently who are told, after the fact, that they purchased a car that requires frequent repairs or difficult routine maintenance. Certain cars have timing belts, requiring changes that add to inconvenience and expense. Some don’t. Some have had difficult to access oil filters or shields that have to removed to do simple maintenance. Others don’t.
The manufacturers all have some things on each model that are easy to work on and some things that are much more difficult than they should be. I expect some difficult repairs, but difficult maintenance ? What were they thinking ? They weren’t worried about me.
Some manufacturers have weak dealer support or poor parts supplies (parts must ship from around the world). I would have no dealer support for Asian or European brands where I live, for instance.
Still, other manufacturers have technical service bulletins that are too difficult to use, incomplete, or totally nonexistent. I won’t name names, but some vehicles have service alerts for their products that look like they were written hastily in somebody’s basement, not even clear on what model-years they apply to or what models. Some don’t even give owners an owner’s manual and some don’t offer factory service manuals for purchase.
I have factory owner’s and service manuals for every car in my family fleet.
When purchasing a car, whether new or used, I try and avoid the headaches and I enjoy my sleep. I disqualify cars for most reasons given, above. Before I plunk my money down, I check ratings, complaints, service bulletins, insurance costs, crash ratings, etcetera. I do a little (well, a bunch) homework then to try and avoid a six, eight, or ten year nightmare. I keep 4 or 5 cars on the road, driven easy, but driven long and I don’t need extra inconvenience or hassles if I can minimize them.
However, I also take a good hard, long look under the hood and on my hands and knees (have had dealer lift the car), underneath the car. Does it have a timing belt ? Can I touch the air filter case ? Engine have to come out to replace spark plugs or oil pan gasket ? I pretend I’m changing oil or a serpentine belt or transmission fluid, (all fluids, for that matter), etcetera. If the manufacturer has made this difficult for me then what other surprises lurk ? I will pass on a vehicle that doesn’t pass my ease of routine maintenance and repairs sniff test.
There’s something to be said about larger cars too in this. I like opening the hood and seeing some space between components. Caddyman and OK4450 often recommend Crown Vics, not just because they’re a bargain, simpler and more bulletproof, but because they’re relatively easy to work on and maintain.
So, do you buy a car without considering any/many of the above or do you pay attention to what awaits you at the next oil change, air filter replacement, serpentine belt service, brake pad replacement, transmission fluid check/change, fill in the blank __________, etcetera ?