I am an amateur mechanic and an aspiring doctor. Early in life I worked on cars as a necessity, but I have gotten to the point where I work on vehicles because I want to. I was recently labeled as a “Honda Guy” because I am in the process of piecing together two Civics. I really can’t say that I have any loyalty to Honda. I also own an Expedition and a Toyota Sienna. I know lots of mechanics prefer certain makes over others, and the recent labeling led me to believe that maybe I need to find a make and stick with it. From a practical standpoint I would like vehicles that can be picked up fairly inexpensive later in their life, but I still need something that I will be able to find parts for at the local auto parts store. The guy that labeled me as a “Honda Guy” is quite proud to be a “Saab Guy”. In summary I am looking for suggestions on a make of car that would be fairly easy to work on(no really expensive tools just to change the oil), holds up for the long haul and can be picked up fairly inexpensive later in life.
Don’t “pigeon hole” yourself with just one make. If you do then you may pass up a great deal on a vehicle that is not your chosen brand. I have owned a lot of different makes over the years and some I will always buy and others I will always say no to. Besides…names last a long time and how would you like to be saddled with a moniker like “Yugo Guy?”
There’s an hobbyist mechanic in my area that buys – exclusively – used Toyota Corollas and fixes them up, mods them for better performance, etc. He just does it as a hobby. When he gets tired of driving a car he revitalized and has been driving, he sells it and does another. He typically buys two old ones, and takes the best of each to produce one car. Why the Corolla? He’s familiar with them from reading the service manuals, knows the best recyclers where to get parts, and they are probably the most driven car in the SF Bay area.
Don’t worry about being the Honda Guy. Some guys gravitate to a favorite brand, or even car models because they are familiar. You know where every part is located, how the systems go together and where the weak spots are. That makes your life as a hobbyist easier.
Sound like the perfect description of a Toyota Tacoma with a 4-banger.
Small pickups with 4-bangers have some considerable maintenance advantages.
- they have longitudinally mounted inline engines, making access to and replacement of parts much easier than transverse mounted FWD cars… and much MUCH easier that transversely mounted 6 cylinder engines, some of whom have rear cylinder banks that are ridiculous to access. .
- they have a single exhaust system. Half the parts including half the cat converters.
- they’ll generally have a solid rear axle, far less susceptible to problems than independent rear suspension
- they’ll generally have true shock absorbers rather than struts, easily replaceable without the need to remove an entire assembly, compress the spring, etc. etc. And they won’t need to be aligned after changing the shocks.
- they’ll generally have a full frame with the cab and bed mounted on it, rather than be a unibody design.
- greater height means more room underneath when it’s on the ramps.
- and, of course, there’s the utility value. You can haul your own parts home no matter how big they are.
Some have more than one brand of car they prefer to fix up, a co-worker of mine when i worked for an auto parts store would buy a $100-$300 beater from the tow yard auction, mostly Ford products with the occasional VW since it was his other specialty. His babies were a 70’s Lincoln town car and a Meyers Manx which weren’t his commuter cars but more for fun.
As a “Honda Guy” myself, but only scooters and motorcycles, I can tell you that it has worked out well for me. I don’t own a Honda car, and never have, but the bikes are fun and rewarding to work on. I’m not a professional mechanic, it’s a hobby. By sticking with Hondas I’m able to understand the machines better and buy something that appears to be a complete piece of junk, but takes only a few hours to get running well again.
I’m on my third Honda since 1985 and they are great cars. No mechanical problems with any one of them, but regular maintenance was easy–except for having to pinch up my hand to get into some really tight spots–but that’s true of working on any small import.
I wonder what “Eric” did to get himself banned . . .
@db4690, Eric’s account was one of the three in the Spare Fuel spamming operation from earlier this evening.