Repair friendly car

I am looking to buy a used car. I like to do my own maintenance and repairs, so I am looking for something that is not a horrror show for the backyard mechanic. I would appreciate any suggestions.


Fran from Danbury

A Crown Vic. Basically, they seldom need repairs and if they do, it’s similar to working on an F-150 P/U… Body and frame construction, rear drive, a robust transmission and rear end, no CV joints, no rubber timing belts, no McPherson struts.

But I forgot to mention that I am looking for a 4 cylinder 4 door automatic sedan or station wagon

The most user friendly vehicle is a manual shift, 4 cylinder 2 wheel drive compact pickup truck. They are rear wheel drive and easy to work on.

Some have extended cabs and 4 doors, so you might find them large enough as a family car.

Compact front wheel drive cars are are all difficult to work on, some more than others. There just is not much room under the hood. If you must have one, a 4 cylinder INTERMEDIATE, like a Ford Fusion, Accord, Camry or Mazda 6 with a manual shift is your best hope.

As far as the engine compartment, I have found that the Subaru with the boxer engine affords better accessibility than most cars of the same size.

Why handcuff yourself like that? But if you must, it’s spelled “Corolla”…You will pay twice as much for one as the equivalent Vic and be faced with the time-bomb transmission in the Corolla…(There is nothing wrong with the transmission, but when it fails, the car is totaled…)

And that’s a good thing, as many hours will be spent under the hood…

You earned your stars there Caddyman.

Although I would never buy one because I drive full size pickups, Hondas fit one requirement of the backyard mechanic as they require the smallest tool assortment of any car I have ever worked on.

You make a good point regarding the Crown Vic, but I’m thinking about the price of gasoline. I’ll have to do some math. Maybe the price difference will make up for the extra money spent on gas.

I haven’t actually worked on one, but I drove an '06 Scion xB for work for a while and I was suprised at how much room there was under the hood. I also liked that the vacuum diagram was just a drawing of the engine and a drawing of the brake booster with one hose going between them!

That might be something to check out.

My 1998 Civic has a lot of extra room under the hood. It is pretty easy to work on.

Except for the time bomb timing belt that is not easy DIY.

Corolla is a much better choice for a DIY. However if the poster can get a manual transmission they will be much better off.

On Crown Vic vs Corolla you will at least 10MPG if not more better with a Corolla. Also when it comes time to sell your Corolla will sell quickly and fetch more money.

Easiest car to work on that I have ever owned was a 1981 Toyota Starlett. 4 cyl push rod engine, stick shift, rear wheel drive, 40+ mpg, ran 275k miles without ever opening up the engine. No longer available. Second easiest was my 1991 Volvo wagon. 4 cyl OHC engine, stick shift, rear wheel drive, 280k miles and still going.

I now have a whole fleet of 6 cyl BMWs around the house. T have found that they are very intelligently designed and relatively easy to work on. There are, however, a number of mechanical jobs that lend themselves to small hands. I sometimes wonder what I will do when my two daughters move away, but then I will have two less cars to work on.

“Time bomb timing belt?” What does that mean?

If you can’t afford $500 every 90,000 miles to do a timing belt/water pump job, I am not sure how you can afford any car.