The myth of maintenance free Japanese cars (...that go to 200k with just gas, tires, and oil)



I could post many examples also with things going the other way and judging by the number of Asian car complaints on this forum I’d say that not everyone is thrilled with their automotive purchase.

You could attribute the number of Asian car complaints to many things, like the popularity of the vehicles, which increases their numbers. The high number of Hondas and Toyotas on the road makes the number of posts unsurprising, and many of the complaints are about high mileage vehicles. If you keep any car long enough, it’s going to have problems.

The funny thing about the majority of complaints about Hondas and Toyotas is that the problems frequently seem to happen with older vehicles that don’t have very high mileage, and the displeasure seems to be based on the fact that people don’t realize that vehicles age whether they get driven a lot or not.

We’ve all acknowledged that GM and Ford have come a long way in reliability and quality. The difference in quality between GM/Ford and Honda/Toyota has narrowed greatly, to a point where it really isn’t worth considering when looking for a new car. Honda and Toyota still have a narrow edge though, and I am darn glad I got my Civic in 1999 instead of a Chevy Cavalier. The difference in quality was a lot more meaningful back then.


1999? Isn’t that about when this thread started?


Whitey…you make some good points. The only observation I would make in comparing a 2012 GM/Ford to a 2012 Corolla for long term reliability, 10 years from now, is that we will have to wait 10 years. As we speak, I feel more confidence in a 2002 Corolla then a 2002 most anything GM or Ford compact made. Next year, I will probably feel the same about comparing the 2003 models. At every stage, the Corolla is equal to or better then the GM/Ford compacts according to CR in reliability. To say that American compacts are just as good long term, is still premature IMO. I won’t be their till the slant six returns from Chrysler.

I want my 2002 Chevy Prism back, a car that makes Toyota/ GM compact comparisons confusing. So that shows me that GM impacts can compare to Toyota when they re brand…at least for now. Matrix /Vibe ???


Um, guys, this thread goes back to April 3…of I don’t know what year. It’s ancient!


WOW! How did this thread get resurrected? Dagosa, you mean when GM slaps it’s name on…a Corolla? I would love to see what the slant six would do with modern systems on it. My dad had a '79 Volaré with the 225 (I guess that would be 3.7 liter in todays parlance). It was a dog, but I bet with a modern fuel injection system and some modern, computer modeled heads, that thing could probably put out pretty good power.


“you mean when GM slaps it’s name on…a Corolla?”

That’s already been done twice: the Prizm and Vibe.


Yup! Another variation of the Corolla! My sister and her husband had a Prizm and a Corolla for awhile. Those cars served them well.


Doubleclutch…I have no doubt that the slant six of old could keep up with anything made today longevity wise. With modern fuel injection and other ad ons it would be reasonably economical too. It just isn’t a front drive set up. That’s where the v6 came in. We had two Chevy Novas (they started in the mid eighties doing this) from the eighties and a Prism…they all had tons of miles on them. Of the three, one needed a replacement alternator, the only non maintenance item. I would have one today but don’t like the Matrix/Vibe wagon design. All were booooring but absolutely the least expensive to own of any car we had in 45 years of car ownership. Just a reflex and why I keep recommending Corollas.


Kinda a arbitrary discussion, I think.
We all know all cars need maintenance. That’s what made us come here.


I bet if Chrysler just named an engine “slant 6” they would sell a good deal of them, regardless of whether it was a similar engine or not.


They would sell them to the “over 50” crowd at least. The problem…what would they fit in for a rwd car ?


Forget maintenance free, just give me “major repair free”, “tow truck never needed”, “no dealer part only” and I will buy from you.


I loved the slant 6 in our ancient Scamp… So simple, bullet proof.


I think that any car, Japanese or American, can go to 200k with proper maintenance. Any car will need to be repaired at some point in its service life. Also a quick look in any owner’s manual dispels the “maintenance free” myth. Just my 2 cents worth.



Dagosa, Yes…In the mid 1980s most of the midsize cars became FWD designs, and transverse engine mounting pretty well did the inline 6 in. I still miss 'em though, and I’m not even that old. They ran smoother and had gobs of room to work, at least on the sides. My wife had a Corsica with a 2.8 liter V-6, and with GMs brilliant transverse engine design, along with other factors, it was the most impossible thing to work on I’ve ever seen! There were times I wanted to risk death by smashing that car into a wall so I wouldn’t have to own it anymore. My dads Ford Taurus had a similar setup, but the engine wasn’t jammed back under the cowl like the GMs were. My Odyssey has the engine somewhat out in the open.

I think that any car, Japanese or American, can go to 200k with proper maintenance. Any car will need to be repaired at some point in its service life. Also a quick look in any owner's manual dispels the "maintenance free" myth. Just my 2 cents worth.

I agree with that…HOWEVER…how much you spend to get it there is another question.

My sister-in-laws Fords…TOOK THOUSANDS in MAINTENANCE to get over 150k miles…

My wifes 96 Accord…spent $4 in maintenance when we sold it with well over 200k miles.


“My wifes 96 Accord…spent $4 in maintenance when we sold it with well over 200k miles.”

$4 in repairs and thousands in maintenance, right? Well, thousands if you had a shop do the work and not you. And that $4 bill would likely have been well over $100 if you paid someone to do the work. Still, that’s great for repairs on a car that probably lasted Mrs Mike over 10 years. BTW, do your SIL and brother (BIL?) take care of their cars the way you do? We know that the attention we give to our cars in maintenance pays big dividends.


“My wife’s 96 Accord…spent $4 in maintenance when we sold it with well over 200k miles.”

Straight up crap.
People forget all the money they spend into their Japanese cars.
And we’ve come full circle and back to the title of this thread !!


Shenanigans on $4 in maintenance (not repairs.)

Given that oil changes, tires, and brakes are all maintenance, it is implausible that you could spend $4 or less on all that.

Even for “repairs”…if the car ever had so much as a burned-out bulb, or scratch in the paint…there goes that $4 budget.


$4 ?
I’m paying too much for my timing belts.