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


'96 Geo Prizm (Toyota Corlla in drag)… 130k miles. Repairs to date: two timing belts, one wheel bearing, front rotors turned.

1980 Chevy Impala, maybe 300,000 miles the last i saw it. Repairs - Camshaft, Chevrolet gave me $50, on recall. Transmission, replaced twice, junkyard, about $50 each.

2001 Honda Odyssey. One of the coils shorted, blowing fuse to all the coils. engine stopped at 70 mph on the inside lane of I270 / Washington DC. I fused all the coils individually, next time a coil shorts, i’ll only have a missing engine, not a dead engine.


I have personally noticed that on any given day on this very forum, there are more questions about Honda and VW then any other car… Except for maybe Subaru, but the answer is always “head gasket” so they dont count…lol

My point is that Every car has issues, as we have stated before it seems that Import owners have worse memories when it comes to repairs. Working at a Honda Store, I can tell you that our service bays a full every day and that I see plenty cars come in on the hook.

BTW, do your SIL and brother (BIL?) take care of their cars the way you do?

Over 4 years ago his wife bought a Corolla…Same maintenance…So far it hasn’t been to a garage for repairs. He’s wondering why he never bought one earlier.


It isn’t that we have worse memories. For many of us, it’s that we remember our earlier “american” cars. And that memory has lingered.

When I bought my first new car in '72, most of us were driving “american” cars. I thought going back for warranty maintenance, recalls, and dealing with problems now and then were just a normal part of owning a car. Four years later, when my axle came off, I traded for a Corolla. I drove it, and drove it, and drove it. No recalls, no warranty repairs, nothing but scheduled maintenance. The difference was truely dramatic. It drove flawlessly for six years, until my needs changed and I traded it (growing family).

That memory has lingered. However, in '95 I gave them another shot, admittedlay at my then-wife’s urging. I bought a Saturn. I was underwhelmed. Again, it was back to a a few warranty visits, a few recalls, and at 100,000 miles a head gasket. That memory lingers too.

The problem isn’t that import owners have bad memories…it’s that many of us have tried domestics before and have GOOD memories.

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 !!

Obviously you have no idea what you’re talking about.

My wife and I both keep meticulous records. Each of our vehicles have a log book showing not just repairs…but each and every gas fill-up (how many gallons and how much was spent). Every single Oil change and ALL repairs are written down and receipts attached.

The problem isn't that import owners have bad's that many of us have tried domestics before and have GOOD memories.

I have extremely fond memories of my GM cars of the 60’s and early 70’s. Then I also have extremely BAD memories of some of my GM/Ford and Chryco vehicles of the late 70’s into the mid-80’s.

BMW??? Now THAT’S an unreliable car.


Oddly. I have very fond memories of my '72 Vega. I liked the car. If it had been a good quality vehicle I’d probably be a GM fan today.

My point is that Every car has issues, as we have stated before it seems that Import owners have worse memories when it comes to repairs.

I can only speak for MY experience. My brother-in-law had so many problems with his Ford pickups and Taurus…yet every 6-7 years and THOUSANDS of dollars in repairs…he’d buy another one. Been doing this for the 35+ years I’ve known him. Then about 6 years ago he bought a Toyota…now he owns two and his oldest owns a Honda Civic. He knows he’s saved a lot of money and wasted time from his other vehicles.

Other people here will have different experiences. I no doubt they are 100% real. But they’re NOT my experiences and therefore mean nothing to me.


I am talking about the Honda owner who says, this has been a great car… Except for the trans dropping out, and the motor mounts giving way, and the XYZ failing… Its been just great !! I see/hear it EVERY DAY…

Same with many Toyota customers, been a great car except for the head gasket I had to replace or the ABC that went wrong…

Meanwhile my 98 Buick that I paid $2300 for 2 years ago has cost me nothing but two tires and a $99 intake manifold (which admitably was due to a very poor design)… Even my Wife’s Kia MiniVan has been fairly trouble free (and not cost me anything out of pocket except oil changes and one set of tires in 70K)…


The only response I can offer is that my rice burners have been far more reliable than my domestics. And it ain’t selective memory. It’s actual experience.

That does not mean a Honda or Toyota will never fail, or a domestic never offer hundreds of thousands of miles of trouble free service. All it means is that IN MY EXPERIENCE my chances of getting a highly reliable vehicle are much greater if I buy a Japanese brand. It would seem that others have had similar experiences.

The implication that fans of asian automobiles are working off of biased memories is, and I only speak for myself, bull.

Same with many Toyota customers, been a great car except for the head gasket I had to replace or the ABC that went wrong..

And the same can be said for MANY Domestic car owners I know. My brother-in-law was one of them. For years he was telling me how reliable his Ford’s were…yet when pressed for details…it wasn’t that reliable. Tranny problems…ball-joints…head gaskets…etc. He couldn’t believe that other manufacturers were NOT having the same problem for a car that was 5 years old. I even showed him my records…he still didn’t believe me. Finally his wife decided to buy a Corolla (against his wishes)…NOW he’s convinced.



'96 Geo Prizm (Toyota Corlla in drag).. 130k miles. Repairs to date: two timing belts, one wheel bearing, front rotors turned.
Unless the timing belts broke, they are maintenance items, not repairs. The same goes for the brake rotors.

I am talking about the Honda owner who says, this has been a great car.. Except for the trans dropping out, and the motor mounts giving way, and the XYZ failing.. Its been just great !! I see/hear it EVERY DAY..

Same here. "MY Honda has been PERFECT, I’ve never had to fix a SINGLE THING…

Well, except the O2 sensors… and that rear axle. And the transmission. Oh, what about that CV boot. Now that I think about it, that radiator went. Oh, and that timing belt/water pump deal. Oh, Catalytic converter went. Oh that damn service engine light! Air bag light! That oil leak! And when it wouldn’t idle… And that damn window regulator. And what the hell was that Evap cannister repair for $600? Peeling paint… Suspension clunking …

And so forth…


I guess I’m the exception. My 2005 Honda Accord EX V6 has bad maintenance only and no repairs in 96,000 miles. My other cars have more miles but we’ve spent very little on repairs. I think it has more to do with how well you maintain it than the brand.

and that rear axle

You must be talking about your RWD BMW…NOT a FWD Honda.

It sounds to me like you need a new mechanic. He must have seen you coming a mile away…Man we surely can soak this sucker.


I hope that the quality of Toyota products isn’t slipping. I have a 2011 Toyota Sienna which we have driven 30,000 miles. I have had no mechanical problems. However, the carpet and the interior trim does not seem to be holding up as well as the interior of my previous minivans–a 1990 Ford Aerostar, a 2000 Ford Windstar, and a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander. The interior is certainly not up to the standards of our 2003 Toyota 4Runner. As long as I don’t have major mechanical repairs, I’ll be satisfied with the Sienna.


Hey Triedaq, ever get the Missus that new vacuum cleaner yet? You sure found a keeper(my kind of Woman) all jokes aside -I’ve seen so many Asian cars you had to run through the crusher just to get rid of them,they lasted a annoyingly long time,seen so many horrid perforated Nissans and Datsuns running up and down the road with 300k on them(dont go to the dealer and brag about the longetivity-they dont want to hear that)Someone mentioned a transmission or something falling out out of a Honda.I had that happen on a 2000 Focus I had,but after a little reasoning and detective work I figured the Mechanic who put a timing belt on it was to blame(one side of the transaxle came loose and it spit the axle out while my wife was going to work,luckily she doesnt drive fast) Uh Triedaq,my wife would beat me with a vacuum cleaner if she got for her birthday-Kevin


In 1979 I bought a 1977 Honda Civic CVCC 5 speed with 20,000 miles on it. Honda had just done the recall on this Civic to replace a potentially bad head gasket.

The Civic required a set of ignition points at least once a year & occasional adjustments to the non self adjusting rear brake shoes. I took the carburetor apart twice in the 13 years I drove the car, mostly just for cleaning & partly to satisfy my curiosity. Also, the air filter would get occasional small pieces of road gravel & debris in it because of a poor fresh air pick up location. I changed the timing belt & the water pump once. At 160,00 miles the car quit on me on the freeway, the problem ended up being a blown fuse in the electric fuel pump circuit.

One day I was changing the engine oil & the fuel filter, when I got curious about what was under the plastic cap on the adjacent fuel pump. I removed the cap & saw something resembling a set of permanently mounted ignition points controlling the pump. One of the contact surfaces had worn away, & the contact arm itself was the only thing making the connection to the remaining contact! I went directly to Honda, bought a new fuel pump & installed it. The next morning the car started normally & off I went to work. As soon as I got on the freeway onramp, the engine quit! I had left my tools & the old pump in the trunk, so 30 minutes later I had the old pump back on. I drove back to Honda & told them the new pump had failed, the parts man told me Honda fuel pumps don’t fail & reluctantly called a mechanic in from the service department. The mechanic took the pump & was gone for 30 minutes. When he came back, the parts man told me I was “Lucky” because they had a car in the shop that used the same pump as mine & that the mechanic installed my new pump on that car & it didn’t work. So they gave me another new pump, ironically I’d been standing there staring at the “No return on Electrical parts” sign while I’d waited. I put about 250,000 miles on that car, & when I sold it, it needed a new clutch.

To replace the 1977 Civic; I bought a new 1992 Civic DX 5 speed, during the time that we had fuel shortages & 55 mph speed limits. I drove at 55 mph on the freeway for as long as the 55 mph limit was in effect and was blown away at the car getting over 50 mpg on my commute. 188,000 miles later, I still own this car, & it continues to get good mileage & doesn’t use oil between changes. I’ve used regular Dino oil & change it every 4,000 miles. At 65 mph, this car delivers 40 mpg.
It has broke down twice within the last 2 years. The first time was my fault, the carbon brush in the center of the distributor cap wore completely down & I couldn’t even find a trace of it left. It must have been quite a while since I had replaced the distributor cap. The second breakdown, the main Computer inside the car burned out a large capacitor & destroyed a lot of the circuit board. I bought a used computer for $75 on eBay, it worked fine.

I’ve gone through 4 sets of tires, 1 timing belt, a water pump, several air filters, both headlights, 2 sets of brake pads & a set of fan belts.

My biggest complaints with this car, I didn’t buy it with AC.


@kmccune–“Hey Triedaq, ever get the Missus that new vacuum cleaner yet?” As Paul Harvey would say, “Now for the rest of the story”. Mrs. Triedaq had two surgeries for a torn rotator cuff and has also had surgery on both feet. I decided instead of a new vacuum cleaner to hire a cleaning service. The vacuum cleaner comes out only if we have spill that we need to clean up. She also really likes to mow, but I don’t want her to injur either her shoulder or feet, so I convinced her that a lawnmower is a delicate piece of equipment and I don’t want her to mess up the lawnmower that I bought for $100 back in 1987.
Mrs. Triedaq was the one who initially wanted a Toyota product. We needed a 4 wheel drive and she was really impressed with the 4Runner. We had moved her parents into a nursing home about 50 miles away and we wanted a vehicle that would get us through. She also had to be at her job even when the university where we both were employed was closed down because of snow and ice. Our 4Runner is a 2003 and once we got the intital problem of the serpentine belt and its tensioner resolved, we have had no problems. I need a minivan because I am always transporting musicians and their intruments to different gigs. In fact, I just returned from taking three other musicians and their instruments to play for a Strawberry festival in a nearby community. I had a Chevrolet Uplander that we sold to our son (with the typical family discount) who needed a better vehicle, so I had to shop for a replacement van. GM and Ford discontinued the minivan line, so I was looking at used vans. Our friendly independent mechanic and Mrs. Triedaq ganged up on me and thought I should buy either a new Toyota Sienna or Hond Odyssey. I bought a new 2011 Sienna and have driven it 30,000 miles. I haven’t had that first problem, so maybe Mrs. Triedaq knew what she was talking about. I do let her drive the minivan, but she is not allowed to touch the lawnmower.


I spent a good chunk of my Memorial Day “holiday” sorting out a Camry electrical problem on my youngest son’s Toyota. This turned out to be one of those “what in the hxxx were they thinking” moments.