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Vehicle designed to be DIY'er Servicable?

What do you car experts here think of this idea? A manufacturer decides to introduce a new econobox model, with the selling feature that it has been designed to be easily diy’er serviceable? Easy to change the spark plugs, the oil and filter, to replace the air filter and fuel filter, to replace the brake pads, replace the fuel pump and water pump. And it comes with it’s own scan tool whilch allows the diyer to view ignition system waveforms, O2 sensor waveforms, and of course provides all the diagnostic codes. AC is optional. 130 HP with a manual 5 speed or conventional automatic. Free access for life to the on-line factory service manual, which allows diy’er to post tips for each procedure they’ve discovered and think would be helpful to others. Good idea? Or not?


And by the time you do all the redesign necessary to comply with the enormous myriad of federal mandates and regulations… you’ll have a Ford Focus.

It’s a great idea. But the original Beetle couldn’t be done today.


Some of those suggestions seem almost guaranteed to result in liability problems. When someone without the necessary knowhow inevitably screws the pooch on a DIY fix/repair they’ll come storming back to the dealership and demand that they fix the problem under warranty.


It’s a nice dream, but it’s not practical in this day and age. FoDaddy and TSM lay out the reasons perfectly (and @the_same_mountainbik irony of ironies, I have an 09 Focus. Even better it’s the PZEV so it would be happy in California’s emissions regulations…do we have @GeorgeSanJose’s “new” car??? :joy::joy::joy::joy:)

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The result would be paying more for less performance, less comfort and less prestige. Those who could most benefit from such a vehicle could more easily afford a more spectacular 2 year old car and would most certainly opt for that choice. Those who would appreciate such a car could easily afford it but would continue to drive their old but well maintained and reliableToyotas and Buicks and Fords. .

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And the market for this car would be tiny. Not that many folks want a new car to work on.


all the DIY for anything . . house, car, appliances . . has to do with the ‘Y’.
many older vehicles, like my 79, would be considered much more DIY than current ones, and yet, although I COULD perhaps do some things, I soon choose not to and have my techs do them.

  • I do an awful lot of work on items not considered to be diy, but I tell the people that I’ll at least look into it to learn ; 1 - IF it’s a repairable issue, 2 - IF I should invest my time and effort. . . or shoulld you just buy another.

co-worker brings me her blender base and shows me that she was able to buy a new drive hub ( the round piece with the ears that fits into the bottom of the mixing jug ) she had rounded off the ears and wanted it replaced. . . yes, I do that kind of stuff behind my parts counter.

DIY is very relative to who’s doing it and what needs done.

I think the world has passed that one by. When you can buy a new car for a couple three hundred a month, and it’ll go 100,000 plus miles with virtually nothing but rudimentary service, what’s left for the DIY guy? The back yard DIY guys have pretty much been engineered out of the picture.

I do most of my own work around the house etc. but am warming to doing less. I hadn’t hired a plumber in over 50 years if ever except for initial house plumbing. But when we got new counters and a sink, I met my Waterloo. Spent over $40 in parts for the drains trying to connect them and one trip to Menards and two to the hardware store. On my third trip I gave up and stopped by the plumber. He came the next day, re-did the whole drain plumbing, spent a couple hours plus he had to make two trips to the shop for parts. I figured $3-400 but got the bill and it was $134.00. And I didn’t even tip the guy. I did offer him a cup of coffee though. So comes a point to just let a specialist do it and spend your own time making money to hire the specialist.

I would bet if one adjusts for inflation, that the average car today takes less bite out of the family’s budget than the average car did back in the 1950s. In my career, time was money. As a graduate student, I could have tried to find a house to rent where I could have space to work on the car. This would mean that I would have to spend time driving to campus and hunt a parking place. I would have to mow the grass and shovel snow in the winter. However, for less than half the cost of renting the house, I could live in married student housing, with no grass to now or snow to shovel, walk out the door, get on a bus and be at the building where my classes were held in 5 minutes. I didn’t have to be concerned about the appliances that came with the apartment. The refrigerator conked out one Saturday morning. I made a two minute phone call to the building manager and 20 minutes later the refrigerator was replaced. There were students on my program that had been there a year or more before I started my degree program and were there a year after I finished. As a young faculty at a university, I could spend the time working on my car, or I could use the time for research so I could get tenure and advance in rank. The point is that for me, time was money. When I factor in my time, the actual cost of running a car today is probably less than the cost of ownership of a more easily repaired car of the 1950s or 1960s. Cars back then required more attention.

The car would be an 89 Toyota Corolla :grinning:

I don’t think many would buy the car. Most my friends make fun of me for working on my cars. The just lease brand new cars every 3 years, only go to the dealer for service that is usually pre-paid and spend a lot of money more than I do.

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Nobody is interested in buying high maintenance vehicles. Frequent replacement of spark plugs and fuel filters are a thing of past. An easy to replace fuel pump or water pump isn’t a sales feature, customers expect these parts to last for the duration of the ownership of the vehicle (not 25 years).

For years now the Toyota maintenance schedule has been to change the oil and filter every 10,000 miles and the brake fluid, engine air and cabin filters every 30,000 miles, simple enough maintenance to let a shop do this, no need to be your own mechanic.

Ease of maintenance/repairs isn’t a factor for most new car buyers

Some of us being the exception, but we don’t represent the vast majority of car buyers, only a small percentage, I would think

Imagine if the brochures stated how easy it is to replace spark plugs or brake pads

Some customers would think “So in other words, these items will need to be replaced frequently. The other brands I was looking at made no mention of maintenance items, maybe because they’re more reliable”

Well intentioned idea, George, but it would almost certainly backfire

And some hamfisted owner would inevitably botch the spark plug replacement, or worse, the brake pad replacement. And maybe he’d consider suing the manufacturer for “false advertising”

In a world where car manufacturers try to convince people to buy that their cars because they need very little maintenance, I can’t see any advantage for car companies to imply that a car is going to need repairs at some point down the road. Yes, of course all cars need some kind of repairs as the years pass, but reminding people that a car will need to be repaired in the future is not–IMHO–a winning sales pitch when it comes to the vast majority of car buyers.

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What they said. The car would have to be designed for work after assembly and not necessarily for work during assembly. That would make it more expensive. Plus, it wouldn’t require work for over 100,000 miles beyond filter and fluid replacement. I really didn’t have any parts replacement until 150,000 miles on my old Accord. Those that I did replace were easily handled. We just ignore the fuel gauge error on our 2003 Silhouette. I could drop the gas tank, but that is not an easy job in a home garage without a lift. We just use the trip odometer to tell us when to buy fuel.

Those attributes run at cross purposes to one another. “Easy to Service” adds cost because it likely means “More difficult (more costly) to assemble” Add a built-in scanner - easy-peasy with a touch screen display and wireless access to the internet… Oh, wait a minute, adds more cost.

And what he others said here. People treat cheap cars like a refrigerator; The light comes on when I open the door and it runs without any servicing! :smiley:

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Good point. I have to wonder of there are any comprehensive studies of what compels the average buyer’s final decision. I recognize that buyers in different market segments have different motivations, hence manufacturers design for a “price point”, but the results of such a study might be interesting. I guess the real problem in doing one would be getting the respondents to be honest… with themselves.

The difference in the miles of trouble free service between the old Crown Vics and Escorts was less in the quality of the vehicles than it was the maintenance and care given the cars. Despite the Escort being much simpler and cheaper to maintain they went to the crusher much sooner due to neglect and abuse…

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Many years ago I had a talk with a distant relative who worked as a chemist for the company (Dupont?) supplying paints to most of Detroit’s big 3 automakers. He told me how much money was spent per vehicle getting each one to have a high quality paint job and appearance in and out. I forget the details but I was blown away by the amount.

My first thought was I would love to buy a new car with dull looking paint and a dull looking but functional interior if I could save that much money.

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GM tried that approach several years ago. Their bean counters said folks wouldn’t notice mediocre finishes inside and out. The bean counters were wrong, GM lost a lot of market share.


Glitz, status, image, etc., are primary reasons for a great many cars bought. But also many people are quickly soured on a car when it requires any significant service beyond scheduled maintenance. I helped a friend search for a good deal on a car and found a 2010 Corolla with 110,000 miles for $7,200. The school teacher who had bought the car new had kept it meticulously maintained and at 102,000 it needed front brakes and both front axles then at 108,000 the muffler was replaced and that was enough to sour her on the car. She let a dealer/broker sell the car for her after she bought a new car. The owners manual pouch had receipts for all maintenance and repairs from the dealer and a local independent shop.