What car brands/makes are the worst to repair?

I was curious as to what peoples’ opinions are of the easiest and worst vehicles to repair. I tend to be biased against Chrysler/MOPAR products in general as for ease of repair. Parts that should be easy to replace are buried under something else that has to be removed and then replaced. I have never worked on a Mitsubishi and have been told they are good contenders for the worst. The same goes for Subarus.

What do people here think about the easiest and worst cars to repair?

Vintage VW wins hands-down for easiest, and Fords from the 50’s and 60’s have to be the worst. If there were three or four bolts to remove on a generator, each used a different sized wrench or socket. Then the body and the engine were opposite types, the body parts were standard sizes and the engines were metric for a few years. Changing a timing belt required dismantling the radiator and grill to access the front of the engine.

How about MODERN CARS too? What typically is easiest and hardest today?

I suppose you’re going to get different answers from the DIY crowd and professionals. I fix cars for a living, and my opinions:

Almost anything over 20 years old sucks. 20 years of grease, rust, corrosion, leaks, and hacked up previous repairs make for miserable work. Mid-80’s domestic cars with engine compartments that were half metric and half standard. Carburetors and distributors, I cant’ wait until they’re all gone.

Timing belts and radiators on PT Cruisers are quite challenging until you’ve done a few.

Try changing spark plugs on a Ford Van V-10.

Ford Taurus heater cores that require removal of the entire dash are also quite challenging until you do enough that you can do the whole job in 2 1/2 hours.

One of the power steering pumps on Lincoln LS are difficult to remove when you do the timing chains.

Subarus, yes they have had head gasket issues, but in less than 2 hours you can have the engine out of the car and mounted on a stand for ease of repair. Other than that they are quite simple and accessible to service and repair.

I guess anything is hard if you don’t know how to do it and anything is easy if you have the right tools and equipment.

Yeah, those all make sense. Some of the GM’s can be a pain to get at plugs too. This is for both FWD and RWD applications. Anything old and corroded can be a pain, even if the design is quite simple.

I have recently messed with a 2001 Cadillac Deville Northstar and that is a pain. They have made the engine compartment like working on the space shuttle. I hear that starters are a nightmare.

The 1995 Dodge Ram I have apart right now isn’t horrible by Chrysler standards but the thermostat and one of the radiator hoses required quite a bit of work to get access to. Yep, it is also a mix of Metric and SAE fittings. I came to realize that my 15mm and 13mm were actually 9/16 and 1/2 sizes and put away all the Metric stuff. I then went to use the belt tensioner and realized that the 9/16 was too small. I had to break out the 15mm once again.

I tend to see Chryslers as having the simple stuff buried under other parts that must be removed. I tend to end up working on more of the domestic stuff and prefer GM or Fords over these. Even most import stuff isn’t really that bad even though people like to say it is complicated and hard to repair.

Perhaps my favorite to work on is my lowly 1994 Geo Metro which is basically a Suzuki Swift. It gets between 52-55 MPG and is like working on a 1970’s pickup truck. There is tons of room to work under the hood and is super easy to work on. I can have the engine out in two hours with nothing more than a basic metric socket set, car jack, and my own two arms. The little 3 cylinders don’t weigh all that much with them being so small, mostly aluminum, and all. This little car gets great MPG with simple technology, not all the complex systems like the modern hybrids. Sure, it isn’t fancy but it works and is reliable.

I wrench for a living, and I’ll add my opinion about types of systems that aren’t fun to work on.

Cars with miles and miles of vacuum hoses (think late 1970s and early 1980s)

Cars with 5 or more V-belts . . . serpentine belts with automatic tensioners rule!

The older cars that used blink codes for diagnosis

Distributors . . . coil on plugs sure are a treat!

Engines on which the knock sensor is in the valley

Cars with big heavy batteries under the rear seat bench . . . my poor back!

id say Cadillac is one of the harder cars to repair even just replacing something as simple as a water pump is a labor filled task

In general Honda’s seem to be suited only to mechanics with small hands. Volvo ranks at the top for me due to the frequency of needed repairs which is high. That these repairs seem to always be mega jobs, and the parts are ultra expensive.

Some of the horror stories I was told were changing the heater core or A/C evaporator on a Mitsubhi Montero; the entire dashboard has to be dismantled, about 8 hours labor. Another one is removing the rear spark plugs from Taurus SHO or the overhead cam V6.

The grand prize probably goes to the Sunbeam Tiger, a small sports car (the Alpine) which had a Ford V8 shoehorned into the engine compartment. The entire engine had to come out to service the two rear spark plugs.

A rear drive 4 cylinder compact truck is probably one of the easier units to service.

Most transverse mounted engines are a royal pain…especially something like a timing belt. The problem is just room to work. The transverse mounted V6’s are the WORSE.

I agree that cars from the 60’s are pain…but they weren’t back then. Cars from the 60’s and 70’s were very easy to work on. But now after years of rust I can understand how difficult they can be to work on.

In every decade from the 1940s through the present decade, there were some makes that a specific repair would be easier than a competitive make, but the competitive make might have another repair that was easier than the first make.
Here are some examples: In the 1940s, the engine of the Chevrolet “stove bolt” 6 was easier to repair, IMHO than the V-8 flathead in the Ford with its dual water pumps and valves that were adjusted by grinding the valve stem. However, the Chevrolet utilized torque tube drive (enclosed drive shaft which necessitated dropping the rear axle to remove the transmission while the 1949 Ford used an open drive shaft which made it easier to remove the transmission (the rear axle did not have to be dropped. However, the earlier Fords did use a closed driveshaft. Probably the easiest car to repair of the low priced three (Ford, Chevrolet, and Plymouth) in the 1940s was he Plymouth. In 1952, Ford introduced suspended pedals which meant that the master cylinder was under the hood rather than under the floor. This made servicing easier.
I think today a 4 cylinder pickup truck such as the Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma are easier to service or repair than most other vehicles.

@cwatkin: “I have recently messed with a 2001 Cadillac Deville Northstar and that is a pain. They have made the engine compartment like working on the space shuttle. I hear that starters are a nightmare.”

Nahh, remove the intake manifold and the starter is right there. It’s actually a clean and simple job, once you get over the idea of having to remove the manifold.

The secret to metric vs. standard fasteners? No way the factory was going to re-tool to metric to build engines that have been in production for 25+ years. While the rest of the world was going metric we weren’t. So any bolt that goes directly into the block or head remained standard. Anything else was metric.

I say the dodge dart with a slant 6 and a manual trans. Manual brakes with 4 wheel DRUMS, manual steering and no ac. That would be a easy car to repair.

@Triedaq unfortunately the Colorado isn’t such a great truck.

In my opinion.

I think the Ranger is built better and slightly more reliable.

I can’t speak for the Tacoma, as my fleet doesn’t have Toyota trucks.

Honda’s and Audi’s and BMW’s tend to be more difficult than others…But there are other standouts…The NorthStar Cadillacs come to mind, Corvettes too…In general, car makers pay little attention to serviceability…

From the 70’s, I have to mention the Renault Le car; a total nightmare. Even changing the exhaust (which rusted every winter), was a full day’s work.
The it was the carburetor ran by the computer and 22 solenoids on my '89 Corolla.
In my current fleet the 3.3 Caravan seems to be a bit problematic. The air filter is hidden under a resonator, the PCV is back behind the intake. Have to change the plugs now at 155K miles (2nd set) and not looking fwd to the rear 3 access. Also, can not figure out whether the car is metric or SAE. You need all your tools around.

I just replaced a broken drive belt on my neighbor’s 2003 Kia Sedona. There would have been no problem if I had the hands of a five year old. Right now…my pick for worst car brand to work on is Kia. Kia has plently of company in the worst car brand to work on but it’s number one on the list for me right now.

“Toyota Tacoma are easier to service or repair than most other vehicles”. -

Be careful,One poor design by Toyota is the actuator position switch for the 4wd engagement in their previous generation 4 Runner. Nearly everyone else sees fit to mount theirs outboard. Toyota requires you to disconnect the transfer case, which just so happens to hold the transmission in place with it’s mounting bracket,k which just so happens needs to be kept in alignment with the motor. A usual 45 minute to 1 hr job for some trucks at $300 parts and labor, is now most of the day, assuming some one has the lifts and $2300. The new ones have scaled back the designed to part time 4wd. Everything “looks” more accessible but at a price for performance.