What makes/models are good for people who want to work on their own car

I got my car when I was fairly young from a family member. These past few years I have been learning to repair quite a bit on my vehicle. Except I’m also realizing how absolutely illogically my engine compartment has been set up. AC line directly over multiple vital components. Fuel injector line in the way of multiple vital components. Changing a simple expansion valve is estimated to be a 9 hour+ job requiring removal of half the engine compartment and the entire dash… And the company Ford is absolutely no help whatsoever on anything. Unless of course I’m willing to throw thousands of dollars at them.
Is there a manufacturer that makes their cars with repairs in mind? Rather than ensuring every repair will have a needlessly long labor time to increase revenue… Curious to hear some perspectives on this.
Are all car companies doing this now? Would I just have to buy an older car to get an engine compartment that doesn’t look like it was designed by a 12 year old with severe ADHD and evil tendencies.
I refuse to pay Ford anything else. I would rather support a company that supports it’s consumers.

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Personally, I think the “best” cars are the ones you don’t have to work on much at all. Given that, I’ve had a lot of good service from Hondas and Mazdas.

The Fords I’ve had were problematic and difficult to work on. The Dodge Challenger I used to have, with a V8, had 16 spark plugs. Not quite sure why.

Personally, I’d stick with something RWD, and perhaps older. When I got to car shows, I’m amazed at how much empty space there is under the hood around the engine. It makes it so much easier to work on, compared to modern cars.


It would be nice to have something that just works, but at some point repairs are inevitable. I don’t have any experience with others besides Ford. So it’s good to hear you consider them problematic and difficult. It wasn’t just me blowing smoke.
Interesting, I guess I had a different view on what car shows would provide. But that actually sounds both fun and informative. Maybe I will have to check out some car shows in my area.

Sorry , but there is not such a vehicle. What may be easy on one vehicle may be a nightmare on another brand. Just look under the hood of several different brands and you will see that most of them are hard to see stuff that you might want to repair.


I recognize that. But I’d assume within that scope, there are some that are more well setup than others. My battery, my engine air filter, 3 out of 6 of my spark plugs, and my fuse box are pretty much the only things I can access without removing a bunch of other stuff. There’s got to be engine compartments with a little more accessibility than that.

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Any FWD v6 will have a cramped engine compartment. You’ll need a non-turbo 4 to get a little bit of room.


No, and I’ve been in the business for 30 years

Just be careful

The other manufacturers aren’t going to be to your liking, either

Some of the easiest vehicles to work on are the least reliable

And on the flip side, some of the most reliable vehicles are also the hardest to work on

You won’t find a vehicle that checks all of your boxes, imo


You will see old cars without air conditioning: no A/C lines to get in the way.
OTOH, if your Ford had no A/C, you wouldn’t have a problem with the expansion valve.

Lower the windows when you drive and pretend you are driving an old car while you sweat.

OK , you said you were given this mystery Ford which was probably at the end of it’s usable life . I have had Fords and they were good vehicles .

What kind of repairs do you think you will be doing ? Unless you have ramps , jack stands and the nessasary tools ( which all cost money ) there just is not much Do it Yourself on any vehicle made in the last 30 years .

You mentioned the battery - why change that yourself when many places will sell you one and change it for free.

That’s a fair point I suppose. Thank you for insight from within the industry. I suppose I need to find some middle ground that works for me then. I was just looking for a good starting point, as all I really have to compare to is what I have experienced with my own vehicle.

That’s not a bad point. I have no need for insane horsepower. I’m not drag racing or anything. Just need to get to work and back and the occasional trip. Thanks for the tip

I live in Florida or I would be all for that strategy lol.
I don’t necessarily mind AC lines, I’ve learned to deal with refrigerant. My issue is it’s placement directly above vital components. I don’t know much about car engineering, but I suppose I just wonder why an AC line that requires specific and time consuming work to move out of the way is placed above other components that are just plug and play. I’d rather the time consuming parts be placed underneath the less time consuming parts.This just seems more logical.

I’m not necessarily saying Ford are bad or unreliable vehicles. Just that it is unnecessarily difficult to do certain simple tasks. For most people that simply pay a mechanic for repairs, this is a non-issue.
I’ve changed starter motor, speed sensors, abs module swap and configuration, refrigerant, rotors/pads, liquid flushes/refills and more. I have tools to work on most things. Despite how expensive they are, I have already saved thousands of dollars by buying the tools and doing these things myself. My problem is how the parts are organized in the engine compartment. Having to evacuate and recover refrigerant to remove my AC line to get to half my engine compartment seems like poor placement of the AC line when it just as easily could have been placed underneath or beside components instead.

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I suspect that auto manufacturers have statistics on how often certain components fail, or are expected to fail. That may help determine where certain items are placed in the engine compartment. Not everything can be open, clear, and at the top. Otherwise, the hood of the car would be very wide, I guess.

While it sounds like you have a lot of experience working on your own car…do bear in mind that professional mechanics may have special knowledge and/or tools that you don’t have access to, simply because you’re not a trained mechanic. Having access to a lift can totally change the difficulty of certain repair jobs, for example.


Just curious… What help were you asking of Ford that you did not get?


I wouldn’t say one current manufacturer is necessarily better than the other in this regard. In general a car with the fewest gadgets and complexity is going to be the easiest to work on. These are the “ease of repair” factors I’d look for were I looking to buy another car.

  • 4 cylinder transverse-oriented electronic-fuel injection non-turbo gasoline engine.
  • Port injection (into the intake manifold) rather than direct.
  • Conventional sedan body style, 4 door, average hood & ride height.
  • Manual 5 speed transmission.
  • The closest you can find a car configured w/only the functionality you need, the better.
  • The fewer gadgets, the better.
  • For any car you are considering, first price out some sample repair fees (parts and labor) for common repairs: Water pump replacement, timing belt, VVT actuator, alternator, catalytic converter(s), O2 sensors, CV half shaft, struts, ball joints, brake pads, brake bleeding, starter motor…
  • Do a little research. Google or Consumer Reports may show how your proposed purchase compares to others on a “total cost to own” list. In general the lower the cost to own, the easier it will be to repair.
  • Also research the expense you’ll incur to obtain the necessary service data. It’s a fools-errand to attempt diy’er repair without the manufacturer’s service data.
  • How much will the car’s scan tool cost?
  • How much will it cost to clear (set to complete) all the readiness monitors so you can pass emissions testing? This seems to be much easier on some vehicles than others.

Mine are now older vehicles , but purchased new; all have been fairly diy’er repair-friendly. 90’s Corolla, 70’s Ford truck, 70’s VW Rabbit. Of those three, the Corolla’s water pump replacement job was probably the most diy’er challenging, followed by its timing belt replacement. Replacing its starter motor is no piece of cake either.

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The ship christened “easy for do it yourselfers to work on” sailed long ago, and it aint coming back.


Buy a late 60’s to early 70’s American made vehicle with a straight 6 cylinder and pre catalytic converters/emissions days and enjoy, just doesn’t get much easier than that…

But then you have to deal with SLA control arms and those pesky dry rotted bushings and gear boxes with pitman/idler arms and all that goes with them vs basic strut and lower control arms (they still have issues and even multilink suspensions), and rack-n-pinions, and you will become an expert on your carburetor as well as time welded bolts and nuts and all the things that goes with much older cars… I’d much rather deal with a strut coil spring than a coil spring in a SLA suspension… So pick your poison… lol

Despite its v8 engine, water pump replacement is a doodle on my Ford truck compared to the Corolla. The only difficult part is removing the fan blade.

Good luck. My 59 Pontiac was no joy to work on and no air cond. Required a lot of maintenance.