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What's the worst make/model to work on?

Most of us have worked on cars for years. Some professionally, some to save money or for the satisfaction of doing it ourselves, some can barely change oil.

I was wondering what everyone’s opinion is on the hardest make/model of car to work on. What really busted your knuckles and frustrated you to no end? Was it a stupid design? Would you like to meet the engineer who thought this was a great idea and kick him/her in the shins? Was it something that never should have gone wrong with a car in its normal lifespan?

Conversely, what’s the easiest car to work on, and a job that’s normally a real pain, that can be accomplished relatively easily on a certain brand/model of car?

I await your comments :slight_smile:

I’ll have to give this one some serious thought and post back later. A rash of possibilities springs instantly to mind. :slight_smile:

The easiest is easy - 4th gen Civic/2nd gen CRX. Everything’s accessible, there’s lots of room, and the car itself is simple enough that you don’t need a computer science degree to troubleshoot. The hardest part is the pin that secures the shifter linkage to the transmission, which owner/enthusiasts lovingly refer to as the Bitch Pin. It’s a spring pin that’s hard as hell to get out unless you know the trick (a rod bolt from an Integra motor used as a punch).

The hardest vehicle to work on that I own has been my MR2, mostly because with the mid-engine configuration, everything’s in a weird position, and you have to stretch way over the car to get to stuff that’d be right in front of you on a normal car.

The hardest vehicle I’ve ever worked on was a friend-of-a-friend’s original Mini Cooper. He’d replaced the stock motor with a B18-C5 from an Integra for 195hp. The clearances were so tight that he had to tilt the motor slightly so the transmission would be in the right spot, so the valve cover’s exhaust side was kind of wedged over the radiator. I had to call my SO out to get to some areas because my hands were just too big to fit. One hell of a fun car, though.

Any Pontiac Fiero with the 2.8L V6 was a real pain to work on.


I don’t know if there’s one vehicle…It really depended on the job…

My 84 GMC S-15…Changing the plugs was easy…Changing the valve cover gaskets (especially the left side) was a night-mare.

Wifes 87 Accord - Changing the plugs was the easiest set of plugs I ever changed…But the timing belt was a real pain. Mainly because of the lack of room. There were places I couldn’t reach my forearm into.

My 98 Pathfinder…Changing the timing belt was an easy job…but changing the oil filter was a lot more complicated than any other vehicle I ever changed the oil filter on.

The hardest was probably my '86 Toyota Van. The engine was in the middle of the vehicle, between/behind the front seats. Access was schieved by lifting the driver’s seat along with its floorboard. I had to manufacture a special wrench to be able to access the oil filter without a rack.

The easiest was probably my '72 Vega. Everything was simply laid out and logical with tons of free space under the hood. The engine was a 2300cc 4-banger, and there was actually rooom for a smallblock V8 under there. Cosworth Engineering used to sell a conversion kit to put one in.

Thunderbird Supercoupe…jammed in there with a shoe horn’s shoe horn.

Ford Aerostar vans were by far the most difficult vehicles to work on for me while Quad-4 engines in any vehicle were so aggravating that I refused to work on them beyond maintenance.

My parents had an old Dodge Tradesman van that was quite the joy (sarcastically). The engine was up front, but between the front positions. Kind of in a cut out in the firewall went over it. All kinds of fun. You had to go in and out to do even the most basic maintenance. The only advantage was it was the old bullet proof slant-6 so required almost no maintenance (and it didn’t get any, either).

Easiest by far was the Fiat 128. It was FWD, so that was a bummer, but it was easy to get at everything. You didn’t have to tilt the engine for anything, even to remove the tranny.

Changing the bulbs on a Renault Megane was a 45 min contortion and swear-fest. Blood was guarenteed. In fact, a lot of european cars are grim in this department despite making carrying speare bulbs a legal requirement.

I took one look at my Wife’s Volvo s40 and told her to go to the parts shop and pay €7 for fitting a new bulb. Original mini was simple, but cramped, but the big stuff was not that big, so OK. Volvo 340 was easy (big engine bay) and I rember changing a clugth on an early 80’s corrola by driving the RHS onto a low wall…

I agree with Rod, having owned an Aerostar I know what a pain in the rear they are to work on. (or in the front for that matter) :wink:

“The hardest vehicle I’ve ever worked on was a friend-of-a-friend’s original Mini Cooper. He’d replaced the stock motor with a B18-C5 from an Integra for 195hp.”

Your friend is insane. Good for him!

1965 T-Bird was the most difficult overall, mostly because clearances were tight under the hood, and it had LOTS of leaks that could not be fixed in the passenger compartment and trunk.

1988 Civic a close second. Replacing the glass headlight lenses (whose bright idea was that?!) was especially brutal. Timing belt also way more difficult than necessary. Had to support front of engine (right side) to get belt off. Also we had a lot of things wear out prematurely, which also made it a pain! CV joints at 70K, and a thing called a Main Relay which was located Way under the dash!

Easiest was my 1981 Chevette. That car was tough too. Nothing ever broke except timing belt when I went over 60K interval once.

I’ve heard of people having nightmares about working on Cadillacs with the Northstar V8. Of the cars I’ve personally dealt with , getting to the rear sparkplugs on the Ford Windstar isn’t all that fun.

Easiest car I’ve worked would have to be a 1974 Ford F-100. No power steering and no A/C. There wasn’t alot to it really.

The worst I worked on was the Ford Probe. You have to almost remove the front bumper to get to the turn signal bulb.

I guess I’ve been at this too long. I read some of your stories on the worst cars and think to myself “that’s the stuff I work on everyday”. I work on vans all the time where you have to remove the doghouse and the passenger seat. I’d say one of my least favorite was DeLorean, and my favorite jobs are the intakes on most GM’s. Not necessarily because they’re easy but because I’ve done so many of them, they’re pretty quick.

Easy? VW Beetle, Dodge Dart, Plymouth Valiant. VW station wagon too.

worst? 70’s brakes on imports. Especially the models with inboard rotors, mounted not by the rims but next to the differential.

best? brakes on 70’s-80’s GM or Ford products

All-Time Worst…1987-1993 Cadillac Allante…Front wheel drive V-8, 100% electronic controls…NOTHING controlled directly…

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY could fix them…These $55,000 beautiful aluminum body cars went to the shredder when the drivers information panel refused to behave or the suicide anti-lock brakes crapped out and the brake pedal went to the floor…A $55,000 convertible with a tricky MANUAL top?? Are you SERIOUS??

I own one and I love it but I’m a mechanic…

The worst for me was the Renault Le Car, everything was difficult-the oil pan gasket, the muffler etc. Required dis-assembly of everything before you got to anything. Even when the started plug was loose, pushing it back in took half a day.

The easiest was a 1940’s Jeep Willy’s, didn’t have anything extra, probably 6 ft of wiring in all and everything was right there. If you were short you needed a stool but that was the fanciest thing you needed.