View Full Version : Disposable parts, now cars?

03-08-2017, 10:38 AM
There must have been some point in time when auto parts makers decided that making a part serviceable wasn't cost effective. An example of this is a starter motor. My '56 Cub farm tractor had a serviceable starter motor, a rebuild kit was a few bucks and it took less than an hour to get an original, non-working motor working like brand new. Because of this ability to fix and repair cheaply, I see similar tractors in use almost monthly. No one would rebuild a modern starter motor though.

Iron block engines that power our cars are completely rebuildable. The cylinders can be re-bored in 0.010" increments five times. Ford now uses a plasma spray to line the aluminum block in the GT 500, and sees this as the future of engine technology. I assume that this will make rebuilding very expensive, requiring installation of a steel sleeve.

FWD cars that I've had have been time-consuming and expensive to fix. To replace the timing belt on my '81 Ford Escort I have to remove engine mount bolts and raise it partially out of the car. My wife's last car, a Ford 500 AWD, had to have an AC compressor replaced and I saw no way to do that without removing the engine/ transaxle assembly along with the driveshaft to the rear. I traded it in- it will be my last FWD car.

03-08-2017, 10:58 AM
Yes, that's why I have a Challenger RT and my wife a Charger RT. FWD is just no fun. Having the drivetrain go through the steering wheels never feels right.

But to your point, I laugh when many of my friends bought new Honda's and actually serviced them at the dealership. That includes a new timing belt at 60K miles. Then they say, "Honda's are good cars." Never mind the fact that they never serviced their American cars until something went wrong. I know Honda makes a good product. I owned big Honda motorcycles years ago. I serviced or had these serviced. Many people ignored their American cars until there was a problem. By the way, when was the last time you heard of an American engine needing a routine timing chain replacement?

03-08-2017, 01:34 PM
My '81 Ford Escort needed a routine timing belt replacement. If it broke, the valves hit the top of the piston.

An interesting aside, my '74 Fiat 124 Spider has a timing belt for it's overhead cams (like my '81 Escort). Owners complained that it was "high maintenance" because the belt had to be changed as part of periodic maintenance. That system became the standard for may cars and still is.

I traded in my last FWD car for my wife's current car, a BMW 328xi. It's a nice car, but I hope to heck that nothing breaks in it. To change the oil you need to first remove a piece of steel plate below the engine- it provides a structural connection between the parts of the front chassis. The inline 6 is buried deep into the dash, and I'm not sure how I will change the spark plugs when that needs to be done. Dodge just came out with an AWD version of it's Challenger and that would be far easier to maintain. The Dodge has everything on her "must have" list, including a heated steering wheel, but she won't go for it.

03-08-2017, 01:55 PM
For the above reasons our 'newest' car is a 1988 Mazda 626.(bought two years ago with only 40,000 miles on it)
Less to go wrong and easier to fix.
Next down the line is a 1984 Subaru Brumby (Brat to you Stateside guys)
IT scares me with its funny boxer motor and hi lo 4x4 transmission.
Next is a 1979 Morris Marina, simplicity personified!
Ignition points
Push-rod motor
4 speed stick
Drum brakes
Single circuit brakes
One speed wipers
One speed heater fan
Non-power r&p steering

03-09-2017, 08:55 AM
I had a string of Ford Explorers since the first year they made them. My last one was 2004 and my son is still driving it. It's a RWD platform with 4WD and IRS, rides beautifully.

When I gave the 04 to him my wife insisted that I buy the larger Expedition. At that point in our lives we were hauling our daughter's sports team gear all over the east coast, so she wanted the big vehicle. I had that for three years and, although it was a nice, very capable vehicle, too big for my taste as well as a gas guzzler. So I traded that in as soon as my daughter graduated high school.

I looked at the newest Explorer and they are now a FWD platform. Nothing more than a glorified minivan. So I bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I like it so much that I kept it past the point where it had trade-in value, and now has well over 120K miles on the odometer. At 100K I changed the spark plugs. That required removal of the upper intake manifold but I had access. I recently had to replace the alternator and that was a very easy job, because there is a huge amount of access room in front of the engine. Changing the oil is a simple, clean process because the filter is a paper cartridge under a cover accessed from the top- no drips.

03-09-2017, 10:45 AM
Fiat-Chrysler has recently changed the 5.7 Hemi to use Platinum plugs. Otherwise, I would do a 3-4 hour 16 spark plug change that saved the $300 labor charge. I guess I don't miss that 30,000 mile maintenance. I'd use the platinum replacement anyway. Pretty good access to the plugs, except maybe one set might require some strange small electrical device to be moved out of the way.

I've had to replace a water pump, EGR, and power steering pump on 5.7 Hemi's I've owned, and these were very accessible. Since the battery is in the trunk, that's easy, too!

What baffles me is the part number issues. Have you noticed you can't order a part from a dealership without your VIN? Chrysler web parts stores for example, will show brake pads that "fit" your model even though the part isn't necessarily the right one for your model. Sometimes having the vehicle build sheet with codes isn't enough. I want to replace my wife's Charger RT brake pads with the same performance pads that come with my Challenger RT Performance Brakes BR6. Since every brake pad listed will "fit", the only way to accomplish this is to give a dealership your VIN and get the correct part number. You are taking a chance looking this up yourself on-line.

03-09-2017, 12:55 PM
I haven't had the VIN issue, but then the only thing I've replaced is the alternator, and serpentine belt along with the idler and tensioner.

I have the Pentastar V6 in my Jeep, and the 6 plugs are a 100k mile service.

03-11-2017, 06:22 PM
I've had good luck with modern FWD cars. Modern cars simply last longer then the old ones.

My 1999 Honda Odyssey needed almost nothing from 40K to 205K, aside from tie rods, stabilizer links and a couple of motor mounts around 175K. It still was running the factory shocks, exhaust, alternator, etc. when I traded it and I got $2400 on trade. The only weak point on that van was the transmission, which Honda acknowledged with a warranty extension. Mine went out at 40K, under warranty, and at 125k, out of warranty, and Honda picked up the dime for both replacements. It did need a 100K timing belt replacement and was due for another when I traded it. (Most new Hondas run timing chains now)

My daughter is driving my 2005 Mazda3 that I bought new. It's coming up on 185K and has also been largely trouble free. It got new shocks & struts around 150K and lower control arms at maybe 165K. I did the control arms myself, it took a couple hours and cost about $150. It's had a few other small issues, but it's still running strong and is very reliable. Still running the factory clutch! Oh, and it has a timing chain.

My wife's 2007 Prius is at about 192K and runs like new, although it looks a bit worn. We bought it with 112K and have almost zero problems with it. Had to replace the brake control power supply this year for about $400 and the hatch switch failed a while back. I think that's it. Still has the original hybrid battery and averages mid 40s MPG in the summer, upper 30s in the winter. It also has a timing chain.

Cars are more reliable than ever. 15-20 years ago getting to 150K was a real accomplishment, now I expect 200K or more (my lowest mileage daily driver is my daughter's 1998 Escort at about 170K). I haven't replaced a starter, alternator, PS pump or ignition coil (common failure points years ago) in years. Spark plugs go 75K - 100K instead of 30K. No plug wires to change. It's fantastic.

I do appreciate simpler cars (my daily is a 1996 BMW 318ti just about to cross 260K, also on the original clutch), but new cars are generally as reliable as they've ever been.