This is one of the reasons I do not purchase vehicles made by the big three anymore. They do a lack-luster job of designing the parts that really matter, and focus almost entirely on the fluff features inside the cabin space. While they have beautiful body designs, the parts that matter are really poorly designed though. Timing belts that need to be replaced every 60k vs. my 2001 honda civic every 110k. Starters and Alternators that at best last 50-60k. GM is especially notorious for designing parts to increase dealer profitablity in repairs and routine maitanence.
If you want a vehicle that was designed for ease of assembly and repair purchase a Volkswagen. Volkswagen intentionally designs their vehicles to be easy to assemble and repair in an effort to create a better quality design.
Amcluassen: Your point about maintainability is a very good one, and often overlooked. Even most of us who take a pragmatic view tend to worry about reliability and not maintainability. I can only assume this is caused by the fact that so few people maintain their own cars. The kind of design that you cite here virtually forces the vehicle owner to take the car back to the dealership. Excellent point.
EXACTLY LIKE MY DODGE! Even something as simple as trying to drain the radiator is going to make a mess, thanks to "modern design" by monkeys of the worst class!
I have a 2002 Dodge Stratus R/T Turbo Sedan, the damn design is full of design "solutions" that make it a terrible car to service. I also have and still use an older Spirit R/T of 1991 vintage... Let me say that a complete radiator service takes me about four hours in the old Spirit, and that means removing the engine radiator, replacing all the hoses (coolant and heater hoses) and thermostat, and cleaning the radiator inside and out, backflushing the system and refilling and purging the air out. The 4 hour is from the instant I take out my tools to the moment I store them back and finish cleaning and be ready to use the car.
The first time I wanted to perform the same job on the newer Stratus, it took me NO LESS THAN 4 FULL DAYS!.- Lets looki nto it: First you have to drain the coolant without making a mess, but the damn Stratus doesn't have a drain valve, but a plug. This plug is not pointed towards the rear side of the radiator, but to the side, so that the plug gets above the radiator support menber, which has a 2" hole at 90 degrees, so that you have to carefully grasp the flimsy plastic ridge on the plug with a very small adjustable wrench in order to grasp it and then use a larger adj. wrench to turn it, praying that the "handle" does not break, leaving the plug inside the radiator side tank. Then you find that the discharging coolant splashes all over because it hits the radiator lower suppot member and you cannot avoid it. You CANNOT easily remove the radiator as in the older Spirit, because the radiator is bigger than the space above it, so that you have to completely disassemble the front fascia (bumper) together with the upper bridge that supports the hood latch, then you find that the engine radiator is assembled together with the other THREE radiators (Turbo Intercooler, Air conditioner condenser and Automatic Tansmission fluid cooler), so that the only way to easily remove the radiators assembly is when you remove the entire engine/transaxle assembly by dropping it down from the vehicle! There is simply not enough space to remove the radiators either from above or from below (only large enough space is to the rear, which means the radiator set was installed from the rear BEFORE the complete engine/transaxle was installed from below). Trying to extract the engine radiator alone means cutting UNOBTAINABLE rubber joiners that hold together the four radiators. That means that cutting those rubber joiners (that have arrow heads that prevent removing them, unless you cut them) is a bigger headache, since no dealer have replacements. So I was forced to leave the radiator in place and forget about being able to clean the outside of the tubes and fins. Then the hose clamps appear to be installed by a team of sadistic monkeys, which planned the worst possible orientation of the clamp tangs. Even with the help of a specialized set of flexible cable pliers, it took me more than a couple of hours to remove the four hose clamps, and a severe knuckle bruising, courtesy of the damn monkeys placing the hose conections in the most cramped spaces possible. But then I found that the damn thing refused to take more than half the coolant volume, thanks to the monkey designers placing the air purge valve FAR BELOW the upper coolant passages inside the cylinder head... Not even raising high the front of the car with a large floor jack was enough to allow me to purge the air out of the head. After several vain attempts to refill the new coolant inside the engine, the engine refused to take more than the first 5 of 9 quarts of coolant... even trying to "burp" the system by starting the engine and heating it for several minutes was useless. The only way I found to force the 4 remaining quarts inside, was to feed the coolant tru a 3/4" hose connected to the coolant/oil heat exchanger in the base of the oil filter, whis is located in the lowest part of the engine, and dropping the coolant tru a large funnel held HIGH above the engine bay (about seven feet high, using a ladder) so that the high fluid head actually forced the coolant with enough pressure and velocity in order to displace the air pockets inside the cylinder head passages. That was the only way to get rid of the air in this modern, Cab-Forward and aerodynamic, low hood vehicle! Even the thermostat replacement forces you to remove at least two quarts of coolant, since the head is above the thermostat housing. Need to change the serpentine belt? Be prepared to remove a plastic cover with many plastic fasteners, just to find that an engine support prevents belt removal!
In the end, I found Chrysler managed to totally mess the very good design of their 1991-1995 Spirit/Aclaim models and got a lousy design in their newer cars. Will I buy a newer Chrysler? NO WAY!
When my wife needed a new car, I placed MAINTAINABILITY high above style or electronic gadgetry... so I found that the only two cars available in Mexico that appear to have ample space and a logical engine bay design, were the oldest designs still available in 2011: the reissued VW Jetta generation-4, and the old Nissan TSURU GS-III that are truly old designs, way easier to repair and a deligt for the DIY mechanic. So lets "punish" the manufacturers of difficult to maintain/repair designs by purchasing older designed, better laid-out vehicles. Amclaussen.
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