Which cars out there are still good to work on for DIY mechanics?
After spending the day working under the hood of my 1989 Honda
Accord, I found myself cursing the Japanese engineers who vomited
this forsaken labyrinth into my engine compartment. Then I wondered:
Which makes and models out there, made within the past 10 years, are
the easiest for the average shade-tree mechanic to work on? -- Bill
RAY: I feel your pain, Bill. Your car is, in fact, one of the biggest
pains in the ball joints for an amateur to work on. You couldn't
access anything inside that engine compartment without taking off at
least 10 vacuum hoses.
TOM: I remember the vacuum-hose diagram for that car. I think it
weighed about 14 pounds. I think that was true for all the Accords
from about 1984 through about 1990. And the '84 and '85 carbureted
models were the worst.
RAY: That was the era in which vacuum hoses and solenoids were the
preferred methods of emissions control, especially by the Japanese
automakers, who insisted on maintaining high mileage while
controlling emissions. Nobody really knew how to do that yet, so they
were patching together anything they could find that would work. And
to Honda's credit, the stuff did work. Its cars had low emissions and
great gas mileage, and they were very reliable. But all that stuff
did make it difficult for shade-tree mechanics, who always ended up
with 16 vacuum hoses and no idea where to reattach them.
TOM: The truth is, almost any car made in the past 10 years will be
better. By the mid-'90s, carmakers were switching over to much more
sophisticated computerized engine-management systems to control
emissions. And by the late '90s, most of them had made the
transition. So, today's cars have just a handful of vacuum hoses.
RAY: In my opinion, the easiest cars to work on are late-model,
four-cylinder Japanese cars. Anything from 2000 on will be a piece of
cake compared with what you're used to, Bill.
TOM: So, you got hosed, Bill -- vacuum hosed. But don't feel bad. So
did all the rest of us who worked on cars from that era.