photo courtesy of The_Gut @ creative commons
These are the cars that cause us to mumble under our breath when they drive by. So smug. So reliable. Sure! Drive right past our shop! How's a mechanic supposed to make a monthly boat payment with so many of these things on the road?
Yes, the cars we hate most, as mechanics, are the cars that provide us with the fewest repair dollars. I mean, you see a '99 Jeep Grand Cherokee roll into the shop and you can practically smell the transmission rebuild. But the cars on this list? You'll be lucky to sell their owners a set of brake pads or a muffler.
If you're looking for a car to buy, however, this list might provide you with some good clues. Oh, sure … don't worry about us!
This list reflects our own experience, of course. So when we cite the ready availability of parts, we're talking about the typical repair experience in metropolitan areas in the Northeast. We're not sure the same is true in North Grainbucket, Iowa.
Also, astute observers (you know who you are) will notice 13 cars in this list, not 10. Please don't write in to complain.
One of the most reliable cars available today. The Civic rarely seems to break, and when it does, its problems are easy to diagnose. Original Equipment Manufacturer, aka OEM, parts are both affordable and easy to get.
The Camry used to be the clear-cut winner when it came to reliability. Other cars are catching up, but it's still one of the most reliable performers around. Affordable and easy-to-get OEM parts, too.
About all that's ever needed on the Corolla are regular maintenance and an occasional brake job. We're not making any money on this car, that's for sure. OEM parts are affordable, too.
Unfortunately for us, only dealers are currently servicing the expensive hybrid components in the Prius. That will change in time. But, for now, we're not making any money off the Prius.
The Prius is crammed full of technology, but Toyota has put plenty of effort into the layout, which is well thought out. Considering the number of components that are under the hood, the non-hybrid parts are pretty easy to access and service.
From our point of view, the Prius is terrible news for mechanics — not even the brakes wear out, thanks to the regenerative braking system. All we get to install are wiper blades. How are you supposed to buy a pair of Jet Skis on that money?
Ford Fusion and Ford Fusion Hybrid
In our humble opinion, these are two of the few American cars that really approach the reliability of the Japanese brands. (Official Car Talk Disclaimer: Ray is a Ford stockholder — as well as a disgruntled former GM stockholder.)
Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey
Minivans have generally been pretty good to us. They're big cars with a lot of parts that eventually fall off. But if you're looking for the best of the minivans — the ones on which we make the least amount of money — those would be the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey. Are they as reliable and as affordable as the other cars in this list? Probably not. But in the minivan class, they're the best choices going.
See "Civic" and "Accord." The only repair issue we see with the CR-V is a "chattering" final drive in the all-wheel-drive version. Other than that, the CR-V is just as reliable as any other Honda. The transmission, engine and everything else are all great. Parts are affordable, and big repairs are infrequent. Drat!
Unfortunately for mechanics, the Element has the same reliable drivetrain as the CR-V, so the same comments apply. The other reason we hate this car? Element owners always seem to have big dogs, which translates to a "big stink for mechanics."
For an all-wheel-drive car, the Impreza is very reliable. Usually, we count on making a lot of money on all-wheel-drive vehicles, thanks to all the additional drivetrain components. Sadly, that's not the case with this car. Thanks a lot, Subaru. We find parts to be reasonably priced and widely available.
Parts are readily available and reasonably priced. When it comes to all-wheel-drive vehicles, like the Impreza, the Forester is a sturdy, reliable choice.
The Altima runs forever, and it's great to drive. The four-cylinder edition is a reliable car that's easy to fix. These cars just don't seem to break. Other than routine oil changes, we only see Altima owners when they've racked up 150,000 miles or more.
Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Peugeot and AMC:
These are cars we fondly remember as rolling boat payments. We'd see them coming into the shop — usually on the back end of a tow truck — and we'd know it would be a good month. Unfortunately, these manufacturers are now on our fecal roster because they've pulled out of the U.S. market. Fiat and Alfa may come back in the next few years, even if they have to sneak in disguised as Chryslers. We just hope they haven't improved too much.
We could live with all the other cars on this list if we could just have a dozen customers with these heaps. Guys, please come back! We miss you!