One of the reasons electric vehicles have been so polarizing is down to the near-constant proclamations that they’re the superior mode of transportation. But truth is usually a mixed bag and spending some time with EVs has shown them to have some serious blind spots that will need to be addressed if they’re ever to supplant internal combustion vehicles. Electrics aren’t always the better option, though they do boast features that make them extra desirable to some.
Among those was the promise that owning an EV yielded lower maintenance costs. But there’s a new study out claiming that’s not entirely true. Data is pointing to electrics actually having average servicing fees higher than traditional automobiles.
In 2017, Mazda announced a restoration program for the first-generation MX-5 Miata in Japan. Those NA years were good ones — sales were strong and customers were happy. But the cars had developed a reputation for being phenomenal project vehicles and an affordable way to get into racing. Many entered into a hard and exciting life as the years rolled on.
Realizing the MX-5 is equally beloved and hardworking in the United States, Mazda has decided to expand the program for North America. On Monday, the company announced that its restoration parts catalog is now 1,100 items deep and ready to help restore the luster of NA Miatas around the world.
Over the weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk asked the world to “please note” that prices on all Tesla inventory would rise by about 3 percent on April 1st. While it sounds like the setup to a particularly bland April Fool’s prank, Musk followed up by saying, “To be clear, this doesn’t affect Tesla website order prices. Existing inventory prices are currently slightly lower than on website. This will bring them in line,” which is only slightly funny.
The automaker is also scrapping its extended service plans, intended to provide annual maintenance on its vehicles. Considering how often Tesla adjusts pricing, this is the bigger story. But let’s give the money matters a little attention before making our deep dive into the company’s bold reliability claims (which is Tesla’s stated reason for the yearly maintenance program’s kiboshing).
National Automobile Dealers Association chairman Wes Lutz doesn’t have much time for critics who claim traditional car dealers don’t want to sell you an electric vehicle. As EVs boast fewer moving parts and lower running costs, green car advocates often say dealerships view the vehicles as a threat to a business model that relies heavily on service visits for profit.
Not so, says Lutz. The parts that do move are the ones they profit from.
Back in January, we asked you B&B to tell us about the least reliable car you’d ever owned. The stories poured in, amounting to a shocking 240+ comments. It took us days to emotionally recover from the sad tales expressed in your replies.
But today will not be a day of tears. We want to know: what’s the most reliable car you’ve ever owned?
One day, if we’re lucky, we’ll see a documentary showcasing old Saabs in their natural habitat. The slinky 9-3 plying the interstate between Burlington, Vermont and the Connecticut coast, a valiant 9000 prowling between a Denver lawyer’s office and home, and a black 900 convertible sneaking up on a rural farmers’ market.
David Attenborough will handle narration duties.
Until that time, we can draw comfort that a conservation program exists to keep this extinct brand on the road. Started last fall by the defunct automaker’s official parts supplier, the warranty program means Saab owners in the United States, Britain, and the brand’s Swedish homeland can look forward to smaller maintenance bills in the future.
While there are dealerships that will happily service your vintage automobile, there are reasons a lot of classic cars are wrenched at home or taken to speciality shops. It’s not typically in a service center’s best interest to hunt down rare discontinued parts and train employees on the reassembly of carburetors. But it still happens, especially among premium brands.
Porsche is rather obsessive about its heritage and has extended that to maintenance and repairs at a large number of stores. It isn’t alone, either. Mark Rogers, a 20 Group consultant with the National Automobile Dealers Association, estimates as many as 1,800 U.S. franchised dealerships are willing to service vintage cars. Some are even selling them — putting desirable classics on the showroom floor in the hopes they might garner positive attention.
Early last week, I brought the Charger into our local dealer to sort out a passel of recalls, not the least of which was a computer reflash to bestow Auto Park capabilities on my ZF-equipped Dodge.
This new programming, it must be noted, not only added the Auto Park feature (which actually works so seamlessly it beggars belief that Dodge engineers didn’t include it from the get-go to save themselves a world of bad PR) but also changed the font in the dashboard EVIC. I now look upon my digital speed readout with a level of disdain formerly reserved for soiled copies of the National Enquirer. Comic Sans would’ve been a better option.
Anyway, the car was also due for an oil change, so I scheduled that service for the same visit. Arriving at the desk, the mental fog cleared long enough to bestow upon me the presence of mind to inquire the cost of a dealer oil change for my Pentastar-equipped Charger.
“Uhhhh … justamomentlemmelook.”
Pokes at computer
“It was around eighty-four dollars last time. Soooo …. about the same again?”
Needless to say, I canceled the oil change, proceeded with the recall work, and broke out my tools when I got home.
According to the American Automobile Association, one third of drivers in the U.S. cannot pay for an unforeseen vehicle repair without going into debt.
AAA says the average trip to the shop will set you back between $500 and $600. So, what does that mean for the 64 million American drivers who can’t afford an unexpected repair bill?
TTAC commentator Arthur Dailey writes:
I take our two out-of-warranty vehicles to a local independent garage for maintenance. The owner is 100-percent honest and that is the most important thing. No unrequired work or surprises. He brings out all the replaced parts, the containers and bills for the replacements. He is not the least expensive, but he’s certainly less costly than any of the local dealers.
I have one vehicle, bought new, that’s had all work performed according to the manufacturer’s schedule. However, when I bring it in now, the conversation may go like this:
Me: “The book says that the coolant should be flushed and replaced.”
Mechanic (later that day): “I checked the coolant and it would be a waste to change it now.”
I have another question for you. My wife has wanted a Camaro and lately I have been thinking about surprising her with one for her birthday or maybe Christmas, so I have been searching the listings for a nice used example.
First thing I noticed is these cars sure seem to hold their value!
I found a Craigslist ad for a very nice looking, well optioned, 2011 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT with the RS package. “ALL scheduled service and maintenance has been performed by Chevrolet certified technicians,” the ad says and the price seems reasonable.
Then I see the kicker: the mileage is high for the year at 117,800. I know that a documented maintenance history is more important than mileage, so I wonder what impact higher mileage would have on a car like this? What problems could I run into sooner by buying a well maintained, high-mileage car?
I am the last person who would want to be even peripherally involved in you losing your job or impeding that great Lincoln rebuild. I am a loyal reader of TTAC and “slavishly” read your column.
My Subie is just touching 120,000 miles. It has been a really great, reliable ride and I fortunately have a good dealer and private mechanic for the routine issues that pop up.
I want to keep the car as long as possible. I do oil changes and the roughly 60,000 mile recommended scheduled service on time. The engine sounds good, has good (for a Subie) pick-up, averages 20 to 23 miles per gallon, and still has a tight body. I anticipate the need for new shocks at some point soon and a muffler/cat replacement.
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- Sayahh Story idea or car design competition: design a compact sedan, a midsize sedan, coupe and/or wagon specifically for people 6'4" through 7'2". Not an SUV nor a crossover nor a raised chassis like the US Toyota Crown or Subaru Outback.
- Sayahh I only check map app only when absolutely necessary and only at a red light. An observation: lots of ppl leave 2 car lengths (or more) between themselves and the car ahead of theirs so that they can text or check the internet (because they are afraid they might roll forward and hit the car in front of them?) This drives me crazy because many ppl do it and 3 cars will take up almost 7 car lengths and ppl cannot get into the left turn lane when it's bordered by a cement "curb." Worse is when they aren't even using their phone and have both hands on the stewring wheel and waiting for the green light. Half a car length is enough, people. Even one car length is too much, but 3 or 4 car lengths? At 40 MPH, maybe, not at 0 MPH please.
- 6-speed Pomodoro My phone never leaves my pocket while driving. This is fine in my daily with bluetooth and also fine in my classic car, but people get mad in a hurry that I'm ignoring them.
- BklynPete Maverick has had recalls but overall seems reliable. Consumer Reports recommends it for whatever that's worth, buyers think they're better than sliced bread, they're sold out, and look like a long-term success.I suppose you're right that DCT can be laid at Mulally's feet too but as COO Fields was in charge of product. When he got Mulally's job, Fields brought back mgmt siloes and lost shareholder value. Maybe Fields took the fall for other's bad decisions. But ultimately as CEO the axe had to land on him. I cannot believe that Farley won't meet the same fate if 2023 warranty claims make Ford lose money again.
- Inside Looking Out All that is BS. Nissan just tries to buy time. By 2028 every Tesla will have fusion reactor under the hood. Commercial fusion reactor is under development as we speak 5 miles away from my home in Sandia labs in Livermore.