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View Full Version : What Is It With Car Designers?



Jim Koepke
01-02-2015, 9:22 PM
Our car needed an oil change and this is something I do not trust to the quick changers. I have had some bad luck with those folks. Besides I can save a few bucks and it doesn't take all that long to do an oil change.

My gripe is the way the oil filter is mounted the filter wrench can not get a good purchase. When it does it can move less than an inch before there is an obstruction. Would it have killed them to give a little more room around the filter to facilitate its changing?

Then there is the fill tube. Again, there is no room around the top of the fill tube to allow for bringing the oil to the tube and tilting it without spilling oil all over the hoses or engine. I hold one thumb over the top of the oil container and maneuver it into place with the other hand. This usually works, but still there is always a little leakage from at least one container.

The top of the oil cap gives the oil grade/viscosity to use. Is there some reason they couldn't include the capacity. Our car takes 6 quarts. Every time I go to buy oil the guy at the counter only wants to sell me 5 quarts until I point out to him that it takes 6. He would look it up and say, "well what do you know." Most of the filter and oil sales are based on 5 quarts. Last time, to get around this dance, I just bought a case of oil and two filters.

I guess I am spoiled by my early experience with air cooled VWs. Those were designed to be taken care of by the driver in order to keep the motorized support staff for the German Army during WWII at a minimum.

jtk

Justin Ludwig
01-02-2015, 9:31 PM
Find a trustworthy Quicklube. I found one and am extremely happy that I don't have to change the oil on my 6.3L Powerstroke, even when I know how.

Matt Meiser
01-02-2015, 9:57 PM
The second issue is pretty much true of anything I've changed the oil on. Funnels are a buck or two.

The third, the cap is probably used on several engines. I usually use a paint marker to write the wrench size for the drain plug and oil capacity somewhere under the hood. Now I've got a Excel file with the oil capacity, type, spark plug, air filter, etc for everything we have with an engine. Can even pull it up on my phone.

Our Milan, the oil filter points straight down with no obstructions underneath (except a cover that streamlines the bottom of the car and must be removed.). Really weird that there's nothing to drop all over. F150s have a lot in the way but they at least mount a drip tray to direct the mess. On my current one I can actually reach easily from above.

Tom Stenzel
01-02-2015, 10:25 PM
Sounds like you have a Chevy Venture.

There's an air conditioning line in the way, plus they made sure that turning a filter wrench would grab and maim the pressure sender wires.

Or maybe you have a Saturn where the oil filter is mounted right over the passenger side half shaft. It takes a special kind of moron to come up with something like that.

Maintenance of any type has long been at the bottom of the list of vehicle designers. Try adding brake fluid to a Chevy Venture sometime.

Those Volkswagens wern't immune either. My '73 Superbeetle had an ingenious system that when driven in the rain some water could be sucked into the air cleaner. In the lower corner of the air cleaner housing was the crankcase breather line. Yep, the water went straight into the crankcase.

At least when I pulled the dipstick and found a gray mess I knew it wasn't antifreeze!

I don't want to open this up too much or it could go on for days. The automakers deserve all the drubbing they can get. Won't make a difference though.

-Tom

Bruce Page
01-03-2015, 1:03 AM
Once had a late 80's Mazda 626 that had its filter mounted horizontally. It was impossible to change the oil without making a oily mess and you had to be a contortionist to do it. I did it one time, Jiffy Lube did it after that.

Jim Matthews
01-03-2015, 10:38 AM
Those were designed to be taken care of by the driver in order to keep the motorized support staff for the German Army during WWII at a minimum. jtk

Today's cars are built with speed of assembly at a minimum.

My stealership can change the oil for less than the oil alone would cost me.
With the synthetic and synthetic blends they use, the service interval is 10,000 miles.

I get twitchy, over 5000 - but still.

I can't see well enough to wrench my cars, anymore.
I'll change the tires, and headlight bulbs - but not the oil.

I miss my Saab 99. It drove in a straight line.
I don't miss trying to get it to start, or maintain oil pressure - but still.

ken masoumi
01-03-2015, 11:09 AM
My gripe is the way the oil filter is mounted the filter wrench can not get a good purchase. When it does it can move less than an inch before there is an obstruction. Would it have killed them to give a little more room around the filter to facilitate its changing?

jtk

You can get longer/wider oil filters ,as long as the hole and the rubber ring is the same size as oem filter.I did that with my older Chrysler which made it easy to just grab the filter by hand and loosen it without scraping my knuckles,it also gave me a bit more oil capacity.

Ole Anderson
01-03-2015, 11:14 AM
I used to change my oil until our local GM dealership began running $10 oil change specials. I can't buy the oil for that, let alone the oil and filter. Obviously they want to sell you additional services, but no high pressure to do so. What they do is give me a list of things I can decide if they really need doing and if it is something I can do or I want to have done by a pro. Of course they want you back at 3000 miles, but with the new oil change algorithm that pops up on your instrument cluster indicating that at 5000 miles you might be at 87% due for a change, they get shot in the foot by their own car maker.

By the way a funnel and a socket driven filter wrench are your friend. Still messy though. Although lately I have been using a filter wrench that looks like a giant set of slip joint pliers (for my Jeep and MH where I do still change the oil).

Pat Barry
01-03-2015, 11:40 AM
I go to Valvoline and have been very happy. I gave up on the DIY oil changes years ago because of the issues Jim described with accessability, not wanting to deal with it in cold weather here in Minn, not wanting to deal with the old oil and having to bring it back to someplace for recycling, the price if the oil change wasn't too bad (as long as you don't buy all the extra services), I wasn't getting any personal satisfaction from an oil change well done, etc, etc. I find the convenience of this service to be very good. Besides, in the old days we would just dig a hole and dump in the old oil - easy peasy - you do that now and you might go to jail.

Steve Rozmiarek
01-03-2015, 12:33 PM
I have several gripes to add to the list. In my Duramax diesel pickup, the fuel filter is in a ridiculous location. I'm sure the maintenance manual's description of the procedure to change it would start with, "remove inner fender well". Grr.

GM used to have a clever lock pin to remove the headlight housing to change bulbs. It took all of a minute, if your hands were cold. For some inexplicable reason, they got rid of that, not the maintenance manual likely reads "remove battery/air filter box, depending on side". I haven't been able to change a bulb in under an hour.

Rant continued, why in the world do we need new model years every year??? Imagine how cheap a good vehicle could be made if they would tool up a body line for 30 years or so. All vehicles look the same now, so the designers are the engineers to try to get an edge. This seems to cause dumb things to slip through. I'm a pickup guy, so I bet a newly manufactured Ford using the late 70's body, or a GM using the 90's style, would sell pretty good at a reasonable price point.

Rick Potter
01-03-2015, 1:34 PM
I posted this a while back, but a few months ago a lady friend needed a quart put in her car. In my most flannel wrapped, manly voice I told her I would take care of it for her. I ran down to Pep Boys to get her some, and was shocked that plain old 10/40 was $5.20 a quart. When did that happen?

For the last few years I have been buying oil changes in bulk from local purveyors. Most recently got three for $30. I cannot change my own for that. The wife's Toyota mini van came with lifetime oil changes....11 years ago. They don't do that any more.

Matt Meiser
01-03-2015, 2:22 PM
Both Walmart and Meijer have the Motorcraft semi-synthetic our Fords call for for $18/5qt so 7 quarts runs me about $25. Filters are about $5 for Motorcraft, Wix, or Napa Gold which is the same as the Wix. I can change the oil in about 30 minutes including clean up. When my 5-gallon pail of oil is full Oriely takes it and even usually cleans up the outside nice. They'll take the filters too when my other covered pail gets full.

When I took it to the local quick oil change chain last winter I paid something like $60 by the time I "upgraded" to the to right oil. Worse though they used some sketchy brand of oil filter. For another $10 I could have gotten the Sketchy Platinum oil filter which of course was highly recommended for vehicles like mine. They also told me how filthy my 3-week old air filter was and recommended a trans flush because of how dirty the fluid looked (by the way there's no dipstick to check.). And they are the ones who get the good reviews.

Jim Koepke
01-03-2015, 3:23 PM
Glad to see it isn't just me.

I stopped using the "fast lube" places after having a bit of trouble with oil leaking. One of the local shops where we used to live would use air wrenches on the oil plugs. Another would change your oil plug, without asking, to make it a quick drain plug that didn't have to be removed. I think the state bureau of automotive repair made them stop doing this after there were a lot of complaints.

I do not like doing it myself, but the money saved is only surpassed by knowing it is done properly.

jtk

Jerome Stanek
01-03-2015, 4:31 PM
The last time I took mine to Midas as I had a coupon for a free tire rotation with an oil change. They were more interested in my brakes and other stuff that they never rest the oil change info center and didn't rotate the tires. They wanted to replace the air filter for only $30 plus labor and had a whole list of other stuff to do including replacing my 2 day old wiper blades. The estimate for all the extra work was only a little over $800. Oh yeah they told me my brakes were going to need replacing soon as I only had about 3000 miles on them. What a bunch of bull. Never again

Tom M King
01-03-2015, 4:37 PM
I have several gripes to add to the list. In my Duramax diesel pickup, the fuel filter is in a ridiculous location. I'm sure the maintenance manual's description of the procedure to change it would start with, "remove inner fender well". Grr.

GM used to have a clever lock pin to remove the headlight housing to change bulbs. It took all of a minute, if your hands were cold. For some inexplicable reason, they got rid of that, not the maintenance manual likely reads "remove battery/air filter box, depending on side". I haven't been able to change a bulb in under an hour.

Rant continued, why in the world do we need new model years every year??? Imagine how cheap a good vehicle could be made if they would tool up a body line for 30 years or so. All vehicles look the same now, so the designers are the engineers to try to get an edge. This seems to cause dumb things to slip through. I'm a pickup guy, so I bet a newly manufactured Ford using the late 70's body, or a GM using the 90's style, would sell pretty good at a reasonable price point.

For the Duramax, Napa brand fuel filters are a smaller diameter for most of the body length, and are a lot easier to change. I haven't found that they last any less than the other brands. I've never removed anything but the water sensor wire connector to install or remove the fuel filter. When I was using the standard diameter fuel filters, I bought a "heavy duty" filter wrench that uses a 3/8" extension and ratchet to turn the filter wrench. It worked pretty good too, but now I buy the Napa filters.

Brian Elfert
01-03-2015, 4:45 PM
Rant continued, why in the world do we need new model years every year??? Imagine how cheap a good vehicle could be made if they would tool up a body line for 30 years or so. All vehicles look the same now, so the designers are the engineers to try to get an edge. This seems to cause dumb things to slip through. I'm a pickup guy, so I bet a newly manufactured Ford using the late 70's body, or a GM using the 90's style, would sell pretty good at a reasonable price point.

I disagree that vehicles look all the same. They look pretty similar, but each manufacturer still has their own distinctive style. I can pretty readily tell you if that is a Toyota, Ford, Honda from a distance.

A 30 year old vehicle wouldn't come even close to meeting modern safety standards. By the time you update to meet current safety standards you aren't really saving any money. You also can't use the old engine because it wouldn't meet today's emissions, reliability, or mileage standards. Many still long for carbs because the engine was easier to work on, but fuel injected engines start so much better in cold weather that nobody would buy an engine with a carb. The real reason auto manufacturers redesign vehicles every three or four years is to keep customers coming in the doors. The folks who trade in their car every time a new design comes out probably wouldn't trade their car every three or four years if the new car looked exactly the same as their old one. The smart folks who keep their vehicles for 10 to 15 years aren't going to care if their next car looks exactly like their 10 year old one, but they aren't the customers the manufacturers are going after.

I bought a new Dodge Grand Caravan in 2012. It is essentially the base model such as it is. I don't have any of the luxury features such as automatic heat, power sliding doors, and power lift gate. I can see why someone with a family would want that stuff. I spent under $20,000 on my mini-van, and that is cheap for a new mini-van. Most go for over $25,000 and not unusual to go over $30,000. My brother just bought a 2011 Honda mini-van for his family and even used it cost something like $25,000.

Larry Edgerton
01-03-2015, 7:15 PM
I was all set to buy a Dodge pickup recently until I found out you can not add fluid to the transmission at all, you have to take it to a dealer. I bought a Ford.

Mike Cutler
01-03-2015, 9:24 PM
Glad to see it isn't just me.

I stopped using the "fast lube" places after having a bit of trouble with oil leaking. One of the local shops where we used to live would use air wrenches on the oil plugs. Another would change your oil plug, without asking, to make it a quick drain plug that didn't have to be removed. I think the state bureau of automotive repair made them stop doing this after there were a lot of complaints.

I do not like doing it myself, but the money saved is only surpassed by knowing it is done properly.

jtk


Jim

I haven't seen a "fast lube" place that removes the oil plug in years. All of the ones I know of, though I never use them, vacuum the oil out through the dipstick tube and re-fill it the same way.

You can buy the manual version of these oil vacuums online. Look up MityVac. It's actually pretty slick.

PS.
You should see where the oil filter is on a mini Cooper. BMW/Mini definitely makes it worth your while to change your own oil and filter. ;)

John Sanford
01-03-2015, 10:44 PM
I find it curious that most of the complaints for lousy access are directed at GM vehicles. I was just thinking the same thing, as my son's Lumina went sick New Year's Eve. It turns out you have to remove one of the front wheels to change the battery!! What the heck?!?!?!

As far as oil changes go, I don't think I've actually done DIY on a four wheeler in over a decade. As other's have noted, it can be more hassle and cost than it's worth. I do the 'foolish' thing and actually take my F150 to the dealer, costs about the same as one of the assorted quick lube joints. Other than always putting the erroneous recommended next change interval on the window sticker, they've been straight up with me.

On the other hand, I do most of the fluid changes on my motorcycles myself. There's a couple of reasons for this. One is cost, as there are no "quick change" deals out there for oil changes on a m/c. It's going to cost $60 for a change using good ol' dino oil, probably close to a $100 using synthetic. The only time I've had others do the oil change was when I was having other work done as well and I provided the oil. The second reason is making the space available for changing the oil on a m/c is a lot easier than doing the same for my truck. Third, while having a shop screw up an oil change on a 4 wheeler can be an expensive proposition, it's nothing like the risks run when they screw it up on a motorcycle.

Oh, as far as a horizontally mounted oil filters go, that's what my STeed has. I have to cover the center stand with aluminum foil when changing the oil....

Art Mann
01-03-2015, 11:56 PM
I was all set to buy a Dodge pickup recently until I found out you can not add fluid to the transmission at all, you have to take it to a dealer. I bought a Ford.

That is probably a defensive move on the part of Chrysler to prevent people from contaminating their transmissions with the wrong type of fluid and causing unnecessary warranty repairs. My guess is that Ford just isn't as confident that their transmissions won't develop a leak. Having been an engineer with the company for 25 years, I have driven dozens of their products, some of which way up in the hundred thousands and I have never had to add transmission fluid to any of them. I have seen failures but the ability to add transmission fluid would not have helped. Come to think of it, the worst transmission problem I ever had, which required a transmission replacement, was with a Ford Explorer.

Jim Matthews
01-04-2015, 12:59 PM
A 30 year old vehicle wouldn't come even close to meeting modern safety standards. By the time you update to meet current safety standards you aren't really saving any money.

+1 on this. I was out of touch with progress, until I saw the video below.
It gets to the point around 5:20.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emtLLvXrrFs

Brian Elfert
01-04-2015, 2:21 PM
+1 on this. I was out of touch with progress, until I saw the video below.
It gets to the point around 5:20.


The Insurance Institute on Highway Safety crashed a 2009 Chevy against a 1950s Chevy to show how much safer a 2009 car is. The driver's compartment was totally crushed in the 1950s Chevy and the 2009 had much less driver's compartment intrusion. I think part of the test was to dispel the myth that a larger heavier car with more steel will be safer in a collision.

Steve Rozmiarek
01-04-2015, 2:27 PM
I agree that the new ones are safer and run better, but at a price. How much is safety worth though? There is a rational price for it,and new cars are stupidly expensive. An argument could also be made that they encourage complacency. I'm rural, and todays more complicated vehicles don't hold up either. A new driveline in a heritage body of some sort would be a vehicle for me.

Brian Elfert
01-04-2015, 3:59 PM
A lot of the safety stuff is government mandated now so a manufacturer couldn't just put a heritage body on a new drive train. Plenty of people restore old vehicles with modern drive trains. It might be cheaper than a new car if you do it yourself.

Eric DeSilva
01-04-2015, 4:36 PM
I don't want to open this up too much or it could go on for days. The automakers deserve all the drubbing they can get. Won't make a difference though.

My personal favorite was my 1989 Acura Integra. When the wrench finally broke the oil filter free, your forearm swung around right into the exhaust. All the Acura Integra owners I knew had the same burn scar on the inside bottom of their right forearm.

Pat Barry
01-04-2015, 4:54 PM
I agree that the new ones are safer and run better, but at a price. How much is safety worth though? There is a rational price for it,and new cars are stupidly expensive. An argument could also be made that they encourage complacency. I'm rural, and todays more complicated vehicles don't hold up either. A new driveline in a heritage body of some sort would be a vehicle for me.
I think that the safety improvements are very worthwhile and I can't fathom the idea of a rational price for safety. How much is a loved ones life worth to you? As far as stupidly expensive, I do agree that the cars of today are way more expensive than I would have expected, but the reason for this is multiple and I don't think safety is the biggest factor. If you want the heritage body, there are millions of them out there.

Larry Edgerton
01-04-2015, 4:58 PM
That is probably a defensive move on the part of Chrysler to prevent people from contaminating their transmissions with the wrong type of fluid and causing unnecessary warranty repairs. My guess is that Ford just isn't as confident that their transmissions won't develop a leak. Having been an engineer with the company for 25 years, I have driven dozens of their products, some of which way up in the hundred thousands and I have never had to add transmission fluid to any of them. I have seen failures but the ability to add transmission fluid would not have helped. Come to think of it, the worst transmission problem I ever had, which required a transmission replacement, was with a Ford Explorer.

So what you are saying is that they think I am such an idiot that I can not competently add fluid to my own truck?

So i'm out in the rough, you know, the kind of stuff that a truck was supposed to be made for, and I snag a cooler line. Closest dealer is two hours away. So rather than fix the line, add some fluid and go home I have to call a wrecker and wait for god knows how long. Not all of us live in a city.

My defensive move was to buy something else.