What is the least labor intense vehicle for repairs? I'm looking to buy a used sedan, but I want one that's simple to maintain.
I've driven my 1998 Lincoln Towncar for 212,300 miles (15 years) and kept service regularly. She runs great (premium fuel) and gets 25 mpg on road. Now I'm told she needs catalytic converter replaced and has a leaky pan gasket. Both items are labor intense to repair (cost more than the parts), so I'm looking to buy another car that isn't as expensive to repair and service.
Just buy something new that you like. Anything used at some point is going to need maintenance more than a new vehicle. Parts and labor cost are high, I know, but sometimes it is worth it to take care of what you have.
I you love the car you are driving now and want to keep it, make the repairs..
Make the repairs and save some money by not using premium fuel. The Lincoln is a premium brand that is made for 87 octane regular. 212,300 miles is pretty good service, but there are more miles left in it since it was maintained properly. An exhaust shop should be able to replace the converter fairly inexpensively unless you live in a picky state such as California. The engine may have to come nearly out to replace the pan gasket and that will be expensive. It may be possible to slightly snug the oil pan bolts to slow the oil leak. Best of luck with it.
The older the car, the simpler to maintain and repair- you're already in the nineties, go back, back through the decades of the 20th Century- by the seventies, weird emissions controls had already started making their appearance- this is why '60s cars, and earlier, are being restored and auctioned for high prices- my pick for an easy car to work on, this is just for me, understand- 1961 Austin Healey 3000
Opt for a universal catalytic converter and have a reputable muffler shop install it. Check your emissions decal under the hood to be sure if you have California Emissions or Federal Emissions. It makes a difference. Even if you don't live in California you may still have California Emissions on the vehicle. My 2000 Grand Prix, originally delivered to New Jersey has California Emissions. My concern here though is with 212,000 miles on it the engine may be starting to burn oil. If that's the case the new catalytic converter will be ruined before too long. As for the pan gasket leaking, if it's not excessive I'd just keep driving it. A few drips hear and there won't hurt anything. Besides, removing the engine on a 19 year old vehicle usually creates more problems than it fixes. Things that haven't been touched since the car was built will have to be moved and positioned out of the way. Wiring, vacuum lines, air conditioning lines, fuel lines, etc., etc., etc., get brittle over time and when disturbed break very easily. You can also wind up with bad electrical connections leading to unending check engine lights, poor performance, etc. once things are put back together. HTH. -Jim
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