Whether you want to be a shade tree mechanic or you just want to save money by doing repairs yourself – these are the 10 easiest cars to work on.
For many, the purchase price of a vehicle in question tends to be so highly focused on that maintenance and long-term costs can be forgotten. Today we’ll buck that trend just a bit as we take a look at cars, trucks, and SUVs that are so simple to work on that anyone can do it. They’ll range from newer vehicles all the way back to well-loved vehicles from the 90s. The one thing they all have in common is engineering that allows even the newest automotive enthusiast to work on them successfully. Here’s the easiest cars to work on.
The Nissan 240SX is one of the most user-friendly vehicles on the planet. It arrived here in the USA in two forms, the S13, built from 1989 to 1994, and the S14, built from 1995 to 1998. Both are very straightforward and easy to work with. The older car is just a bit less complicated but there’s a reason that both are considered very tuner-friendly. They both make a great foundation for someone who thinks building cars could become a hobby. From routine maintenance to serious modifications, the 240SX won’t stump anyone.
From 1997 to 2006, Jeep built the TJ version of the Wrangler and once it left production, no other Wrangler has been as easy to work on. The Wrangler TJ won’t be the most luxurious Jeep, but that’s not what we’re here for. Wranglers aren’t overly complicated, but the TJ finds the perfect balance between modern technology and old-school simple to fix. Both available engines are good, but we recommend the 4.0-liter straight-6. It’s so reliable that many have reported running it well past 300,000 miles.
No other small sports car seems to have the reputation that the Miata does in the automotive community. A large part of that is that it offers something very few others can. That’s a reliable convertible. When the Mazda Miata arrived on the scene, it proved that other roadsters were really behind the times. Not only is it reliable but when it does break, it’s a breeze to mend. The engine is simple in each generation and won’t require any special tools or large parts to be removed for simple maintenance.
One facet of engineering that Honda seems to always dominate in is the packaging. Many know the Civic as an easily maintained car, but we think the Honda Accord is an even easier car to work on. Why do we say that? Not only does it use very similar packaging principles and components, but since it’s a size larger than the Civic, it has more space in the engine bay and suspension areas. Just one example is how quickly a starter can be replaced on a mid-2000s V6 Accord. Once the battery is removed, the starter can be removed and replaced in less than 20 minutes by a skilled technician. Most vehicles can take hours for the same type of labor, but Honda makes it as simple as it can get.
Toyota is a close second to Honda when it comes to packaging. The Toyota Corolla is so simple that even non-car people can often complete relatively complex tasks like swapping out EGR valves or power steering hoses. Many say that it can almost all be fixed with three sockets, a 10mm, a 12mm, and a 17mm. In addition, thanks to its popularity, parts are inexpensive and the massive online community of Corolla owners is always available to help those who find themselves in uncharted waters. Take care of one of these Corolla engines and they’ll usually last well beyond 300,000 miles.
As a sports car that would take over for the Civic, the Hyundai Genesis was a big flop. That’s sad too, because it’s a whale of a car and a great value for the money. Both engines available are simple to work on, but what’s great is that the larger of the two, the V6, doesn’t penalize owners with less space to tinker on it. In addition, should you buy the smaller engine, there’s more room for hands and for modifications to push big power numbers. Ultimately this sneaky good coupe is a win-win situation.
The Toyota Tacoma is quite simply one of the best vehicles available for those in the market for a truck. Newer trucks built after 2017 are a bit harder because the truck is more rugged, so extra work is needed to get to things. One example is how the skid plate needs to be removed to get to the oil filter. Nevertheless, beyond these simple adjustments, the engine and transmission itself is a walk in the park for any Tacoma generation. That’s a huge benefit since most people with these trucks need them to run in any situation. It’s great to know that if things go wrong, they can be fixed without too much hassle.
Dropping a large V8 into the engine bay of a sedan often means very little room to work. Nevertheless, in the mid-90s, Lexus proved it could be done. The LS400 is also one of the most reliable engines built at the time. Perhaps the hardest routine job is replacing the spark plugs. Some intake piping needs to be removed as does the throttle body. While that might sound like a lot, all of those just use standard bolts or clamps and will come off and go back on very simply. Beyond that, the rest of the car doesn’t break often and when it does, it’ll be undemanding to fix.
Want a sports car that comes from America and is one of the easiest cars to work on? Look no further than the Ford Mustang from 1999 to 2004. No, it’s nowhere near as fast as a modern pony car, but that’s not the point. The 4.6-liter V8 (not the 4 valve) allows for spark plug changes that can take less than 30 minutes and the whole top of the motor can be removed in an afternoon. The rear end and suspension are the easiest of all the cars here to work on too. It really is an outstanding platform for the budding muscle car enthusiast.
For those that are in the market for a more aggressive sports car that won’t take a pound of flesh every time it’s in need of maintenance, look no further than the Honda S2000. This car was built to be one of the most advanced of its day. Despite that, it doesn’t stop it from being totally approachable when it comes time to open the hood and get a little wrenching done. Honda set the engine in the S2000 as far back toward the middle of the car as they possibly could. Not only does that make the car incredible to drive thanks to great natural balance, but it also means that it features more space under the hood than most would believe.