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When Did Vehicles Become Harder to Work On?

Have you noticed a change in the picture you see under the hood of your car? There’s more there. Vehicle repairs are certainly a lot more complicated than they used to be a couple of decades ago, and for a good reason.  

Over time, what we need from our vehicles has changed, and the mechanics have changed as well. If you have noticed that fixing your car isn’t quite as easy as it once was, you’re definitely onto something.

Let’s work together to dispel the mystery of the situation.  

Are Modern Cars Harder to Repair?

Modern cars are a bit more in-depth than ones made before 1990. Vehicles have more components these days, as drivers’ demands have shifted. Technology is the name of the game now, and people want their cars to be more capable and safe. The added functionality means less space under the hood and more complicated fixes when something breaks. 

Additionally, people before the 1980s spent more time fixing their own mechanical issues. But the vehicles people were working on in the 80s were much less intricate. Today, dropping your vehicle off with a mechanic for repairs makes more sense.  

When Did Vehicles Become Harder to Work On?

There is no specific moment when vehicles became more challenging to repair, but you could narrow it down to a specific period. Before the 90s, cars didn’t have onboard computers that controlled things. The addition and evolution of those digital components have complicated the process. 

Though it is not the only reason attributed to the rise of the complicated repairs. Technology has completely reworked a mechanic’s job description. A good mechanic should have a working knowledge of the moving parts of a vehicle and a strong understanding of electrical mechanics. It takes a lot more schooling to educate a professional mechanic properly. 

Woman lifting hood of vehicle to make repairs.
As vehicles become more complex, it might become easier to take your vehicle to a mechanic for repairs.

Why Do They Make Cars so Hard to Work On?

Well, carmakers don’t set out to make it difficult for you to work on your car. Many variables go into the design of a new vehicle. Engineers consider the needs of today’s drivers. Safety, style, aerodynamics, fuel efficiency, comfort, cost, performance, and a few more elements all matter in the design of a new vehicle. 

People’s wants in a vehicle have shifted immensely in the past 30 years. For instance, all newly produced cars legally must have a rear backup camera. This requirement didn’t exist in the 80s, and the camera components require wiring and other electrical work. Not to mention the newest electric vehicles, which require new knowledge as well.

Pro Tip: When you buy a new vehicle, you might consider buying an extended warranty with it. We took a closer look at Are Extended Vehicle Warranties a Gimmick?

Why Are Older Cars Easier to Work On? 

Older cars are much easier to work on for a few reasons. When designers came up with new car concepts back in the day, they focused more on making the vehicles easy for the typical owner to repair. Engineers designed vehicles to have more open space under the hood, and they had fewer electrical components to manage. 

Mechanics and owners could trace an issue to its source more easily when it had fewer reasons why something might go wrong. Cars had a straightforward design. Parts were made of more sturdy materials too, so you didn’t have to worry about breaking something in the middle of a repair. 

Man looking at vehicle engine to do repairs
Older cars tend to be easier to work on and repair yourself.

Is It Harder to Modify Newer Cars? 

Modifying a newer car is worth it if you feel like you need it. However, consider the fact that vehicles today are built for performance. You may not really need an upgrade to get power. 

Modding your vehicle’s body style or look may cause some trouble on a newer car, but you can still do it. The difficulty doesn’t all lie with the physical changes. You’ll need to consider the legality of it. 

To effectively modify the body of your car, you’ll have to talk with the insurance provider. You also need to consult your warranty stipulations because modding your car could void the warranty. Additionally, some municipalities have laws against modifications such as undercarriage lights.

What Is the Most Difficult Car to Work On? 

The answer to this question is subjective. What do you hate the most as a mechanic? A vehicle like the Mini Cooper is terrible to work on because everything about the car is “mini.” You can’t get to anything, and the tiny parts seem to break frequently. 

The Ford F-250 has a different sort of problem with mechanical maintenance. It may even be hard to believe what the designers did to this truck. To begin performing any serious repairs on the rig, you first have to remove the entire cab from the vehicle’s frame. That’s quite an undertaking for a repair. 

Pro Tip: Some vehicle repairs are easier than others. This is How to Easily Reset Your Check Engine Light.

Is Working on Your Vehicle Yourself Worth It?

Here is another subjective question on your plate. You may have specific instances where working on your own vehicle is still wise. If you need to fix a simple problem that doesn’t take much disassembling, you’ll probably save money doing the work yourself. 

If you have a larger issue like a bad alternator, you might not want to tackle that on your own. It’s best to use good judgment before diving into any project under the hood. Use the resources you have at your disposal to decide. Take a look around online, and talk to your local auto parts store to gain more insight on your next repair. 

Have you found your vehicle to be harder to work on recently? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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