I also do my own maintenance, but really hate to have to take time out from other activities in order to correct problems. I solved the problem by switching to domestics. None of my Ford or GM vehicles requires anything at all in less than 100,000 miles, not even brake pads. Since we generally just get tired of a car after 200,000 miles anyway, we seldom have any repair expense.
The last car I sold had just shy of a quarter million miles on it. It had never had a single sensor replaced, or anything else except brake pads, belts and one heater hose. After switching to domestics, I never open the hood on our vehicles between their regular 10,000 mile oil changes. I never change transmission fluid or flush the cooling systems. It isn't necessary.
Here we go again with more vague claims about "Superior domestics" blah blah blah. Yeah - whatever. We all know the truth - even the domestic lovers. But these conversations never go anywhere. It's just two sides saying that the cars they buy are somehow better using a very general sweeping statement - that there's a magic wand that's waved over anything "Domestic" and it's suddenly better.
Anyone that claims that a mid to late 70's carbureted vehicle is simpler, easier to work on, and more reliable, I believe might be stretching the truth. Ever looked at the emission control and fuel systems on these? They're an absolute nightmare. There is a maze of vacuum hoses and a horde of mechanical devices - all of which must work leak-free and be in nearly perfect working order. Otherwise the engine runs like crap. I know because one of my neighbors has a 78' Chevy truck. The carburetor is a mess. When it runs, it runs great. But the truth is that the truck runs like crap about 70% of the time because something is always going on with the emission equipment. This is in California, so you can't snip and plug the hoses either, because it would fail smog.
The truth is that starting from 1974 to the early 80's, the emission control systems on most cars were overly complicated. Way, way more complicated than the systems that replaced them later. Cars went from having carburetors that had a zillion vacuum hoses to a simple fuel injection system. There are no moving parts.
The claim that more modern cars are more expensive to repair and more difficult to work on is false. I've worked on BOTH, and own both types as well. Stating that more modern cars are less reliable is also totally false. I'm sorry, but this type of statement usually comes from people who really don't know how to work on cars. I find these not only easy to work on, but simple to diagnose and cheap to repair.
I have so far not had hardly any problems with any of the modern cars I've owned - probably because I bought quality cars to start with - 3 Toyotas. All of them now have 200,000+ miles, and none of them have had any issues with their fuel, ignition, or emission controls, save for one single sensor - a $45 part.
You took the words right out of my mouth; I have been mechanically inclined for many years, and can also testify that computers and sensors are a royal pain in the ass, and make today's repairs far more difficult to diagnose, even with all the advanced equipment. The more sensors and electronics in any vehicle, the more problems they will prone to have; for example, mechanical fuel pumps will outlast electronic pumps, and were much easier to replace,
I know ABS is a safety feature, but the old-fashioned regular power brakes had less problems by far. Also, today's electronic controlled transmissions are more troublesome. There are so many more ridiculous codes for check engine lights today than there was 30 years ago when GM introduced this system.
I own 3 Lincoln Continental Mark V's; 1977, 78, and 79.
Yeah, the emission system is a pain on each car, especially on the 79. I also am a master technician for a Hyundai dealership, so I like to believe I have real world experience on both fronts. As far as difficulty goes, both have their advantages and disadvantages. Are new electronic controlled vehicles easier to diagnose and work on than their old carburated and vacuum hosed, solid-state grandfathers? No, not really. I find both types have their easy and difficult points. Timing an engine is timing an engine. Makes no difference if it's controlled by a distributor or by a CVVT camshaft sprocket. It's all nuts and bolts to someone who can 1. appreciate what they are doing, and 2. know what they are doing.
A big MISTAKE that usually makes me a whole lot of money is when people attempt to tackle a job with no real skill and a repair guide. Don't start stuff that you are unsure of people. At the end of the day, whether it was made in 2012 or 1912, it's a complex piece of machinery that must be calibrated and set to certain specs per the design of that engine or operating system. Not just anyone can pick up a wrench and an oil can and build an engine... Sorry, but it's the truth.
I'm mechanically inclined too, and yet somehow I have no trouble working on modern cars period. I also fail to see how things like ABS systems could possibly be anymore problematic than old-fashioned brakes. Have you ever taken an ABS brake system apart? I have. The most recent on a 2002 Prius. The only difference is that there's a small device stuck to the back of the wheel hub. Inside the wheel hub is a small birdcage cylinder. That's all there is to it. The brakes themselves are the same as you'd probably find on a 50 year old car: old fashioned drum brakes. How exactly does this make working on brakes more difficult? I've never had any issues with ABS sensors. Ever. There's basically nothing to them.
There is an old wives tale floating around that anything modern is more difficult to work on. Hogwash. It's also ridiculous to claim that somehow cars have more problems as a result. It helps to realize that the reason many of these devices were added to cars and trucks was to remedy many of the problems caused by earlier inefficient fuel, emission, and ignition systems. Like I said earlier - None of the vehicles I've owned in the past 15-20 years have had any issues related to the computer or the many sensors and devices it's attached to. If other people so... then maybe you should buy a better brand of car.
The point is ABS has sensors and its own computer, the old fashion system does not. Again, the more parts, the more chance of a failure. Yes, I have worked on many ABS systems with computer failure of all brands. As far as you working on your Prius ABS system, that doesn't surprise me at all. Maybe you should buy a better brand of car.
I do have a good car, my 160,000 mile 96 Town Car is great with no electronic problems at all in the five years I have owned it. Just because something is not a Toyota, doesn't mean it's bad.