13th May 2017, 17:41

Hi all,

Just an update on my 2013 comments.

There I stated “This car was meant to be the work horse on a budget, but it is such a joy to drive, that we often take it on our family outings, in preference to our beloved Prado.”

The Hyundai Sonata is still a joy to drive (now @ 190K), but we now definitely take the Prado on family outings or when going on holiday because we have learned that whilst the Hyundai is comfortable, the Toyota will get us there and back.

We have three cars, 2011 Ford Fiesta (bought new), 2007 Hyundai Sonata and the 1997 Toyota Prado.

Out of the three the 20 year old Prado has always been the most dependable and reliable car. Not sure if it’s because it is a Toyota or if it’s because they don’t build cars like they used to (built to fail – planned obsolescence), but the Prado whilst loaded with camping gear will tow our twin axle caravan and keep on going on trips that are thousands of miles without fail or any issues.

The other 2 cars are a lot more fragile, ask them to do a little hard work and something is sure to fail.

Oooh what a feeling… Toyota (old Toyota add slogan here in Australia).

I’d like to upgrade the Prado to something more modern that would have things like, reversing camera, airbags, satnav, ABS and so on, but after talking to friends who have modern 4X4s (Jeeps, BMW and Mitsubishis) and reading reviews on late model cars, it seems I am better off keeping my 20 year old Toyota as it is more reliable than any of the current new cars.

Like to hear your thoughts on the issue.

Are modern cars now built to fail?

14th May 2017, 03:41

Your Prado is very dependable precisely because it's 20 years old. It doesn't have any complexities necessitated by the far more stringent regulations that have been ratcheting up every few years, which all car manufacturers (Toyota included) need to adhere to, else they could get legislated out of existence.

Just talking of petrol (gasoline) powered cars, 20 years ago you could still buy a car with a single high-power coil; now even the cheapest Kias have coil packs (one above each spark plug), and while you can replace a single large coil before for NZ$50, a Mazda3/Axela coil is $300/piece. Why? Because the individual coils can produce a more powerful spark, which makes for far more efficient combustion, which both reduces emission and makes for a more economical engine. Of course the new coils are regulated by a computer... which talks to the automatic gearbox, which has a multitude of sensors... Also, not many 20 year old cars had cam position sensors - they weren't needed.

While Toyotas are reliable, these days, they are not necessarily fully immune to breakdowns either, even if they don't happen as often.

Diesels? Since I think EU5, diesels in Europe needed to have diesel particulate filters (DPF), which need to burn off the soot, but need to be kept running while they do so. So now, if you drive less than 12K miles/year (about 20K km), many experts in Europe don't recommend diesels as the DPF problems can mean a GBP 1,200 replacement, which never existed before. And with higher-power, higher-torque torque diesels (and petrol engines), manual gearboxes now have dual-mass flywheels to dampen vibration and guess what, they are dear to replace. We now have cars which are heavier, but much safer than 20 years ago, use less fuel relatively, and perform infinitely better than they used to (no more diesel slugs), but here's the price you pay. In dollars. And inconvenience.

9th Jun 2017, 16:01


Thanks for your comments and insight of car evolution and the regulation that force manufacturers to add a whole lot of extra technologies to keep cars clean (environmentally friendly) and safe.

I wouldn’t fault the newer cars for failures on systems the Prado doesn’t have; it would be comparing apples with oranges.

For example, twice in the last couple of years I needed some power from the Hyundai. Once overtaking on a hill which resulted in an oil leak that dripped onto the alternator and caused it to fail. Repair cost was around $1500 to fix the leak and replace the alternator. The second time I pulled out into traffic and needed to get up to speed, power delivery was flawless, but now again it is leaking oil from somewhere under the bonnet. Both times the car was far from fully loaded and doesn’t even have a towbar to pull anything.

In comparison the Prado, with 30KW less power and 2 gears less, loaded with camping gear and towing a caravan, will go up the hill using every one of its 147KW power and all it needs at its next service is an oil change, filters and spark plugs (around $250). Our Ford Fiesta just stopped (6 years old and regularly serviced by Ford since acquired new), had it towed to Ford and they found a split cooling house that caused the car to overheat and then the computer shut it down. I won’t mention the ongoing endless transmission issues with the Ford, because that is another very said story. With that on the next service for the Prado, I asked the mechanic to check all the hoses because to our knowledge they had never been replaced. To our surprise he said they are all in good working order and show no signs of failure. He did not recommend to replace any of them.

With more accurate manufacturing machines and modern materials, our new cars should be better than 20 years ago, but it seems that manufacturers load them up with gimmicks and then try to save money by using inferior materials.