"You assure me that I didn't maintain my van? I assure you that you drive a 79 Mary Kay special. I assure you that you aren't a mechanic. I assure you that you haven't owned ANY of the 30 or so domestics that you claim. See... I can make unfounded claims too."
No, I drive a 2007 Mustang, 2006 Fusion, 2003 GMC and 2001 Pontiac Grand Am at the moment. The total combined expenses for repairs on ALL FOUR thus far comes to $27. That is for front brake pads at 70,000 miles on the Pontiac ($17) and a light bulb ($10). That's it for all of them.
The starter (ESPECIALLY on a rear-drive domestic vehicle) is so simple to install (2 bolts and the wires) that my wife could do it. If you paid $900 it is no wonder that you are out "thousands" on your vehicles.
I've urged people to educate themselves on doing basic repairs for years. It can save tons of money (such as $800 on your starter, for instance). And we've actually owned nearly 40 vehicles in the past 30+ years, But some, such as our three very unreliable imports, weren't kept very long. We always own 3 or 4 vehicles at one time because I love driving different types of cars. My wife and I each currently own 2 each.
Kinda vague comment.
When I read comments like this, I shake my head over how vague they are. What age is the vehicles New, 1 year, 10 years, 40 years old? What was the mileage when you acquired them? Did you have all new domestics and "graduated" to a Toyota or was the Toyota new and the others with high mileage many owners with probable neglect. How many new Toyotas are you referring to that none ever break? If it's one or an isolated model, how about saying your 1 year old Toyota with 5000 miles on it has not broken down yet?
If I had known it was the starter that was the problem, I wouldn't have needed the dealer to take a look at it. Obviously an extended G30 Chev Sportvan isn't a front drive (in fact its like driving a barge:) ), but your point is well taken. By the time they had called me, there would have been no way I could have done the work myself and still make it to work the following day.
You may think that I would have still been better off (I may have been) doing the work myself, but work was busy and I needed to get back rather than canceling work (I was a carpet installer and long-scheduled work was having to be rescheduled or given to other installers). Also the starter was new and surprisingly expensive -- I think they said it cost close to $600 (it must have been hand-made by nuns or something). I was just checking online and it looks like the starter would only cost me about $220. That is one wicked markup! So if that ratio holds true, $2500 is more like $800+ for parts alone. My Tundra likewise could have been fixed for about $120 (price I got online for a water pump+dome light.
Today I have a place in the country so no one cares what I do in my own yard. So now I do my own repairs on the van (my other two vehicles are still under warranty). But the van doesn't get driven much anymore.
But you need to remember that many people can't do repairs for themselves either because of work (like me) or lack of skill (I lack diagnostic skill, but can do most basic mechanical work). At that time I lived in an apartment complex that frowned on automotive work in the parking lot. So there was limited time and no good place to do the work.
Also the oil leaks aren't maintenance issues. You don't stuff cork into them. The loose steering isn't either - it was lubed at every oil change (I'm a believer in the 3000 mile interval). The power steering pump wasn't abused. Nor was the starter. There were a few other more minor issues too. These were all real problems. But seriously, the van was probably only out of service 3 days in 5 years. Dollars aren't the only way to measure reliability. In a job like mine where people emptied their homes so I could do my work, getting there was of paramount importance.
That's why I still say that, whether you want to count labor or not, that van served me well. It still was more than the Tundra for similar mileage. I liked it, but it wasn't perfect. What vehicle is (meant as a rhetorical question -- not a request for fishing tales)? I've known guys who had both more and less trouble with their trucks. As I said before, claims that any company or region only makes perfect vehicles is politics, not reality. And, yes, that includes the Japanese.
I have a Chevrolet High Top Conversion 350 Van myself and love it as well. Just put in a nice flat screen, DVD, large Duracell box, runs 7 hours with engine off etc instead of shelling out for repairs. I am upgrading mine... I found the starter discussed for under $140.00, part only, no labor.
Both Toyotas mentioned in 18:50 were still under warranty and had less than 30,000 miles on them. We didn't own either one. They were 2 separate Toyotas (a Corolla and a Camry) owned by two different friends we were traveling with at the time. The Corolla's problem was the ignition system. I never heard what the Camry's problem was.
We don't buy imports because we prefer to drive more reliable vehicles. We don't enjoy sitting on the side of the road for hours waiting on a tow truck. It was not a fun experience. The Corolla broke down near a gang-infested ghetto area. That was terrifying.
"I found the starter discussed for under $140.00, part only, no labor."
Yeah I found them for prices that were all over the map based on manufacturer. The $220. was the price for the one that looked the closest to the one they installed (at least by memory). I was also giving them the benefit of the doubt that perhaps they were using a more expensive model rather than some cheapo. Anyway, it seems I "got took". It reminds me that I actually met the guy who owned that dealership one day on a job I was working on. To put it mildly, he was a jerk. It must been a disease that his employees likewise caught.
Look on YouTube, there are plenty of Camry's with over two hundred thousand, mine included. It currently has 212,000, and has had nothing done to it. There is one on youtube with over seven hundred thousand.