You must not have owned many other vehicles. Since back in the '50s, Chrysler has always been the world leader in developing innovations that directly benefited car owners. That includes anti-lock brakes, (1969), AC generator, (Chrysler copyrighted the term "alternator"), (1960), lock-up torque converter, (1977), electronic voltage regulator, (1970), fully electronic ignition, (Dodge: 1972, Chrysler / Plymouth: 1973), computer-controlled ignition system, (1976), domestic front-wheel-drive, (1978), air bags, (late '80s), computer-controlled automatic transmission, (1989).... They even had time delay lights to help you see where to put the ignition key, in the mid '60s. Today that can only be done with a Body Computer.
In contrast, GM is the leading innovator in developing customer-unfriendly business practices. This started with their very nice AC generator with the built-in voltage regulator, (1972), and their first electronic ignition system, the "High Energy Ignition System, (HEI)", (1975) that were self-contained assemblies. Very nice for mechanics who didn't understand how they worked, and they could just pop in a whole new system, but very expensive for car owners who had to buy the whole system instead of the one failed part. Opinions vary as to whether this is an advantage or not. First manufacturer to stop allowing us to buy their radio service manuals so they could lock up all that lucrative repair business for their two grossly-over-priced authorized repair centers. Only manufacturer to have a 100 percent failure rate of their CD players over a ten-year period, (1990s). Only manufacturer to have a nearly 100 percent failure of their rack and pinion steering gears within the warranty period, and their solution was a cheap way out in hopes it would hold up just long enough to get the car out of warranty; then it was the owner's problem to fix it properly. First manufacturer to design computers that if replaced, must come from the dealer and must be programmed by them, at considerable cost. First to build the Body Computer into the radio so the radio can't be replaced with an aftermarket unit. Only manufacturer to build into their scanners the option to electronically "lock" all of the dozens of the car's computers to the radio, so if the radio / Body Computer needs to be replaced, every other computer on the vehicle must also be replaced. That can be done by any disgruntled GM mechanic, and you'll never know it, ... Until the radio fails. That "lock" procedure can't be undone.
I won't even be able to see straight if I start in on all the devious stuff Ford has pulled, from non-alignable cars that couldn't help but tear up tires in 15,000 miles, steering parts that separate, leading to loss of control and crashes, in as little as 15,000 miles, and my favorite, two computers, the instrument cluster, which is the master computer, and the "FEM", "front electronic module", required to blow the horn! Typical repair for a dead horn is $800.00.
As disgruntled as you are with fixing your Chryslers, I feel the same way with the Two Fords I've owned, and the four I'm always working on for my friends and relatives. No one can complain about fit and finish, ride quality, handling, and comfort, but with all the progress we've seen in the last 40 years, we should be able to change the oil a couple of times per year, inspect the brakes and suspension systems every other year, and add gas as needed. Instead, many of my former students who owned GM cars thought it was normal to have an $800.00 repair bill every six months. Well, normal for YOU maybe, but not for me.
I recently retired my '88 Grand Caravan due to severe rust, but I hadn't changed the oil in over 15 years and 150,000 miles. (That is not a recommendation for anyone)! The transmission filter was replaced once, at 85,000 miles, and I dragged a tandem axle enclosed trailer with it to car show swap meets for 15 years. That trailer is bigger and heavier than the van, and I never needed the trailer brakes. My "new" daily driver is a simple '94 Grand Voyager. In the year and a half I've been driving it, I changed the oil twice, replaced two tires, and repaired two amplified speakers. Replaced the very uncomplicated instrument cluster so I could have a tach. Oh, and I did have to replace a rusted steel brake line, but that's typical up here in Wisconsin where they throw a pound of salt on an ounce of snow.
The biggest true progress I've seen is cars today are seriously cleaner, but that is due to careful monitoring by the Engine Computer. The technology to achieve that showed up on every car and light truck in 1996, but no other computers are needed or are involved with that task. All of the technological advancements since then involve complicating things like power windows, heater systems, and the starter system. People buy cars today according to the number of cup holders, whether it has butt-warming seats, interior lights that fade out gradually, (that's very important, you know), motorized doors, and all the other toys and gimmicks the designers tell us we need. Seems few of us stop to think about those past buying decisions when we're complaining about the repair bills. I wouldn't even grump about most of the technology as long as I could still drive the car safely after any of those systems failed. If I can unlock and open a door, turn the steering wheel, get the stupid child-proof, politician-approved shifter out of "park", and get the engine started, I'm happy. I'm REALLY happy in winter when the dash blows warm air on my feet! I really don't mind pushing a slide lever if I'm feeling especially warm or cold. That lever causes an awfully lot less trouble than a push-button telling a computer what you hope it will do. You might have another toy to play with while you're driving, but I can't guarantee that computer will make you comfortable during that drive.
Since the day my '80 Volare was new, it consistently gets 28.3 mpg on the highway. That's a 4,000 pound car with chromed steel bumpers. I'm quite happy that today's cars are cleaner, but with all of our technology, shouldn't they be getting better fuel mileage than one that weighs twice as much, from 37 years ago? Everything else, we're told, is improved. Why not fuel mileage?
By the way, I spent 90 bucks for oil changes, air filters, wiper blades, and other repairs on that car in its first 32,000 miles / 25 years. Today 90 bucks get your name mentioned at the service desk.
So to sum up this wonderful story, I'm sorry you're always having to fix something, but your job should be easier now that you've met us wizards who are here to help you. As I used to tell my students, "you're welcome to like any brand of car you want to, just don't tell me yours is better than mine, ... Unless you can tell me why. You may not care in the least about the things I find important. That can include ease of access for serviceability, parts interchangeability, parts availability, ease of accessing service information, the need to add an unnecessarily-complicated computer to every circuit and system that never needed a computer before, and things like that. In my next lifetime, I'm going to be the CEO of a major car manufacturer. My goal will be to base all design and marketing decisions on the best interest of the car owners, just like politicians SAY they have our best interest at heart.
Hope you have better luck with whatever you're driving, but remember we're here when you need us.
Monday, May 15th, 2017 AT 5:21 PM