Yup. You start with a Ford. If you add fancy interior trim and turn some optional eqipment such as cruise control and air conditioning into standard equipment, you have a Mercury. When you add the toys and conveniences a lot of people demand, you have a Lincoln.
Plymouth used to be the "working man's car". It was basic reliable transportation, but you could dress it up with options. It was less expensive to buy the same car with the same conveniences included. That was the Dodge. To really add class with fancy seats and a super radio, etc, you had a Chrysler. My garage is full of all three of them. When you look underneath or work on the brakes, steering, and suspension, they are all the same and they all use the same replacement parts. Makes it real nice for stocking parts.
With GM, Chevrolet was the basic car, but as you went up to a higher class car, they rarely kept anything the same. Buick parts don't fit an Oldsmobile, and Cadillac is in a world by themselves. GM cars take lots of special tools and are geared specifically to get off the assembly line in a hurry. Chrysler used to be designed with ease of serviceability in mind. I even have a 1980 Volare that has a lot of engine parts in common with a 1960 model. Real easy to find parts for those cars. Older Fords used the same oil filter as Chrysler products from 1960 up through the late 1980s. Shops loved that too because it was real easy to have in stock right now what you needed. Today every manufacturer has their own designs that often change from one year to the next. It is impossible for any shop to stock every part you might need in an emergency. This parts issue is just one of many reasons I own OLD Chryslers and am bound and determined to never buy another new car. My daily driver is my fifth oldest vehicle, a 1988 Grand Caravan, and is the only one I trusted to take on four cross-country trips in the last year and a half. Being a former instructor and a former dealership mechanic, what does that tell you about my opinion of new cars?
That Grand Caravan has been so terribly reliable. It has 378,000 miles, and will only die eventually due to rust. I would never trade it even up for a new one. For any new car for that matter. I realize most people don't have the luxury of being able to work on their own cars, and they don't have the time. What frustrates me is how they are held hostage to huge repair bills due to the way manufacturers design today's cars. There is no excuse for hanging a very unreliable, expensive, high-failure computer onto a simple windshield wiper circuit or the dome light circuit. Yet people demand these things and buy one car over another because the lights fade out slowly instead of just turning off when the doors are closed. Your horn is another perfect example. On my cars, if the horn stops working, it's usually a ten-dollar relay. On your vehicle, the horn switch sends a voltage to the most intelligent computer on the car, the instrument cluster. There it is interpreted and a coded signal is sent to the FEM, the Front Electronic Module, which interprets it and turns on the horn relay. Two computers involved in honking the horn! Non-working horns are real common now. With diagnosis and parts, the repair to this formerly simple and reliable circuit typically runs over $800.00. I fail to see how that benefits the owner.
Sorry for getting up on my soapbox. I hope I answered your original question even though I included WAY too much detail. If you have more questions, I'll be back in a few hours.
Thursday, March 25th, 2010 AT 3:52 PM