Hi peterineich. Welcome to the forum. I personally would not buy anything other than a Chrysler product, partially to avoid the greedy business practices of the other big two and partially because they are much easier to work on, but the Cirrus / Stratus / Breeze would be my last choice. Same with the Neon. If you want a really tough, simple, reliable car that is low cost to maintain and repair, consider an older Shadow or Sundance. There's a steel beam in the doors for crash protection. The 2.2L / 2.5L / 3.0L V-6 engines are non-interference meaning in the rare event the timing belt breaks, no internal damage occurs to the engine. There is only one very reliable Engine Computer, and electrical problems are not common.
All cars have electrical issues due to the insane use of unnecessary computers that control everything from power locks to dome lights. Adding this silly complexity naturally adds to the problems and the costs of repair. All you have to do is read through these posts to see the problems people are having with newer cars. By "newer", I mean anything from the mid '90s and up. The salesmen at the dealership I used to work at often chuckled with customers looking for a "newer more reliable car" for their kid heading off to college. Their replies centered around, "do you want newer or do you want reliable?"
Most people are not aware that Fords involve two computers to honk the horn! One of them is the most "intelligent" computer on the car, the instrument cluster. Imagine an $800.00 repair bill for a non-working horn. Older cars did the same thing with less than 40 bucks worth of parts in the entire circuit. GM didn't make enough money on their grossly over-priced radio repairs, so now, to prevent you from buying a high-quality aftermarket radio, they build the Body Computer into it so you HAVE to get it repaired. There is absolutely no benefit to the owner for doing that. Plus, I can share information on how the press of a single button on the scanner can electrically lock every computer on the car, (up to 47 of them), to the Body Computer so if that one fails, all the other 46 computers have to be replaced and individually programmed over the internet. Imagine the cost of that repair bill. Got'cha! This is information learned from other instructors and dealership mechanics.
Sorry to sound so negative, but for years I've seen too many people get every last dollar drained out of them from expensive repairs. The total cost of repairs to my daily driver '88 Grand Caravan is so tiny, I can't even remember the last time I bought a part for it. My '95 Grand Caravan, on the other hand, with its Transmission Computer, Body Computer, (which now has no dome lights), Air bag Computer, and Anti-Lock Brake Computer sits in the yard. I wouldn't drive it any further than I am willing to walk home! How's that for confidence?
Keep in mind for every negative opinion I have for new cars and trucks, someone else will feel just the opposite. Watch out for opinions from people who are lucky enough to be able to trade every few years because they will own vehicles that are still in warranty. They don't have to decide between putting food on the table, paying the rent, or repairing the car so they can get to work. As I used to say when people asked which brand of tv was best, don't look at what the salesman is selling. Ask the salesman, (or better yet, the mechanic), what kind of car they own and why.
Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 AT 3:57 PM