Those little details add up.


Old 12-08-03, 05:05 PM
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Those little details add up.

The majority of the cars I have owned have been Fords. While I donít feel any strong loyalty to the brand, Ford has usually had the vehicle I needed, at a price I could justify and with ready financing throughout my car-buying life. However I recently bought a 2003 Chevy Malibu (a former rental car) for my wife. Today I changed the Malibuís oil for the first time. As a do-it-yourselfer I was struck by the small design details that showed someone at Chevrolet was really thinking and which make maintenance easier.

First, the front of the frame actually has side rails to accommodate both a jack and a jack stand, unlike my Ford Escort, where finding a place for the jack is a risky proposition. I was happy to notice how stout the oil drain plug is, the socket fit nicely. By the way, Iím a worry wart who actually likes to use a torque wrench when replacing the drain plug and on the Malibu there is clearance for the wrench. Another nice touch was the location of the oil filter. On my Escort Iím accustomed to reaching around one of the axles, avoiding a few cables and having oil run down my arm and onto the suspension when removing the filter. In contrast on the Malibu there is a section of the lower engine splash guard which is removable with two wingnuts. With the splash guard gone, the oil filter is right in front of your face, making removal and replacement simple and cleanup easy. There is more, I have to use a funnel to add oil to Escort to avoid spilling it due to location of the filler hole. On the other hand, the filler hole on the Malibu is at the edge of the valve cover------no funnel needed. One last observation, out here in southern California we recently had a series of brush fires with a lot of windborne dust and dirt. All that debris made its way into the Escort engine compartment, but not the Malibu, obviously the hood and other body parts fit together better on the Chevrolet.

Anyway, Iím impressed with the little things the Chevrolet engineers thought of and I would be interested to know what others think.
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Old 12-08-03, 06:03 PM
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I am no pro by any stretch. But we have always had good luck with Chevys (especially their trucks/SUVs) we have had Fords also (aerostars, a REALLY crappy '95 windstar, expedition, some explorers, all leased at some point in the 1990s) Most of them have been great too (except the junk windstar, what a disaster.) Never had a Chrysler (my biased opinion is that they are not as good as Chevys or even Fords, but they have some good ones too.) Right now, we have a Chevy trailblazer (GREAT vehicle, never needed a repair so far, only a little over a year old so...) and we have a Ford Taurus (it has been ok, we had brake rotor problems and the brake lights decided to stay on once, but for the last year or 2 it has been ok.)
We may not be the best people to ask though since we have leased all our cars for the last 15 years. So we never have a certain vehicle for over 3-4 years/50,000 miles (which after that time, is where a vehicle shows where it lacks quality.)
Some more experienced guys can tell you more details on design etc, I am just a tinkerer.
Old 12-08-03, 06:59 PM
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Actually I wasn't even venturing an opinion on reliability. I think preventive maintenance is the key factor in determining reliability. I have a '95 Tracer and in spite of the little design quirks that it shares with my Escort it has been unbelievably dependable. At 196,000 miles it still has the original clutch. I replaced the front brake pads at 80,000 miles, the rear brake linings at 100,000, the heater core at about 90,000 miles, had the radiator seals replaced once, suffered a blown head gasket resulting in a valve job at 150,000 miles, and recently replaced the cooling fan relay. Nothing else but routine maintenance. What struck me about the Malibu is that the engineers seemingly gave some thought to making maintenance easy.
Old 12-08-03, 07:50 PM
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I don't know much about that, but if/when you do get a bad car, the good design innovations won't matter because you will be constantly replacing expensive parts. Although preventative maintenance extends every vehicle's life (and it is totally nessesary to do preventative maintenance) there are some bad designs out there (more so than positioning of the oil filter.) I won't name any since as I said before, I have no experience in the field.
Old 12-08-03, 09:32 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,538
some chevy models the oil filter is rather easy to get to but on others it is not just be glad you got one of the easier models to change oil on dont expect it to be the case with every chevy.

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