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Easy Maintenance Car

The car that can be maintained by any human
  (+4, -2)
(+4, -2)
  [vote for,

Currently we have to go to dealerships and car mechanics shops not only to fix cars, but to do maintenance on them. I suggest a car that you can easily do maintenance yourself. Maintenance tasks: Put new oil and press a button to change oil (any kind of fluid - transmission, brake fluid), and old oil goes in the empty bottle (where new oil was), and then you recycle it somewhere. Or put those fluids like gas stations, using hoses. With tire rotation it wouldn't be that easy - maybe integrated carjacks or automated garage where robots do tire rotation for you. Easily replaceable lights and brake pads. Car computer would tell you what needs to be done or checked (it's kind of already done, but it would be better). Also, time required to do each task would be written on the screen. And what has been completed. Tools to do everything are included with a car. Maybe it would be an additional chore for the kids, because even a 10 years old would be able to do maintenance on a car in a shortest time possible.
egik, Dec 20 2021

This is not about cars ... https://www.joelons...leaky-abstractions/
... but I suspect the Law of Leaky Abstractions may be applicable here. [pertinax, Dec 20 2021]

Where washer fluid refill should be. Car_20Door-Jamb_20W...uid_20Refill_20Port
[bs0u0155, Dec 21 2021]

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       I think it’s mistaken to think that because car technology used to be accessible to the average home mechanic it should be as accessible again. Every generation has a technology which is part of the defining identity and language of that generation. So in the 1940’s and 1950’s it was tinkering with cars and motorbikes; in the 1960’s ham radio, in the 1970’s electronics; in the 1980’s home computing and programming - and so on. Those who are the right age when their generation’s technology is emerging can ride the crest of the wave (e.g. Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates in the 1970’s). Conversely, it’s not always easy working with a technology which was a mass participation movement in an earlier generation, or getting young people interested in it.
hippo, Dec 20 2021

       well I’m giving this a bun because I have always said we should be able to work on our own cars, at least the easy stuff. I’m not sure any of these suggestions are really viable like pressing a button to change your oil, but I still like the idea. Have a greasy bun.
xandram, Dec 20 2021

       I think you don't get it. //Unnecessary complication //[a1] make car maintenance easy. Special tools make it easy and specially engineered parts make it easy. Just like K-cups in a coffee machine. Like a tv remote, where you don't have to walk to tv anymore, but still need to change batteries sometimes. And if something breaks, then you have to go a mechanic; but it wouldn't happen often - computers, air conditioners, heaters are very reliable now. This car can be complicated and expensive; but it would be easy to maintain until something breaks. // I was helping my Dad work on our cars before I was 10 years old.// [a1] Some parts are heavy or inconveniently located, for this new tools and equipment needs to be made. Women also would benefit from this.
egik, Dec 20 2021


       Oh if I must.   

       This is either trivial and WKTE or impossible and magic, depending on your definition of "any human". Certainly it's possible to make a car that's enormously easier to maintain. But you would have to sacrifice mileage, weight, cost, performance, reliability, and every other metric that people value.

An older car is easier to figure out and some of that is due to deliberate obfuscation. But the majority of it is due to clever design features to improve one of the above metrics. You want fuel injection, water injection, air injection, oxygen sensors, oil flow where there is high temperature? You want to limit vibration ? You want a car that's lower to the ground for better space, better safety, better fuel efficiency? No? You don't you say? Okay. How about a model T? It's widely known to exist but it's sure a lot easier to maintain.

Or we can go the other direction. Let's put a sensor into every part so a computer knows exactly what's going on everywhere. That's the modern car. It turns out it doesn't really make anything simpler. You can read out a computer diagnostic, but unless you really know what it says and what it's measuring it's not going to help.That low oxygen sensor could be telling you to run some engine cleaner through, that you have a bent valve, that a sensor is damaged, or that you're running rich. To know which one you need a hundred times as many sensors. And sensors to watch the sensors. Pretty soon you've got a massive, enormously expensive space shuttle of a car.

The problem with this idea is either it doesn't explain how to accomplish something we all wish can be done (magic) or that it's already been done and you're just wishing for the good old days.

The closest we could get, I think, would be a highly modular car with limited and standardized interfaces between parts. An engine in a box with holes for fuel, oil, water, and air, and outputs for mechanical energy and electricity. It would interface with a standardized transmission box, a standard fuel provider, and so forth. The car would separately route oil, water, electricity, information, and so forth between parts. It would suck in every other category but it would be super easy to maintain (as long as you have the standardized powered part replacement jack) -- just swap out the part that's not working like lego.
Voice, Dec 20 2021

       He makes a point though. Maintenance of modern equipment and vehicles for the common man has been made almost impossible in many cases.
These issues are currently undergoing court cases in the right-To-Repair movement.
It's total bullshit that a farmer can no longer service his own machine.

       I'm damned glad that my backhoe/front end loader was manufactured in 1968.
They hadn't worked out minimal tolerance of the parts so every piece is overkill.
Sure it might not outwork a brand new Case... but the thing is 53 three years old and still runs like a top... that new machine won't make it 30 years.
...AND I can fix or replace 'every' single part without a middle-man gouging me.

       I've always said, if I can ever see my way to getting any of my undisclosed inventions off the ground, anything I market will be able to be completely disassembled by the owner and come with the one tool needed to do it.   

       Furthermore, isn't this idea soon to be rendered moot by the emergence of electric cars, with very few moving parts?
pertinax, Dec 21 2021

       //idea soon to be rendered moot by the emergence of electric cars// Either that, or by the abandonment of cars in general as unsustainable and too expensive and resource-hungry, and we all go back to horse doctoring.   

       But I also think that even in the middle ground where people still run fossil-powered personal vehicles, there is less and less need for maintenance. The build quality is just much better now. My bicycle requires more servicing than my car.
pocmloc, Dec 21 2021

       Most people would rather have a reliable car that they can’t maintain themselves than an unreliable car that they can maintain themselves
hippo, Dec 21 2021

       Car engineer here. This car would cost a fortune, weigh 3 tons, break more often, have lousy gas mileage, and not fit in your garage. But it could have some of the features you want.
RayfordSteele, Dec 21 2021

       Hmm, let's hit the main points.   

       //we have to go to dealerships//   

       No we don't. There are incentives, sure. You want a 100,000 mile warranty? Then from the manufacturer's point of view you can see why they'd want control over the maintenance. From your point of view, does the dealer network make a tidy profit? Sure.   

       //Put new oil and press a button to change oil//   

       You're missing a point here, or more accurately, a word: Inspect. A good mechanic* doesn't just dump the oil and refill.   

       First, they'll take a look at the amount of oil that's in the car vs. the mileage interval. There's a spec. in the manual telling you how much the car should burn. Modern engines are very good in this regard, so it's easy to get lazy and just assume the oil burn is very small. Exceptions include the Mazda Rx8. If a car is burning/losing oil, this is a big waving red flag for further investigation.   

       Next, what does the oil coming out look like? Is there water coming out first? Could be blow by in a chronically underused engine. Does it look like you're gazing into the milky way with a million glittering points of light? Major engine work is in your future. An expensive car might warrant sending a sample for oil analysis.   

       If you want to do this maintenance item yourself, it's not difficult, the barrier to entry is small, $300-500 in a jack/stands modest socket set? Or at least here in the US, there's a wide range of quick & cheap oil change places. But they are a trade-off & possible risk.   

       //even a 10 years old would be able to do maintenance on a car//   

       I'd have no problem teaching a 10 year old how to do most things, that's how I started. The biggest barrier is that the car usually has to be started/moved at some point and that's illegal in most places.   

       Now, are cars harder to maintain than they used to be? (I'm taking this as an implication and as mentioned in comments). Yes and no. They are more complex, vastly so, particularly with regard to the electrical system and packaging.   

       Does that affect an oil change? Not really. In some ways those aspects have improved. Looking into the engine bay it's now clear where all the various user-interacting parts are, Ford colors the washer fluid etc. bright yellow. Go back to the 80's and you were on your own. For things like headlights there are real problems. I've seen horrendous repair times and costs on a headlight in a modern car. This is a stark contrast to the past.   

       I was blown away when I found out that for decades, the US had 2 types of headlight: Round and square. Go look at the 60's-70's cars and it's obvious. That makes life very easy. So did car designers just run wild with headlights when they got the chance? A little, also light technology has changed a couple of times recently incandescent>HID>LED AND they're in a tighter package, AND they're in the front of the car which has to cope with the regulations of 100+ countries regarding accident safety AND now pedestrian safety.   

       You can blame car manufacturers for increased car complexity, but that's largely unfair. They don't want it, at least the profitable ones. Take the Mini, the blueprint for the modern car. Transverse i4 engine, transmission attached, front wheel drive, subframes attached to a monocoque, great packaging. It made a phenomenal car for the time, quick, nimble surprisingly spacious. But, it was overcomplex and due to administrative bloat, they had no idea how much it was costing to make. Ford just churned out a huge number of completely conventional longitudinal engine, rear wheel drive cars that were scale-downs of the American models. They would still be doing that today with some styling tweaks, if you let them. Do you want a safer car? "Yes". Do you want air conditioning? "Yes" Do you want 3 sun roofs? "yes" Do you want better fuel economy? "Yes" Do you want lower emissions? "Yes". If you want to deliver all these things at the same time, you need sophistication. At the moment, that sophistication looks like a 2 ton hybrid SUV. Car manufacturers are clearly feeling the strain of developing models under the needs/regulatory environment. You can see it when even giants like BMW, Toyota & Subaru choose to share the development of the Supra/BRZ etc.   

       //Certainly it's possible to make a car that's enormously easier to maintain.//   

       We can do somewhat better with minimal downsides:   

       The location & appearance of things like Washer fluid, oil, brake fluid reservoirs could be standardized and labelled. If manufacturers designed around a standard headlight, they can go with a standard oil cap. Washer fluid shouldn't even be in the engine bay if you ask me <link>, and the reservoir should hold a whole damn bottle, or more.   

       OBD2 info shouldn't be hidden, there's no reason it can't be displayed.   

       Many components could be standardized: All the sensors, all drain plugs, all fluid caps, all filters, hoses, fuses, relays. Some things could come in a limited range e.g. 4 sizes of bolt, 4 sizes of brakes, 4 sizes of wheel with corresponding bolt pattern and offset.   

       Helpful info can also be scattered around, for example why can't we cast the bolt size into the components? Hole says 12x25mm, bolt says 12x25mm. Certain design decisions could contribute to a maintainability score (like safety ratings) for example. If you go with BMWs complex suspension that requires careful alignment, then your score takes a ding vs. a trailing arm.   

       The problem is what people want, and how that's transmitted via governments and regulations. If you ask people what they want, they say "yes". The solution has got harder because the baseline mechanical competence of the average person has gone in the opposite direction from the car complexity. How many people in the 60's were trained, or knew someone who was trained in vehicle mechanics? A lot. WW2 did that, even the Queen could give your series Land Rover a service.   

       *There are plenty of incompetent, lazy, incompetent & lazy, malevolent, hungover, busy & mismanaged mechanics out there.
bs0u0155, Dec 21 2021

       You know what? Just buy a Korean war era Willy's Jeep. With training a 10-year old could completely disassemble and reassemble one of those. They were designed for simplicity of maintenance and reliability. There's 100% parts availability & they'll be grandfathered into regulations for decades to come and only go up in value. It's what you want. no complaining about the downsides though.
bs0u0155, Dec 21 2021

       //Car engineer here.//   

       oooh, what is/are/were the best engineered cars? And that's "Best" not "Most".
bs0u0155, Dec 21 2021

       //any human// I think this is the most challenging aspect of this spec
pocmloc, Dec 21 2021

       ////any human// I think this is the most challenging aspect of this spec//   

       There's clearly societal pushes, at least in the countries I'm familiar with, toward having things handled by specialists. On one hand that's irritating credentialism, but in this case you will be fairly confident that less waste oil is improperly disposed of and fewer wheels fall off moving cars. Among other things.
bs0u0155, Dec 21 2021

       [+] I don't read this idea as nostalgia for the good old days, or saying that you can't change oil in a car if you want to. I'm pretty sure I don't use $300 of tools to change my oil: probably more like $50, but I could certainly image the automobile designers spending just a little more time making it easier for common maintenance tasks if not somewhat or even fully automatic in some cases.   

       I'd say it's a half-baked idea because it's not likely to be a profitable for the automakers, so it won't happen. The automakers are targeting their best customers. Those are the people with extra cash who buy a new car frequently. Those are the ones who don't care about spending a few bucks to have the oil changed. The automakers don't care what I want because it seems I'm currently on a 20 year car replacement cycle.   

       Hmm, though maybe the way they could sell it is as a convenience thing. They ship you the oil replacement kit. You spend 5 minutes changing the oil in a standard parking spot without getting your clothes or hands dirty, then ship the used oil back for analysis (if desired) and recycling. That probably just saved the customer half an hour. Gas station pickup and dropoff might also be an option.
scad mientist, Dec 22 2021

       //Just buy a Korean war era Willy's Jeep// I was thinking along these lines - I used to drive a 1968 Land Rover Defender, which would have been serviceable by a cave-dweller were you to equip them with a spanner and some parts.
zen_tom, Dec 22 2021

       //a 1968 Land Rover Defender, which would have been serviceable by a cave-dweller were you to equip them with a spanner and some parts//   

       I can assure you most Land Rovers of that vintage ARE serviced by cave dwellers... Although my friend Mike has recently upgraded to an old cow shed with a tarp on the roof.
bs0u0155, Dec 22 2021

       Check mate: Heater Core Replacement.
Letsbuildafort, Dec 22 2021

       Try Audi timing belt replacement. You start at the bumper and pull everything off from there on back.
RayfordSteele, Dec 27 2021


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