Newer doesn’t always mean it’s better when it comes to servicing

The ease of working on cars comes under the title of serviceability and maintainability.

I am writing this article on Christmas Eve.  I have given up hope.  It seems all the presents are wrapped and under the tree.  I don’t quite see anything that could be hiding the new Viper.

Technology has marched on for the new Viper.  Chrysler thought they were going to sell the Viper side of their business as a separate entity.  I don’t think anyone was lined up with cash.  So the Viper took a hiatus. Now it is back (the new Chrysler still in charge) and seemingly as with everything a much more complex (call it civilized) machine.  The Viper was a raw simple go fast machine.

The change from new to old from simple basic go fast to the more complex model would be interpreted by many as meaning the old would be easier to work on than the new.

You may be wrong.

The ease of working on cars comes under the title of serviceability and maintainability.  A vehicle can be very complex yet highly serviceable but it can also be the opposite.

Take a look at the list of maintenance items and how often they must be performed.  Then look in a service manual and attempt to perform these few maintenance items.  Does draining and refilling the cooling system require opening one easily accessible drain cock and removal of a radiator cap or is it two inaccessible block drains and several hose removals for draining followed by refilling while running the engine and managing several bleed ports.

Is the spark plug replacement process less than one hour labor or more than three?  Does part of the engine induction system need to be removed to access three of the six plugs?

From my viewpoint vehicles that are not so easily serviced and that require special tools to service get neglected.  These vehicles require more time to service, more tools and therefore more money.  Quick and cheap just will not cut it.

So when you are shopping for a Viper for your husband or wife next Christmas and it comes time to decide between the old or new one ask a mechanic who works on them for a living.

Which is easier to service and maintain?  Simple old or complex new?  Then tell me and we’ll both know.

Trail’s Ron Nutini is a licensed automotive technician and graduate of mechanical engineering from UBC. He will write every other Thursday. E-mail: