The Hardest Cars To Work On?

Dodge Stratus
Dodge Stratus |

By IFCAR - Own work, Public Domain,

Table Of Contents

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    For those of us who work on our own vehicles, either for fun or by necessity, nothing takes the fun out of working on your own car like skinned knuckles and an achy back.

    New cars can be hard to work on because of the new technology and the required diagnostic equipment which is out of the price range of most DIYers. Old cars can be difficult to work on due to rusted seized bolts and leaky components.

    What’s an easy fix on one car can be a hard fix on another and vice-versa.

    Whether it’s what should be a simple battery swap or a spark plug change to a clutch or timing belt change, it seems the engineers and designers of the following vehicles simply had it out for us.

    We have compiled a list of some of the hardest cars to work on.

    2004 - 2008 Ford F-150

    First up on our list is a spark plug change on the Ford F-150 with either the 4.6L 3 valve or 5.4L 3 valve motor.

    2007 Ford F-150 Crew Cab With 5.4L 3 Valve Motor

    2007 Ford F-150 Crew Cab With 5.4L 3 Valve Motor -

    These motors are designed to use a poorly designed spark plug that has a tendency to break off inside the cylinder when being changed! This is due to carbon build up around the lower long metal part of the spark below the threads. This long metal part slides into the cylinder head with minimal clearance and is seized in place by the carbon build up between the spark plug and the cylinder head!

    What should be a 30 minute job is turned into an all day affair because of the requirement to soak the spark plugs in carb cleaner as you carefully work the spark plug back and forth a ¼ turn at a time.

    The problem is made worse by the fact that the F-150’s engine sits far back in the engine bay making the back 4 and 8 cylinder extremely difficult to reach. Special tools should be bought along with having lots of ratchet extensions and adapters on hand to minimize the headaches and cursing.

    All Ford Corporation models with this problem:


    • 2005-2008 Mustang
    • 2004-2008 F-150
    • 2005-2008 Expedition, F-Super Duty
    • 2006-2008 Explorer
    • F-53 Motorhome Chassis
    • 2007-2008 Explorer Sport Trac


    • 2005-2008 Navigator
    • 2006-2008 Mark LT


    • 2006-2008 Mountaineer

    If you own one of these models or are looking at buying one a good question to ask is when were the spark plugs last changed. It may be worth it to do a preventative spark plug change ahead of schedule as the longer you wait the more carbon will build up.

    2001 - 2006 Dodge Stratus

    The second car we are going to look at in our hardest cars to work on list is changing the battery on a Dodge Stratus.

    2005 Dodge Stratus

    2005 Dodge Stratus -

    On most vehicles changing the battery is as simple as popping the hood, loosening a couple bolts and swapping out the battery before tightening it back up.

    On the Dodge Stratus changing the battery turns into a pain in the butt as the car.

    As seen at

    1. First the car has to jacked up.
    2. Then the front left wheel has to be removed.
    3. Remove bolts and rivets that attach the inner wheel well to the vehicle.
    4. Remove battery bracket
    5. Remove battery connections
    6. Replace battery
    7. Put everything back together

    The Dodge Stratus isn’t the only car to place a battery here as its become more common as the years go by.

    We agree that this isn’t the hardest job in the world and should only take 45 - 60 minutes but having to get the jack out and jack up the car, remove the wheel and inner fender just to change a battery puts the Dodge Stratus on our list.

    AMC Pacer (1975 - 1980)

    Some parts of the Pacer were designed for easy serviceability - including the dash and instrument panel but this was largely for nought due to its cramped engine compartment.

    1975 AMC Pacer

    1975 AMC Pacer -

    Originally designed to hold a small rotary engine, the Pacer’s engine bay was packed with a straight six engine due to the 70’s fuel crisis and tooling costs in its factories.

    Working under the hood of an AMC Pacer leads to skinned arms and colorful language.

    Under The Hood OF A 1976 AMC Pacer

    Under The Hood OF A 1976 AMC Pacer -

    Citroën SM

    The Citroën SM is a coupe produced by the French manufacturer Citroën from 1970 to 1975. It won the Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1972. The car handled great, even at high speeds, and had the shortage stopping time the magazine Popular Science had ever tested up to that point.

    Citroën SM

    Citroën SM -

    Although speed hungry drivers loved the car, mechanics hated it. This is due to the cramped rat’s nest under the head that makes a DIYer sick just looking at it.

    Under The Hood OF A Citroën SM

    Under The Hood OF A Citroën SM -

    It doesn’t stop at the engine either. The car pressurized nitrogen height adjusting suspension, hydraulic assist brake complete with all the assorted hoses.

    Mechanics still have nightmares from working on the SMs.

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