Here Are The Weirdest Unserviceable Car Parts

Here Are The Weirdest Unserviceable Car Parts

Some parts seem as if engineers didn't have mechanics in mind when they designed them

Back when I had my 2013 Chevy Sonic, the thermostat and its housing decided to explode one day, leaving me rolling down the street steaming like a tea kettle and spewing orange GM Dexcool coolant all over the engine. A dealer service visit later, I find out that it’s going to cost $600 bucks to replace.

The engineers at GM thought it was a good idea to design a part that’s integral to the engine’s cooling system out of plastic. I was going to do it myself until I found out what it entailed. Because the whole housing is made out of plastic, had I gone with the OEM part, failure to properly follow GM’s bolt-tightening sequence after installation could potentially fracture the whole housing, requiring another replacement.

A quick search on Rockauto found out the part costs just $34 and it was an aftermarket one properly made out of metal. My personal mechanic ended up replacing it for me for $50.

We asked readers what were the weirdest unserviceable parts they knew of. These were their answers.

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Toyota Yaris Headlight Removal

Toyota Yaris Headlight Removal

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Image: Toyota

Yaris headlight bulb replacement requires the removal of the entire front bumper.

Who would’ve thought that such a basic car would require such a complex repair for a light? You can see the hassle of it here.

Suggested by: Dan Hummel (Facebook)

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Ford Mustang S550 Cabin Air Filter

Ford Mustang S550 Cabin Air Filter

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Image: Amazon (Other)

Ford listed the cabin air filter on S550 Mustang’s as a 30k mile service interval, despite clearly designing it in a way that no one in their right mind would replace it. Full dashboard tear-down for a goddam filter? NO THANKS, I’M GOOD.

I’m pretty sure this is a thing with most cars, but Ford were the only ones dumb enough to list it as a service interval, which doesn’t even matter because most dealer service departments are smart enough to know that nobody want to tack an extra 8 hours of service on routine maintenance. I actually asked the tech who does all my maintenance about it, and he just laughed and goes “the guy who comes up with the intervals works in a different building than anyone who actually designs the f*cking car.”

I’d be pretty pissed if I were a Mustang owner and saw what this repair entails. Pretty much gutting the passenger side of the dash to replace a filter sucks. You can see the repair here.

Suggested by: GMT800 Tahoe Guy

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Clutch Position Sensor In an Audi A4 B8

Clutch Position Sensor In an Audi A4 B8

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Image: Audi

Not particularly strange, but in the B8 Audi A4, the clutch position sensor is integrated into the master cylinder. So the little plastic switch goes bad (which would be a $20 part in the B7), and requires a replacement of the whole master cylinder which is $1k parts/labor.

Leave it to VW to design and integrate something small and cheap into something more complex. You can read how much of a headache it is here.

Suggested by: @c_bust (Twitter)

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12th-Generation Ford F-150 Steering Shafts

12th-Generation Ford F-150 Steering Shafts

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Image: Amazon (Other)

F-150 steering shafts. The 2010-ish era F-150 steering shafts are notorious for the lower joint seizing, you have to buy the whole shaft at $500 for the dealer (for about a 2-foot shaft with 2 joints). Most parts stores don’t list an aftermarket, have found a couple online for about $300.

Having something like a steering shaft joint seize is both scary and a headache. Especially on something like a workhorse F-150. You can see the repair here.

Suggested by: Adam LeBlanc (Facebook)

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Cadillac XLR Taillights

Cadillac XLR Taillights

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Image: Cadillac

Cadillac XLR tail lights. Sealed LED units with a chip board inside that go bad with age, so they need to be replaced. BUT, they also don’t make them anymore! So truly unserviceable. So used ones go for $2k+ each. When all those go we’ll have a lot of mechanically totaled XLRs just because the tail lights can’t be serviced/replaced.

The XLR had a few things that overly relied on tech that shouldn’t have. The taillights were one of them. You can see how complex the chipboard is inside the lights and the repair here.

Suggested by:savethemanualsbmw335ix

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2000 Mercury Sable Heater Core Replacement

2000 Mercury Sable Heater Core Replacement

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Image: IFCAR (Fair Use)

My biggest PITA I’ve encountered was a heater core in a 2000 Mercury Sable. The hoses on the firewall are nearly impossible to access and not to mention that you have to remove the whole dash and cut a bracket off so the core can barely be pulled out at an angle.

The 2000 Sable/Taurus cleaned up its oval design, but that didn’t change any repair hassles of things that could go wrong down the road like a heater core. You can see how involved the repair is on the mechanically-identical Taurus here.

Suggested by: Chad Higgins (Facebook)

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Lotus Elise Clamshell

Lotus Elise Clamshell

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Image: Lotus

The Lotus Elise’s front clamshell. Essentially, all of the bodywork fore the A-pillar is one big piece. A crack in that clamshell can total the entire vehicle. It is difficult to remove, expensive to paint, and incredibly labor intensive to re-install. R&T ran a story in 2018 about a guy who bought one with a salvage title due to a cracked bumper. The quote to repair the bumper was $19,000.

It’s not surprising that the Elise would be designed like this. If I were an owner I’d drive on eggshells knowing that even a crack could total out the car. You can see the removal process is here.

Suggested by: NEBCruiser(now with FSD)

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Porsche 944 Oil Pan Gasket

Porsche 944 Oil Pan Gasket

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Image: Bull-Doser

Porsche 944 oil pan gasket. $50-70 for the gasket, 8-14 hours of labor. (8-10 for normally-aspirated, 12-14 for turbo).

Another example of German over-engineering made worse with ’80s design. You can read the step-by-step process of this hellish repair here.

Suggested by: David James (Facebook)

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Chevy Blazer Fuel Tank Vent Valve

Chevy Blazer Fuel Tank Vent Valve

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Image: Chevrolet

I had a 2000 Blazer 4WD four-door. Started with a burnt-up fuel pump. Replaced it, a month later the new one burns up. Apparently, this is situation normal for these, but then I started noticing hiccups the fuel level not reading accurately. Then I started noticing that the gas tank would sometimes suck in air when removing the gas cap. It got to the point where I would sometimes have to drive it with the gas cap loose so that the fuel could pump without creating negative pressure in the tank. This is what was burning up the fuel pumps.

So I started looking for a replacement gas tank vent. Turns out, though, that only the steel 19-gallon tanks used on ‘98 and earlier Blazers, or on 2-door or 2WD Blazers, had replaceable vents. ‘99-and-up four-door 4WD Blazers - at least mine - used a plastic tank with an integrated vent. And guess what? No one, not even GM, made the tanks anymore. You had to find a used one.

I’m so glad I sold that POS.

Having to replace an entire fuel tank due to one valve would have me considering getting rid of the car too. You can read about the hassle of the repair on the owner forums here.

 Suggested by: dbeach84

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2nd Generation Toyota MR-2 Turbo Coolant Hose Replacement

2nd Generation Toyota MR-2 Turbo Coolant Hose Replacement

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Image: Toyota

That one $5 coolant hose on an MR-2 Turbo that requires a complete engine-out and removal of the turbo + all the manifolds to replace once it starts leaking.

I could only the price and labor required just for one hose replacement on this thing. You can see how labor-intensive the whole process is here.

Suggested by: Alan Lee (Facebook)

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DISCUSSION