Craig Van Batenburg, Author at Transmission Digest
BMW 530e Plug-in Hybrid

A while back, I compared a 2005 BMW 325 2.5 liter to the updated 2011 model and guess what? The newer one was harder to service. So the questions I ask working techs include: Do the automotive designers look at the ease of service when designing a new car? And are they getting better or worse to work on?

Newer Nissan Rogues: A Technician’s View

Did Nissan make the redesigned Rouge better, or worse, to work on? How do American technicians view Nissan? Do the automotive designers look at the service end when they design or redesign a new car? Until service technicians tell me engineers understand “someone has to fix it later,” I will continue to write these articles.

Sorting Out the Technology

The two electric cars I’ve chosen for this article are the new Chevy Bolt (not to be confused with the Volt) and the new Tesla Model 3. They’re about the same price ($37,000 to $38,000 base, before incentives), have well more than 200 miles of range and both allow fast charging. The Bolt is available everywhere, but the Tesla Model 3 just came out as I was writing this article in July 2017.

How Does the Original Toyota Prius Plug-In Stack up to the New Prius Prime?

The Prius family (Prius Hatchback, Prius C, Prius V and the new Prime) is still popular. When the engineers changed the plug-in model technically, did they make it easier or harder to service and repair? We’ll find out.

Serviceability Report: Ford Fusion Hybrid

Ford Motor Co. saw the light in hybrid technology with the introduction of the model year (M/Y) 2005 Escape hybrid. Since then, they’ve made many improvements and gained market share.

Makeover of a Plug-In

There have been no redesigns of any plug-in cars except the Chevy Volt. The Nissan Leaf did get a larger capacity battery pack and the motor/inverter underwent changes, but the body and chassis stayed the same. Tesla has new models but not a new makeover. So why did General Motors change everything? Let’s revisit the decade at GM.

Honda CR-V: Which Model Year Easier to Service: 2011 or ’16?

This month, we look at the evolution of the Honda CR-V through the eyes of a tech. Is this little SUV getting easier to service, or did the engineers forget about us? Full disclosure: Honda Research & Development and Honda Manufacturing are Automotive Career Development Center (ACDC) customers, and as I stated ealier, I have had a love affair with Honda for almost 50 years.
But I won’t let that keep me from reporting the truth as I see it.

How Easy, or Hard, Is it to Service the Gen III Vehicle?

The Prius family – Prius Hatchback, Prius C, Prius V and the Plug-in – is still wildly popular, and a new Prius is coming soon. So this issue, we’ll compare the second-generation Prius (2004-09) to the current, third-generation Prius (2010-15). The redesign changed a lot, technically, but did the car get easier or harder to service and repair?

Serviceability Report: Kia Soul

Let’s take a look at Kia. Is it easy to service?

Kia was a poorly made car when this Korean company brought its 1994 Sephia to America. Kia made cars for Ford/Mazda prior to 1994, but most people had no idea where they came from. Remember the Aspire from Ford? That was a Kia.

Serviceability Report: Honda Fit

This month, we will examine the 2015 Honda Fit and see what happened when it was redesigned recently. The Fit went on sale in the U.S. on April 20, 2006 as a 2007 model-year car. The first-generation Fit was replaced after only two model years by a new 2009 model and again in 2014 as a 2015 model. We will compare a 2009 to the new 2015.

The New Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

This month we will examine the Lincoln MKZ. Two years after I closed my shop to pursue my career full time in hybrid technical training, Alan Mullaly was named CEO of Ford. That was 2006. Under Mullaly’s leadership, Ford was kept out of bankruptcy court and improved its products, but did the much-improved Ford consider the working technician who has to fix their cars or do preventive maintenance?

Serviceability Report: Toyota Highlander

Once more we will examine a new model that has just been re-engineered. Is fixing and maintaining a 2014 Toyota Highlander less difficult than fixing and maintaining the earlier model? Were technicians considered at the design stage? Let’s find out. Let’s examine the 2008 Highlander V 6 all-wheel-drive (AWD) system and compare it with the current 2014 model.