Service & repairs of Japanese & Korean cars vans and light trucks is usually time efficient and cost effective compared to European vehicles.
We perform major & minor logbook services within a few hours and in many cases the cost is below $250. Without the complications of their european counterparts Lexus, Infinity, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Nissan, Suzuki, & Subaru are designed for relatively straight forward maintenance.
They are fuel efficient and reliable to own. With each model evolving slowly from the previous generation to ensure reliability is maintained in the typically conservative Japanese or Korean fashion.
There is no question that Japanese makes are superior to their Korean counterparts. We see the quality and design difference every day. But Hyundai & Kia are improving in leaps and bounds.
Make no mistake neglected and highly extended service intervals will still end in costly repairs and breakdowns. Lets discuss some of the benefits and weaknesses of the popular makes and models below. As every car has its positives & negatives.
Toyota & Lexus owners know very well the reliability of these cars is second to none. In saying that they are known as a basic drive for those wanting to commute efficiently without any fuss. Some models like Corolla have terrible blind spots and poor ergonomics, which highlights Toyota’s position as number 1 car maker in the world. Some other makes wouldn’t quite get away with it. Make sure when buying one to drive it for a while you might not always be very impressed!
Newer models have become more stylish and interesting but under the skin the same basic design is consistent to older models. Oil changes and even major services can be performed quite quickly on most Toyota cars and even Utes like Hilux providing all is in order and the vehicle has been maintained.
The Echo & Yaris are hands down the cheapest to run being the smallest. Any mechanic will tell you these cars are brilliant. Just keep up with the services and you will not have any issues. Full stop. Drive belts don’t last as long as they used to and sometimes require replacement at 70000km otherwise they run on love and fresh air! Neglecting the spark plugs will always blow a ignition coil pack but that is easy and cheap to fix.
The venerable Corolla is truly an amazing car and cheap to run, with no major recurring defects we know of. Love & fresh air and a service every 10000km every 5000km for short heavy trips, we prefer every 8000km for city cars, and know the corolla can be hard on the engine oil like all modern cars.
RAV 4, FX Cruiser, Forerunner, Highlander, Prado & Land cruiser & Lexus RX300 & RX350 are all reliable but each have service requirements of their own. Still all within the Toyota family simple service type arrangement. Of course the bigger Toyota four wheel drives 4WD will be heavier on brakes disc rotors and engine oil. The modern RAV-4 have undersized brake pads and discs that are prone to fade on mountain descents, and despite lane keep assist, blind spot alert and all the mod cons should be driven with care as they become unstable with sharp turns and braking.
Camry & Lexus ES300 have always been brilliant but is known for engine mount failure, and severe oil leaks if the engine oil is neglected. Especially on the older V6 engines, water pump failure and timing belt changes can be very expensive on the V6, especially if the engine is in a Tarago!
Toyota Supra, Celica & 86 are all classic cult cars and despite being known for certain issues do get driven hard so this can be expected.
Shock absorbers always go spongy and soft and occasionally leak, and coolant can go rusty but only if neglected. It really pays to service Camry on time and most the problems mentioned will be sorted within the service schedule. Same goes for Kluger & Lexus RX300 With all the above and heavy wear on lower control arm bushings to boot!
The mid 90’s Lexus GS300 was not the most reliable car every made with leaking steering racks, heavy oil leaks and suspension issues. Same goes for the SC400 convertible. With very expensive suspension issues and rocker cover oil leaks from the wonderful V8 engine shared with the Lexus LS400. The IS 250 and IS 300 Lexus cars are reliable and can be beaten about. But can be costly to repair. And finally all Toyota sunroof drains get blocked and flood the car. Including Lexus. Especially if the sunroof isn’t used.
We have no known issues in 35 years as car mechanics with Toyota window regulators but window switches are prone to failure but can sometimes be opened and serviced to repair. Prius is awesome, with a battery pack required usually after 10 years! But with the same reliability as a Corolla now thats amazing!
With Mazda always having great body styles and better driving characteristics than Toyota, they have always been trusted and loved in Australia. From the Mazda 121 bubble car, Astina, Eunos V6, MX6 which was also a Ford Probe, Mazda 626, which was also a Ford Telstar, beautiful MX5, RX7, to the new Mazda CX5 we have extensive experience on Mazda. Known issues in CX7 and CX9 is drive shafts, vibration, oil leaks from earlier V6, ignition coil packs on the Mazda Tribute which was also a Ford Escape. Wheel bearing failures on older Mazda 6. High oil consumption on certain engine with higher km vehicles. Mazda seem to all suffer from vibration through the brake pedal due to worn or warped disc rotors eventually. Same can be said for shock absorbers and engine mounts.
And for some reason it seems people don’t change the air conditioning cabin filters resulting in a bad smell and poor fan performance. With older Mazda cars also having Ford design like the 323 Protege they can suffer from immobiliser and wiring faults, faulty window switches, automatic transmission solenoid failures resulting in delays and thuds and failed air conditioning compressors.
The older Mazda E2000 and Bravo vans and utes were reliable in their day but are getting a bit difficult to upkeep after years gone by. These days as with most cars the basic ones are the most reliable like the Mazda 2, Mazda 3, Mazda 6 petrol or diesel. The newer Skyactiv engines are so efficient and smooth yet can lack power when needed. Owners often complain of the start stop cycling of engine, but this is to reduce fuel consumption. Batteries are usually AGM glass types and don’t always last that long. Its essential to use the correct engine oils in modern vehicles and Mazda is no exception. We like to use full synthetic on cars that do extended city driving or clock up high km on long freeway commutes.
With less models on offer now than ever Mazda has kind of lost their niche in sportiness, but lead the way in style and family SUV type vehicles.
Subaru is a small car maker and doesn’t make Utes vans or trucks for Australia. With an emphasis on strong body structures and Symmetrical All Wheel Drive coupled with punchy boxer engines they are the most unique and specialised of the Japanese lot. Known for their ugly designs that look great after years go by, Subaru cars are safe and reliable if maintained by proper Subaru experienced mechanics.
Focused on perfect driver position and traction anyone who owned a Subaru knows they are a joy to drive with excellent visibility.
We have extensive experience on Subaru vehicles. From Leone and Brumby from the 80’s to the famous EZ30 flat 6 in the Spec B Liberty with WRX STi 6 speed manual transmission, latest direct injection, Tribeca, Subaru Outback, Liberty, Forester and Impreza, WRX, and now amazing yet aging Subaru WRX STi.
Subaru cars are not always so fuel efficient unless on the freeway, and despite an emphasis on weight saving like other makes have gotten bigger and heavier with newer models.
Diesel models are not suitable for short city trips with Diesel Particulate filters on Forester, Outback & Liberty getting clogged up frequently. If you own one of these make sure you get it out on the open roads to regenerate the DPF before its too late!
Subaru Boxer engines now mostly feature timing chains, but for the older models with timing belts valve damage occurs when they break. Make sure to have you timing belt changed in time as specified in owners manual. Coolant must be kept perfect or disaster with corrosion and head gasket failure can result.
Inner drive shafts boots are prone to failure as well as steering rack boots. As they are close to the exhaust. With service these should be replaced before they throw grease everywhere. When buying a used Subaru beware of oil leaks from cylinder heads and worn clutches. Despite being a joy to drive Subaru clutch pick up points reult in worn clutches which are expensive to replace. Brake discs warp in time and create brake shudder its best to replace with new and avoid machining discs on Outback Tribeca & Liberty.
Earlier CVT in the WRX couldn’t quite handle the power and significant changes have been made to these transmissions. Otherwise the automatic transmissions are solid.
Earlier Foresters suffer from rear subframe bush failure and also all Subaru’s depending on driving conditions wear out lower control arms. Most Subaru engines use oil and require top ups between services. The boxer engines weather they are the EJ20, EJ25, EJ257, FA20, all suffer from carbon build up eventually and require upper cylinder head cleaner. Later Forestors are now developing oil leaks from the Timing Chain covers and AVICS System on the FB25 engines.
Drive belt tensioner bearing failures on Forester and Liberty can end up in a timing belt nightmare and any noisy pulleys should be changed with service. Rocker cover oil leaks and neglected spark plugs and gear oil is something to look out for and avoid.
The WRX STi is Subaru’s most advanced vehicle with DCCD centre differential and amazing handling and power. Sadly there are issues with piston ringland failures when driven hard and especially when tuned for more power. The rear gearbox stop mounts fail and the 19 inch rims on the latest model are prone to blowing tyres if there are potholes that cannot be avoided. These ageing beasts also suffer from excessive blowby and require a air oil seperator or AOS to stop oil ingestion via inter cooler and associated detonation. In saying that there is nothing like the Subaru WRX STi on gravel and dirt, in wet weather and snow. With inverted shock absorbers, huge 6 piston Brembo brakes and 3 differentials 2 of them limited slip, they are a totally different car to the WRX. And a weapon to drive. The 6 speed gearbox is bulletproof and notchy. A true drivers car.
When buying a used Subaru you must get the vehicle history and a pre purchase inspection.
Honda have always stood out from the Japanese cars for their quality, fit & finish. They were always more expensive and well worth it! With all aluminium engines and top quality radiators, cooling hoses & air conditioning compressors faults with Honda are few and far between.
They drive well for years after new and hold their resale value very well. We have always called them the BMW of Japan. People who own Honda usually pass them down in the family and buy new ones. They just drive so much better than Toyota & Mazda, Nissan & Suzuki. The interiors are beautiful and stay like new for many years.
We service and repair Honda cars and have experience with the VTEC, iVTEC, Earth Dreams, engines & cylinder heads and double wishbone suspension, timing belts, water pumps & unique overall design of these cars. We have seen many Honda cars damaged and parts ruined by mechanics that can’t seem to deal with the super fine tolerances and design. Honda engines are like Swiss watches compared to Toyota & Mazda for example.
Honda were leaders in technological innovation, on the street and in F1, yet managed to stagnate and fall behind with engine development. That is until now. Honda are back much to our joy. We love the precision engineering of these cars.
With only several offers on offer its easy to forget the glory days of the NSX, CRX, Prelude, Integra & S2000. The MDX & Legend were amazing cars but not as reliable as more basic models. And we will never forget the Honda City Pro T!
Falling out of popularity in the late 2000’s for bad styling, lack of Honda learned a valuable lesson and are now making a comeback with the sleek CRV Civic & Jazz. With factories now in Thailand for the CRV & Jazz.
The Accord Euro & larger Accord have always been amazing cars with all earlier Honda models featuring double wishbone suspension and independent rear suspension that gave Honda their amazing drive.
The main issue with Honda cars in the past have been Automatic and manual gearbox failures. With the twin parallel shaft design of the automatic transmissions being a in house Honda design they would thud and flare up. Many of the 1998 Ohio USA built Accords had a faulty valve body. Leading to total Automatic Transmission Failures. The earlier Jazz had a unreliable CVT. So did the HRV. When buying a used Honda Jazz stay away from the 2006 era models they are notorious for water leaks through the doors.
Other weaknesses are engine mounts on CRV MDX Legend & Accord, oil leaks from the transmission selector cable seal, noisy valve tappets as no one bothers to adjust them! Oil leaks from extended service intervals. Particularly on the 2.4 litre iVTEC engine rocker covers, timing chain case seals and rear main seals. The 2.4 is found across so many model years. When buying a used Honda always ensure full service history less than 3 owners and no accident damage! Its essential to get a pre purchase inspection on used Honda cars as many are ruined by dodgy mechanics and abuse by owners.
Nissan have always made reliable cars 4wd and utes and SUV’s like the Maxima & Pulsar, Pathfinder & Navara, and Patrol, XTrail & Dualis. There engines are robust and spirited in performance. Many models like the 200SX, Skyline, Micra & Sylvia going on to become cult cars with a global following. With new models having Renault in the mix, reliabilty can suffer in areas such as oil leaks, timing chain failures and issues with the Diesel engines such as the D40. Clutch replacement on Dualis is costly and there are issues with the dual mass flywheels. Subframe bushes tend to fail with heavier driving styles on Xtrail & Dualis. The newer Qashqai is so far proving to be reliable. The Xtrail and Renault Koleos are based on the same platform and share many components.
The Nissan Tiida can be heavy on wear and tear items such as engine mounts, drive belts and bushings but with regular care can be a good fuel efficient run around. Its essential to get a pre purchase inspection on any used Nissan vehicle as they have become more complex, with parts often being expensive. Gone are the days of the N14 Pulsar where you can do a quick run around the vehicle and check it out.
Suzuki is one of the smaller Japanese makes with small cars that are efficient and durable. With infamous models such as Vitara and Swift & Sierra, Baleno, Alto & Jimny they are unique and like no other. With the most popular model being the swift we often see worn clutches, worn shock absorbers and rear drum shoes and cylinders, failed coil packs and neglected engine oil changes as the bulk of the problems that come into the workshop. The V6 Grand Vitara and 2 Door Vitara require specific diff oil and transfer case oil changes. The Kizashi now discontinued suffers from fuel injector issues and shock absorber failure but otherwise is an awesome car. When buying a used Suzuki you can check many basic things yourself, but its best to get a pre purchase inspection on Vitara models especially. Like most cars look out for leaking shock absorbers, rusty cooling systems and oil leaks.