Are Foreign or Domestic Cars Easier to Repair?

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It’s important to plan ahead before purchasing a new or used car. You want to find something that looks good, drives well, and offers safety to all passengers. Your preferences may include leather on the seats, the color of the paint, or if the stereo has Bluetooth available because the new iPhone doesn’t have a headphone jack anymore. Research suggests that American car owners are holding onto their vehicles for longer than ever before. The average time of owning a car is now 10.6 years as compared to 8.8 years over a decade ago.

One problem that we often fail to consider when buying a car is knowing how difficult the vehicle is to maintain and repair. There’s no fault in wanting to skip this unpleasant issue. After all, you are probably spending a good amount of money on the car, and the last thing you should expect in the near future is a problem with your vehicle. However, that doesn’t change the fact that at some point in the future, whether that is a few weeks, several months, or even five years down the road, you are likely to experience some problems with your vehicle that will require repairs. Does this influence your decision? If so, how difficult is it to repair a foreign car compared to a domestic brand?

Cost of Parts

The first major difference you’ll need to consider is the cost of parts. It is much cheaper to order a new transmission from the Ford manufacturing plant and have it travel within the continental United States than it is to order a part from Volkswagen and ship it across the Atlantic Ocean. You may not need a lot of parts, and hopefully, you won’t need a new transmission, but that doesn’t change the fact that you will pay more per part for foreign-made cars than their domestic competitors.

Specialized Knowledge

Domestic vehicles tend to be more common than imported brands, and that means mechanics and body shops are usually more familiar with domestic cars than foreign ones. If you are in need of repairs, the options in your area may be limited. Foreign cars often require a specialized skill set to repair, and you may be forced to tow your vehicle a greater distance to reach the right shop. With the proper knowledge and experience, fixing foreign cars can be about as challenging as repairing a domestic vehicle, but you have to find a qualified mechanic first.


Foreign cars are designed differently than American-made vehicles, and part of the assembly process uses different tools that you may not have readily available. Unfortunately, there is no other option than to purchase the tools that are necessary to get the job done. These tools can range from specialized screwdrivers with unusual tips to wrenches that have long, zig-zagged handles to reach a special bolt on the back of the engine. Once you have the right tool for the job, it makes repairs so much easier. If you have the right mechanic, resources, and enough time, repairing foreign cars can be just as easy as fixing domestic ones.

Ultimately, deciding on a vehicle will depend on your personal taste, needs, budget, and other factors. While the cost of repairs should be taken into account, that shouldn’t be the deciding factor for your purchase.


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