Weird placement of car parts. Why?

Ashara Keliyn

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Just an hour ago the neighbor asked me to help her replace the battery on her Ford SUV (Escape I think). So to reach the battery you remove:
A. Both windshield wipers.
B. 7 clips to remove the cover #1
C. The brake fluid reservoir
D. 4 bolts to remove cover #2
Even after all that the battery is not fully exposed and you have to tilt it to remove it.
Had to use:
14mm socket, 10mm socket, 12mm socket, flathead screwdriver, torx bit. 45 minutes.
I am wondering at what point does the design engineer say "man, I did a good job"?
Why do that? What are some others you encountered.
On my 4runner I need only 10mm socket and 3-5 minutes.
 
I guess engineers have a sense of humor too. ;)

After building airplanes and having to service them afterwards I've realized that designing for function and also the ability to easily service them later are two very different roads ...
 
Probably so many requirements/restrictions/commitments tied up in getting the thing into production, the location and mounting of the battery was probably not even thought about till last. I can just imagine some 3rd assistant to the 2nd chief design engineer, the day before pressing the big red "easy" button, asking "but where are we gonna put the battery?"
 
I had a 2005 Cadillac DTS. Battery was under the back seat.
My wife's BMW 128i has the battery in the trunk. It uses four "run-flats" and has no spare tire. It costs a bazillion dollars to get the battery changed and all the computers reprogrammed after you do it. Stupid car. But, fun to drive!
 
I am wondering at what point does the design engineer say "man, I did a good job"?
Why do that? What are some others you encountered.
On my 4runner I need only 10mm socket and 3-5 minutes.
College educated, not real world educated.
 
Realistically, how often is a battery changed on a car over its lifetime? Why use up valuable engine compartment space just to put a component that gets touched maybe 3-4 times over a 16 year lifespan. It’s still serviceable but maybe takes an extra half hour to do. There really isn’t a need to put a battery someplace that it can be changed out in 5 minutes.
 
Reminds me of the headlight bulb replacement procedure on a 2011 Subaru outback.
After spending over an hour attempting to do it, googling how to do it, and watching YouTube how to do it, I raised the white flag and paid my mechanic to change a light bulb.
 
Try the battery in a Dodge Journey - you come in through the wheel well.

Blower motor in the Ford Granada (or something of that vintage) - you had to cut a hole in the fender. Ford sold a patch kit.
 
2017 Ford Fusion. You have to remove the intake manifold to remove the battery - and that is no trivial process.
 
Realistically, how often is a battery changed on a car over its lifetime? Why use up valuable engine compartment space just to put a component that gets touched maybe 3-4 times over a 16 year lifespan. It’s still serviceable but maybe takes an extra half hour to do. There really isn’t a need to put a battery someplace that it can be changed out in 5 minutes.
Often enough to spark a thread like this.
 
Realistically, how often is a battery changed on a car over its lifetime? Why use up valuable engine compartment space just to put a component that gets touched maybe 3-4 times over a 16 year lifespan. It’s still serviceable but maybe takes an extra half hour to do. There really isn’t a need to put a battery someplace that it can be changed out in 5 minutes.

If this impedes jumpstarting the car, the design is horrible.
 
Think production costs (including calendar time) vs maintenance costs.
 
A friend has a newer Porsche 911.... he tells me to change the plugs and the ignition coils the job is a lot easier with the engine taken out.

VW Vanagon, battery is under the right front seat. On the older Bugs, under the back seat.
 
Reminds me of the headlight bulb replacement procedure on a 2011 Subaru outback.
After spending over an hour attempting to do it, googling how to do it, and watching YouTube how to do it, I raised the white flag and paid my mechanic to change a light bulb.

Same with the wife's 2012 Forester.
 
On my old Ferrari, one must remove the car from the engine cradle to change the belts.
 
My wife has a ‘16 Escape, and yes, I’ve changed the battery. Good news is, the positive terminal is accessible so you can jump start it.

For the record, I’ve seen the oil filter, but I have no idea how it’s removable.

It’s actually getting a new engine…I think they go in through the tailpipe for that.
 
Autos are all designed by 25yo computer experts with black-frame glasses, perfectly clean hands, manicured nails, sipping Starbucks while they work on their computer-generated 3-D models in huge offices, at least that’s how I envision it.
 
I’ll never complain about the #8 spark plug on my 1998 F-150 again. :biggrin:
That’s ok, I’ll do it for you! I grew up on a farm, so when I needed new plugs and wires in my 96 Explorer, I thought it would be no big deal…. Yeah, the last plug took me an hour and a half all on its own.

And dealer service fees are simply outrageous. Got my wife a brand new black Honda. She wanted the blackout badging. I could order the parts (from a dealer) online for under $150, yet the dealership wanted $450 to rebadge it. I had all the badges replaced in under 45 mins. Idk who thinks that 45 mins is worth $300, but I know I don’t get paid that well at my job!!!
 
I have always contended that a car designer should be made to work on cars for a year before being allowed to actually design them. Maybe it would solve those sorts of things.

This was part of why I was a mechanic before/during engineering school. And I was a Jaguar mechanic at that.

Of course I didn’t end up working for auto manufacturers, but the lessons still hold.

Anyway to the OP’s question, this has become increasingly a thing and it’s frustrating to me as well. Some manufacturers care more about serviceability than others and make it a priority. I find it silly though how difficult it can be to change standard consumables like a battery or headlight bulbs. I think the general thought process is those things don’t happen all that regularly (even if they still are expected items) so it’s ok.

Somewhat ironically to me, one of the easier to service cars I’ve owned was a BMW 740iL (E38 series). They actually, at least at that point, seemed to make service a priority.
 
That’s ok, I’ll do it for you! I grew up on a farm, so when I needed new plugs and wires in my 96 Explorer, I thought it would be no big deal…. Yeah, the last plug took me an hour and a half all on its own.

And dealer service fees are simply outrageous. Got my wife a brand new black Honda. She wanted the blackout badging. I could order the parts (from a dealer) online for under $150, yet the dealership wanted $450 to rebadge it. I had all the badges replaced in under 45 mins. Idk who thinks that 45 mins is worth $300, but I know I don’t get paid that well at my job!!!
I’ve changed it two or three times over the years. The first time took a while, but once you figure out the right combination of extensions and universal joints, it really isn’t that bad.
 
If this impedes jumpstarting the car, the design is horrible.
Most cars with the remote battery position have jumper studs in the engine compartment. I'd hazard a guess that most owners have no idea they are there.
 
2017 Ford Fusion. You have to remove the intake manifold to remove the battery - and that is no trivial process.
Which engine? I have the 2017 Fusion with the 2.0L engine and it takes about 1 minute and is a single bolt.

But yes on 'throwaway cars' i.e cheap-end consumer grade cars expected to run about 150k miles and then be thrown away, serviceability isn't there anymore because they're really not expected to run forever. Once the engine or transmission goes, that costs more to replace than the car so off to a scrap yard it goes.
 
When I meet the engineer that designed the coil bracket for a ‘99 Burb… gonna beat them within an inch of their life.

That’s all I got to say about that.
 
Many new motorcycles are terrible in that regard as well. Certainly many newer BMW’s are. Batteries and headlight bulbs requiring pretty significant disassembly. It hasn’t always been this way - on my 1998 and 1999 K1200RS’s the batteries are easily accessible under the flip-up seat, as it should be. Though replacing the air and fuel filters do require a lot of plastic to be removed.

Which is one thing that’s dissuaded me from buying a newer BMW, BTW.
 
Autos are all designed by 25yo computer experts with black-frame glasses, perfectly clean hands, manicured nails, sipping Starbucks while they work on their computer-generated 3-D models in huge offices, at least that’s how I envision it.

Your not wrong.

It's more than cars. My dad is a retired engineer. He was an electrician by trade before he went to college. His job for much of his career was to turn plans for industrial HVAC systems drawn by others into reality. More than once he had to explain to the bespectacled CAD wizards that their wiz-bang computer put two pieces of equipment in the same physical space or that the duct in their computer had to penetrate a concrete wall or steel beam present in the real world.
 
On my old Ferrari, one must remove the car from the engine cradle to change the belts.
Italian cars... I owned a string of Fiat Spiders (the later ones had the battery in the trunk, too, to make room for added smog stuff). Many aspects were beautifully engineered but there were some things that must've been designed on a Friday afternoon after a few bottles of vino at lunchtime.
 
Many new motorcycles are terrible in that regard as well. Certainly many newer BMW’s are. Batteries and headlight bulbs requiring pretty significant disassembly. It hasn’t always been this way - on my 1998 and 1999 K1200RS’s the batteries are easily accessible under the flip-up seat, as it should be. Though replacing the air and fuel filters do require a lot of plastic to be removed.

Which is one thing that’s dissuaded me from buying a newer BMW, BTW.
Harley touring bikes are still that way. One screw to take off the seat, move the stuff around and the battery is there. Air filter is out in the open. Headlight is a few more screws, but not bad.
 
On the 3rd Gen Prius, you have remove the windshield wipers and wiper motor/brackets to change the spark plugs. Takes an hour or so.

But, like was said earlier, it's something that's barely ever done, so making it easy isn't a high priority. Spark plug replacement interval is 120,000 miles if I remember right, it's not like you're regapping them every 3,000 miles.
 
Realistically, how often is a battery changed on a car over its lifetime? Why use up valuable engine compartment space just to put a component that gets touched maybe 3-4 times over a 16 year lifespan. It’s still serviceable but maybe takes an extra half hour to do. There really isn’t a need to put a battery someplace that it can be changed out in 5 minutes.

Honestly the battery is probably the most frequently changed under hood item, so it should be easier to access.

As a firefighter, one of the things we do to safety a car after a collision is disconnect the battery. That is becoming harder and harder to do because they are now hiding the darn things anywhere and everywhere. Some are in trunks, some are under the back seat. Some are buried up underneath the dash and virtually invisible.

I don't recall the model, but I remember my sister had a front wheel drive domestic sedan that needed a new starter. The shop had to pull the engine to get to it, as it is wedged between the engine and the transmission.

Things like this are also the reason I've all but quit working on my own cars. Too much of a PITA.
 
My Goldwings have been increasingly difficult to access for service, albeit each successive model having longer service intervals and performing better. My Harley was a piece of cake to service, as far as accessibility. An air filter change was maybe 90 seconds compared to an hour on the Goldwing that preceded it. But Harley made up for it with having three oil reservoirs, an antiquated transmission design and a fairing designed strictly for looks with no effort at aerodynamics. It was especially effective at directing rain onto the rider’s lap and thighs.

My new Goldwing went to dealers for its first couple services. No mas. Too costly, partly because stealerships charge by how long the book says it should take instead of the actual time taken by an experienced wrench. Some of their book times I can beat and I am not far above a special-needs drunken chimp when it comes to mechanical aptitude.
 
Honestly the battery is probably the most frequently changed under hood item, so it should be easier to access.

As a firefighter, one of the things we do to safety a car after a collision is disconnect the battery. That is becoming harder and harder to do because they are now hiding the darn things anywhere and everywhere. Some are in trunks, some are under the back seat. Some are buried up underneath the dash and virtually invisible.
That’s why Mr. Hurst invented his handy tool.
 
My 2014 i3 requires you to remove the frunk to change the 12V battery and then you have to reprogram the iDrive system to tell it that the battery is new.
 
Most cars with the remote battery position have jumper studs in the engine compartment. I'd hazard a guess that most owners have no idea they are there.
The aforementioned mentioned Dodge Journey - on the shock tower, driver's side, just below the hood.
 
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