I currently drive a 1993 Chevy Corsica running a 3.1L V-6 engine with about 147,000 miles on it.
Within the last seven days I've had to do the following:
1) Replace the battery. No biggie - it was six years old.
2) Replace the alternator. It probably died attempting to charge a battery that wouldn't take one. It's been in there for 4 or 5 years.
3) Replace an engine mount. I told the repair person the wrong one, but that one was almost worn out anyway so it wasn't a total waste.
4) Replace a bracket connecting the engine to the other engine mount. Part of it snapped because of a loose bolt.
Other things that need to be done to it:
5) Replace the left CV joint. It's not driven much each week (About 50-70 miles) so I've put it off.
6) Fix an oil deluge (1 quart per week - you can easily tell where I park. :>)
Before number 4 on the list my total expenditures within the last week are about $350 (I replaced the alternator myself and the battery replacement was free). Item 4 will probably be another $250 or so including labor. Too bad I can't repair my car in the apartment complex.
When does a car cost so much money that it's not worth keeping? While the car is has been paid off for around two years, I have to do a major repair what seems like two or three times a year. It's almost like a $60-80 car payment each month for what needs to be done to it. While that's lower than an actual car payment, it's for an older car with lots of 'character'. Not to mention that right now I can't afford another car payment.
Sorry if this doesn't make sense. After spending an hour and a half replacing the alternator and being interrupted by no less than 6 cell phone calls and seeing the broken bracket I was a bit depressed. I'm getting better though, really!
Thanks for your time....
For me, it's time to buy a new car when the cost of repairs over a reasonable period of time -- say, 2 or 3 months--exceed the car's remaining value (that is, what it's worth in working condition). In my case, that came about a year ago when I was facing dropping about $2500 in repairs into my old Chrysler, when it was only worth about $2300. I waited for a day when it was running OK, took it to the dealer and traded it in on a nice new Mazda. Warranties are a good thing; it's very reassuring to know that I'll only need to pay for regular maintenance for the next 3 years (and since the car is Japanese, it's more than likely to not need much repair after the warranty's out).
If you look at the choices against the cost, an old or older car regularly maintained and repaired comes in much cheaper every time. If you want or need that 'new' car feeling and are willing to pay for it, toss the old and bring in the new. It all depends on what you value. I value being able to drive a nice car I could never have afforded new, and can now drive for a fraction of the cost of even the least expensive new car. Not that I'd be caught dead driving whatever junky econobox that might be.
Personally, I think the dollarwise best choice is to spend some time and energy to decide the car model you'd like the best (and can afford), buy a clean example and then keep it basically forever, or at least until you discover another model you like more. A well-maintained and repaired car will always cost you less per mile than pretty much anything new. I'm talking here about common cars, not some exotic or anything - say a Honda/Volkswagen/Ford/Toyota/Dodge/Nissan/Chevy or similar.
Depreciation is the killer, and if you buy or own a vehicle that is pretty much done depreciating, you can afford to keep it up secure in the knowledge that it's always going to be worth it.
eg: my '85 Benz 300SD, it'll pretty much always be worth around the $1500 I paid for it, so keeping it in nice shape makes financial sense. Even if I spend more on repairs than it's 'worth', it'll still be cheaper than making a big monthly payment on some newer depreciating car that's losing value every month I own it.
Heck, you could even buy an old junker and have it completely rebuilt to a reliable state for less than what a new car costs. $15 or $20 grand buys one hella lot of repairs! Err, not that I'm suggesting sinking that much into an old car as the best course, just pointing out how much new cars cost versus other choices.
Oh yeah, also keep in mind the staggering amount of resources that go into manufacturing a new car. That's a hella lot of steel and plastic and especially energy, better to renew an old car and save all those resources I think.
Anyway, if you really like your car, do some serious math - I'll bet you'll find the maintainence costs compare quite favorably to a new(er) car payment.
I would say the time to replace a car is when it comes to the point where yearly payments on a new car would be less than the yearly repair bill of the old one, but, you may be asking the wrong guy...
... my car is 21 years old
Ok, seriously... when it becomes too expensive to keep repairing it, and it is not reliable anymore, you should start shopping around.
I've been through this situation before. Often getting a newish pre owned car (less than two years old) makes less sense than buying a new car - the warranty is gone, and the likelihood of issue is high (i.e. the reason why said newish car is for sale). Now, there are some newish preowned cars that can be a good deal, but for the most part it's a gamble.
With a used car that is more than 10-15 years old, it's pretty clear that it's something pretty special or decent. After all - most cars end up at the junk yard by 15 years of age (at least in the rust belt).
With spending money on a car, it is a matter of priority. I went through this with my old 02 focus back in March. There was a short in the electrical system that caused the major electronics to fry and a small electrical fire began. We were looking at a $3000 minimum repair to fix it. Having shelled out close to $3000 in repairs on the car in the last year, my wife and I decided to cut it free, take the loss and trade it in on a new car (another focus - the car was stuck at the dealer - and their quotes were competitive with the mom n pop place I usually took it. The 07 focus is already suffering from various mechanical and electrical problems. The moral of the story - "modern" cars suck, and are often not worth the amount that the car payment is.
If you want something easy to work on, live with, and really enjoy driving - I'd recommend picking up an 80's vintage BMW 5 series, Volvo 240, or Volvo 740 series. They're all built like tanks and are incredibly service friendly. The Volvo's are cheaper to buy, and incredibly simple to work on. Older european cars are generally pretty good buys if you're willing to do your own work, and are patient. The best car I ever owned was a 1989 Volvo 760 turbo that I paid all of $500 for to tide me over while the first focus was down due to an accident. It started on the first try, and never needed much attention. You should be able to find a halfway decent example of any of these cars for under $1500. (don't expect working A/C, or perfect interiors though)
I second that. I love my 1986 BMW 5 series Reliable, fun, and relatively easy to work on. They also run b]forever[/b] if taken care of well. You also don't have to worry about all them new fangled electronics. You can still get most of the modern goodies on a car of this age. Power windows, power seats, power door locks, sunroof, cruise control, etc...
The big thing to watch out for with older cars is rust. Other problems can be easily fixed, but, rust can be a real bastard. IOn older BMWs, for example, check the shock towers, as they are prone to rust.
the big question i ask myself is how much is the car worth to you? for me i have a car that i paid 3 grand for, and i can tell you ive put about $1,200 into just parts, i do all my own work, so it does save some money. the end of this summer i plan on putting another $1,200 into it because i like the car alot, i can fix anything that might break on it, and basically this is all basic stuff (clutch, brakes, tires and engine mounts). Its a corolla with some 134k miles on it and to me its going to keep running because of how well i take care of it, where as i cant afford a new car or the insurance for one, this is easier for me, and i have alot of faith in the car. it will be pretty much brand new end of summer. here's the kicker, the book value is some $900 or so, because of the year, miles and body condition (dents but no rust). some would say junk it but i say keep it. its my baby ive had it for over 2 years and never once gave me problems and i swear to god i drive it like i stole it every single day!!! i certainly couldnt say that about my old focus (i say old, it was a 2001 and this is a 1996) this has been the best running car ive ever owned. so it really depends what the car is worth to you....
I'll keep it for now. Except for the oil leak it runs surprisingly well. Unfortunately at the apartment complex we can't work on our vehicles so I usually have to take it in for repairs unless it's something minor like the alternator. My wife and I hope to be moving into a house soon so this won't be a problem anymore.
I shudder to think what shape I would be in if I had bought the other car instead of this one back in 2000 - a 1993 Ford Tempo.
I will NEVER retire my current car. It was my grandmothers, and I inherited it from her. it's only got 26k miles on it, and for a 1998, that is frickin awesome. Oh sure, I will get new vehicles, but I will keep driving her forever. One day she may not be my primary car, but I promise I will drive her somewhere serious at least once a week. I don't care if I pour $1,000,000 in to her for repairs, she will live forever.
But I agree with everyone, as soon as your repairs become more than what a new car is worth, then it is time, unless it has some really significant value to you.
Insurance is a biggy many folks don't factor into the financial equation. Figure new car payments at say, $300/mo. then add in another $100/mo for insurance (and that's at the low end!), so your yearly cost is gonna be nearly 5 grand just to bring the car home and have it sit in your driveway. That's a lot of scratch in my humble opinion.
Another thing I just thought of - predictability. Many like the idea of a car (new that is) having no surprises, where an older car may seem capricious in its attention demands. The reality of course is that many older cars need less attention than do many newer cars, but the perception remains. I'm comfortable with the inherent unpredictability in owning an old car, but I can see where others might not feel the same way.
Ahh, old BMWs!! Man I loved our '87 528e! Damn shame the wife decided she 'needed' a newer car, hence our current '92 525i. Nice car, but lacks the simplicity and sheer fun of the older model.
anyhow, that all's waay more than my alotted $.02 . . .
For reliability and dependability, any old bmw or rear wheel drive volvo (assuming that it's not an overly complicated DOHC, v12, or turbo) will provide one with an insane amount of function for not a lot of money. It's all simple to work on, and there are tons of online resources for keeping them on the road. (lots of these communities are like applefritter in the feel)
I'm actually in the process of getting some money together so I can buy a third car to have as my plaything and as something to drive when the "modern" cars are broken - which is often. My wife's Malibu, and my focus are proving to be far more headache than any "old" car I've ever owned or driven.
I still regret trading in my 88 535i because it had the "shimmies". Other than that and lack of ac in Florida - it was the best car I've ever owned, with the Volvos as a close second.
iantm, There have never been words said that are truer. "I'm actually in the process of getting some money together so I can buy a third car to have as my plaything and as something to drive when the "modern" cars are broken - which is often." I know it seems a stupid choice, But I'm getting an 86 Dodge Daytona. It looks like hell (faded paint, some scratches) But not only does it just keep on running, I plan to paint it back the bright cherry red it once was. I'm buying it from my Aunt ($300 dollars, cant beat it) and I get two front side panels and the hood to replace the ones that it has (because they are dented up ((gravel road ;)). She just never had them put on. Its a smooth riding car, and good on gas. Plus, I love that huge hatchback :>.
If I'd have had an extra grand to spend I probably would have gotten a nice 1984 E30 3-series I've had my eye on for months ($1400 is a bit spendy for me and a third vehicle). Instead I'm poor-ish and could only afford to buy the '95 Escort from ax0n...
After you spend the cash on the clutch you can probably save enough on gas versus using the Beast, to afford the $1400 on an E30. Those come along quite frequently anyways, but 1400 is an undeniably good deal if it's in good shape.
When I see this argument for running *old* cars I do have to bristle a little bit. Occasionally you'll see wild claims saying that "manufacturing a new car uses as much energy as driving 100,000 miles, so you're saving resources by driving your old one even if it gets bad mileage!" or the like. (Which would essentially mean that the manufacturing stage of an average car's lifecycle uses basically as much energy as the "driving stage".)
The truth is much lower, more like one tenth of the lifetime energy budget of the car:
Now that still means of course that your new car will have to get better gas mileage then your old one to make up for its "energy deficit", but it's nowhere near as deep a hole as some people say it is. It's also worth considering the fact that the new car will be *much cleaner* in terms of tailpipe and other emissions then an old one. (My old 1985 VW Cabriolet used to pass California Emissions tests every year, sure, but it was eye-opening to compare its results to a friend's 1999 Saturn, which basically emitted between 1/5th to 1/20th the lung-eroding muck in every category. And new cars are even better then 1999 models.) It is true that there are toxic emissions associated with car manufacture which in terms of total environmental impact lessen the gains achieved by cleaner usage, but unless you're buying a new car every couple years it's likely to be a wash at worst.
As for other resource use, on average between 85% and 95% of your average car gets recycled these days so I wouldn't worry too much about depleting earth's supply of raw materials. About the worst landfill problem related to cars is tire disposal, and that's not unique to new cars at all.
Not to say that someone's "evil" because they choose to or can't afford a new car, far from it. I just don't think environmental arguments for old cars hold up under much scrutiny. Old Volvos may "rock", or whatever, but they're gas-guzzling and not particularly clean.
P.S. As for new cars "sucking", well, depends what you buy. In a "waving the flag" sort of way I really *did* want to buy an American car when I was forced to go shopping last year, but, well... you sort of get the feeling sometimes that car manufacturing just isn't something American workers put their hearts into anymore. I ruled out Ford entirely based on all the horror stories about Focus quality control and the fact that American Focus is technologically obsolete. (European Focus-i are based on the "Global C1" platform shared with the Mazda3 and Volvo S40. Ford's US operations are bleeding money so badly that they can't afford to retool their factories here to build the newer car. It's depressing how that reminds me of VW building Beetles in Central America for twenty years after discontinuing it elsewhere because the local economies there couldn't afford modern cars.) And both Chryslers I drove (A PT Cruiser and a Dodge Caliber R/T) were horrible in terms of build quality. The PT Cruiser smelled like burning paint after the test drive, and the plastic interior fittings of the Caliber reminded me of those spatulas people buy at the dollar store. Uh, uh, no sale.
This is why I'm only buying Japanese cars from now on. American automakers simply don't get it, and even some German manufacturers are losing it -- especially those who are now manufacturing their cars in North America.
The C1 platform really isn't even a Ford platform; it was designed largely by Mazda (performance and handling) and Volvo (safety), and all Ford did was find ways to cut costs with it. But the C1 cars are vastly superior to the NA Focus, and with the Mazda 3 being built in Japan, the quality is something Ford North America can only dream about.
I have a lot of respect for Ford as a "global" automaker. Their cars are highly respected in Europe and Australia (The European Focus gets rave reviews compared to such strong competitors as the Mk V Golf.), and in a lot of areas their engineering competence is strong. (The Mazda3 engine is a Ford design top to bottom.) They *can* design and make good cars. They just can't seem to be able to hire a workforce capable of building them consistently in the US, and that's been hurting them over and over again for the last 30 years.
(The problems with their US Management are another story, of course. Like the whole "we can just keep supersizing our SUVs forever and people will always want them" mindset of the late 1990's.)
I wonder sometimes if they should just throw out the baby with the bathwater, close down all passenger car manufacturing in in the US, and in a few years start importing the European versions of their cars under a new brand name. (Since they've earned such a poor reputation at this point as "Ford".)
Also, I would like to put another plug in for older cars.
i have consistently owned MK2 VW's for ages now (MK2=1985-1992 VW Golf/Jetta) These cars GO FOREVER.
I currently have a 1990 16v jetta GLI - 184,000 miles on it (yeah, the high performance one - I even have hot cams, and a bunch of head work done on it, and free flowing exhaust headers... and a new cat and muffler - making WAY more power than factory) And a 1998 oldsmobile cutlass.
The oldsmobile breaks ALL THE TIME, drives like an Airstream, and gets approx 11mpg in real world use.
The Jetta drives like a race car and gets 30mpg.
Emissions time - well, my 17year old jetta came back TONS cleaner than my 1998 olds - and my moms Dodge Intrepid, and my friends 2002 corolla....
My GF drives a 1998 Jetta that still has its orig. cat convertor - her emissions were only slightly higher than mine, and still lower than the other cars Ive mentioned. - she gets 35mpg average (lower power 8 valve engine)
I agree that Ford Global has a lot going for it. I'd love to be able to buy a Mondeo here in the US, for example, instead of a reskinned Mazda 6 (the Fusion, etc.). The 6 is a nice car, but it's a little long in the tooth (the next generation is coming out this fall). It's a bit of a stretch to say that the MZR 4-banger is a Ford engine top-to-bottom; it's a Mazda design with, again, some of Ford's cost-cutting skills added. (Something that has always irked me is when Focus guys say "yeah, you got that Duratec in your Mazda there"; no, buddy, you have an MZR in your Focus.)
I think the Ford NA quality problem isn't limited to just Ford; it's all the brands. There's something about US workmanship -- I don't know if it's that the car companies here are too cheap, or the labor unions too placated, or a simple lack of pride in one's work -- that, across the board, is a problem for all automakers. Take the Mazda 3 and 6, for example. Both were designed in Japan, which makes them Japanese cars. The 3 is built in Mazda's three plants in Hofu, Japan, while the 6 (at least the ones destined for the US market) are built in Flat Rock, Michigan. The 3 gets stellar reviews for overall quality, while the 6 is sub-par. Yet a few 6's are built in Hiroshima, and their quality is just fine. Other "foreign" manufacturers who have plants in the US are seeing the same problem, such as Mercedes (which has a plant in Arkansas). A number of things need to change in American automobile manufacturing before American cars -- or any cars built in the US -- are anywhere near what the competition can offer.
My 1995 Nissan standard truck was built in Kentucky, and has never had a problem. Just regular maintenence. About 175,000 miles on it. It's been in the mud, it's been hit, it's been stolen and recovered. I commuted within L.A. with it for ten years, and made many runs to San Diego and the rest of California in it.
Chrysler's, Ford's, Mitsubushi's, and anything from Germany have problems.
I went with my girlfriend when she bought her Honda Hybrid about two years ago. It was a combo Ford/Honda dealership. After all arrangements for the sale were agreed upon, when went to the office, she financed it herself, and in general chatter the administrative person told us that she would never buy a Ford herself, they design and make them cheaply, and rely upon spare parts sales. That's not a statement about the quality of assembly in the USA, that's systemic problem.
Tata motors of Inda is making a line compressed air powered cars/trucks. Freeway speeds (87 MPH), 300 mile range, built in compressor (8-10 hours recharge plug in at home), or external charging (4-8 minutes for $3 worth of electricity), uses 1 liter of vegetable oil for lubricant which has to be changed every 50,000 miles. The engine gets cooler as it runs, and therefore provides a nearly automatic air conditioning system. Estimated US cost $8,000. I really hope that they can build them to Department of Transportation regulations.
.. and automatically convert any animals you road-kill into Filet Minion, keeping them hot and ready for you (with your favorite gravy on the side) for when you arrive at your destination.
Their most optimistic estimate for range and speed are about 200km under city driving conditions (average under 50km/h)
It certainly is a neat concept, but the idea of driving around in a plastic (all glue construction!) box sitting on top of a 4350 PSI bottle of air sounds a bit too exciting to me.
I could be confusing two I see a lot around me. The one for $1400 hat I'm thinking of may well be a 1987 M3, and the 1984 might be the $1200 rough jobbie. $1400 for an M3 is a steal... I haven't been out to check for authenticity, so it could well be a regular 1987 E30 with an M3 styled body kit.
My beliefs in the quality of a car is the same as my belief in computer equipment (oddly as there are some shared components and sources of trouble - this may not be so far off). My belief is that 1993/1994 is when things really changed in the world of technology - be it cars, computers, electronics, etc.. As the push for lower prices took hold, the quality and effort to engineer went downhill fast. I use the days of CRT's that could survive a nuclear holocaust and cars that could seemingly do the same feat as the indicator (early 90's Sony Trinitron CRT's and Volvo 240's are my indicator). Since electronics have been coming down in price - the effort to produce them and perform QA has dropped dramatically. With the increase of electronics in a car - problems are almost guaranteed.
As the effort to cut costs to bring up profit margins, and thus raise one's stock price - many companies are screwing over their customers in an effort to please their shareholders. See the decline of IBM - the CEO would often state "we have four goals - 1st quarter, 2nd quarter, 3rd quarter, and 4th quarter". With those kind of goals, customers are often ignored and abused in the sake of pleasing the shareholders. Ford, GM, and Chrysler are very much in trouble because of that and a failure to plan (after all - when you agree to provide a union with great benefits - you need to look at what that's going to cost you 30-40 years in the future.
Now, the only Japanese company I am willing to trust is Honda - if only because one of their CEO's made a statement along the lines of "I don't care about the value of our stock - our customers come first as they are the reason we are here - if they're happy our stock price will increase". Toyota is beginning to see a decline in quality with the debacle of the Tundra which is proving to be problematic (camshafts that eat themselves) and the issue of the 2005 models having a record number of recalls. In ten to twenty years, I see Toyota being in the same boat as Ford, GM, and Chrysler.
With new technologies such as drive by wire (electronic throttle control), steer by wire (electric power steering), and the next big thing - brake by wire - I have little to no confidence in any "modern" car. The companies act like computers and electronics are the end all be all cure of all designs that are impervious to failure. With that - I'll stick with the old school hydraulics and cable linkages for the throttle. Considering the failure rate and unpredictability of an electronic throttle (Volvo had a major problem with these modules failing around 60-70k from 1998-2002) and the experience of having an electronic throttle module get stuck in full acceleration mode (happened with my wife's 04 Malibu) - I have ZERO confidence in these technologies.
A modern car is full of wiring that (in the case of Ford or GM at least) is bound to develop a short that will cause a malfunction that will be costly and nearly impossible to track down. Because a modern car is so dependant on electronics - disaster, frustration, and extreme irritation are bound to happen. I honestly don't believe that a 2008 Honda Accord or Toyota Camry are going to have the long service lives that their 1988 counterparts had. They're just infinitely complex, and god help you should the wiring develop a problem. I just don't see someone driving a 2008 Camry or Accord (albeit with nonfunctional A/C) in twenty years time - if only because the cost of fixing it will render the car a total loss a lot sooner than in the past. Add complexity and solve problems with technology that didn't need being solved and you have a recipe for disaster.
I've never owned a car made after 1993/1994--or 1987 for that matter. My car now: 1987 Toyota Van, 170,000 miles. A great beach "car." I think maybe a thousand in repairs over the past year--new radiator and brakes. Now it needs a new muffler, but otherwise still runs like a champ. Bought it used seven years ago for $3000. Looked good then. I think it may truly have been owned by an elderly couple who hardly drove it, as the salesman said. Somebody took good care of it. Now it's got some scratches and dings and rust. The rust isn't bad at all, though, considering.
All my cars get rusty eventually because of the mists of salt air blown straight into them by the trade winds when I'm parked at my favorite beach surf spot. The back window on the Blazer that I had before the van fell off because of rust. I found another window at a junkyard and made some hinges out of thick aluminum which I riveted to the roof and attached the "new" window. The Blazer was cool until the rust overwhelmed it. I don't get worked up about rust, and don't overly care about looks--but I don't need to impress anyone in my lifestyle. I just want it to get me places, like the beach. I retired the Blazer to the Kidney Foundation, or one of those non-profits, who hired some towing company to tow it away. Something was fatally wrong with it. I don't remember what.
Before the Blazer, I had a Toyota something or other. Bought it used. Got rusty. Don't remember what finally caused me to drive it to the junkyard. Got $50 for it.
Before the Toyota something or other, I had a Mazda. It eventually had lots of rust. I left the sticker of the rustproofing guys on the back hatch window. I called it the rust mobile. But it wasn't the rust that killed it. It blew a gasket going over the Pali. Barely made it to the junk yard. Got $50 for it.
Before that, a little Datsun when I was living on Maui. It got retired when a teenage girl ran a stopsign right in front of me. I broadsided her father's car, totaled my car. She got a ticket for running a stopsign. I got a ticket for not having insurance. We both went before the judge on the same morning. She got fined $100. I got fined $100. Her insurance company gave me $800. I considered it a good deal. Used the money toward rent and toward moving back to Oahu a couple months later to go to UH. I think my girlfriend at the time was starting to get tired of my pushing her car--actually one of her father's cars--toward early retirement during those couple months. She stayed on Maui when I moved to Oahu. Pretty girl. Kinda loved her. Broke it off after four months back on Oahu. Retirement is the completely wrong word. Things pass.
I'm not much of a car lover. I'm more like the ferryboatman who escorts cars to their afterlife.
The real question is, when is it time to retire a Mac?
I know its not entirely true and its not entirely false, but in my experience, fuel efficiency is really up to the driver & the way the car is driven. On the highway, when I keep it at 55 and draft when ever I can, I can get 40+ MPG in an '84 242ti. City's still about 18-20, but even then, that ain't bad when I'm not in a hurry. Also, Volvo was pioneering in their efforts in the 70's for using technology to produce cars with cleaner emissions. In '76, along with Saab, they were the first auto manufacturers to employ a little known oxygen sensor/low emission system called Lambda sond, my friend.
I'm not sure they've rocked much since the assassination of Jam Master Jay, but its been said that old Volvos never die... they just sit there looking pretty until you need to roll somewhere.
by owning any car, there is going to be the cost of maintenance. the power steering pump, charging system, gaskets, CV joints, ball joints, tires, lights, engine mounts, fluid, tune-ups, alignments, bearings, brakes, fuel pump, fuel filter, water pump, tranny filter (if its a automatic, clutch (if its a standard), bushings, and more. those things are apart of up-keeping a car's normal operation, and you will have to eventually replace those in a new car. so really your prolonging something that has to be done anyway. you just have to look at how much money it will be to fix those things vs buying a car you know nothing about that can have the same problems a few weeks down the road if its used.
now when a rod is knocking, or a head gasket blow's, or a crack in the block or other that makes the car not worthy to drive or to where you cant trust it to go somewhere without something happening to it, then its about time to see if fixing those problems outweigh the price of the car or to buy another one.
those parts that the OP said he replaced are all apart of a cars normal upkeep. no car will last forever unless you attempt to keep it right and running.
i own a 1992 Mazda Protege DX 5 speed. it has around 146K miles on it the motor purrs like a kitten and still has most of its power on tap (minus the power that is lost due to a slipping clutch) but this is a normal up keep thing. the motor don't smoke, don't knock, has a slight tic at idle, never failed to start, needs the struts replaced needs the sway bar replaced , needs the bushings replaced, but those are stuff that you need to replace on a car with normal ware on it ( minus the sway bar, it broke when 2 owners ago got it side swiped when it was parked in front of his house).
my Mazda is on the verge of the modern cars and old cars. my car dont have that coil pack crap, it has the old dis cap and rotor button and coil. but it has a few newer car things like a computer. but its at least at a point its not a PITA to fix or allot of money to replace something the more newer car you get the more that can go wrong with them and usually do and the more money it takes to fix them when something does go wrong with them. i dont like newer cars cause there is way to much electronics that can go wrong and will kill the car so you cant drive it.
Honestly, a part of me hopes that *no* cars on the road today are still running in 20 years.
I used to be a technological Luddite when it came to cars myself... two of the favorite cars I've ever owned were manufactured in the 1960s, and I bought them specifically because all the other cars in my price range at the time were from the 1970s and early 1980s and I wanted to steer clear of the reliability problems introduced by those early mechanical pollution control devices. (Just pop the hood of any car made in the 1970s and start counting vacuum hoses. It's frightening.) Now that I'm older, though, I've grown to appreciate clean air a bit more then I used to, and understand that all that googhaw under the hood was there for a reason. Frankly, however, I'll take a modern car's computer over all those vacuum hoses any day of the week. It does a better job under a wider range of driving conditions, and is mechanically simpler to boot. There are fewer (nearly no) "User Serviceable Parts), but at least there are fewer parts.
Technologies like "throttle by wire" *are* solving a problem. If your goal is to run an internal combustion engine as cleanly as possible you *have* to be able to precisely control the fuel-air mixture. From a purely engineering standpoint having to design your induction system so the fuel system is reacting to the (usually suboptimal) uncontrolled manual positioning of a mechanically actuated air valve (which is all the "user" controls in any fuel-injected car manufactured since the mid 1980's) is axe-backwards compared to simply abstracting the throttle pedal into a "speed control" and letting the computer make the best call on *both* fuel and air induction. It's the *right* solution to the problem from a theoretical basis, and the state of the art of technology has advanced enough to make it "practical".
Are there going to be reliability problems with new technologies? Yes. There are reliability problems with old ones as well. (Speaking from several scary experiences with throttle cables snapping and hydraulic clutch linkages spontaneously emptying themselves.) However, I would challenge anyone to produce reliable statistics proving that as a whole new cars are less reliable then cars have ever been. It might be interesting, for instance, to examine the records of taxi fleets to see if there's been a clear trend in "uptime" statistics on a per-car basis when comparing fleets of 1980s cars to 2000 models. Your average taxi gets about 20 year's worth of use in three or four years of real time, so it seems like a pretty fair way of finding out whether these modern technological monstrosities will still be darkening driveways in 2028. My gut feeling is that it's a pretty flat line.
I guess at this point I have no illusions. The car industry has always sucked in terms of quality. The problem isn't the technology the cars are made of, it's the entire nature of the business. Pick any year and any manufacturer: Out of a batch of 100 cars, you're going to get, I dunno, 20 that really suck and make their owners swear they'd never buy one again (I've known Volvo, BMW, and even Honda owners in that category), 60 which do their job "adequately" (IE, surviving with regular but not *excessive* repairs) for the seven to fourteen years their new-car buying owners expect from them and end up in junkyards after being traded-in or wrecked, and the remaining 20 "totally indestructible" units which get passed around as used cars forever. The exact numbers will vary, but the pattern's the same, always has been, and always will be.
Yeah, what Eudi said. I'm quite certain, from my own experience with VWs and BMWs, the more electronics (esp. digital), the better the reliability and performance.
I think the main perceived problem is that when an electronically controlled module fails, it frequently kills the whole machine. In the 'old' days of analog modules, a failing device many times meant a gradual reduction in function, not its complete cessation.
Also, modern blackbox modules can make it much more difficult for old-school shadetree mechanics to discover and repair the fault. Of course, with a proper service manual, it's usually easier to fix and repair newer vehicles, though module replacement is the (expensive) norm. High module cost is frequently caused by having to use proprietary parts available only through the maker's own supply system.
... When I'm done restoring it my '65 Standard VW Bus will be my daily driver, my '71 Super Beetle will my second car.
Like Eudi said, electronic throttle bodies have a number of advantages over cabled ones. Generally, they're designed to fail safe, so if they fail, they fail closed, not open. But having one stuck open isn't any more common with an electronic TB than it is a cabled one; it may actually be more common with cabled ones because there are more mechanical points of failure.
"Steer by wire" is more of a misnomer; in most cars with the technology, it's actually just an electric motor that drives the hydraulic pump for the power steering, instead of a belt off of the engine. This offers more efficiency from the engine (more power to the transmission, instead of spinning another accessory), and also reduces a point of mechanical failure by removing a pulley and, in some cases, an entire belt.
Brake by wire is pretty much like the elctronic TBs and power steering pumps; brakes still use hydraulically-operated calipers or shoes, it's just that there's a solenoid between the pedal and the master cylinder. This is what allows technologies like crash mitigation (using sensors in the front bumper to detect if a crash is imminent to automatically apply the brakes, sometimes much more powerfully than the driver is capable of) and more novelty features like Lexus' self-parallel-parking option to be possible. Again, the system is designed to fail safe, which could be safer than in non-electronic-brake equipped cars; for example, if the system detects a loss of pressure in the master cylinder (say, a fluid leak), it could automatically cut the throttle and apply the brakes. I'd much rather this happen automatically, than for me to go for the brakes while trying to stop at a light just to have the pedal go to the floor and get T-boned.
As someone who experienced the late 90s ford runaway acceleration problem, i can say that although these new electronic systems are wonderful in their opening the door for all these active safety systems, there is something to be said for older technology. There isn't much that can go wrong with a mechanical throttle body, as they too are spring loaded to 'fail safe', i.e. should the throttle cable snap, they will spring shut, returning the engine to idle power. (ok, so, it isn't guaranteed, but nor is it with an electronic throttle body).
And what happens in a new 'drive by wire' car should the vehicle suffer a complete loss of power whilst in motion? I know in my car, should the engine stop, that braking and steering will require slightly more effort, but will still be very possible. As well, what happens when the hydraulic braking system, for example, fails? is there a manual revision? (meaning, can you still stop the car?)
I'd like to point out that to an extent i am playing devils advocate here, to make a point, however everything i have pointed out were valid concerns when these technologies were first conceived.
New cars are over priced. You can get a decent older car... and yes, it nickle and dimes you, but you can replace every single part and it still doesn't add up to a $35K new car. Lets say you buy an older car for $2000. It needs work... so you put some money it... now... imagine... putting... $2000/year into it over 15 years (yes, a LOT). It better be pretty sweet after 15 years, but my point is, that's the cost of a brand new car. Except that the $35K car you bought new is a POS after only 3 years (or whenever the warranty expires), and you sell it for $12K if you're lucky, taking a big loss, but that's the cost of doing business with new cars. With new cars, you pay an INSANE premium for not having hassles. But the hassles arrive after a few years anyway, so the insane premium even gets more insane because to be truly hassle free, you should replace your new car every 2 or 3 years with another brand new car.
Old cars rule.
My experiences with new and newish cars (07 focus and 04 malibu that were both bought brand new) is that I am forever going to the dealer because something has broken. With my wife's car - where everything is electronic (steering, throttle, etc.) - the electrical system is overloaded and tends to eat batteries, fry bulbs, and have random failures. Losing the ability to steer at 10mph was probably one of the most frightening experiences I've ever had. (this was in the Malibu). With electric power steering - when it fails the whole works lock up or fight you.
A used car that is between 15 and 20 years of age is easily a safe bet as it was a "good car" in the sense that it hasn't been junked or crushed - the problem examples have though. Because of all the efforts to save money by the manufacturer - glitches are a certainty.
From the financial view - buying a new car was a very poor decision. If only because I have to eat depreciation costs, eat the maintenance and repair costs, and spend time waiting at the dealer for the darned thing to get fixed. If something should happen to my focus where it is deemed a total loss - I'm going to get a sub $2k Volvo or BMW and laugh all the way to the bank.
double post - sorry
Losing a hydraulic power steering pump can introduce exactly the same sort of symptoms. (Mechanically electric and hydraulic power steering systems are very similar. Both systems merely assist a mechanical linkage, and both still work if the power assist fails.) Most cars today don't offer the option of *not* getting them with power steering, so you can pretty much expect that the steering feel is going to be *dreadful* if the power assist goes away. The Chevy Malibu is a pretty heavy front-wheel drive car with wide tires, so losing power steering is going to be a pretty significant event.
Interestingly enough, if you Google you'll find the NHTSA investigated complaints about failing power steering in that model and found it wasn't a widespread problem, nor did the failure mode "Substantially limit the driver's ability to turn the vehicle in a Particular direction or to provide the driver with unintended Power assistance". Not saying it didn't suck that you ended up with a car with a bad torque sensor and had a scary experience (I'm sure, speaking from experience in power steering going out in a heavy car that it *did* feel like it was fighting you.) but, well, schtuff happens. 2004 was the first year GM cars had electronic power steering. Has there *ever* been a time in automotive history that a new feature or technology *not* been accompanied by bugs or teething problems? I'm sure there were plenty of horror stories about the early hydraulic power steering systems "going crazy" back in the day.
Honestly it sounds to me like you've been buying rotten cars, not rotten technologies.
Of course there's all the horror stories about the first couple generations of automatic transmissions. Now any car most likely has the automatic standard, with the manual as the option. I think given a few more years of development drive-by-wire might be a bit more reliable, but until then we're likely to continue to see stories like Iantms.
It also does depend on the driver. My dad has over 335,000 miles on his '94 Dodge Ram, and he bought it with about 45,000 on it. Original engine and tranny too, neither had been overhauled. He's not a speed demon, though he cruises fast on the highway during road trips.
I've got a '94 GMC C1500 with 242,000 miles on it. It's got a replacement tranny, but that was done before I bought it (at about 170,000, replaced at some point before that). I'm do enjoy spirited driving, but that doesn't really happen much in a full sized truck.
Typically we sell off vehicles when something better comes along, not because of break down repair cost exceeding value. Or, when it's an auto accident (mostly my case though, none have even been found to be my fault/cause). It's fairly the same from most of my family on that side.
I'm highly of the opinion that people who drive hard tend to wear out their vehicles faster (for obvious reasons).
I drive a '90 VW Fox Wagon, but that's water-cooled... so it doesn't count.
I'm not a 'car person', so my opinion doesn't count for much, but I don't have a great deal of faith in a 20 year car to keep me safe and to be environmentally friendly. Just my 2 cents...
I drive an '86 Audi 5000, and I have to say that it is as solid as a rock. It is fairly simple to work on, although parts can get somewhat expensive. I use it as a daily driver, and I put about 250mi/400km of city driving on the car per week. I get 2 weeks out of an 80L/17.5Gal tank, which works out to ~28mpg. That's not bad for a 3000lb, 21 year old car. It does have its problems, but seeing as how I paid $600CDN for it last year, plus about $500 in parts over this year, I'm not doing too bad. The old VDubs just can't be beat.
i will chime in once more here, i think alot of how long a car will live is based on how well regular maintenance is done. i do have to agree that if you find an older car thats still out driving, its probly been treated well or built really well. ive put almost 50k miles on my car in the past 2 1/2 years, 15k of that in the past 5 months. i find myself doing oil changes religiously, that and im running semi synthetic oil. im not sure how much actually goes bad quicker on a car by driving it hard besides the transmission and drive train parts. my engine doesnt burn any oil, doesnt make any funny sounds, and still makes plenty of power. i was considering getting a new car this fall, but the more i think about it, the car i have now is fine and will cost me way less. im actually thinking of buying a turbo kit for it. i was a mechanic for a while and i always do the work to my own car as well as friends. And in the event the engine doesnt like having a turbo, there are plenty of corolla engines on the internet at fairly low prices.
i guess you could say im an all around electronic and mechanical junkie. i just cant stay away from the stuff. if its not broken, ill take it apart just to see how it works.
as for new technology, yes i think everything will have its break in testing and problems for a while. look how far fuel injection has come since it first came out. most of your older fellows wouldnt even touch it 10 years ago. the new cars make it easier then ever to find a bum part just by plugging in a diag check tool into the OBD2 plug under the dash. they might not be cheap to own but there are places like auto zone that will check your code for free. and for you other data freaks like me there are little screens you can plug into that same port that show things like voltage, rpm, gas milage, coolant temp, some can show and clear codes too.
i really hope that american car makers can figure out how to make a good long lasting car because i want one of the new camaros in like 10 years when i might have the money i saw one in transformers, love the looks of it. ok im done ranting...
The weight of your foot has everything in determining your fuel economy! In the Audi, I get about 28mpg in the city. That is, if I keep the revs between 2000-3000. If I get my foot into it (which I often do when I'm running late), my mileage tanks somewhere around 20mpg. Being gingerly with the throttle does take more time, but it essentially comes down to how do you want to pay for your travels? With fuel or with time?
That being said, the 1994 Eurovan I drive for work is the exact same as the Audi in terms of fuel economy. It has the same I5 (bored out to 2.5L instead of 2.2L), but has been modified for wheelchair accessibility, and easily is 1500lbs heavier than my car. I can still get 28mpg in it though if I keep the revs under 3000 and I time my stops properly.
I often wonder how much fuel we could save if we all lightened our foot a little bit...
I had to check the calendar. Lucky me, my cars were parked all day.
Personally speaking, I do tend to champion the underdog classics, the models that serve their purpose, quality where it counts, that one must defend for their merits, that they're fun to drive and their under-appreciated lines go unnoticed, the unique deterioration of the clear coat reminiscent of distant galaxies where ... maybe for once ... the ac blew really cold and the seats were comfortable. But it wouldn't surprise me if my tastes were altered slightly either by a sudden and inexplicable endowment of inexhaustible reserves of independent wealth or by the price of new cars reverting back to a few thousand dollars again.
i like my car. the computer runs only the motor side of things. everything else runs old school. i think that is how a car should be made.
truer words have not been spoken, madmax
Surprisingly, it passed. Apparently in Wake County NC emission testing is only done on 1996 and newer model years so mine was safety only. I guess that is due to the standardized connector for the car's computer.
It still sounds like a tin can, but I'll work on getting it fixed as I have the money/time to do so.
As far as scary things happening while in the car, my wife was driving the Corsica and the alternator caught on fire. She won't drive it unless she absolutely has to. I'm on the 8th one since I bought it in 2000. Apparently they don't like being run when the battery is drained but sometimes there's no choice in the matter.
For me it would be braking for a stoplight and not slowing down at all after pushing the brake pedal to the floor. No noises or anything to indicate that something was wrong. Got the brakes done right after that...
I am restoring a 1977 VW van and just parked a 1974 Porsche 914 I drove daily for three years. I even tore it apart and welded up all of the rust!
My car is a 1981 and it's got 31K miles on it.
How did you manage that? My best was a red 1997 Pontiac Grand Am GT with 35,000 miles on it. Really nice car before being totaled by a Ford Explorer and being replaced with a 2005 Taurus....
i have seen a 1992 year car with only 10k miles on it, cause it was only used by a old person going to the store with. it could almost be the same as the post of having a 1981 with 31k miles on it
Own a 1985 Fiero and a newer 1997 Ford. About the Fiero, get a car over 25 years in age and you have a classic car Exempt from emissions testing in Texas. So a few more years for that.
Naturally I want to keep my car in working order. Bad emissions mean bad performance, and I am a Fiero enthusiast. But it is nice to have one less hastle in life come inspection time.
I have 215,000 miles, and another Fiero with a replacement v6 engine when my current engine goes out.
I've read everyones post on this subject and there are a lot of very good replys and everyone has a valid point. however I would like to add this.
Years back I went to a tech class that one of the major US auto makers had. After the class was over the rep from the company asked if there were any questions. One of the Machanics there asked why the cars made by that manifacturer ran trouble free for 3 to 4 years and then started having small problems at first and that over time they would get worse.
The Reps answer was this. He said We can build cars that would last for years trouble free but if we did where would you be, meaning that there would be no need for Mechanics. Not intirely so but fewer mechanics to handel problems that did occur.
He went on to say that people get furustrated with having their car in the shop for repairs no matter how minor and that they are inclined to buy new cars to get rid of the old car and its problems. So as he stated. The intire reason is to keep the public buying.
Now this occured in 1971 and was the current thinking by US auto manifactures at that time. However I do not think it has changed much over time. When the fuel squeeze hit in 1973 a lot of american gas guzzlers were sold out right to junk yards, parked or traded off for the Japenese cars. That until that time had very small market share. Now they are every where.
I own a 1979 1/2 ton chevy PU however I have owned two Suburus (brats) I loved those little trucks put over 200,000 on both of them before I sold them and I had a Toyota Corrolla that I put over 250,000 on before I sold it. All were great cars and pretty much trouble free.