By on June 1, 2012

“You know what? The average person who lives in the South could probably own two new cars for their entire lifetime.”

“Steve! What are ya? Nuts?!”

“No. Think about it Tim. The average person in the future will probably drive about 10k miles a year. Let’s say they get a new car when they’re 22.”

“A new car? Really? Are we talking about a newly minted college grad? Or someone who actually works?”

“Someone who works… look. You can buy the new car in your 20′s. Maintain it well. Wax it once a year or so. Don’t drive too aggressively. Here in Georgia you have smooth roads, no rust…”

“And shiny happy people holding hands! Look Steve. You’re a frugal fellow. Maybe even cheap. Maybe a tightwad. Maybe one of the cheapest bastards I’ve ever met…”

“Well Tim, spare me your usual compliments. My theory still holds. I think the average car of recent times can hit 300k or 30 years if it’s driven conservatively and maintained well…”

and I’ll go even further than that. Most cars of the last 20 years are able to hit either one of those two milestones so long as there aren’t any latent defects in the vehicle, and so long as you don’t NARC it out.”

 

For those of you who are not part of my acronym laden world, NARC stands for four things every wholesale buyer looks for in a car.

They are…

Neglect: Everything from bald tires with horrific wear patterns, to Dexcool fluid that has turned into burnt gelatin.

Abuse: Knocking engines, slipping transmissions, frame damage, and steering components that take immediate driver’s input as casual suggestions.

Rust: Tin worms, rocker panel corrosion, frame issues, and all unprotected metal elements that embrace the color brown in due time.

Crap: The most insidious one of the four. So devastating in practice, that most cars that are ‘crapped out’ geuninely need to become crusher fodder.

Crap deserves a unique mention for one reason. Crap always requires a cash outlay.

This includes, but is in now way limited to: Cheap tires. Fart-can mufflers. Aftermarket stereo systems that inevitably need more ‘juice’ and cause never ending electrical problems. Virtually all aftermarket elixirs that are designed to improve mileage, driving performance, or cure vehicles that are on the edge of death. Not to mention cheap catalytic converters that are made to last a couple of years and then directly screw up all the expensive oxygen sensors and related emission components in your beater car.

I used to tell folks that if they can find it while walking into a Pep Boys, it’s crap. These days though I even find crap when I go to the gas pump.

Trashy additives are now advertised to folks when they come to a gas station. Go inside, and you will soon find that the gas station devotes more space to the automotive versions of placebo and kitsch than they do to quality products.  Why have they found so much success in marketing crap? Because ethanol is quickly becoming America’s new crap fuel.

Then there is the other kind of crap. The crap that people leave behind in their trunks, cupholders, door inserts, floor, glovebox, and any one of seventeen storage bins that lazy folks use to cram everything from ketchup packets to used tissues.

If you’re looking at a late model vehicle, the tendency for a car to eventually be repossessed is usually directly correlated to how the driver treats the interior.

At the auctions we NEVER get clean cars. The car that is four to eight months behind is always inevitably the one that has half eaten McDonald’s bags in the back, half-filled bottles of Mountain Dew that are used for spitoons while on the road, and wet towels (or other items) that have given the future owners a brand new smell to appreciate.

Let me brutally blunt here. I think automakers will be able to overcome neglect, abuse and even rust in the coming years. They will never overcome crap. My wonderful theory for automotive longevity is in shambles thanks… to… crap.

But hey! I can put you in a ten year old Taurus. $500 down and 50 a week! It hasn’t been crapped out. Not just yet.

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

111 Comments on “Hammer Time: Neglect, Abuse, Rust, and Crap!...”


  • avatar
    iainthornton

    This really strikes a chord with me. Just today I picked my car up from my brother, who borrowed it for a month, with a list of issues that were perfect when I left it with him:
    1: It has almost NO oil in the motor, and the oil that is there is bad.
    2: It needs a new fuel filter.
    3: The handbrake is barely holding it on slight slopes.
    4: The front left tyre is nearly bald
    5: He left learner plates on it (he’s a learner) for days. These have held rain residue on the paintwork, and I’ve had to T-cut it for almost an hour to lose the marks.
    6: It’s filthy inside and out.

    This is the last time he ever borrows my car. That sort of neglect of someone else’s property is tantamount to vandalism, as far as I’m concerned. In two years and 50k miles I’ve never had one problem, and it doesn’t ever seem to have burned one drop of oil. Until now.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      To hell with “this is the last time . . . “. I strongly suggest a remedial discussion of the situation consisting of him, you, and a cricket bat.

      This bring back memories of the older brother in the family of my long term relationship in college. The non-direct family members of the extended family called him “shitfinger”. As in the opposite of Goldfinger. He could trash anything he borrowed within 48 hours.

    • 0 avatar
      thirty-three

      Your brother and my brother must be related. I don’t lend him anything of mine either. When I have in the past, said item was either lost, or badly damaged before it was returned.

      • 0 avatar
        windnsea00

        Another related brother (older one at that) here. A few years back I gave my brother my `93 325is with ~140k or so miles. While not in perfect condition it was very clean and ran well, only took 6 months or so to turn that car into a dumpster. Eventually it just sat for a year and a half and I sold it for him, fired right up for the new owner, after a jump of course.

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      for Christmas, you should send him a bill.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      … how?

      How does someone do that to a car’s oil in a month (assuming that since it was “perfect” at the start it doesn’t normally eat oil)?

      Hell, 5 and 6 are the only ones I understand how you can DO them in a month…

      • 0 avatar
        revjasper

        I lent out my car earlier this year. It never had burned oil before either, but it came back 3 quarts low. Plus a torn CV boot, two flat tires and a burned up parking brake. Turns out the oil filter had been damaged by driving over something. But was it the thing that cut the CV boot or the thing that flattened the tires? The flat tires were not noticed by the person driving, even just after coming off the highway.

        Lend out car, it costs nearly a grand to put right. Not doing that again!

  • avatar
    thirty-three

    The previous owner of my car put a can of “radiator fix” into the radiator to top a perceived leak. it turns out that the radiator wasn’t leaking, the cap was leaking. However, the damage was done. The crap in the can softened all of the radiator hoses, including the really hard to reach ones under the intake manifold.

    $120 later, I had replaced all of the hoses, the cap, and the coolant. No leaks in the year since.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Honestly, I don’t think most of us WANT our cars to last 30 years. We are deathly bored of them before 15 years. I can only imagine having to put up with my 1983 Nissan Sentra for another year. It was a fine car for the time, but every new car sold today is better.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I’d rather own that Sentra than a Fisker, it won’t burn up.

    • 0 avatar
      markholli

      Conslaw, I think you hit the nail right on the head. I’ve owned 4 cars with 200+ thousand miles: 1994 Ford Explorer, 1993 Lexus ES300, 1999 Lexus ES300, and a 1995 Honda Accord. With the exception of the Ford, I think every one of those cars would have easily hit 500,000 miles without too much fuss. Unfortunately I get bored of most cars in about 2 years, and when it comes to particularly boring cars, I’m done with them after they’ve been sitting in my driveway for about a week.

      I once bought a lower-mileage 1999 Accord and as soon as I signed the paperwork and pulled on to the interstate to drive it home I was bored with it.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        What would make you keep you from getting bored with a car?

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        What keeps me interested in mine are aftermarket upgrades (read: improved sway bar, not fart can) and ‘making my mark’ on it. For instance I found a 70s vintage vanity plate for it which I very much enjoyed mounting in such a way I didn’t have to drill into the plastic of the holder (found thin bolts which would fit into the existing holes and held with wingnuts in the back), so it would be easy to change out later when bored of it. Now the car looks a bit more personal without actually standing out to bacon and the general public. I found a site who makes aluminum door lock knobs which screw on where the plastic ones currently are, when installed they give it a different ‘silver dotted’ look from afar which blends well on a black car. I’m all about subtle customization, its all in the details.

      • 0 avatar
        markholli

        Cars with character and personality wear out their welcome much slower than generic Accords. Character can be a particularly good looking car, a big engine, uniqueness/rarity, or anything with a 2-speed transfer case. I’m a sucker for REAL 4×4′s.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        At 28, Mark , and AP: If you guys went through the cars that I have you’d appreciate those boring Accords a bit more. I keep my stuff until it breaks or tries to kill me.

      • 0 avatar
        SuperACG

        @ Markholli:

        Of all those vehicles you mentioned, your Mk1 Explorer is the only one I’d say with confidence would make 500k miles. My mom’s 93 Explorer has 330k miles and just won’t die! Of course, it is NARC’d out from many runs to Mexico to pick up cheap building supplies…

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I’m with you – if I was still driving my ’87 Tempo today I’d have a gun in my mouth.

      Now the ’89 Ford Probe on the other hand…

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I still have my 95 Probe GT, now for 17.5 years. It could pass for a 2 year old car. When you drive multiple cars, you tend to get bored less easily. On the other hand, cars that I drove 25K or more a year on I also got attached to. There is something really cool about having an old car that looks like new or having the bragging rights when you are north of 200K. Works well for silencing the idiots that you occasionally run into that insist only a Toyota can last that long. Today, almost anything can last over 150K, even with abuse. Provided that you never overheat the engine….

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @markholli

        Bingo! This is why I have owned my Spitfire for 18 years, and have absolutely no intention of ever getting rid of it. I suspect my BMW wagon will be a serious long-termer too, God willing and the creek don’t rise. You may be on to something about the 4x4s too – I am rather enjoying my ‘winter beater’ Jeep GC (WJ), though in this case I suspect I will keep it for a couple years (or until it blows up) and just find a really, really nice one of the same vintage.

        But overall, I agree – you can keep any car indefinitely, the only thing that really kills a car is rust. Everything else is readily replaceable if the body is in good shape. I have owned a number of Volvos in the 200-300K range, all were perfectly reliable and gave excellent service. Of course, in this climate cheap crap cars simply do not last that long. Hondas and Toyotas simply DO NOT have that reliability reputation in Maine that they enjoy in milder climates, because the bodies just did not last long enough to develop it here.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    Have you noticed this more in a particular Gender? In my experience, women are much more likely to treat the interior of their car like a garbage dumpster (empty cans and paper trash everywhere), while men are more likely to actively destroy it (feat on the dash, holes in the upholstery, cutting chunks out of the steering wheel with I knife, yes I’ve actually seen that done).

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I’ve seen it too! I was looking at cars years ago and these was a decent looking 77 Trans Am that was totally trashed inside. It was only 3 years old, but between the cut up steering wheel, the cracks in the dash, the carpets that reeked of something (I don’t know what it was), and the seats with a ton of worn spots or actual holes in them, I passed on it. Ran great though.

      I knew a guy who destroyed headliners in every car he owned. When I first met him, he had just bought a 75 Vega, and in 3 months, the headliner was flapping away. His next car was an immaculate 77 Camaro, and in a couple of months, the headliner was trashed again, and by the time he sold it, it was in pretty rough shape. After the Camaro got wrecked to the point he didn’t want to fix it anymore, I happened on a ’73 340 Challenger in basically new condition. It had been parked 3 months after it was bought by a kid who joined the Air Force, and just driven by his parents just enough to keep it from deteriorating. I would have bought it myself, but cash was tight at the time. I changed the hoses, coolant, oil and trans fluids for him, and actually had the trans checked out by a friend who owned a trans shop, and it was great. In 3 months, he trashed the headliner, denying, as he always did, that he even touched it. In two years, he had been in about 6 fender benders, not one panel on it was intact, and the interior looked like a bomb went off inside it. Looking back, I should have bought it and fixed it up, but I sold it for him. I never got to see what his 83 Trans Am looked like, as I left town, and haven’t been back since. I asked a mutual friend what he’s driving now, and he said, “I can’t remember, but it’s red and the headliner is all tore up!”. I don’t get it. He’s so short his head isn’t a factor, BTW.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        I drove someone somewhere in my car once and I actually had to tell an adult to leave the power windows alone. He kept flipping the button up and down. Child locks for windows are a good thing but I still chewed his ass for not leaving my windows alone. He was plenty smart to know better.

        Clearly some folks are their own worst enemy.

        I hate giving rides to people b/c they’ll do SOMETHING like the window flipper or people who get in the car and -S-L-A-M-!!! the door… The doors on my car close SO easily – click…. There is a reason the doors and everything in them still work well at 235K miles. No need to pull them closed like they are full of concrete.

        I also hate getting a ride with some folks who are just plain terrible drivers. Am I going to get home alive?

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    True, you can keep a modern car around for 300k and 20-25 years (IMO 10k a year is a bit low for a daily driver)

    ***IF***

    it’s not your only car. Once you get north of 150k or so, it will need regular downtime for maintenance and repair. The reality of American life is that you need a reliable car to get to work, so you will need another ride once age sets in on the first one. At that point you buy a newer car and the first one gradually cascades into weekend beater status, if you love it enough to keep it around at all.

    • 0 avatar
      Gannet

      If it needs “regular downtime for maintenance and repair” at 150k miles you bought the wrong car.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Or you let it fall into the “crap” category.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        ANY car will have failures that can require a day or longer to fix at mileage even under 150k. Yes, even Toyotas and Hondas.

      • 0 avatar
        Duncan

        Ubermensch – what sort of failures would you expect from any car with below 150k miles?

        It has been my experience and is my expectation that even with high miles a car should start every time and get you where you want to go and back. There are certainly a lot of cars that can do this well past 150k miles, even if they do need to spend a few days in the shop every year to perform basic maintenance and replace worn out parts.

        Most of the people I know who haven’t been able to make it to work or were late due to car troubles had a flat, ran out of gas, or locked their keys inside.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      If you want an older car to be reliable, you don’t wait for things to fail before replacing them. You do as you would with an airplane, and replace things on a schedule. AT 150K, go through the entire car, replace all the wear bits, and you will be good to go for another 150K with minimal hassles.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        This is the way to do it. Any car has parts that will eventually wear out, no matter who built it.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        That is one approach, albeit expensive and time-consuming, plus you still need something else to drive while you’re rebuilding the first car.

        Replace the entire front and rear suspension, new inner and outer tie rods, new ABS pickups, new wheel bearings and maybe hubs, new brake calipers, rotors, and brake hoses, new master cylinder and ABS module, remanufactured auto transmission or new clutch and slave cylinder, rebuilt CV joints, new starter, water pump, alternator, head gasket, intake manifold gaskets, timing chain and guides, reshim the valves again, new piston rings, new radiator and all hoses, new heater core, AC compressor and dryer plus a recharge, replace the window regulators, reupholster the driver’s seat, new headliner, new carpets, replace every single bulb in the car, new head unit and speakers, new ignition core and door+trunk locks, new side and rear mirrors, rear camera and parking sensors, new door and window gaskets, and get a full prep and respray while you have the windows out.

        If you’re paying someone to do this, you could have bought a new car by now. If it’s a labor of love, you can be satisfied knowing that you’ll pass the TUV/shaken with flying colors.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @bumpy ii

        It goes almost without saying that if you are going to own and drive older cars, it only makes sense to have more than one.

        As to the cost of the “midlife crisis” maintenance – it is really not that bad. 20 minutes on any car-specific Internet forum will tell you what the weak points are, and you can plan to address them before they strand you. For example, on my 328i I will replace the electric waterpump and thermostat at the 100K mark. One nice thing about living in a cold climate is we simply do not get the heat related failures up here like down South, so hoses pretty much last forever, and interiors and paint hold up a lot better. Plus it helps to be driving a well-built car in the first place. Despite the usual whining about repair costs, I am firmly of the opinion that European cars are overall built better than anything else. You really see it in things like the fact that after 15+ years in an annual salt bath, the undersides are not rusty and the various bolts are not lumps of rust like they are on American and Japanese cars. I’ll put up with some electrical issues in return for not having holes in the floor and suspension bolts that actually come apart.

      • 0 avatar
        Tinker

        My wife’s vehicle is a 2002 Isuzu Rodeo LS, and she just passed 40,000 miles. Sounds nice right? But, here in Central Texas, we get a thing that kills cars deader than rampant rust.

        We went to the grocery store, and cheered as the 40,000 mile point rotated past, shopped and came out to put our groceries in the back. We attempted to open the back (one of those designs that incorporate the worst of both styles of tailgates). The handle snapped off. Broken handle, sheared off.

        It’s plastic, spray painted silver and in one of the most used places on an SUV. What good is an SUV without an opening to the rear? So the death of cars is going to be sun-raddled plastic, not RUST!

        Yes, I have found a source for the part on the 2001-2003 4 cylinder Sport version, $37. (Not sure why the 6 cylinder LS can’t use that part, unless its BLACK [not THAT!]) The door catches are all black, not sure WHY the rear mechanism was silver either.

        But long term, the sum total of plastic parts is substantial, and after 10 years, you won’t find intake manifolds for YOUR orphan, either. I guess I need to consider where the rest of this thing is going to fail…

        (Back to the design of the rear hatch, both a lift up glass, and a left hinged swing away door. The window hangs a little low due to the droopy gas shocks and it threatens to split my eyebrow each week, and the swing away door is an irritant to any traffic on our aisle in the parking lot.)

        I guess I need to add Gas Struts to the list, now, too.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      “Once you get north of 150k or so, it will need regular downtime for maintenance and repair.”

      No it won’t. Not necessarily so. If you bought one of the many brands not known for durability then expect this outcome. I have a car with 235K on it that is never down for longer than an oil change or brake pads swap. Every 80K miles I put a timing belt on it.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I know of a local Civic for sale thats dinged, rusty, and dirty. But it has a fart can and black skulls on it! Surely thats a good buy right?

    Nope, I grabbed a $900 Horizon that gave me a good year or so of service. But when I brought it the alignment was bad, tires were mis-matched, needed a serious tune up, it was dirty, and it too had skulls on it.

    In short, if a car has skulls on it just walk away.

  • avatar
    ambulancechaser

    I beg to differ. You used to be able to keep a modern car for that kind of timeframe, before they made them so f*ing imposible for to maintain him/herself. The ’95 ranger XT I once had could have been the only vehicle I’d ever own. Dead simple, manual everything, that real easy to maintain 3.0 V6. No problem. Cheap to buy and cheap to own. Nowadays cars are a nightmare.

    On the topic of crap. My wife drives our new car (2012 Rav4 V6 4X4 Sport) and the interior already resembles the inside of her purse. Brutal. Drives it like its a kitchen appliance. I get to try to maintain it of course, like emptying the ocean with a bucket.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      I agree. It’s backwards. As a mechanic, I can make a G-body run for the rest of my life. I can even totally rehab all of it’s critical parts for a few thousand dollars and have the equivalent of a brand new vehicle. A switch could get flaky and you can simply swap it out. Now the switch is embedded in a $800 module with all the other switches that can crap out, made in a Chinese toy factory, requires the PCM to be reflashed, have to remove the whole dash, can’t be retrofitted with one from another car/year,and….ah screw it, just drive it into the ground.

      BTW, your 10 year old Taurus example has a nasty surprise. No matter how well you take care of it, the subframe connection close to the firewall holds water and rots out. Then, it and the motor will fall down onto the street.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ……BTW, your 10 year old Taurus example has a nasty surprise. No matter how well you take care of it, the subframe connection close to the firewall holds water and rots out. Then, it and the motor will fall down onto the street…..

        Uh, I guess that is a bit of internet hyperbole. My 20 year old Sable did in fact have this problem. The rear subframe mount on the passenger side rusts out first, likely because in addition to the usual road salt and water, it get A/C condensate as well. The rust forms under the rubber of the mount and that is where the problem begins. When the hole that accepts the rubber rusts out to a diameter greater than the rubber, the subframe slaps against the underside of the car, announcing its failure before the next one rusts out. This usually does not happen to the front ones. So, no, the motor does not “fall out” and mine popped at 16 years. I foolishly let a “professional” look at it, who refused a weld repair an insisted on a swap from a wreck. I wasted a lot of money on him. Today I would weld it myself and fix it for the cost of a welding rod.

        It should be noted that the rear locating rods that hold the rear wheels laterally have a problem that the steel washer rusts and the rear wheel ends up against the body of the car. That happened to me at 18 years, and I just bought used rods from SHO Source and repaired the problem myself. I’m not complaining as there was a time that you would need three cars to last 20 years in total…

    • 0 avatar

      Except people have been saying the same thing for 50 years.

      …and we still miraculously found ways to deal with fuel injection, aluminum engines, metric fasteners, emissions controls, electronic ignition and overhead cams.

      By the time today’s cars are 30 years old, there will be a market to address these issues.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I’m eagerly awaiting a new car that dosen’t have problems and is easy to perform basic maintenance on like changing the oil.

      I’m used to popping hoods and working on stuff with my old cars, I’d welcome a more cramped hood bay if the important bits are easy to fix.

      As far as computers and sensors go I wouldn’t mind them if they held up better.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        That’s interesting, but what’s in it for the auto maker? You and I would love a new car with ’90s tech and the latest style, but most dudes don’t know or care if it’s an interference engine they’re getting or if it’s FWD or RWD and can’t even change a flat tire. You know how many times I’ve heard “That’s what AAA is for… Durrr….”

        The best we can do is live in the past and speaking of which, my latest toy is a ’95 F-350 4X4 crew with a gas 5.8 engine, non dually with a camper shell. It’s plain white with a manual trans, manual transfer case and manual hubs. All stock except for 33″ BFG tires and 2″ of suspension lift. Manual windows and vinyl interior, of course. I’ll keep this one ’til I die.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I beg to differ. You used to be able to keep a modern car for that kind of timeframe, before they made them so f*ing imposible for to maintain him/herself.

      You still can.

      You just don’t get to DIY all the maintenance – or at least as easily.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Add smoking in the vehicle as another form of abuse if you are planning to ever sell the car.
    As for fart can mufflers, their presence on a car annoucnes to the world that the owner is a douche bag. So, they have a legitimate purpose after all!

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      It’s called, “I’m making a list of people who I don’t want to buy a car from.”

    • 0 avatar
      DaveDFW

      And K&N filters: the first sign about the previous owner that should send you running away.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Yo, whats wrong with a stage 2 weight drop? Custom filter? 45′ exaust with a tuned ECU custom wheels and a spoiler? You don’t want a cool whip?

        That was just a joke btw, I never understood that type of mentality. A custom ECU and reducing weight works better in Gran Turismo than in the real world.

      • 0 avatar
        Duncan

        I disagree on K&N filters. This is a sign of a keeper who invests in their vehicle and is thinking long term – the same can be said about a premium battery or long life tires.

      • 0 avatar
        DaveDFW

        We’ll have to agree to disagree on the K&Ns. To me they’re nothing but a visible display of snake oil, which makes me assume there are other less-visible modifications which have been made–modifications I’d have to reverse.

        A K&N is not comparable to premium tires or batteries–a K&N keeps company with Slick 50, fuel-line magnets, and electric turbochargers.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        I’m with you, Dave! K&N – requires proper, careful maintenance which most people don’t do. Underoil it, you wear out your engine faster as more silica gets in (oil analysis confirms this); Overoil it, and you can wipe out your MAF sensor (I have seen this more than once myself).

        Maybe I should start a company that makes oil-bath air filters (you know, like they had before they invented the oil-free, maintenance-free pleated paper ones) and convince people that they are the bees’ knees . . .

      • 0 avatar
        Duncan

        I guess I’m in the minority. I didn’t realize that swapping a disposable paper filter with a reusable cotton filter was considered a modification. It seems more like maintenance with premium parts to me.

        I’ve heard of oil getting on the MAF sensor (though I think that was more of a rare case of sloppy disregard for the cleaning/re-oiling instructions than a common problem), but would think if you were buying a used car, either the MAF would be fine and the previous owner had performed the relatively basic maintenance correctly, or the MAF would be throwing an error code. I’m not familiar with reports of engine damage caused by under-oiled filters.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        We had an SL65 come in about two weeks ago where the owner installed some K&N air filters. They proceeded to melt in the high heat environment that a twin-turbo V12 produces. It sent bits of K&N into the turbos. Interestingly, the car ran fine at normal speeds and it had no weird noises, yet anyway. The customer actually didn’t have us do anything about the filters.

      • 0 avatar
        Duncan

        I think you may be referring to a cold air intake tube. K&N makes drop in filters that sit in the factory airbox. I doubt any stock vehicle – even an SL65 puts out enough heat to melt the frame holding the filter media.

  • avatar
    Gannet

    Better still, buy a car that’s 5 years old with 50k miles (still young enough to catch/prevent most life-shortening abuse) for half the cost of new and keep it for 250k miles.

    • 0 avatar
      Yoss

      I wish that was the case, but the way things are now, even being 5 years old and 50K miles people are still getting like 80% or better of the new value. Even orphan brands like Saturns are holding their value. The used car market is way high right now.

      • 0 avatar
        28-cars-later

        Unfortunately I agree that’s the case at the moment. The 5yr/50K thing is usually the ticket, supply is just much lower than usual and some people who normally bought/leased new are having trouble financing new ones look for new-used, so there are too many pigs in the trough than in the past.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    On very rare occasions, maybe once a year, I eat a quick McDonald’s lunch on the way to or from somewhere. I’m really angry when I find a comatose french fry parked under the seat hiding by the track. Really ticks me off, but at least it wasn’t ketchup.

    Other than that, I try hard to keep my heaps clean and free of clutter. Wifey? Not so much, but no food messes, just paper snippets.

    Half the fun of buying a reasonably well-maintained used car is the day I spend taking it apart in the driveway and cleaning it and see what may need fixing, touching-up or replacing. In 1981, I did that with our brand-new Reliant! After doing that, it was a great little car…

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    About 20 years ago I knew more that a few people that did not allow any food or drink in their car, no matter what. Now a days, most folks do partake in a little of both while driving. It doesn’t surprise me that someone would sell or trade a car with McD’s litter in it.

    Crap car parts got a big boost from the recession.

    Your local NAPA, O’Reilly’s or AutoZone usually have at least two quality levels to choose from on components like brake parts or alternators. Most people don’t look at where they want to be 20,000 miles down the road. If money is tight, the lesser quality part definitely gets purchased.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I didn’t buy a F-body to be nice to it.

    /will be that car’s final owner.
    //all my cars are older than 20 years old already

  • avatar
    duffman13

    So speaking of general neglect:

    I was in a friend’s car last week (older Hyundai), and noticed extreme wear at the top of the steering wheel between about 11 and 1. It’s not the first older car I’ve noticed it on, My 96 A4 ahd ti when I got it in 04, and another friend’s late 90s Corrolla.

    For the life of me I cannot figure out how the driver did that to the steering wheel. Does anybody have any idea?

    And don’t get me started on the ladies. They all treat the car as an extension of the purse in my experience.

    • 0 avatar
      rubix5609

      I bought a used vw a couple of years ago and it had the same thing (owned by a woman before me) I don’t know how it happened

    • 0 avatar
      Mark_MB750M

      One-handed steering? Perhaps with jewelry on the hand doing it? Imagine them steering in one direction a bit, then moving the hand again to hold onto the center again. Enough back and forth like this and that could wear. Sharper turns require both hands so the wear in concentrated between 11 and 2.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      I dunno, but I know on my ’95 Explorer its from me driving one handed with my hand at 11-1 posiition. I know this was from me because I replaced the original steering wheel with a new leather wrapped one 8 years ago. It’s starting to twist again and the foam underneath is starting to break down again.

    • 0 avatar
      Yoss

      Maybe they grip and twist forwards and backwards on the wheel while they’re stuck in traffic?

      I know some people have skin oils that are much more corrosive than average. You hear about it all the time when it comes to musicians and lacquered brass instruments. I don’t know if it would be potent enough to hurt steering wheel plastics though.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        I don’t let a friend of mine handle any of my guns, or anything else made of metal or has painted on labeling. The buttons on his car’s stereo look like they have been sandblasted, and every gun he has has at least one fingerprint rusted into it. When he was a little kid, grandpa let him shoot his mint condition Winchester rifle. All these years later (about 50), the print he left on it is still there. Grandpa wasn’t happy at all with him, but left him the gun when he died.

        My sister must have “acid oils” too, as her car’s steering wheels always start to disintegrate (the leather or plastic parts)within a few years. Her current car, a Nissan of some kind, has a partially rotted wheel, right where her hands are normally at. She kind of found a solution, she puts this stuff they use for casts on it, it welds itself it itself and makes a nice cheap cover for the wheel. The worst one I actually saw in person was her then 6 year old ’79 Cutlass, with a duct taped together steering wheel. Fun and sticky in the summer, and an amazing dirt magnet after the adhesive starts to seep out.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Hand lotions. Some women who use lotions several times per day and their cars have this lotion on everything their hands touch.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      Also, the brushed chrome / metal / shiny surfaces on the shifter is always scratched pretty badly. Lots of women wear rings on their right hand, I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      My Toyota pickup’s wheel is worn smooth at about 9-10 o’clock from my hand holding it for freeway driving for the past 17 years and 270kmi…

      The only thing that confuses me is that the wear you see is at TDC, rather than off to one side.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Not all the ladies. My daughter’s first love worked for a while as a car detailer, and he taught her how to do a lot of that type of work. She keeps her car cleaner inside and out than I keep ours, and there have been times when she’s borrowed our car and when we’ve gotten it back the interior’s been detailed. Maybe she’s the exception that proves the rule….

  • avatar
    redav

    My car just turned 11, and I have no doubts that I can keep it running well for at least another 9 yrs. Thirty is definitely possible.

    The thing though, is that most people buy and dump and buy and dump again. They trade it in before goes out of warranty. They get a new loan even if they are upside down on their prior one. As long as people have this disposable mind-set, it won’t happen.

    Another reality is that people’s needs change. A fresh-out-of-college kid may buy a car that will last 30 yrs, but he’ll probably find that when he starts his family, his needs change and so he’ll sell the car & get a new one. Same thing may happen with a change of jobs.

    So, it is probably best to say that in the near future, people will only need to buy two cars in their life, but they will probably buy more.

    Oh, and you left off over-sized wheels from the crap list. Adding a ton of mass and removing the compliance of the tires isn’t going to be good for the stock suspension or brakes.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      We bought our first new car with a nod to some future time when we’d have babyseats. I never thought our first child would also learn to drive it but it looks like it’ll happen.

  • avatar

    back in the 1950s, when 100,000 was a major achievement, my father had a friend who routinely got 200,000 out of cars. Excellent maintenance and drove them very gently.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    I’m really thankful that from a young age, my dad pounded it into my entire family’s head that we were to keep the inside of our vehicles IMMACULATE. Hated it as a kid, but really appreciate it now that I’m older.

    My last car was 13 years old when I sold it, and the interior was in showroom condition. Friends and co-workers would get into my car and marvel at how “clean” and “new” it looked. I’d then get into their much newer, nicer cars and be appalled at how sh*t-thrown they were. Spilled soda fermenting in two-year-old G35. Completely trashed interior in a 335. Etc. etc.

    I honestly have NO idea how some people can trash the inside of their cars the way they do. In my opinion, it takes more work to trash a car than to keep it clean. It’s not like you need to obsessively clean the inside of your car daily. My one rule is no eating of any kind in the car — a rule that friends hate but one that I follow myself. Drinks of any kind are fine as long as you’re careful. Living in California, you can usually find a place to sit outside and eat anytime. Oh, and no smoking (I’m a light smoker but NEVER smoke in the car, and can’t believe how many people I see driving very expensive luxury cars on the way into work puffing away with the windows barely cracked. Blech.

    Maybe it’s the “no eating” rule that makes a big difference?

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Spilled soda in a G35? Thats a shame, G35s are some of the few nicely stylised luxury cars out there.

    • 0 avatar
      c280pilot

      I eat in my car, and don’t have a problem with other people eating in my car, and still manage to keep it *immaculate*. The difference is that I never leave anything in my car. If I have food, I take my trash out as soon as I stop (not the next afternoon/month). It also helps to thoroughly clean the interior about once a month or whenever it gets dirty. And keep up with little repairs so they don’t pile up.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Same here, I eat in my car, but I clean my car and I am not a messy eater. I will admit, I am not NEARLY so fussy about my Jeep – but it is not crapped up inside either. Just not as immaculate as my BMW, the Jeep works for a living. 500lbs of computer scrap to my favorite waste recycler, and a pile of cardboard to the recycling center just this afternoon. Probably some bags of dirt from Home Depot tomorrow. But I will vacuum it out occasionally, and there is never a pile of trash left in it.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I have some one I eat lunch with occasionally. It doesn’t seem to bother them that I have to scoot the trash aside to get inside. YUCK. Trashed from one end to another. If it was mine suddenly I’d start with my pressure washer and work my way back towards the rear door.

      Anymore I quickly offer to drive if we are going anywhere. Trade off though b/c I might get a mighty -S-L-A-M- of my door that threatens to break the glass. I think they are getting the hint though b/c I’ve said something and I close my door with a “click” – the slam just isn’t necessary.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Our newest of 4 cars is a 2002 and our 2000 has the most miles at 164k. The oldest 2 are toys and are low mileage. Funny thing, three of them have K&N filters and no issues with motors and one is run hard every single time I drive it.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I am of two minds with K&N filters. On the one hand, I do think that the reason they are less restrictive is that they don’t filter as well. But on the other hand, they probably do filter more than well enough with reasonable maintenance. I bought the very expensive, factory, fully warranty-compliant BMW Performance Intake system for my 328i Touring, and it came with a K&N directly from BMW. The next time my local club has a dyno day I have every intention of doing a run with the K&N and a run with the paper filter to see if it makes a bit of difference.

      I have also had K&Ns on my Spitfire for eons, but that is more a matter of not much else being available that isn’t totally crap – it is either K&N or super restrictive foam filters for that car, I don’t have the stock airbox.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I know people who have driven cars with K&N filters on them since about the time they came out, and none of them has had a failure that had anything to do with the filter. Some of these vehicles were basically driven until the either fell apart (A Chrysler Newport that was 20 years old and cracked going over rough train tracks), or leaked water from the cowl leaking, again due to rust. A couple of others had failures from transmissions going out, or a fire, etc.

      I personally use an AFE “Pro Dry S” filter in my own car. No oil, and much improved airflow over the stock filter.

  • avatar
    mburm201

    Living in the salty Midwest, it would be hard to get a car to last that long. I’ve still done pretty well. I bought my Buick Riviera with 140k and sold it about ten years later with 290k. I bought my Buick Century with 70k and sold it six years later with 255k. My Windstar and Continental have 210k and 230k respectively. Not bad for vehicles that were mostly depreciated when I bought them.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Did your brake lines rust out in the Century? Nothing is scarier behind the wheel than hitting the brakes and having the pedal land on the floor. Any W body owner should check their lines….your life may depend on it.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Boredom? You bet I’m bored. With my cars, with driving, with traffic, with my in-car entertainment. And now I let my B-i-L eat a muffin in my car. Crumbs everywhere. Jeezus wept.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    At what point does a “low-restriction muffler and oversize airbox/filter so the car sounds like it actually has an engine” become a “fart can”?

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      When you put bigger tips on the end so it “looks big”, definitely.

      Arguably, the second you started, but I suppose that’s a cultural thing.

      (Me, I want cars to be quiet, not to sound like a giant rumbly thing from The Land Before Mufflers.

      Cars should have engines, not sound like they have bigger, rougher ones than they do… but that’s the cultural thing, again.)

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Too quiet is bad, makes the car boring. My BMW was too quiet, you heard nothing but a faint whine below 4K rpm – the factory Performance Intake and Exhaust fixed it right up. Perfect now, not too loud, not too quiet, and how it should have been from the get-go. 7K rpm is like a choir of angels, if not QUITE as soul-licking as my Alfa Romeo GTV-6 was. Close, but still not Italian. :-)

        I have no use for fart cans and bass cannons.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I prefer my cars to be quiet, I’m accustomed to dash rattles and squeaks so anything peaceful works for me.

        If I’m ever bored I just open up the front windows, but otherwise I just plain enjoy driving.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Fart cans do absolutely nothing but annoy, unless the entire exhaust system is upgraded including header plus complete intake. Tuner magazines and tuners themselves are too busy laughing all the way to the bank to explain this.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Fart cans on an automatic four cylinder just kill me. Slow rev to 3500 rpm and then that typical automatic gear change which which amounts to just a sudden change in tone.

        Buy a stick and then add a performance exhaust. Adding a loud exhaust to a grocery getter with an automatic ain’t doing anything cool. (I say that as the owner/driver of two grocery getters – both with manual transmissions).

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    My old Merkur Scorpio is going on 24 years old and runs strong. Every lamp, power geegaw and feature still works. I do have a slow leak from the A/C evaporator, but I’m addressing that soon, meanwhile the A/C does work.

    I do treat this car differently – I don’t let it get too dirty inside and it gets the highest quality parts when needed. I also don’t drive it in the winter and expose it to the salt.

    My Stratus beater is dirty inside and gets patched back together with relatively cheap stuff. It has rust holes in the rocker panels and the underside is getting somewhat scary looking. It does run good though, and I plan on getting another year or so out of it before I move on.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    When people say “the little things” they mean it, I remember looking at an early 80′s Buick (FWD ToronadoEldoroado brother), heres the story behind it:

    The car had been maintained and driven by the owner almost ever since it was new, they loved it but had to sell it after buying something new, and the city was piling up fines on it.

    Like any 30 year old domestic, the power windows didn’t work and bit of the trim were gone.

    I didn’t mind the trim, thats easy stuff to fix. What was wrong was the engine was nearly toast. During summer and spring the owner would fill the radiator with plain water while using anti-freeze during the winter.

    The result? An engine that would require a complete re-build and a car that shot more smoke than a factory.

    Its a shame too, these are neat cars.

    Another time I had looked at a similar Toronado, the inside was a miniature landfill, dings galore on the outside, rusted exaust and the hubcaps were gone. Despite this, it at least ran and worked alright.

    However, right when I was considering buying it I was informed that the engine had ceased up.

    I’m beginning to think that someone in the clouds dosen’t want me owning one of these.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I’d say your typical import is not going to be sporting working power windows at 30 years, either. Funny that you chose windows to mention. Modern Fords, BMWs, Audis, and VWs have crappy regulators; most of the people I know that have any of these cars have changed at least the driver’s regulator…all under 10 years.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        I must be the luckiest guy in the world with respect to power windows. I have never had a single issue with power windows, ever. A friend of mine has nothing but problems with them, he replaced the motor on the driver’s side of his ’94 Jeep Grand Cherokee almost annually for the 15 years he had it (since new). I had a ’93 GC, and never replaced anything having to do with the windows. He can’t figure out what I’m doing right, and what he’s doing wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Domestic, import, whatever. Lets not argue on that debate, its completely irrelevant to my point.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        176K and 15 years on a VW, original regulators.

        That friend who kills power windows probably slams the doors hard every single time and jogs the windows up and down with a 95 step process…

        up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up – oops too far -down-down-down-down-up-up-up

        I have a friend that does it this way and is always having problems. People like this need crank windows – seriously.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Well, a replacement 350 or 307 wouldn’t cost that much…

      You could just factor that into your negotiations.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    How does it affect the value of a vehicle to have a repossession on its title?

    My PT wagon, Coco was a repo in her former life. Neat as a pin, however. She’s 2008, purchased in Nov. 2009, 24k miles. I’ve always assumed the car was repossessed quickly(Capital One financed it, via the Carfax) because of the condition.

    She’s from Atlanta, too– I couldn’t find a 5-speed closer.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Somehow, here in Norway, all cars that are around 8-12 years old (the average Norwegian car ) and has around 100k on them look brand new, except for a few parking lot dings, and the scratches your finger nails and jacket make when you enter or exit the car. Off course this could be explained by the fact new cars are incredibly expensive, so people do their best to keep them nice. But at least it shows that almost any car can last as long as the owner wants it too. I’ve had cars with more than 200k on them that were still mechanically serviceable if you wanted to spend money on them, but these were cars from the 80′s,so rust was still a major issue.
    Sadly I can never keep a car too long before I get bored of it, but I’m considering keeping the CR-V I have now for as long as economically possible.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Depends on how much are you willing to spend to fix problems, I live in So Fl and have owned 2 cars since 1986, the one I have now is a 98 and I am losing oil through a gasket and also burning some, this is big repair bill for a car that has over 300k miles and it may force to parts way with it, on the other hand if I fix it, there is a good chance I could keeep going with it for years to come, difficult decision.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    I’m jealous of you guys. Up here in the rust belt we don’t have the choice to keep our cars that nice for that long. Personally, I like keeping my cars, and depresses me when they rust to the point that maintaining them no longer makes sense. This is the main reason why my current car will never see a winter.

  • avatar
    jco

    yeah, if you live in a place where winter means snow and salt, then all bets are definitely off. having a garage parking space helps, but unless you’re vigilant about running through car washes continuously after salt exposure you end up with an underside full of unserviceable rusted components.

    i was searching for a used 98-01 subaru impreza wagon for my brother. in our price range, they were going to have above 100k miles. the difference in condition was down to which city’s craigslist we searched. the northern ones had rusted bodies and undercarriages. we ended up with a southern car. same mileage as the northern ones, but zero rust anywhere, so continued maintenance won’t involve a battle with brittle and/or seized components. had we decided to simply bring the car back north and re-sell it, the condition may have net us a profit with no further work put into it.

    southern cars end up with faded paint and disintegrating rubber, but i find those kinds of things to be far preferable to the evil brown menace

    as far interior landfill = nasty used car, i can tell you the equation is correct. generally that kind of mess signifies a disorganized mind; a person unlikely to properly maintain a vehicle or any other personal possession. so in addition to a dirty interior you’re also likely dealing with zero attention to a maintenance schedule of any kind, ruined and/or never serviced wear items, and the prospect of larger repair bills in the future.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    For my first 20 years, I recycled VW bugs. Collecting parts and bolting them into less rusted bodies. I bought my first 88 528e in ’96. It had 150 k miles on it and was getting neglected. Over the next 12 yrs, I drove it 200k more miles, I maintained it in my driveway to a level such that it never failed to get home. IMHO, BMW, made the E 28 too well. They have since fixed that problem. My current stable is a pair of ’88s with 5 yrs of usage so far. I base lined each of them before I put them in service. Whilst doing oil changes, I checked out stuff while draining. The key to this particular engine is timing belt changes every 60 K miles/ 4 yrs I replace the , plugs, cap and rotor and belts. as well as the TB and tensioner. Every other interval , I replace the GMB water pump I put in when base lining . My latest 4wd is a battered ’94 Ranger PU. I bought it a year ago for 600$ with a bad clutch being its biggest issue. 800$ in parts and lots of wrenching has rescued this heap from the crusher It is a weekend garden/ house/ dump/ hauler/ beach buggy, snow mobile.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India