By on April 1, 2013

Take a look at this piece of…

272,522 miles. No fooling. This 1996 Volkswagen Passat 5-speed sedan has traveled a distance nearly equal to 11 times the circumference of planet Earth.

It also visited the dealership well over 50 times during that time period as well. Which is just barely good enough for…

38th place.

Now granted that is number 38 out of 6,894 cars that were traded into a large dealer body for this week alone. 38th place also happens to be the highest finish for any non-TDI Volkswagen for all of 2013 thus far.

So obviously this car belongs in a museum. A Ripleys museum. Right next to the one and only Daewoo that made it to 100,000 miles.

On a more serious note, VW is soundly beating GM at this point. So long as you look at one and only one GM model, the Pontiac Grand Prix.

For this week VW managed to garner 8 trade-ins with over 180k miles while the notoriously plastic fantastic Pontiac Grand Prix managed a mere six vehicles. Of course there were 39 Grand Prixs and 178 Volkswagens in the trade-in mix this time around. But the German people’s car needed to find a victory somewhere in our quality index, and there it is.

Today’s number one and two offers the same powertrain as last week’s number one.

Two Chevy Silverados chalked up 354,646 miles and 346,192 miles respectively. That wasn’t as good as the 1999 Suburban that went 412,372 miles the prior week. But it’s good enough to be at the top of the heap.

As for the bottom, here’s how a few other brands fared for this week when it comes to reaching the over 180k mark at trade-in time.

Suzuki : 2 out of 27 (best showing so far!)

SAAB   : 0 out of 41 (the usual…)

Kia       : 0 out of 85 (ditto…)

Jaguar : 1 out of 37 (may require a recount.)

Audi     : 2 out of 71

261 vehicles from these brands, collectively, could not beat a mere 39 Pontiac Grand Prixs for this week. Or the entire quarter for that matter. In fact the only true shocker for this April Fools Day is that if you added Volkswagen’s 8 strong and solid vehicles out of 178, those brands come in second to another notoriously poor brand…. Mitsubishi.

Which scored a surprisingly sound 14 out of 97 cars with over 180k. Including this Mirage with 281,146 miles and no announcements related to mechanical defects. If you want a hidden gem among the unpopular brands and models, try to find the one or two Mirages that weren’t sent to an early subprime grave.

In the meantime, there were 104 Toyotas with over 180k, 124 Hondas, 106 Chevys (mostly trucks), and exactly 100 Fords (same story… with a few Panther vehicles in the mix).

Cadillac continues to be another luxury charity case with only 3 vehicles with over 180k miles out of 132 for the week. While less prestigious, but far more mechanically sound Buick continues to blow away the big brother with a score of 13 out of 110.

All of you who continue to clamor me about good deals at the auctions may want to look at one place.

The Buick Century. A jaw dropping 10 of them from the 1998-2001 period were sold as True Miles Unknown due to their odometers no longer functioning. The fix for it is only $2 in parts and a half hour of labor. But I’m not telling the dealership about it.

It’s my job to know about these types of things, and their job to keep on pushing those types of cars in my direction.  Unpopular. Unappealing. Uncertain histories if you don’t do your research before the day of the auction. Yet, these Centurys are usually conservatively driven and offer a great bang for the buck for the non-enthusiast.

Those looking for ‘nice’ basic transportation happen to be my primary clientele.

Well, there you have it for this week folks. The quarterly numbers are being crunched by the TTAC volunteer corps as we speak. I’ll have the results to all of you later in the week.

All the best!

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73 Comments on “Monday Mileage Champion: Volkswagen Wins!...”


  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    One thing in common with all of these high mileage vehicles- I couldn’t stand driving any of them for 1000 miles let alone 180k.

  • avatar

    I’m always more interested in the trucks racking up such high miles in a short time. A ’99 Suburban with 412,000 miles? That’s more impressive than my 2000 Echo with 462,000 miles because– lets face it– cars are more commuted in than SUV’s. I wonder what the story is for any of those trucks

    • 0 avatar
      sketch447

      Harvey, I had to read your post twice. 462k miles on an Echo? Under what circumstances? Do you have the world’s longest paper route? What is your commute? I am simply astonished by that mileage, esp. on an econobox that many have (unfairly) cast aspersions upon……

      • 0 avatar

        The first 320,527 miles were my father commuting a 100 mile trip five days a week from February 2000 to May 2006. After that he replaced it with an ’06 Corolla S, and stopped commuting a year later, as they moved closer to his work. The Echo was the roomiest, quickest, smoothest/best handling balance of the subcompacts in 2000. We looked at the Lanos, Accent, and even the compact Focus and Civic. The Echo still won out for us for the price. Base manual coupe, added a/c and a bra which has since gone. We wanted a sedan but they couldn’t track a manual in the Electric Green Mica we wanted in California)

        After that initial 320,527 miles it’s been me just being me. School, road trips, commutes, have a girlfriend that lives 90 miles away– all sorts of stuff. Still runs like a scamp. You guys can find her on Facebook under “Pheobe the Echo,” and there’s a Youtube channel loaded with her, too.

        Honestly it’s a tough engine. I’ve driven another 400k mile Echo that is a salvage, and poorly maintained. It’s a parts-runner in Stockton, CA, and I was looking to be one of their drivers. They wanted to see if I could drive stick, so they put me out in it. It had a nasty feel in the steering, like there was hardly any fluid in it, and the gears were noisy (been there before), but the engine was still more than willing and still had plenty of pull for full-throttle merging onto highway 99 and I-5.

        There’s also a Yaris sedan manual in Florida that a medical courier (a bit of a crazy bastard under the circumstances) who would routinely take his Yaris up past 100mph on the freeway when crossing a mileage threshold. Still strong, but come on… don’t break the speed limit that much and put it on Youtube when driving is your job. Last I saw it was nearing 450k, but it’s undoubtedly farther along. It’s a 400-or-so-mile day-to-day thing for that car, so it racked up quick.

        • 0 avatar
          bill mcgee

          Behind most high-mileage econoboxes is probably a story of long commutes ( and deliberately buying a vehicle with good mileage for that ) or using them for work-related delivery vehicles ( and wanting to get the most bang for your buck from employer-provided money for mileage. ) The car I put the most miles on involved both . My 1994 Saturn wagon , bought at 2 years old and 50k miles . First two years the wife and me had other vehicles but would both commute in it , her 40+ mile roundtrip for her day job and my 40+ mile roundtrip to work swing shift . Would sometimes use it for my second job during the day , doing deliveries in it . Later I got fired from the night job , used it as a delivery vehicle, driving up to 300 miles a day . When it was rear-ended and totalled the odometer showed like 290k miles after less than 5 years ownership , but in reality much more than that as the odometer didn’t work for many months . Reliable car , over 30mpg on the highway, perfect for the kind of abuse we heaped on it , but awful seating and a total rattletrap.

          • 0 avatar

            Good to hear you were a lucky one with the Saturn. My brother in-law had the common lemon issues with his sedan– bad shifting automatic, power-windows that hardly worked, and ultimately the oh-so-normal con-rod through the block. A Saturn specialist who took it off our hands listed them before we could even say. Might have been 120k.

            On the flip side another Saturn in my family amassed over 300k before meeting the same demise as yours, while the car was parked, mind you. The trunk ended up at the front of the rear fender. How that sister kept that car so clean is beyond me, as her latest vehicles turn to such junk so quickly. Maybe it’s partly due to kids….

    • 0 avatar
      Battles

      I desperately want to know more about the Echo with 462k on the clock.

      I see your point about it being interesting that a Suburban would be used for mega mileage but isn’t it just a case of a consumer choosing a big comfy truck for big distances back in ’99 when fuel was much cheaper, regardless of how appropriate or efficient it was for the job?

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Harvey, high-mileage trucks are easy to explain. Lots of trucks are used for jobs that require a lot of driving to customer sites. Others are used in rural areas where the distances just to drive to work or buy groceries are long. In addition, truck styling tends to hold up well over time so that a 15 year old truck doesn’t look hopelessly outdated in the way most cars would at that age.

      • 0 avatar

        Believe me I understand that, but it’s less talked about regardless. My brother has a 1997 Suburban with nearing 400k and it’s still a beast. There’s an F150 the same age as my car with over 600k because it runs all sorts of stuff to the SF Bay Area (I’m outside Modesto). My car would be close to that if the commute was still in place. More on that elsewhere.

  • avatar
    Charles T

    There may be a geographic bias against high-mileage Saabs in your sample, Steve. Plenty of them around here are upwards of 200k and still going, like my 9000, which rolled over 217k a few weeks ago. Then again they may not be the kind of cars that get traded in, rather being driven into the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Points I have been making repeatedly since Steve started this ridiculous series of articles.

      Only the cosmically stupid trade in high-mileage vehicles to start with. Then considering the relative sales volumes involved, you could have 90% of Saabs making it to 200K, and you would still have more Hondas making it in total.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        It isn’t necessarily cosmically stupid to gain anonymity through a middle man when ridding yourself of a high mileage vehicle. You’re not going to get much more selling one than trading it, so why would you want to meet people shopping at the very bottom of the market, and why have them know who you are if their expectations about the usefulness of your quarter-million-mile, used up car prove to be optimistic? I’ve never traded in a car myself, and my parents haven’t traded one in during my lifetime, but I can imagine situations where it would be worth ‘losing’ as much as $700 to avoid the headaches of selling a car yourself.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Around here, a car with an inspection sticker is worth a minimum of $1000 private sale, no matter how ratty otherwise. You will get $150 trading that car in to a dealer, if they will take it at all. If you are getting more, you are just getting screwed on the price of whatever you are buying. If it won’t take a sticker, it will get junked.

          I have sold 20+ cars privately, I don’t find it any bother at all. Particularly in the case of European cars, here in New England there is always a ready market. Your mileage may very in other areas and for less desirable iron.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            It sounds like you have market conditions that are different than many in the US and that you have a hobby. States vary. Rust isn’t much an issue anymore in many places. Scrap metal is expensive, putting a floor on trade-ins that is quite a bit higher than $150, from what I’ve seen. Registering tired cars made after 1975 isn’t fun in California. Older European cars are as common as dirt here, but not as valuable. http://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/cto/3717233132.html

        • 0 avatar
          SaulTigh

          I tend to agree with you that privately selling a car is the worst kind of hell you can put yourself through. I drive a 1996 Panther that no dealer will give me anything for, and most private buyers aren’t interested in for two reasons: 1) the perception of poor gas mileage and 2) the perception that it’s an old persons car. I’m thinking seriously about stopping all maintenance except for oil changes, then driving the tires off of it and calling the scrapper when she rolls over in my driveway. I don’t know if I’ll have the heart to do it, as the 10 years I’ve hard her are longer than any other car I’ve ever owned. She’s also been the most reliable car I’ve ever owned. Damn conundrum it is.

          • 0 avatar
            segfault

            “…stopping all maintenance except for oil changes…”

            I’d stop that, too. I mean, if you’re going to go, go all out! I think the 4.6 is pretty easy on oil. If you use synthetic, I would bet you’d get well over 25,000 miles before the engine seizes.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        I might be cosmically stupid, but my ’02 Saab has about 80+k miles on it. Both main engine oil seals are leaking at an increasing rate; and the auto tranny goes into drive with a frightening “clunk!” when it’s been driven a lot in hot weather.

        I believe the combined repair bill for those two items is $7-8K. I’m not sure I’d be inclined to pop for that, given other potentially fragile items, such as the DI cassette and the perennially leaky power steering.

        Maybe if I were retired and had a bunch of time on my hands . . .

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        The dealer network I use has a presence in the northeast as well as the overwhelming majority of states in our fair land.

        SAAB is failing based on their product. It’s not only the volume of low mileage trade-ins that is harming their standing. It’s the number of those trade-ins that have major mechanical issues. If you wish to doubt, feel free to reference any internet source with at least 100,000 samples. They all point to the same conclusion when it comes to the usual SAAB ownership experience.

        The sample size of this project for 2013 will likely be in excess of 300,000 vehicles. I’m not quite comfortable with applying only a year worth of data to assess a rare vehicle. So no X-90′s, Laforzas or Morgans will be given a thorough grilling.

        But for any brand with a significant presence in the United States, including SAAB which had well over 100 dealers interspersed throughout the USA for most of the last 20 years, this sample size should serve as a fair bellwether of their performance.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Most SAAB cars are sold and driven in urban and suburban areas and were designed late 1990′s except for the late 9-5. They do see high mileage as we have a few that have broken into 300,000 mile club in the couple of years. They are most 4-cylinder turbos and not the V6.

          The bankruptcy sigma probably wouldn’t help in an physical auction setting but the online ads are a plenty with good deals.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Agreed. I asked the dealer what he’d give me for my old Panther when buying a car. He gave me a joke offer of $300, which was likely scrap value.

        Bluebook was at least $2500 then, and even now, almost 8 years later, you can find the same model year Panther for between $2K and $3K in online listings for roughly similar mileage.

        Based on that experience and others, it makes much more sense to me to sell a cheap car. Where I might consider trading in is a car that’s still worth, say, $20K used. I’m not sure if I want to deal with the tire kicking Craigslist idiots for a nice car, and no one’s paying in cash for $20K cars except for drug dealers, so you need to figure out the payment mechanism.

        Donating a car is not as valuable as it used to be due to tax changes.

    • 0 avatar
      Battles

      I’m a Saab guy, I come from a family of Saab drivers and I have TWICE made detours of several hundred miles just to go and stand outside the factory gates but I think the poor standing of Saabs here is a reflection of the recent (last ten to fifteen years) build quality.

      These articles only show the cars that people have traded in.
      Saab 9000s with 220k that are still being run are probably not being run by someone who will suddenly take a notion to trade it in for one of those handsome 2011 Camry V6s that seem so inexplicably popular, so will never hit an auction.

      First gen Saab 900s that were wrecked in an accident will not appear in these articles, but we know they CAN do mega mileage.

      The most recent Saab I would consider buying is pre-2000 9-5 with under a hundred thou on it, which are surprisingly common in UK used car ads.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    There are a bunch of ’98-’05 Buick Centurys in my low class, So Cal neighborhood. They’re on their 3rd or 4th owners, but even dirty and scratched, they look decent. Just about any shop can keep them running for you, for relatively little money. The main reason they rack up mileage, I think, is the 3rd/4th owners can’t afford to replace them, so they fix ‘em and drive ‘em. They still drive well, don’t look so dated, and they’re kind of anonymous to the police, if you like driving 15-20 mph over the limit.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    I donated my 300SDL after 426k miles and change. After moving, it could not handle the Texas heat, and was popping its coolant cap every day or two. Plus, the pile of deferred maintenance was getting higher, and the bits more expensive.

    Great car though, the W126 really was a classic Benz.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    I consistently see Saabs in the classifieds and the auctions with well over 100K miles in running condition.

    The one I have parked at home is a plain jane as it gets, and it sits at 150K kms. And still looks solid.

    Around 300K kms / 200K miles seems to be the mileage on which people gets rid of their cars down here. Be it privately, wreckers, auctions or trade in.

  • avatar
    bikephil

    My 2008 Acura MDX just turned 103k miles this week. No big deal, but it only had 65k on 10/1/12 when I bought it from the original owner. At this rate I’ll hit 300k in about 2 years!

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I used to have a Korean friend who has one of these back in College. I find the whole car unappealing, the interior (very simplistic, square and plasticky), the ride (quite harsh), the way the auto transmission shift (very harsh), and the engine note (crude and harsh, a hard, metallic four cylinder thrum). I ask him why he bought it, of all else, and his only reason was because you can’t find them in Korea.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I kind of want to buy an old Daewoo just to see how long it would last.

    • 0 avatar

      I just noticed that myself. Wow… a 100,000 mile Daewoo. Someone must have changed the timing belt early knowing what a crap-out they could be. Given that’s generalizing thanks to the Chevy (Daewoo) Aveo reputation. I wonder how the Suzuki-Daewoos did? They had some issues themselves if I remember right. Wasn’t it easy to flip a Forenza or Verano?

      • 0 avatar
        Carl Kolchak

        My Uncle had a late 80′s Pontiac (Daewoo) LeMans. Cam went bad at 30k. That’s Daewoo for ya

        • 0 avatar

          Whoa… I never even thought about those things! A dude I graduated with had one! Wonder how that survived until 2005….

          edit: And how in hell does a “cam” go bad? I mean, I know they wear does over time, but it’s not like a con-rod bearing or timing belt. Did it snap or something? Wear through the bearings? Did the lobes all stop spinning on the shaft? I can think of all sorts of weird stuff with that.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            GM cams have a history of lobe wear to the point that the valves stop getting opened. Eventually the cam shaft is just a shaft.

          • 0 avatar
            Moparman426W

            The GM cam wear problem you are referring to mainly applied to small and big block chevies, before they switched to roller cams in the small block in 87. I can’t remember when the big block went to rollers, it was some time after the small blocks. I replaced enough cams in small blocks for people to the point that I could almost do it with my eyes closed.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I didn’t know the details and may well have been repeating information that I’ve seen you report in the past. I once replaced the cam in a ’76 Buick with a 455, but it was a performance upgrade that led to a bottom end bearing failure.

          • 0 avatar
            Moparman426W

            Ahh, the old Buick bottom end problem, I just discussed that the other day also. The buick 231 V6, and all buick 350, 400, 430 and 455 engines had a horrendous oiling system. The passages were long, narrow and had sharp turns, which led to poor oiling. But the biggest problem was within the oil pump and timing cover. The oil pump was mounted inside the timing cover, which was made of aluminum. The oil pump gears would rub against the aluminum cover, wearing it down causing a loss of oil pressure. The oil pumps would often fail completely without warning, with catastrophic results. Most of the time the engine would either lock up or grenade itself. You were lucky to only have a bearing failure. T/A performance and Poston make redesigned timing covers and oil pumps to eliminate the problem, for both the 231 and the V8 engines. The oiling system in the 231 was redesigned when it became the 3800 in the mid 80′s.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            My only luck was that the car wasn’t mine. It was my friend’s, and it went to the scrapyard. It was comically fast while it lasted though. It once passed me while I was going about 95 mph as if I were standing still. That 225 4-door hardtop was trying to achieve escape velocity, and it could have straddled a fire hydrant at 130+ mph. Aerodynamic lift was strong with that car. He replaced it with a much, much nicer ’72 225, 455, 4 door hardtop. I think he left it stock until we headed to different universities.

          • 0 avatar
            Moparman426W

            I had a friend with a 72 lesabre ragtop back in 1982, gorgeous car, it was very well kept. It had the 350 with 98k on it, and it blew while siting in the driveway. It actually belonged to my friend’s dad, and he had just changed the oil in it. He started it and the lifters were making noise and the oil light stayed on. It threw a rod on the right bank in the rear cylinder, knocking the starter off in the process, and the back of the cam broke off, went through the rear welch plug in the block and jammed into the flywheel, damaging that also. They got another 350 along with the trans from a junkyard, and we installed it. I tried to get them to go with a new oil pump, along with a new timing chain, because it would have been easy to do with the engine out of the car. But the old man was cheap, and wouldn’t listen. It ran good for maybe a year or so, then that engine blew. The old man was fed up and sold the car to a guy that planned to drop a 396 chevy into it. I never saw the guy or the car after that, so I have no idea whether or not he went with his plans.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      I had an old mechanic several years ago who bought more than one Daewoo for dirt cheap when the dealers were liquidating and claimed he completely rebuilt the engines to the point of reliability. He said they were absolute POS engines from the factory.

      I didn’t know whether to run away or trust that this guy could fix anything. In the end, he ended up doing good work on my car, but I moved soon after and never got to follow up on the Daewoos.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        That’s one of those situations where you’re left to ponder whether his mechanical abilities outshine his complete lack of judgment. On the one hand, a mechanic who can turn a Daewoo into a real car is brilliant. OTOH, why would a genius want to spend his time doing that?

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          Well, it was something like 3 new cars for 25 grand. If he can spend his spare time in the shop fixing the engine and make them into 3 good cars, it seems like it’d be worth it from a value standpoint.

          Even if the cars only went for 75K over 5 years, that’s less than $1700/year + sweat equity.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    We use to have a saying in the car business, behind every Saab owner there is a sob story.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    How’s the survival rate on BMW’s? My 97 328i (manual, sedan) has 191k on it and is running like a top. I had to do a lot of maintenance and a few repairs when I got it around 160k, but its good now. Curious what the 180k+ field looks like.

    • 0 avatar
      mypoint02

      I just turned 199k on my E39 (525) Touring today. I purchased it four years ago with 88k on the clock. Obviously, we’ve racked up the miles pretty quickly. Many of them are highway miles, but it was my wife’s daily driver as well until last summer.

      I really can’t complain too much about it. The only expensive repairs I’ve had with it were the front suspension (control arms, shocks, and bushings) at 125k and a cooling system overhaul at just under 150k. The alternator went out two weeks ago, but I fixed that myself for $200 in parts. That’s been it as far as unplanned repairs. Otherwise, just regular maintenance.

      I too wonder what the survival rate is on Bimmers. I think many just give up on them because they’ve been screwed by a dealer or don’t want to maintain them properly. Unlike a Camcord, they don’t take well to neglect. If you know how to do your own wrenching, owning an older BMW isn’t necessarily a bad experience.

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      I bought my 1998 BMW 328i (manual sedan) from the original owner in 2005 with 53,000 for $13k. It now has 120,000. Maintenance has been oil changes, shocks, brakes, control arm bushings and tires. Repairs have been minimal — driver’s window guide and HVAC fan resistor. It gets 21 MPG city and 31 MPG on highway trips (@ 80 MPH). The most reliable BMW I’ve owned (3.0 CSi, 535i, 540i Sport). Always garaged and still looks and drives like new.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    My Passat visited the dealer 12 times in 3 years. That’s when I decided I wouldn’t be able to afford visit #13 (which would be post-warranty) and traded it.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      My Passat (same body style as the lead photo, but mine was TDI) never saw the dealer in 7 years and 367,000 km and that was on top of the 95,000 km that it had when I bought it!

      Going to the dealer is part of the problem – either DIY if you can, or find a local independent VW specialist if you can’t.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        That’s amazing. Mine was the 2002 B5.5 series, which I think isn’t quite as solid as your car.

        I’m very handy, but I wasn’t willing to dive into valve guides/seals on a V6 with 33k miles on it, nor fix the electrical gremlins that plagued the car throughout its life with me. I later found that my experience was common among VW/Audi owners.

  • avatar
    Kevin Jaeger

    I read these posts with interest but I’m still not sure what we’re actually learning. Like the insurance death statistics, they tell you a little bit about a car’s safety, but mostly they indicate the demographics of the people who drive them. Car popular with young, single low-income men = lots of fatal accidents. Car popular with ageing soccer moms = spectacular safety rating.

    I think this is mostly picking up people who rack up a lot of highway miles and take reasonable care of their vehicles – then trade them in at this dealer network.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      Kevin, people aren’t learning anything in this series, but trying to tell them that is a waste of time.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        This series is largely telling us what we already know. Some people, however, still can’t accept the truth.

        Unless someone is going to argue, for example, that Chryslers are better engineered and built than Hondas and Toyotas, which will provide this week’s dose of unintentional hilarity, if nothing else.

        • 0 avatar
          Moparman426W

          Geeber, I stopped paying attention to you long ago.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            You apparently paid attention to my prior post, as you responded to it.

            If I want to know about the reliability of vehicles built during the 1960s, I’ll ask you. Unfortunately, your knowledge on that subject seems to frozen in time, as you don’t seem very well informed about vehicles built within the last 20 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      By ‘car popular with young, single low-income men’, you mean something like a Chevy truck? I wouldn’t say the data is worthless. It is interesting, and there may be some conclusions which you could carefully draw.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Surprised to see a mid-90′s Passat B4 make it to over 200k. I have heard horror stories about these cars being plagued with electrical, cooling and transmission problems. Passat B5′s are apparently far more durable. Though like any vehicle, maintenance matters.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I just saw one of these Passat’s this morning at the parking lot for an Opening Day tailgate (which appeared to belong to one of the parking attendants as we were the 4th car in the lot and it wasn’t in line). I haven’t seen one in many years prior to this sighting, figured they’d all gone on to be refrigerators.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      It’s not at all uncommon for the TDI Passats (which are about the only B4s I still see left on the road in my area) – I have one in my driveway with over 200K miles on it, and my mechanic friend has almost 400K miles on his (but his door handles are near death). You’ve got to be willing to keep fixing them. I’m now too busy for that, which is why mine has languished in the driveway for an unmentionable number of years now.

      Old VWs are a lot like old Harley Davison motorcycles – they are a lifestyle choice, not basic transportation. You’ve got to go ‘all in’ if you want use one as a daily driver. If you’re a mid-20s dude still living at home, a VW is the perfect choice – when you’re not playing video games in the basement or working at Walmart, you’re outside wrenching on the car or hanging with your other VW-owning buddies . . .

      • 0 avatar
        mypoint02

        +1. Describes my early-mid 20s w/ a VW pretty well. Except for the part about working at Wal-Mart and living in the basement of my parents house…

    • 0 avatar
      Numbers_Matching

      The model shown appears to be a ’95-97 VR6 (5 lug hubs) – possibly with the 5 speed. These are very stout power-trains. I had the same set up in my GTI that did 253k with only a coil pack failing (repaired it with JB Weld).

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      For the B4 Passat, the right versions were much better than the wrong versions. Mine was TDI, 5-speed manual, no sunroof. A lot of them were VR6, automatic, with sunroof … and all of those were trouble spots. which gave the car a bad reputation. The cooling system was fine with the 4-cylinder cars, but the VR6 put more stress on it. Door handles were a common nuisance, and instrument clusters had fragile electronics.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    All this is pretty timid. I once rode extensively in two Nissan-Patrols, both 4.2 Diesel manuals.
    Both belonged to a drilling contractor in Russia. Both had been used mercilessly to go anywhere, road or no road. Dusty and hot summers, cold and snowy winters. Often overloaded. Patchy service.
    One at that point had 410,000 miles, the other over 500,000. Both had never been rebuilt, aside from some suspension, and body work on the one with lesser mileage as it run into a tank trailer and split it in half.
    They were as slow as they were reliable. Not comfortable, but would get a bunch of people with tools anywhere they needed to.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You hear these kind of stories and then it makes you wonder what is the average service life/demand made of your typical gas F150/Silverado/Ram and could these trucks even keep up in a similar fashion if called upon? Not just talking miles but could you take those trucks to Siberia and will they do 10-20 years and survive the abuse of the climate and topography?

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      By the way, the Nissan Patrol is now sold in the US as the Infiniti QX56 (before the renaming, soon to be QX80). Of course, it’s probably doesn’t resemble the version that Acubra drove as closely, since it’s highly optioned-up, and it isn’t available here as a diesel.

  • avatar
    Garak

    My Chrysler minivan has survived 20 years, 25 owners and 490000 km in the relatively harsh Finnish climate. It has the original engine, and even the interior is still in shape. I’m stunned by the build quality, especially considering Chrysler’s reputation.

  • avatar
    wmba

    The old saw is: there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

    Then there is “analysis” purporting to be statistics. Take a sample of a subset-population with non-uniform characteristics compared to the original population, apply mumbo jumbo, and you might be able to say, black is black and white is white to a 50% confidence level 10 times out of twenty. The same as a wild-assed guess.

    What exactly is it you think you are showing/proving, Mr. Lang? I have a technical background with some experience in statistical methods of quality assurance, and it’s completely unclear to me what you are attempting to show. As only a couple of people above seem to grasp, the remainder regurgitating stories about old Betsy and what an incredible vehicle she was, entirely as valid as your approach, in my opinion, in the sense of drawing conclusions about the whole from the particular.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Today I’m taking a random sample of run-on sentences.

      You have finished first and second. Just like the Chevy Silverado. Of course if I end up with another pissed off SAAB enthusiast on this thread, you will likely be bumped out of the top ten.

      Keep your fingers crossed.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    @wmba:

    “What exactly is it you think you are showing/proving, Mr. Lang?”

    He’s entertaining us.

    Which is pretty much all he needs to do here.

    I don’t ever remember him offering this up as science, but rather a fun crunching of numbers and a big dose of what he’s seeing out there. To us, that’s all we’re really looking for.

    And as far as I can tell, he’s not selling this data/these observations to anyone…so what’s the big deal?

  • avatar
    Power6

    Saab and Volvo owners are a fiesty lot heh. Keep fighting that reality boys.

  • avatar
    Rick S

    My ’01 Century had the same odometer failure that you mention here. After months of anguish thinking about the hit in value that the car would take upon an approaching sale, a quick google search revealed the quick and easy repair that brought the instrument cluster back to life. With horrific piston slap, the car didn’t sound like it had 115k miles on it, so I knew that there would be trouble with a sale on a car that sounded like high miles and had no odometer reading to back up a low mileage car. This $20 fix (including tools) and 2 hours of inexperienced labor in my driveway eventually netted me upwards of $1500 in additional value to the car. Tempted to pick these up TMU and fix the odometer for at least some gain in value then resell.


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