By on July 24, 2013

Bob M. writes:

Sajeev, I’m a bottom feeder with cars. All I’ve ever owned are used domestic cars with pushrod engines. I overhauled a Pontiac 2.5L once just to get the experience. My idea of engine maintenance is valves at 100k and an overhaul at 150k. 

I’ve heard that many imports aren’t rebuildable because the cylinder walls of the block are too thin. Can you enlighten me about what people do these days when their engines are wearing? Are valve jobs common? Are some brands more repairable than others? What lifespans do people expect to get from modern engines?

Keep on Truckin’
Bob

Sajeev answers:

My how times have changed!  While plenty of older cars (even the Iron Duke GM engines) don’t absolutely demand your 100k/150k regiment, you are committed to the best performance from these ancient, antiquated designs. Sadly, your thinking is far out of line with modern engine design.

Fancy, modern aluminum castings have completely changed the game…for the better.  Expensive to replace torque-to-yield bolts? Not so much.  Fact is, newer engines last longer and give max performance for longer intervals, but they are throw away motors.  That’s the general consensus, but let’s answer your questions individually:

  • Can you enlighten me about what people do these days when their engines are wearing? Back to the term “throw away motor”, as people normally get another motor from LKQ (or similar computer-intensive junkyard) and swap them out.  Rebuilding a modern motor isn’t a very bright idea, unless the car is super valuable with the original block or you want extra power from a big-bore re-sleeve, like this Lingenfelter job for LSX-FTW engines.
  • Are valve jobs common? Heck, I can’t find anything to prove that valve jobs even happen (in significant quantities) these days, much less being a common practice.  Again, throw away motors mean you can find a better one elsewhere.  But more importantly, engines don’t wear out like they used to.  Reduced performance from worn out valve train isn’t a big deal anymore.
  • Are some brands more repairable than others? If you live in the US, the most repairable brands will be from Detroit. Parts are plentiful, cheaper and more local machine shops will do the work without needing further research.  Sadly (or not?), the art of repairing an engine is more of a niche service these days.  At least for mainstream vehicles, like those once powered by GM’s 2.5L Iron Duke.  I suspect Japanese brands are a close second, everything else shall be challenging and/or cost prohibitive.  Not that people aren’t tweaking AMG and BMW motors regularly in the USA…but the best motor to get your (pushrod-loving) hands dirty these days is a Chevy (Truck) LS motor with an iron block.
  • What lifespans do people expect from modern engines? With the use of synthetic oil, regular fluid changes and tune ups, I think most folks expect over 150,000 miles from their engines.  And that’s being modest: 200+k is likely. Provided most 1-owner cars aren’t traded in well before this time, of course. Our society of consumption makes this personal expectation question most difficult to answer!

Some engines have proven otherwise (sludgy VWs and Toyotas, piston-slapping Chevys, head gasket eating Subies, etc) but one fact remains: advances in 1) metallurgy 2) technology 3) production means that the old ways of your pushrod motors (and my Windsor V8s, FWIW) are a thing of the past.

And we are far better off this way.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

129 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Truth about “Throwaway” Motors (Part II)...”


  • avatar

    I put 60,000 miles on a 6.1-L HEMI.
    The engine itself never gave me a single problem.
    I had to change out 2 oxygen sensors around 50,000 miles and I kept up with regular synthetic oil changes once every 5000 miles with a rear-differential fluid change at 50,000 miles.

    These new age cars are designed to tune themselves constantly and as long as you use the appropriate fuel type and appropriate oil/ and changes I believe most new cars are good for 200,000 miles. Thing is psychological obsolescence will have most people getting rid of their cars long before then.

    Not to mention such a large percentage of cars are leased nowadays.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Its not like the cars end up in the junkyard for psychological obsolescence. They end up in driveways like mine.

      After I’m done with my cars, someone else will use it. With a 20 year service life looking feasible for the 2004 Toyotas in my driveway, this is as it should be.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      I don’t see a point in your statement; for most engines, 60k without a single problem is expected. A given. Even to 100k.

      And engines don’t “tune themselves.” This is simply a misleading statement. Engine controllers adjust fixed parameters to a set of current conditions. This is far different than what an engine tune-up is, or used to be.

      • 0 avatar
        Idemmu

        I think you may have misread his statement. He didn’t say that the vehicles give them selves tune ups, he says they tune themselves (I guess with the aide of sensors and computer algorythms), and judging by this statement by you “Engine controllers adjust fixed parameters to a set of current conditions.”, I would venture to say that you just suported his statement, as these adjustments are made automatically, not by the driver.

        • 0 avatar
          wumpus

          And even that is only really true under open loop mode. In the more common (I hope) closed loop mode, the ECU adjusts the parameters depending on measured outputs to make sure everything is happening when it should, and the gas/O2 ratio is fixed where it “belongs”. At that point it more or less *is* tuning itself.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s a Chrysler, so this is impressive!

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Most manufacturers have remanufacturing programs of their own now and discourage dealers or repair shops from doing their own machining to blocks or cylinder heads. The complexity of some pieces and tolerances required can be tricky with some modern engines, but generally, rebuilding them can be done. It’s just expensive and time consuming, most owners and techs would rather install a replacement or reman to get the job done quickly.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    What they said.

    My 01 Elantra is closing in on 200k miles. Its gaskets are a bit leaky, but it idles quietly (when warmed up) and internally it seems strong. The Rust Devil will claim it before the engine goes.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Similar story here. My 02 Alero has 275,000 kms (170K miles) on a 2.2L/5speed combo, and the only engine related problems were just recently with a faulty throttle position sensor, and broken exhaust manifold bolt.stud. Neither of these issues have ever left me stranded before I fixed them. The rest of the car has had a few issues (such as rotors that warp prematurely with great consistency) but the motor has been rock solid.

      Rust will be its demise.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        I have Grand Am, and its second set of rotors is warped at 40K. Does anyone make decent aftermarket rotors for these?

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          Same issue with my G6. I’m just going to do what I should have done originally and got the best rotors NAPA has. Never had a problem with their brake parts.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Sorry friends, I haven’t found a good solution. I have tried Wagner and Munroe parts with little change in the eventual outcome. A brake job is so easy on the Alero…I just suck it up.

          I think the brakes are undersized, frankly. I downsized to 15″ rims from the stock 16′, due to more tire variety at that size, but I would gladly be forced to run 16′s to cover bigger brakes.

          • 0 avatar
            Lt.BrunoStachel

            “Sorry friends, I haven’t found a good solution”

            Have you tried the dealer? Yeah,yeah I know everyone is afraid of the stealership but I’d almost bet you could get an OEM quality part for the same price at your local dealer. Well maybe not if it’s an import. I sell GM stuff and I have a budget line(DuraStop and DelcoAdvantage)that is most likely the very same parts that Napa sells(Bendix and Wagner retagged as Napa)that is in most cases cheaper than their prices. Hey if the originals lasted a long time and it’s the same parts the techs install on the customer cars than that’s a no-brainer in my books. Last I heard Ford and Mopar also have a budget line.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I do often go to the dealer for GM parts. For example, in my experience, even though they may not be considered the highest quality, GM cars tend to disagree with anything but Delco electronics, right down to plugs. So its not a fear of the dealership.

            Going back and checking owner reviews from when Alero’s were new, Alero’s have been eating rotors like candy since day one. Based on this I don’t think that in this case OEM parts would fix the problem. I think its a fundamental flaw in the design.

            I could be wrong though. It happens from time to time. :-)

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            Many of todays pads are really hard and will warp the rotors. You have to options. Use really cheap organic pads that don’t have the same temperatures to warp them as much.
            The second option is to machine the rotors after they warp. Drive for for about 1000 miles after the pulsation starts. At that point the rotors will be stress relieved and thermally stable and no longer will they bolt.

            Also, even lug nut/bolt torque is necessary. The torque itself is not as important as the fact that it’s even. 100ft/lbs is usually good, and even a cheap Harbor Freight torque wrench does the trick.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Hey MBella!

            I’d never considered that the pads might be the problem! Thanks very much, that really bears looking into. I drive a lot of miles every year, so I think this is something I could investigate.

            I just did my front brakes this weekend. I used Monroe pads and Wagner rotors. I noticed that the braking feel is certainly different. (Not bad, just different). Your suggestion about using cheap pads is interesting but would that not cause large amounts of brake dust? I have found that using mid to high grade pads prevents this from happening at least.

            Cheers

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      1997 Cavalier with 2.2 pushrod motor. 258K miles, still runs like a champ. No further oil leaks since I replaced the valve cover gasket 7 years ago. No other leaks, other than the one from the windshield onto the passenger floor footwell. But of course, after 16 years in rust country, the car is pretty hole-y.

      Rust will claim this car, but the drivetrain will go on. Probably not with me, though.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        A good friend of mine had a 95 Sunfire with the 2200 OHV and a 5 speed. We junked it about 2 years ago with over 400,000 kms on the clock (248.5K miles) because it had literally deteriorated around the indestructable powertrain. Damn if it didn’t start first crank in -40 C EVERY TIME.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Those 2.2L OHV motors can really truck on forever. Especially in front of a manual transmission as opposed to an automatic which could be a liabilty that causes the car to go to the scrapper.

          The highest mileage ones I see seem to always be in the stripper S10s and Sonomas.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I have been impressed with the L61 2.2 ECOTEC motor to date. I had a 2.4 TWIN CAM that went well over 300,000 kms trouble free, and another one that grenaded early due to a faulty hydraulic timing chain tensioner. I always felt the TWIN CAM was decent to drive but shared way too much with the glass cannon QUAD4. The ECOTEC just seems to handle its business without any drama. Given that the majority of the GM Family II ECOTEC lineup carries forced induction, the NA 2.2 is probably very robust for a 140-155 hp application.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I tend to agree about the Ecotec motors. I haven’t seen much trouble with them that wasn’t caused by obvious gross indifference.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            @davecalgary:

            The Quad Four was one of the worst motors I’ve ever had the misfortune of suffering, and played a big part in my forever swearing off GM in the late 80s/early 90s.

            GM, especially during Roger Smith’s epic, ruinous reign, produced some of the worst 4 cylinder piles of shit to ever occupy engine bays.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            @DeadWeight

            True enough they (QUAD4) were grenades waiting for the pin to be pulled (or rattle loose), but their output for the time was impressive, hense my term “Glass Cannon”.

            The 2.4 TWIN CAM was certainly better, but still potentially catostrophic. They have really come a long way with the ECOTEC.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I have hung out on the primary message board for the B5 Passat (98-05) for about a decade, and I don’t recall anybody EVER wearing out an engine. Killing it due to a bad t-belt or sludge, sure, but gradual engine wear simply doesn’t seem to be an issue any more. Modern lubricants, alloys, and manufacturing techniques appear to have solved all the basic technical hurdles to making an engine last as long as the chassis without a tear-down overhaul.

    That doesn’t mean that the engine WILL last 200+k, as screwups can still happen, but whatever kills a block these days won’t be old-fashioned unavoidable wear. Instead it’ll be sludge, weak t-belts, self-destructing “pup” cats stuffed in the exhaust manifold, badly-designed head gaskets, etc.

  • avatar
    Toad

    In a modern car multiple systems should wear out at roughly the same rate as the engine, if not sooner. That means suspension parts, electrical components, trim and body parts, etc will all be in pretty bad shape by the time a reasonably well maintained engine begins to show signs of needing a rebuild.

    Rebuilding an engine in a vehicle that is essentially “used up” does not make economic sense anymore, especially at shop labor rates. Time for the crusher.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    God the OP takes me back… first car was a 1982 Chevy Celebrity that I inherited at 100,000 miles, my father had purchased it at 45,000 miles 10 years before.

    First thing the old Iron Puke needed? A complete engine rebuild, the compression was so weak I don’t think you could have inflated a rubber raft with the PSI readings on the cylinders.

    Engine got rebuilt, it got passed around the family, and it met its demise at near 300,000 miles when my cousin entered it in a Demo Derby. The great irony was that the transmission was still original and had NEVER had a fluid change.

    What an effed up world we live in. Engines used to be wear items and transmissions were once dang near indestructible.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Yeah, 200k is pretty much the baseline for engine life these days. Anything that fails to meet that is a result of operator error or serious design flaws.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    We have a 1998 Subaru with the 2.5 liter engine that has reached 240k miles. I don’t know if that is too old to be considered a “throwaway”. Oil changes have been done at intervals of 3,750 miles. Major engine repairs have been front main seal, two timing belts, and head gaskets together with a valve job. At this point, it consumes a quart of oil in 2k miles. Since there is some leakage from the rear main seal, I can’t tell how much it may be burning. It occasionally shows an OBD code for an engine misfire or low catalytic converter efficiency. I just clear the code and keep driving. My mechanic thinks they result from deteriorating exhaust valves that won’t get really bad for many more thousands of miles. The car is still on its original clutch which is getting very thin. If we decide to replace the clutch, instead of trading it in on something new, we would replace the leaking rear main seal at the same time.

    I don’t agree that everything on a modern car wears out simultaneously. Other systems on our Subaru, like brakes, suspension, air conditioning, wheel bearings and differential, have required repair yet the engine has not reached the point of needing a complete rebuild.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      You make me glad I bailed out on my 1999 Subaru Outcash lemon. My subsequent GM 3.8L motor went to 240k with none of those repairs you list, and far longer oil changes, before I gave the car away. And no codes.

    • 0 avatar

      My Father knew a guy who ran an engine shop near limerock here in CT, while his primary business was in race cars, he said subaru engine and head rebuilds kept him in business in lean years. He said he hardly ever saw an engine from any other modern car. For some reason Subaru owners love their cars so much they think it’s normal to have to have the heads pulled and the front cover pulled of every 100K or so. (I drive a subaru by the way but I have the H6 you couldn’t pay me to take one of the 4 bangers pre 2007)

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    I think one thing you’ve alluded to here is absolutely correct – in many cases, it’s a “book-time” thing.

    A mechanic working on customers’ cars is never going to (or going to be able to) apply the same care that he would to his own project car, simply because he doesn’t have the time.

    So economically, as well as technologically, it makes far more sense for the shop to simply yank the whole assembly and shove a new one in than to painstakingly tear it down and rebuild it.

    I do all my own work, and I make it a point to lovingly clean each bolt, nut, bracket, surface and hard line that I’m working with. Even if it makes the job take three or four times as long, I’m doing it that way for my own peace of mind.

    But if I were a professional mechanic, no way could I get a way with that methodology.

    It just seems like a waste to scrap a rebuildable machine simply because a few parts are worn past spec.

    • 0 avatar

      You nailed it. Between that and the cost of new T2Y bolts/precise machining in modern engines, it’s a terrible idea for most people. Plus, junkyard motors are plentiful…and come with a warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Yup, +1

      That’s how I do everything, attention to details, no way would that ever make economical sense for a shop.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      This is definitely true with some exceptions. At Mercedes we tear the motors apart for a couple different problems. However, per Mercedes specs the cylinder bores can’t be bored and honed because they are silicone impregnated aluminum and not iron. I have heard that there are a few places around the country that will bore them and then re- impregnate the walls. Although the few 200K engines I’ve had apart still have very noce cylinder bores.

      When I worked at a VW dealer, we basically put a new engine in for anything major inside the motor besides a few things in the valve train.

  • avatar
    patman

    Yeah, it’s not like the good old days anymore. I’ve got two high-mileage vehicles – a 1996 Mustang GT with a 4.6L SOHC V8 at 148000 miles and a 2000 GMC Sierra with a LM7 5.3L V8 at 212000 miles and the engines in both start up at the first twist of the key and run pretty much like new.

    The only thing that betrays their age is a few seconds of valve clatter followed by a few seconds of piston slap from the truck on cold starts and a puff of smoke on takeoff from the Mustang before I replaced the valve stem seals a few years ago. Step on the gas and they pull as hard as ever and eagerly all the way to redline. Drivablility is as good as ever. Keep on top of ignition, vacuum leaks and worn out sensors (and timing belts if so equipped) and there’s not much to worry about mechanically unless you’ve got a known sludger. I’ve seen Mod motors with over 200K+ miles on them that still had factory fresh looking crosshatching on the cylinder walls and taxi companies routinely take those motors to 300K-400K miles. Even with a little piston slap, those GM truck motors go 250K-300K miles pulling giant trailers and stuff.

    I’ve driven high mileage cars, foreign & domestic, from the 60′s, 70′s & 80′s on a regular basis and there is no comparison from a modern engine from the 90′s on up to the old stuff – including legends like slant sixes & red blocks. Part of the newer engines’ advantages is EFI but improvements in basic design, castings, forgings & machining tolerances, materials, fasteners, gaskets give you motors that don’t wear out mechanically, don’t need constant adjustment and attention and don’t leak vital fluids all over your driveway like they used to.

    • 0 avatar

      Very well said.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. Night and day difference between my 315,000 mile Explorer and my ~150,000 mile ’77 Chevelle.

      Technically the Chevelle is more reliable, but it requires seasonal changes to the carb, belt adjustments, timing adjustments, spark plug check/re-gap at just about every 3,000 mile oil change (reminds me its way overdue). I have to check the oil on road trips with it because it has a tendency to drink the oil at cruising speed. Its normal intown usage is a quart every 1000 miles, and on the highway- depending on how fast you are driving it – a quart every other tank.

      The Explorer… well I open the hood to change the oil every 10,000 miles, or to refill the washer bottle, when it does have an issue, I do have to spend money on it to get it right again, but that’s not terribly often. It’s oil usage is about a 1/2 quart every 10,000 miles.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      While I’m biased because I own one, a later gen Volvo red block is dang near a perpetual motion machine.

      The crucible of LeMons fails to destroy these things after hours and hours of high-rpm driving while Honda/Toyota products fall by the wayside. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/and-the-real-winner-is-13/#more-399518

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        You’re absolutely correct about that engine; it’s the biodegradable wiring insulation that ends up taking out most older Volvos. My friend’s 1980 242 GT had around 400K miles on it when he finally had it towed to the junkyard due to overnight battery-killing power drains that were too time-intensive to track down.

      • 0 avatar
        patman

        They are undoubtedly durable motors but our ’85 740 was a dog at 200K although still running, and our ’87 760 Turbo didn’t make it that far due to an accumulation of problems that overwhelmed it.

        That poor old 740 was worn out in a way that modern motors just don’t get at those mileages. It may have run forever like that but it was definitely down on power and compression and had none of the pep and responsiveness of a fresh motor – something both my Mustang and Sierra still have. That is one engine that I would chalk up most of the difference to the more primitive engine controls and inferior oils of the times as Volvo did build the things to a very high level of mechanical quality.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “a later gen Volvo red block is dang near a perpetual motion machine. ”

        You made by day. I’ve very much enjoying my ’93 240 much to the confusion of my family and BMW leasing IT friends.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Hell, I saw someone driving a 144 Deluxe recently. Volvos are sturdy as all hell.

          Not sure on the year…it had the square (well, sorta square) headlight trim and the diagonal bar offset close to the top of the grille.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick 2012

          @ 28-Cars – I’m greatly enjoying my 1994 945 as well.

          Have you seen this photo collection of 240s from a Norwegian photog? He made the NYT with this.

          http://www.helgeskodvin.no/240-landscape

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      the piston noise you describe as piston slap was prevalent in first year LS1 type engines and is likely not a wear phenomenon, but a carbon knock issue resulting from the short LS1 style pistons rocking slightly. It warms out as the piston expands with temperature. My 2000 LS1 is quite noisy upon cold start, too. It has 60,000 miles. The condition is no detriment to engine life. We tested some “knockers” to over 400,000 miles with no issues of base engine wear.

  • avatar
    BMWnut

    There are engine blocks out there with added silicon goodness etc. that simply cannot be rebored when they wear out. Or so I have heard.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      BMW pioneered this in their air-cooled motorcycle engines about 20-25 years ago. They call it Nikasil.

      • 0 avatar
        manbridge

        Not sure who pioneered it, but my 1974 911 has Nikasil coated Mahle cylinders. I have a spare set that came from another 74 when it was rebuilt at around 150K miles. No measurable wear.

    • 0 avatar
      patman

      I wonder if Ford will license their spray-bore technology for engine overhauling purposes. That could really simplify motor rebuilding if you could resurface the cylinder walls back to factory dimensions instead of having to overbore already thin castings or install press-in liners.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      If push comes to shove, there are places out there that can re-plate the cylinder walls of an aluminum-block engine. Almost all newer motorcycle engines are like this … but the wear rate seems to be practically zero on all of the better engines that use this technology. The re-plating seems to be mostly for the folks installing big-bore pistons.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatist

      There are techniques, but the approaches are exotic and specialized. There are remanufacturing shops that can do it.

      On the other hand, the silicon can still be good even when the rings need replacement.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    The “good old days” are still here in the general aviation world. Air-cooled Lycoming and Continental engines are routinely overhauled two or even three times in their lifetimes. The prices are stunning by car standards. An 0-320 is a four-cylinder horizontally-opposed 320 cubic inch, 150HP pushrod engine much like a VW engine on steroids. A typical overhaul costs $10-20K, about one third to one half of the new purchase price. Recommended time between overhauls is 2000 hours for most 0-320s.
    Furthermore, such rebuilds are often done by small shops although any work must be performed by a licensed mechanic who personally signs off in the official engine log book.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Having spent some time in A&P school (quit to go into engineering instead), I can say you are quite right. But when your overhauler must pay meticulous attention to every detail because your life depends on it, that’s the price you pay.

      Blowing up an Iron Duke won’t result in a deadly crash followed by an FAA/NTSB investigation.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        The shop/remanufacturer insurance is where most of the cost resides, not the simple build.

        Aircraft engines are the simplest of ICE’s. All of the parts carry this cost of insurance. If an airplane goes down resulting in injury and or death, no matter the reason, the legal vultures will sue anyone who is associated with the aircraft.

        Even, though, most suits are found in the defendants favor, the legal cost of defending your innocence, is costly. This situation nearly drove American airplane manufacturers out of business.

  • avatar

    Of the two cars I’ve got right now, the 95 Explorer’s pushrod 4.0 is clocking in at 315,000 miles with nothing more than a couple head gasket changes, and then finally it got the heads professionally checked, all they found wrong with them was slight warpage, the valves and guides were still like new. The bores are still like new, the only thing possibly annoying about that OHV engine is the clattery lifters when its sat a while and the lifters have bled down. the engine is the least of my issues with that thing, That engine is fixed to outlast the second transmission in it.

    The 77 Chevelle is of unknown mileage, but somewhere around 100,000-150,000 miles due to all the original parts still on it, and how good of shape those original parts are. It has bad valve stem seals so it’ll blow blue smoke on startup on occasion, never have run a compression test on it, the intake and the heads have never been off it, but everything else sealing it up has been replaced (due to age). I imagine it’ll need a rebuild eventually.

    The last EFI engine I rebuilt was a 2.8l GM v6 in my Pontiac 6000-STE. It was flat worn out at 90,000 miles, and then proceeded to eat a rod bearing. rebuilt it, and it went from a wheezy six to a fire-breathing six with just a refresh (realatively) – and that was the last engine Dad and I have rebuilt together, the other cars just haven’t needed it.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    About this time last year, I was taking delivery of my Audi allroad, just out of the “best” German car shop in Denver. They had rebuilt the top end of the V6 at a truly shocking price that I wouldn’t dare share here. Yes, I really loved that car. Most of the cost was labor for the dismantling and rebuilding of the car that was built around the engine. It wasn’t long before the oil pressure light was back on, and I was back in their front office. Yes, used engines were available, but they had assured me that my bottom end was sound, but these things happen, you know… Negotiations got so far as a half & half split of the cost of another engine, but at that point, I no longer loved that car even a little bit. I walked away from the car, cloaking my shame in a trade-in on a new car.

    I think that sad tale supports the premise posed here.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    The motors are more reliable than the automatic transmissions, fuel systems and perhaps electronics (sensors, switches in particular). Exhaust systems appear to be nearly invincible…a nice change from the ’70′s.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      If it wasn’t for the instillation of custom dual exhausts systems on vehicles that never had them my local exhaust shop wouldn’t say in business. FYI it is the only exhaust only shop in a county of 75,000 people. (Did a darn good job putting the Dynomax set up on my F150 too.)

    • 0 avatar
      greaseyknight

      Agreed, my 92 Sentra has almost 200k on the stock muffler, its failing and making rattling noises but its still firmly attached.

      However, this only holds true for the non-rustbelt states. When it comes to salt on the road, all bets are off.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        I think exhaust life depends more on commuting time. Short commutes kill exhausts since the moisture never boils out of them.

        But improved materials have made exhaust work pretty rare these days, thankfully.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Great point gslippy. Exhaust systems that are able to come up to operating temperature on every drive pretty much never die. I grew up rurally and this was my experience. Living in the city for the last 5 years I have noticed a difference.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    I would also throw Mazda into the mix and the 2.3L engine having issues with weak internals similar to the Subaru’s. But even these issues are not that common compared to the good ole’ days.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Surprisingly the more complex modern engine lasts for ever because it is complex. Take push rods, you have a cam, a push rod, a tappet and then the valve. There are all sorts of gaps in this process that reduce the accuracy that the valve can be controlled. Not only that but none of the solutions used to set the valve gaps ever worked properly and so the gaps would change over time. Poorly set valve gaps lead to poor engine performance and then increased wear or other nasty stuff like coke build up around the valves and in the piston. That leads to even more wear especially the rings and that, lets oil into the piston… And so on and so forth.
    Double overhead cams allow for far better valve control and that, stops all the nastiness I have mentioned.
    BTW I would NOT want to rebuild a DOHC motor… Ever.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Hydraulic lifters do a pretty damn good job of it. Many an SBC has gone 200k miles without any kind of valve adjustment necessary. The same can’t be said about most OHC Honda 4 cylinders where lash adjustment is regular maintenance.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Two big reasons why modern engines don’t need to be rebuilt like they used to:

    1)Modern EFI: precise fuel mixture means less gasoline going down cylinder walls. Carburetors were much more likely to have a richer mixture to run “right”, diluting the oil lubrication

    2)Overdrive transmissions: motor rotates a lot less.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I’ll add that metallurgy has greatly improved, as well as cooling, lubrication and assembly processes.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Another thing is most engines in the old days were pretty far off as far as balance of the rotating assemblies compared to today’s engines. I remember helping a friend’s uncle rebuild a ’70 Chevelle SS 454′s engine and the rods were pretty far off, and he did a lot of grinding on the balance pads to get them right. The crank was “ok”, for balance, but needed to be cut quite a bit to get it all cleaned up. It only had 50K miles on it. I remember the bores looked like crap, no real cross hatch was visible and it had a big ridge at the top of all the cylinders. It was bored .060 over to clean up everything. He said it was a typical BBC with 50K miles on it.

      A friend of mine buys old cars and often remotors them, and he bought a 5.7 hemi from a Ram pickup with 150K miles on it, and other than burned exhaust valves, there was nothing out of spec on it. Nothing. It’s in his Magnum now, replacing the original motor that had a broken piston and a badly scored cylinder (Nitrous). That motor ended up in a Ram with a seized up 5.7 that appeared to never have had the oil changed, in about 7 years. That block was toast, the main that seized up was black, and the block was cracked in the web area from all the heat.

  • avatar
    manbridge

    Also, using my 74 911 as an example, one cannot often find good quality parts even if rebuilding is desired. I cannot get factory bottom end bearings as they are NLA and the few hoarded NOS sets are uber costly. The aftermarket Glyco bearings are junk.

    Solution: Use the old bearings with new high tech coatings to take up the clearance if they aren’t excessively worn.

    An entire piece could be written on ‘The truth about auto parts.’

  • avatar
    Onus

    Seriously if you can’t get at least 200,000 miles out of an engine today you shouldn’t own a car. It funny to see people think 50,000 is a lot of miles. I can’t remember the last time someone i knew owned a car with such few miles.

    Heck in my family we got 200,000 out of the ford 3.8l v6 in a windstar.

    We have 170,000+ on a grand cherokee.

    My pickup has 350,000 miles on it.

    Plus this is in New England where the body falls off before the engine dies anyway. The truck isn’t looking too good and get a far bit worse every winter.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    My dad loves his 3800′s (and I do to). Provided head gaskets are taken care of prior to any issues cropping up (Series II i think is the worst for this), these have been the definition of bulletproof.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I’ve worked on many a 3800 of all series and have yet to see a head gasket issue that wasn’t induced by terminal overheating. You must mean the intake manifold gaskets. Where present, the plastic ones are garbage and should be replaced with aluminum ones.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      My friend’s 3.8 ate its plastic timing gears, sending the shrapnel into the oil pump, resulting in a spun rod bearing. That was the end of that car.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        My Buick 3.0 did that too.

        The plastic timing crap was one of the things the 3800 did away with.

      • 0 avatar
        Lt.BrunoStachel

        None of you guys posting shit on 3800′s know WTF you are talking about. Shrapnel in the oil pump? What did you do? Secretly pull the screen off the oil pickup?! Explain how a chunk of plastic goes through the oil pump,please?

        All I have ever used are the stock cam gears on my Buick V-6s. I still run one on my GN and it’s capable of 11′s in the quarter. They are more reliable and last longer IMO. The aftermarket all-metal gears are made from powdered metal and wear faster than the tires on Dale Jr.s stockcar. The chains are the weak link(pun!) on these engines which can be bad on anything making more than stock power levels.Buicks are interference motors. Not a problem if your running the plastic gear. Not to mention they are super quiet. If anybody should be complaining about cheap timing gears it should be Bob and anybody else who was stupid enough to rebuild the IronDuke. The cam gear on them has fiber(partical board fibers)teeth! I’ve pulled apart many a Buick and not one of them has ever fragged a plastic gear. I will agree on the plastic plenums on the later Stage series 3800 but I think the problem with those are all driver induced, like running straight water or over heating the motor or just sloppy maintainence caused by a bad sensor keeping the EGR busy. They always crack on the EGR passage.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          The GM 3800 is probably one of the most bulletproof motors of all time, and the only ones I’ve ever witnessed not making it to 250k were victims of Dexcool factory fill being either topped off or incompletely flush & filled with non-Dexcool coolant, resulting in Gelling and/or LIM problems (i.e. Headgasket hell).

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Nice of you to come in here and start calling people stupid.

          “I’ve pulled apart many a Buick and not one of them has ever fragged a plastic gear.”

          So because it’s a problem you’ve never encountered, that means it doesn’t exist? Why did GM get rid of it in ’88 if it was so reliable? I’ve owned a lot of Buick V6s too, including EVERY front-wheel drive version except for the Series III supercharged.

          Here’s an entire thread about the issue, complete with pictures and explanations:

          http://www.a-body.net/forums/showthread.php?2131-Timing-gear-repair-LG3-3-8-SFI-1987-Century

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Exactly right. The plastic timing gear failures were a pretty big problem. Ford found out the hard way too. After they ditched them, the 3800s had few problems.

  • avatar
    DGA

    My old man’s ’99 S-10, with it’s 2.2L pushrod engine is knocking on 210,000 miles with nothing but regular oilchanges, 2 tune-ups, 1 starter, 1 clutch, 1 heater core, 2 batteries, 4 shocks, brakes, tires, and 1 fan clutch. I took it around the block the other day just for giggles and it surprisingly drives really well with plent of power (for the motor). Regular maintenance since new and not beating on it – even though it’s used to haul all of his tools at all times – goes a long way. My spare vehicle, ’96 K1500 has 248,000 on the original motor with no rebuilds. Things last if you take care of them.

  • avatar
    albert

    I work for a MOD (ministry of defence) and we operate vehicle fleets of significant numbers. ligt trucks and trucks mostly designed and built in the eighties and nineties (renewal is happening at the moment).
    And yes, engines break down still and need overhauling, but….. the numbers to overhaul are way smaller than in the past. But still, we do have a few people working in this area.
    A big difference however I see in the public area. When, in the past, we had more engines to repair than we could handle, we simple put the excess work in the market. Now there are no engine overhaulers left. Not enough business. The numbers of well working engines coming out of cars that crashed are so much more than the actual needs in the market that this killed the market for repair shops.
    Summing up: engine life without overhauling has improved so much that the market for overhauling simply isn’t there any more.

  • avatar
    skor

    Throwaway motor? Cadillac 4.6 Northstar (aka Sh1tstar, Crapstar, Deathstar, etc). It was so bad, GM took it out of production, but didn’t replace it with another overhead cam V8…I believe GM is the only major automaker that doesn’t currently offer an overhead cam V8. How bad were these? How many Sevilles, Eldorados and FWD Devilles do you still see on the road?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Chrysler and Honda don’t offer OHC V8s in production vehicles either.

      • 0 avatar
        ptschett

        For Chrysler it depends whether they’ve used up all the 4.7L V8′s and changed over to building 2014 Rams yet. They had this OHC V8 for 15 model years, with its last appearance evidently being in 2013 Ram 1500′s. (It was also used in Grand Cherokee, Commander, Dakota and Durango.)

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          skor, the 4.6 Liter N* is indeed a throw away motor, assuming it’s a) had a meltdown event due to severe overheating, and/or b) has backwards creeping head bolts.

          For all the talk of studded bolts, time-serts, the 2006+ gen being better, etc., I’ve yet to see a single shred of credible proof that that problem was ever fundamentally “redesigned away” by GM engineers or anyone in the aftermarket.

          That being said, the late model DTS’ are plush, roomy cruisers, and highway waftable all day long, and if someone did want to roll the dice on a well priced, well maintained (especially cooling system) one, it’s completely irrational…

          ….maybe.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Yes, I am aware of the 4.7L, but they stopped production of them at Mack ave a couple of months ago. While there are definitely some on dealer lots, you can no longer order one.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      Strangely, I see them everywhere, there is a really nice cinnamon FWD Eldorado up the street that a neighbor has daily driven for years. Most of the Northstar Caddies I see are in excellent shape, sometimes they have sagging air suspension. It must be because the first owners were most likely very elderly, same reason why old Buicks/Town Cars are more common than old Bonnevilles/Vics.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    It’s worth mentioning that if you dare to overhaul a modern engine yourself, you’ll likely need some specialty tools to do the job right. Doing some homework ahead of time might make you reconsider the project.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    High mileage engines are the norm with today’s engines.

    I have been running and recommending Synthetic oil since 1980, in my cars, bikes, boats, and airplanes. With synthetics, an engine driven normally with occasional, high RPM use and no severe downshifts, and maintained, should reach 300,000+ miles with no problems.

    The real killer of modern engines, is heat spikes or over heating due to poorly maintained cooling systems. Watch cooling fluid use and flush, at a minimum, every 50,000 miles. Keep those belt(s) adjusted, change the timing belt and water pump at recommended intervals. Pressure test the radiator, or just replace at 125,000 and do all the hoses at the same time.

    Fluid use and a rise in operating temperatures for any reason, are a signs that you should check out out your cooling system, now. Red warning light comes on, safely pull over and shut engine down quickly. Get checked and repaired before resuming use.

    A friend of mine has 328,000 miles on his 2000 Miata, I have 167,000 on my original 93′, both perform well, give good mileage and have no visible signs of oil use. We have both ran synthetics since new.

    My 88′ Chevy 2500 4×4, which has been to the Arctic Sea three times, now, and Belize once, has never had any engine/transmission work done despite its 178,000 miles of heavy towing and the grueling ALCAN and third world highways/roads.

    The engine of my 96′ 328is, had just over 200,000 miles on it when I pulled it to put in the M5 engine. It still performed flawlessly, I just wanted to have a V-8 3-Series.

    My old 80′ Chevy LUV had 318,000 miles when I sold it and it still ran fine.

    All of these vehicles had two things in common besides me, full maintenance and synthetic oil.

    Today’s really modern engines, have a greater potential for a very long life, if cared for and used appropriately.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Good call on cooling. Heat is the enemy. My Alero came from the Death-cool era. New aftermarket rad and cooling system flush and the thing will idle all day in summer heat and never come up past half the temperature gauge. Its awesome.

      Thermostats and fuses are important. A blown rad fan fuse can absolutely ruin your day.

    • 0 avatar
      3Deuce27

      I forgot to mention, that with Synthetics, I never ‘Change the Oil’, just the filter, and then top off.

      The Army ran a test a while back where they removed the oil from various heavy vehicles and then operated them until failure. It was very interesting how long some of the vehicles ran before expiration.

      The results, made you wonder about the need for fastidious oil maintenance and the possibility, with continually developing modern coatings and metallurgy, that some day, oil might not be needed.

      • 0 avatar

        Comments like this, and motorcyclists who don’t bother with the clutch during upshifting always make me think twice about buying a used vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          3Deuce27

          LOL!

          Hell, we never used the clutch on the start of a Moto Cross race, just jammed it into gear and went. Never had a transmission or clutch failure, though, a few transmission levers would occasionally get bent or broken.

          Think more then twice about buying a modern used vehicle, and not for your perceived concerns about possible abuse.

          • 0 avatar

            When i say “think twice” that is twice more than I did before I knew about previous abuse.

            Every time I read about another person who abuses or doesn’t care for their car/motorcycle, It makes me lean even more towards new again.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        Oil changes are necessary due to contamination that can’t reasonably be filtered on-board. Never changing oil is a very bad idea unless you want to make your engine fail. Your experience shows how robust engines are, but why take the chance? A friend’s ’63 327 Corvette had over 200,000 miles on it, and 200 oil changes(!) without so much as a rocker cover needing to be pulled.

        • 0 avatar
          3Deuce27

          Regarding oil changes and engine life.

          The first defense against excessive engine wear and catastrophic failure, is diligent engine maintenance. Keeping fuel, glycol, and water out of and engine, with particulate filtration of the lubricants being part of that regime. Changing the oil won’t prevent failure or extreme wear if those contaminants(Fuel-Glycol-water) are allowed to continue to enter the engine and mix with the lubricants.

          Any engine of whatever build quality can wear excessively or fail prematurely if those conditions continue to exist, if they do, then oil changes won’t save your engine.

          I diligently have my oil tested, if any of the above are found in analysis, I fix the problem and change the oil. So far in 33 years of synthetic use and analysis of my equipment oils, I have only had to do that twice. Timely, thorough maintenance is the key to engine life.

          I don’t risk expensive equipment, to save a few dollars on lubricants or maintenance.

          Regarding the ‘miracle’ 327″. 200,000 miles with out a valve stem seal change on a Sm. blk Chevy…? Not too mention guides and combustion products build up. A miracle indeed. With such a miracle engine, Chevrolet should have just spot welded the covers on.

          • 0 avatar
            doctor olds

            “I don’t risk expensive equipment, to save a few dollars on lubricants or maintenance.” You summarize it very well!

            That ‘miracle’ 327 may give some insight into why small blocks more typically need seals, guides,etc: inadequate oil changes. The car was only 12-13 years old at the time, but it is a little surprising that 1963 technology seals were still working OK at that time.

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        I don’t condone your behavior, but I can understand how it could conceivably work for you. I would still clear out the oil just to flush out any globs of gunk floating around.

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    I got a Honda with 236,500. I bought it with 204k. I’m that confident in Honda engines. What work I have had to do to it hasn’t been done in probably 5 to 10 years and will last another 5+ years. My goal is 300k!!

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    There’s a lot of unproven, unscientific maintenance routines documented in this post. Here’s another that worked for a friend of mine: Buy a Jetta with 99k miles, that burns at least 1-2 quarts of oil in 5k miles, only change the filter and top cheap oil off at said 5k, (i.e. never drain the oil pan) and drive it on to 350k and sell it. Oh… last seen still on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Burn enough oil and you’ll never wear out the additive package, because you’ll always be diluting the worn oil with nice, fresh oil.

      Terrifying, but effective.

    • 0 avatar

      Done this on plenty of cars if it burns and leaks more than a quart a month I figure I’m good for oil changes. I believe I’ve gone as far as 30,000 miles without a change on some of my beaters.

    • 0 avatar
      DinosaurWine

      That strategy is the reason my ’95 F150 always has fresh transmission fluid. At least I won’t have to flush it or drop the pan.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m not really impressed by the engines that survive to high mileage with good maintenance.

    What I want to know is what engines run the longest when you treat them like garbage. No coolant changes, consistent WOT without being warmed up, 12K OCIs with the cheapest oil around, never touching the PCV, original spark plugs, etc.

    • 0 avatar

      Wife’s friend. 80-s 90-s Dodge with the 2.2 turbo four. No maint. ever, Brooklyn life, etc. Car eventually puked the trans, but the engine still ran at over 200k miles…..I was amazed.

    • 0 avatar

      Cars usually survive this better than you think. I had a 1991 Eagle summit (mitsu mirage) I drove it for somewhere between 65 or 85,000 miles (can’t remember anymore) But I do remember all I ever did in that time was change the oil twice (with the cheapest store brand oil)and one front wheel bearing. Had over 150k miles on it when I sold it and the engine ran fine.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “What lifespans do people expect from modern engines? With the use of synthetic oil, regular fluid changes and tune ups, I think most folks expect over 150,000 miles from their engines. And that’s being modest: 200+k is likely”

    Hell, the old-fashioned 22RE in my ’94 Toyota pickup was still running okay at 282k when I traded it in.

    It was on its last legs, though, because a broken timing chain tensioner was more than the truck was really worth to repair – mostly in labor.

    I suspect the engine itself would have had easily another 100kmi on it, if that had been fixed.

    (And this was with never a drop of synthetic oil, but regular changes on the Toyota harsh-duty schedule of 3,750mi, and yearly scheduled maintenance.)

    I’ll be shocked – and *peeved* – if the Ford Modular 5.4 in my F250 doesn’t last as long.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “I’ll be shocked – and *peeved* – if the Ford Modular 5.4 in my F250 doesn’t last as long.”

      If it’s a 2V, you’re probably OK. If it’s a 3V, I have some bad news for you…

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Meh, it’s a 3V.

        But I’m not going to let some idjit remove the spark plugs and break them (which is the big issue with 3Vs, as far as I can tell)… and when they get replaced, it’ll be with aftermarket 1-piece plugs.

        (There were cam phaser issues ,supposedly both avoidable with good oil hygiene, and fixed after ’06.)

        Plus, I don’t tow things.

        So I’m not real worried about not getting 250k with solid maintenance habits.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          (I mean, if there’s some other thing wrong with the ’07 5.4 3V, the Internet isn’t telling me what it is…)

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            The information is out there if you look for it. I know from first hand experience with them, thye have some troubling failure patterns.

            The VCT phaser issues are a big one, but are usually a symptom of a bigger oil pressure problem. Timing chain tensioner o-rings and VCT valve bodies often leak and bleed off oil pressure and cause the almost characteristic phaser knocking sound. Generally, if pressure falls under 25 psi at hot idle, there is a problem. Under 20 and you have a big problem.

            But that’s just the beginning, the lower than normal oil pressure will score the cam journals in the head and can bleed off additional pressure. If you have scored cam caps, you need a head.

            Additionally, these problems have caused widespread thrust main issues causing excessive crank end play. A LOT of engines were replaced udner warranty for these problems.

            The two piece spark plugs of the ’07s and back are just the tip of the iceberg unfortunately.

      • 0 avatar
        99GT4.6

        What’s wrong with the 3V?

  • avatar

    Hm…

    My 05 STi (bought NEW) had a valve spring go out at 10k miles (fixed under warranty). On the other hand, my gsx-r 600 (redline: 15,500) is supposed to have valve adjustments done every 15k. I forgot & had it done at 22k and nothing needed adjustment according to the shop. They only billed me for 2 hours to check everything instead of 4-5.

    YMMV.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Ha. “YMMV” is pretty much the absolute theme of this article and attached comments, eh?

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly.

        I just don’t want someone posting a followup such as “…but hey my Subaru went 400k miles and NEVER had a valve problem & I changed the oil only once!” or “..but my Suzuki bike which I babied blew the engine at 10k…”

  • avatar

    I’m so far at 295k on a BMW M52. The outboard gadgets all last 150k (alternators, pumps, etc) but the engine itself is solid. The only failure points on the block have been rubber which has gone hard and ceased to stop oil from passing. Kudos to the moron who designed the seal below the oil filter housing, where there is always pressure upon a rubber seal,which weeps all over the engine when, not if, it fails…..

    The car has had the benefits of Mobil 1 from new, changed out 5-7k, with fresh German filters. I’m pretty sure tinworms will win before the engine blows up.

  • avatar
    Power6

    Strangely the sludgy Toyota 1MZFE you mention is also known for going far on the factory build. 100-400k miles not uncommon at all on those. You do need to change the oil.

  • avatar
    pragmatist

    I like driving cars, but not making payments on them. So my approach is to keep an old car running.

    My 89 Wrangler cost me $2700, then I put 110,00 additional miles on it myself (bringing it to 240K). When the main seal blew last year, I took a look at the bearings, timing chain etc and decided not to put the old parts back (even though the engine was still running ok) so I invested a couple thousand in a factory remanufactured engine. For a heck of a lot less money than buying low mileage vehicle, I set my engine clock back to zero.

    Last month I took my first major road trip with the new engine.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    Oil related failures are rare. most of you are changing your synthetic oil way too soon. the except would be known sludge engines like some years of toyotas. I have 350k on a GM 4.3, and change the oil every 7-12k with a napa platinum and whatever synthetic is on sale. no engine work done ever. just water pump, alternator and idler pulley. original starter and power steering pump.

    • 0 avatar
      3Deuce27

      I believe that the newer Corvettes have a 15,000 mile or one year oil change schedule for the factory supplied synthetics. They also have an engine oil life monitor that gives oil life.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        I don’t believe any GM car specifies a 15,000 mile change interval, though owner’s manuals typically specify an oil change at least once a year, regardless of mileage.
        GM cars do have proprietary oil life monitors these days and that should be used to determine oil change intervals. The algorithm considers number of engine revolutions and the operating temperature of the engine for each of them. I would not be surprised with an OLM indicating up to 10,000 miles between changes with the ideal driving schedule of a full warm up every trip. The key issue is contamination, particularly of corrosive blow-by gases which condense in the engine oil. Short trip drive schedules that do not evaporate and remove that sort of contamination are the main reason for the OLM to indicate shorter change intervals. Environmental concerns such as driving through a dust storm are called out in the manuals as cause for changing oil more frequently than the OLM can judge.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I guess I am spoiled by having had almost entirely European cars, but I consider 200K to be “just about broken in”. I really can’t imagine wearing out most any of the motors I have had, Volvo, Saab, VW, BMW, Peugeot. Keep synthetic oil in them, change the timing belt as needed if it has one, and it will pretty much run forever. I’ve had a 315K ’84 VW Jetta that was still running strong when sold years ago – still on the road too, I saw it at the airport parking garage a couple months ago. 400K+ on a Volvo 740, and a pile of 200K+ Volvos and Saabs have passed through my garage.

    The only engine I have ever had to rebuild is in my Triumph Spitfire. And it didn’t wear out – the previous owner fitted an overdrive transmission, which required a different flywheel. He used the wrong bolts to hold it on. They worked loose, the flywheel started wobbling, and it broke the crankshaft. Rebuilt the motor as a matter of course while it was apart, but even at 80K on that antediluvian British iron, it was in pretty darned good shape.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @28: I am NOT KIDDING. This woman just pulled up into this parking lot I was in one day in a dark blue 144 DL. Should have gotten a photo, but I don’t carry my camera around wherever I go.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      If its been well maintained I see no reason not for the owner to still enjoy it. Just for me the 240 is about as old school I want to go out of a ride that isn’t intended to be a Sunday car (or beater truck).

  • avatar
    slantsixbuzzinaway

    Ah this harkens me back to my father’s old work van, an ’88 Dodge Caravan SE.
    After two cylinder head replacements, and two transmission rebuilds, he drove it to the scrap yard due to a wheel bearing going out and the transmission showing signs of weakness again. It leaked fluids everywhere and he had to add a quart of oil and atf every day, like a sick experiment to see how long he could drive it. One side of the van was coated in atf, the other in engine oil. It made interesting noises upon warm up.

    Final mileage was 344k miles on the body and stock bottom end of that Mitsi 3.0 v6. RIP Caravan.


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
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India