By on January 14, 2009

20 years. When most folks ask me how long the average car should last, that’s what I tell them. It’s actually not true though. The real answer these days is a lifetime. In fact, I’ve seen cars at the auctions that were literally passed on from one generation to the next. They hit all sides of the American, Japanese, and European palette. Older Volvo 240’s and Toyota Camry’s are truly numerous. But Subaru SVX’s, Suzuki Samurai’s and even old-school Buick Roadmasters have been there in the automotive flesh as well. In fact, I’ve even seen some of the most unreliable vehicles in recent history (Excels, Chevettes, Kadetts) crawl through the 20+ year old finish line in good running order. What makes the real difference? Read on.

It starts with ‘ownership’ quality. I like to say that the fellow who drives the car is effectively the pitcher for a baseball team. The car may be the automotive version of a dynasty. But if the owner hurls cheap parts at it and literally abuses the machine on the road, it will fall apart no matter what. Most long-term owners do certain things that the owners manual will wryly fail to mention. Hoses, fluids and filters for example. Virtually all owner’s manuals will neglect the fact that hoses will wear out due to heat and age. $2000 engines can be blown from a $10 burst radiator hose while a worn $2 vacuum hose can lead to failed emissions and piss-poor performance and fuel economy. I time them with the elections and change all my hoses every four years.

In my world, fuel filters are changed every 30k miles, along with the transmission fluid. If it’s a supposed ‘lifetime’ fluid I do it every 50k. Many automakers interpret a ‘lifetime’ differently than you or me.

Case in point. A 2004 Nissan Maxima and 2004 Volvo S60 have the exact same transmission. The former recommends their fluid to be changed every 60k under Premium use, the later…. never. Who’s right?

Go to the enthusiast sites and you’re very likely to see a heaping load of $3000+ transmission issues for the Volvo tranny with the ‘lifetime’ fluid and nary a peep for the Maxima. Cars can truly last for decades. Fluids? Nyet.

GM learned this the hard way with their billion dollar Dexron debacle. Unchanged fluids effectively reduce the car’s ‘immunity’ to expensive repair issues as the additives and viscosity wear out. Smooth shifts become jerkish and transmissions, in this particular case, will gradually lose their heavy metals as a result. I always encourage changing the transmission fluid, replacing the coolant every two years, and take care of the brake and power steering fluid every four years. The $50 in fluid cost for all four of these will offset the potential of several thousands in repairs. It will also make your car run showrom new instead of beater old for as long as you want to drive it.

Struts and shocks? Depends on the roads and the quality you buy. I change mine every 100k, but Georgia has far smoother roads than places like Ohio or Alaska. If the ride bothers you, change them. It’s as simple as that.

Oil? Conventional for most of us… and 5,000 miles is the new 3,000 miles. Radiator? I change mine every eight years. Brakes can be changed when they squeak or when the brake light is on.

And here’s a surprise for some. You can change your seats and pretty much anything in your interior. I’ve bought beautiful $100 leather seats by simply going to car-part.com and ordering a set for a fraction of the cost on Ebay or the dealer. Being a part of an enthusiast’s community for your model (they all have one) will also give you access to information that some dealers and repair shops would prefer you not know. Use them whenever the hankering for information comes your way.

Finally, I’ve already published a series on buying a used car. But in terms of driving a used car, it’s the slow start turtles that will always outlast the jump start hares. Keep the revs below 2500 rpm until the car warms up and the motor oil can fully get into the system. Most engine wear will usually take place on start-up and the first five minutes of driving.

If your car is simply a commuter, treat it like a Boulevard cruiser. Coast, glide, use the brakes gradually, and anticipate traffic flow and adjust accordingly. Not only will you maximize fuel economy and your car’s longevity, you’ll also save money and screw all those modern day dictatorships and dealerships that frankly only care about your spending habits.

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39 Comments on “Hammer Time: Fashion or Function?...”


  • avatar
    menno

    Good stuff and great advice.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Amen.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    Great advice and nice choice of picture. However, I’m not sure that the SVX is the poster child when you are talking about maintaining your transmission.

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    Being a part of an enthusiast’s community for your model (they all have one) will also give you access to information that some dealers and repair shops would prefer you not know.

    Agree with everything but this. Most cars have them. The only Diamante owners circle worth mentioning (i.e. other than the useless Edmunds.com boards or the like), DiamanteOwners.com, close some months back.

    I’m winging it these days. I knew it was a rare car, but I never expected this.

  • avatar
    austinseven

    10 years is long enough in the Great White North.

  • avatar
    JG

    Nice article. I’m a firm believer in preventative maintenance, and have been handsomly rewarded. I bought a 1986 Mustang 5.0 in 1998 and jealous parties would criticize my parts and fluid replacement schedule. Despite the cost of the work, all of which I did myself (right up to a concurrent engine/trans/suspension/brake rebuild/refresh almost 10 years later) driving this car was cheap, and I drove it to whatever potential it had. ;)

    Now I’ve got my 2008, with a lot more shine on it. I’ve found a 200-300 dollar investment in protection products for the paint and interior is keeping the car frozen in time. As is being careful; you don’t open the door with keys in your hand, don’t just jump into the leather seats, don’t use the windshield wipers when your windshield is covered in grit, keep the dew wipers on the side windows clean. I’ll be following a similar mechanical maintenance schedule with this car as I did with the ’86.

  • avatar
    Usta Bee

    I change my transmission fluid once a year. I do it myself so I know what the fluid looks like when it comes out, and also if their is any metallic sediment on the bottom of the pan and the magnet on it. After seeing the color of the fluid when drained and how brown it looks instead of the cough syrup cherry red it was when I put it in I’d say once a year is as far as I’d let it go.

    I live in the rust belt northeast, and every car I’ve owned has succumbed to rust before it mechanically wore out.

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    Great advice!

    You forgot to mention battery maintenance. The “maintenance-free” wet cell car battery is a myth designed to sell more batteries. Every fall I pop the caps off, test each cell with a hydrometer, and top-up as necessary with distilled water. I also smear silicone dielectric grease over the terminals to prevent corrosion, and sprinkle baking soda in the battery tray to neutralize any battery acid that manages to escape over time.

    Speaking of water, when changing rad fluid, always use deionized or distilled water, never tap water, to mix with the rad coolant concentrate. I change my rad fluid every 2 years, but I don’t change my radiator unless it actually springs a leak. I never need to worry about deposit build-up in the rad. In my experience, rad hoses will last at least as long as a radiator, so I would only recommend changing them when installing a replacement rad.

    For those in the rust belt, I highly recommend annual oil spray application. Get the messy kind, not the dripless kind; after a few applications the waxy dripless oil will clog the drain holes in the body and cause water to become trapped. Oil spray is about $100, but worth it IMO. People that know trucks can’t believe that my Dodge p/u is a 1994.

    I also got my truck repainted at 10 years old. From my experience, body panels will start to rust not long after that age due to accumulation of stone chips, scratches, bird droppings, etc. that wear the paint. If I decide to keep it for another 10 years when it hits 20 years old, I may get my truck repainted again.

    When you spot other cars that are the same model and age as yours, make note of things that are broken or rusted-out on those cars. That will tell you what to pay special attention to on your car, and typical repair parts you should acquire spares of while they’re still readily available.

  • avatar
    Johnson Schwanz

    Cracking article. I have forwarded this link to every female in my life.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Your point about Volvo transmissions is a good one. I’ve personally seen that happen, and heard exactly the same line from the mechanic.

    It’s worth noting that this is going to become more and more of a problem, especially with luxury cars and “free scheduled maintenance”. BMW’s program, for example, is really nowhere near intense enough to ensure the long-term health of the car, and the second owners of these cars (or first owners, after the maintenance period) are going to be in for a world of suffering.

    Another piece of advice I’ve heard: if the vehicle has an option for a tow package (minivans—especially Chrysler— often offer an oil cooler and/or transmission cooler) buy it, even if you will never, ever tow. Chances are the vehicle is so massive that it’s at the limit of what the poor little front-drive, sedan-duty transaxle will take.

    At this point, I’d like to plug The Saab Specialist (Google it) in Toronto for my fellow Ontarian Saab owners. If you have a Saab, and you’re familiar with the brutal level of maintenance the car can require, I’d recommend this shop. He’s very good being proactive about maintenance items, which is highly valuable on a vehicle where a cheap failed part can equal a horrifically expensive repair job. My 9-3 became a much more tolerable car when I started visiting him.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    A question on maintenence, I have a ’99 Civic with 186K on it that is shifting terribly. The clutch is fine, but every time I shift, it feels rubbery and clunky, and much unlike a Honda 5-speed. Any recommendations on how to fix this?

  • avatar
    Tarditi

    Periodic oil analysis can pay back as well.

  • avatar
    TFC

    Allright, allright, fine, I’ll change the tranny fluid.

    I would add, to JG’s “Don’t jump into the leather seats,” “Why slam the doors?”

    There’s that point, though, where all the little things on the best-kept vehicle start to go at once. Panel clips, speakers, stitching, vinyl and headliner on the inside, panel gaps, stone chips, fairing cracks on the outside, bushings, mounts, rings, racks, pumps underneath.

    When do you gracefully admit defeat, and let the car achieve the beater-dom it so well deserves after putting up with you for decades?

  • avatar
    liechter

    I am not so sure I agree with the main recommendations in this article. I have a Ford Taurus with 150,000 miles that has never had the transmission fluid changed, and yet the transmission shifts as smoothly as when it was new. You may of course argue that my car is an anomaly, but it does show that it is not a given that the transmission will give out if the fluid is not changed.

    More importantly at least from my perspective, I want to minimize the amount of time in my life that I have to devote to car maintenance. Making an appointment, dropping the car off, arranging for a ride, and picking the car up again is a hassle if it needs to be done repeatedly. And like most men and all women, I have neither the necessary inclination nor the expertise to perform these services myself.

    Meticulous maintenance may make a difference for some very high mileage vehicles, but the vast majority of reliability isssues that an average driver experiences is due to either a design or manufacturing flaw. In my case, I am lucky that by 2002 Ford figured out how to build a reliable Taurus, and it requires very little maintenance.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Meticulous maintenance may make a difference for some very high mileage vehicles, but the vast majority of reliability isssues that an average driver experiences is due to either a design or manufacturing flaw.

    Good point. Early death is always design-related.

    That said, design issues governs a very broad category, and overlaps with maintenance a number of ways: Toyota’s engine sludging issue from about a decade ago was a design flaw, but if you were diligent with oil changes, it would never affect you. If you’re unlucky enough to own certain vintages of Volkswagens, you’ll witness the need for regular maintenance as a result of overly-complex design.

    Some cars suffer fools, some don’t. Your Taurus is probably in the former category, as are most Toyotas. Similarly, the people claiming working pickup trucks and European metal are “reliable” aren’t counting the more regular maintenance these require. Many a Saab owner’s words: “It’s a reliable, long-lasting car” are suffixed with “as long as you keep up with the maintenance”.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Rev Junkie :

    “A question on maintenence, I have a ‘99 Civic with 186K on it that is shifting terribly. The clutch is fine, but every time I shift, it feels rubbery and clunky, and much unlike a Honda 5-speed. Any recommendations on how to fix this?”

    As Mr. Lang said, check enthusiast sites. Also, don’t just ask a question like that, search first. Chances are its been answered many times.

  • avatar
    enderw88

    But if my car doesn’t wear out, my wife won’t let me get a “new” one! Subtle sabotage is needed…

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Damn good advice. I learned all that the hard way. The only thing I would add is, if you have an automatic and the transmission feels like it’s starting to go, DON’T change the fluid (no matter what the guy at jiffy lube says, they don’t make you sign a release for nothing). Usually the fluid is filled with metal shavings by that point and the extra thickness is helping the transmission still work. With new slippery fluid the transmission can go altogether. You are just prolonging the inevitable, but at least you can give yourself time to budget a new transmission or get a new car.

    @ Rev Junkie – on your shifter there is are bushings and also o-rings where the handle connects to the linkage. Those probably need to be replaced. It’s a do it yourself job if you feel comfortable with a ratchet. I would pick out a nice short shifter while you’re at it. See this page: http://importnut.net/shifter.htm

    and this: http://www.clubcivic.com/board/showthread.php?t=106789

    these are the bushings: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Shifter-Stabilizer-Bushings-Honda-Civic-CRX_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQcategoryZ33736QQihZ006QQitemZ8062919127

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    BMW’s “Lifetime Lubricant” is notorious for lasting only for the duration of the warranty. If you plan on owning any BMW product, follow Steven’s advice.

    Oh, and ALL of BMW’s plastic radiators, expansion tanks, fail at around 75 to 100k miles like clockwork.

    Plastic radiator cooling fans also become brittle and brake apart like shrapnel. Nobody knows if the fan clutch is locking up first, causing extreme rpm on the already brittle fan blades. So change both fan and clutch when you do the radiator and expansion tank.

    Many cooked BMW motors and warped cylinder heads are caused by missing this 75-100k deadline. Oh, and the dealer will always say, “We’ve never seen or heard this before”.

    I love my E39. We all just have to follow the owners forums on the internet to be aware of potential problems. The truth is out there. Or here as the case may be. TTAC rocks.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    I doubt that my ’89 Volvo with almost 270k would have got this far without vigorous maintenance. In the coming spring, I’m replacing all the bushings in the suspension and replacing the struts/shocks.

  • avatar
    MBella

    Maintenance is an important thing to keep up with. However I don’t think it’s necessary to replace hoses and the radiator at regular intervals, as long as you keep an eye out for leaks, and fix them fast.

  • avatar
    menno

    The Subie SVX is a great “future collectible” but make sure the automatic tranny has been redone, or you’ll be redoing it (as in paying big bucks to actually have it done – it’s complex). But it sure has a futuristic look, even almost 20 years later. Plus most of the mechanicals are bullet-proof, and it has a driver’s air bag for a little extra security blanket that I didn’t have in my last collector car, a 1962 Corvair…

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Mr. Lang, Excellent article. But here’s a counterpoint. Instead of buying a car and keeping it forever, why not buy a lightly used vehicle every 5 years? For example, most 3 year old domestics are probably selling at 40% of their original sticker or less. Buy one of these and drive it for 5 years. You can do basic oil changes and a set of brake pads or two. Maybe even a trans flush along the way. Then dump the car before you start to have to replace water pumps, radiators, hoses, suspension parts, etc.

    Here’s a tip – buy your car in the late fall/winter when prices are low. Sell your old car in the spring when everyone is flush with cash from their tax return and you get the maximum resale for it.

    If you buy low, drive for 5 years, and sell in the spring, then you will have lost very little money on a vehicle that gave decent service for the entire time.

  • avatar
    Steve_K

    It’s bad luck to change the fluid in a GM transmission. Seems like everyone I know who changes the fluid has issues, and those that don’t, don’t! I’m at 160k now on my 2001 S10 though, so I’m thinking about doing it this summer since the shift into 3rd has become clunky.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    highrpm,

    Some of us like our cars and want to keep them as long as we can.

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    leichter: If your Taurus is a 2002, then you’ve only had it for 7 years. What’s the longest you’ve ever owned a car without requiring a transmission overhaul? I do change my transmission fluid. I have two cars that are over 40 years old and have never required transmission work (aside from adjusting the bands, which is regular maintenance).

    highrpm: Every time you buy a car, you run the risk of buying a lemon that you wouldn’t want to keep for 5 years. If you keep a car long-term, you know it’s extended service history, which is a good indicator of its future lifespan. It’s a case of the devil you know versus the one you don’t know.

    In my case, I also think that the 2nd generation Cummins 12-valve in the 1994-98 Dodge pickups is the best diesel engine that was ever put in a pickup truck. Very dependable, easy to maintain, good on fuel. Yeah it’s loud, I don’t care. I want to keep mine for as long as possible because none of the newer diesels are a suitable replacement IMO.

    My last daily driver before my 1994 Dodge pickup was a 1984 GMC fullsize van. When it was 14 years old, numerous things failed almost all at once: tie rod ends, an idler arm, radiator, tires, etc. The body was pretty ratty, mostly because the previous owner (my dad) had stopped getting it oil sprayed many years before. If the body hadn’t been so far gone, I would’ve spent the time and money to fix the rest. It’s a shame, only had about 220,000mi on it, and the 6.2L diesel and 700R4 trans still ran great.

  • avatar

    When I was a teenager, summer after junior year of high school, 1968, I went on a youth hostel trip of Scandinavia. Stayed a week with a family in a logging/paper mill community halfway between Oslo and Bergen (west coast). They had a 1953 Chevy in mint condition that they treated like gold…and the man, Egil Erickson, turned up his nose at Saabs and Volvos, wouldn’t have them. Had an insulated garage with a finned pipe that came out of the cement under where the motor would be when the car was parked. He had a Reo previously. When I thought about it, I realized this: European cars had (relatively) small displacement, high-revving engines that demanded careful maintenance. Give that same maintenance to an ’50’s American car and it would last forever…..
    Dunno how Erickson got around the rust……

  • avatar

    There is a lot of debate raging over the whole tranny-fluid issue. People, knowledgable people, will vehemently argue against it for the theory that the swarf in the oil is what keeps the thing from slipping. This is true, but it’s a flawed argument – once you reach that point of no return, it’s too late. You must change the fluid at regular intervals from day one. You haven’t followed the schedule for 100-150K? Now you cannot follow the schedule because the damage is done and any attempt to correct it will only make things worse.

    This is the problem for a lot of us second and third owners – the first owners didn’t know anything about long term maintenance, so we get stuck with something that we can’t maintain to the degree needed for indefinite life (BMW pisses me off to no end for perpetrating the evil myth of minimal fluid changes. Coincidentally this practice started when they began offering free maintenance for new cars…). Once you are past that point of no return, you might as well resign yourself to beaterdom, lest you sink thousands into a car that is worth less than the cost of its transmission. I well and truly want to fix up my Q45 to spic-n-span condition, but it would be insane because the car is only worth a few grand and a new transmission is 5K-6K, not mentioning all the little bits that should be fixed.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    highrpm,

    I have this philosophy as well. However, Mike66 is right about the devil you know vs the one you don’t. It is a gamble that the car you buy won’t fail you while you own it. My current car is a 2000 Nissan that I have owned and am currently ready to sell. It has needed the radiator and exhaust replaced under my watch. I know the car has been maintained properly since I have owned it. I won’t have that knowledge on the next car I buy and may need to pay for those repairs again. That said, I worry about additional rust problems in a car that has lived a hard northeastern life on the street and am still ahead when you factor in depreciation. Besides, I’m bored and want a new toy.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    I mistakenly purchased a ’87 Sterling 825SL in the late nineties because it was weird car owned by a Grandpa, fast, and had leather with a moonroof for $2000. Oops. Now I’m a Lucas-issue expert and learned the hard way that it is possible to have a vacuum relay for every switch in a car. Jeesh.

    Proper maintenance on the vehicle let me get 226,000 on it (bought it with 30,000 on the odometer) which from hindsight and talking to other people, might be some kind of record for a Sterling. Guy who sold it to me wanted to get rid of it because of nagging issues with the electrical system. Quick analysis showed why though.

    All the switching relays in a Sterling for some reason are vacuum relay (enter the nightmare of Lucas) coming off of a single vacuum source. That made 60 some odd little hoses going all over the place. The main vacuum line had rotted out, – even made a whistling noise when the car was on – all the relay hoses were good though. One modded main hose and I had most the electric bits working in that car a week after I bought it, and the fix was $8 and a vapor-trail of swear words. It was a good learning experience.

    Just for the record, that car made me a fan of Honda motors. Car finally died when a tranny seal broke and got naughty fluid into the coolant loop. Caked the block and valvetrain with a nice muck that could be mistaken for drywall grout, baked on like tomato sauce in a pan that got to hot…it was game over.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    highrpm :
    January 14th, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Mr. Lang, Excellent article. But here’s a counterpoint. Instead of buying a car and keeping it forever, why not buy a lightly used vehicle every 5 years?

    Selling a car is sometimes not as easy as simply posting it up for sale during spring. The cost of preventative maintenance is, in the long term, far lower than buying a car.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    I’d like to add two more point to my earlier comment regarding the point about buying a 3 year old car and keeping it for 5 years.

    One positive is that if you research three year old cars online, you can already discover which cars or powertrain packages are prone to have issues. For example, take a quick look at the VW forums for ’05 era Passats. You’ll quickly notice a pattern of what types of problems are cropping up right now on these cars.

    The second point is that we have rust issues here in the MI area. I have friends that had put 300,000 miles on their cars. That’s a lot of miles for a car that sees road salt every winter. I remember stories of them having to replace the steel fuel lines, brake lines, and basically a lot of components under the car that were rotting apart but that you would never consider a maintenance item. Granted, this doesn’t affect folks like Mr. Land in Atlanta or any of you folks out west. Up here though, I found it best to stick with cars that are less than 10 years old.

  • avatar
    George B

    Steven, I don’t change fluids quite as often as you, but come close. Never had major repair problems on cars I’ve owned. Maybe zero down financing and cash on the hood incentives attract “unreliable” minimal maintenance owners to some car models that would otherwise do ok with more careful owners.

    My experience in the whole “domestic” vs. “foreign” reliability debate is my Honda from Ohio doesn’t annoy me as much with minor part replacement as the Ford from Michigan it replaced. Neither left me stranded at the side of the road or cost me more than the low hundreds for any one repair, but Ford seemed to do more cost cutting on the OEM parts, forcing me to replace CV boots, engine mounts, a speedometer cable, tie rod ends, hatch struts, air conditioner o-rings and hoses, radiator hoses, and a radiator. Had a defective Delphi alternator on the Honda, but no other repairs in 100k miles.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    Replacing hoses every four years seems a bit keen, but at 20 years they are certainly pretty crumbly. Rather more annoyingly the hose clamps themselves on a Toyota seem to start to fail en masse at 20 years (in a dry climate with no salt). It got a new radiator at 15 years, can’t remember why.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    $2000 engines can be blown from a $10 burst radiator hose

    Only if the driver is stupid enough to keep going as the engine temperature climbs!

    Hoses and belts last far longer than 4 years, and things rarely fail catastrophically if you pay attention to them. Inspect your car regularly yourself, and pay attention to it, and it will usually tell you what it needs before it becomes a problem.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Well, since it’s the day before my birthday I guess I’ll make this a round robin…

    menno and guy: Thanks!

    Sanman11: Very true! I’ve had four different SVX’s and the only concern I ever had during those times is the tranny which requires a LOT of attention on that model. In my opinion the SVX is one of the top five cars of the 1990’s. But that’s another story.

    Kala: Yep, the Diamante wagon is a rare bird. I once had a fellow try to sell one for two years. It took a full repaint and replacement of nearly the interior to get the thing down the road. They are pretty good vehicles… just nearly as unpopular as herpes.

    austinseven: Canada has a surprising amount of 10+ year old metal. They also have outstanding laws pertaining to grey market cars and parts which I wish were duplicated in the US.

    JG / Usta be: I’m with ya. I had a 1983 Lincoln Mark VI that came from Northern Ohio which I literally kept flawless. Bought it for $1500 and sold it for $1500 before I became fully involved in the auction business. We used it as our ‘getaway limo’ when my wife and I got married.

    Mike: Very good points. If I ever rewrite this article I’ll be sure to include battery maintenance and give you the credit.

    I’ll get to the rest of the comments in a bit. My daughter wants me to play Star Trek Uno.

  • avatar

    “A question on maintenence, I have a ‘99 Civic with 186K on it that is shifting terribly. The clutch is fine, but every time I shift, it feels rubbery and clunky, and much unlike a Honda 5-speed. Any recommendations on how to fix this?”

    Sounds like a broken shifter stabilizer bracket, or possibly a bad bushing somewhere in the shifter mechanism.

  • avatar
    rodster205

    No one is stating the obvious… buy a manual transmission car if you plan on keeping one that long. Your clutch will usually last longer than an automatic and it is usually a fraction of the cost to replace. And it can almost always be replaced the same day.

    Sure, there aren’t very many manuals these days, but if you plan on keeping an automatic longer than 150K (even a Honda) you had better either change the trans fluid every 25-30K miles or plan on replacing the trans between 150-200K. Period. To the dude with the Taurus, check back with us at 200K and then we’ll talk. I bet that trannie has been replaced/rebuilt by then. And “shifts good as new”? I bet not. It has changed slowly so you haven’t noticed, but go find a low mileage one at a dealer and test drive it. You will see a difference.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Another excellent article. The “Buying a Used Car” is another favorite.

    My in-laws are astounded both our daily drivers have just turned 19 years old (one domestic, one foreign). I just follow the severe duty schedule, go to a good shop, and get the body oil sprayed once a year (due to heavy winter salting). That’s all there is to it.

    Changing the fluid and timing belt is import as Steven says, and the shocks struts on the 100K miles seems to be a good rule of thumb. If you live in an area of heavier than average snow and ice, please get a set of snows on rims. It will pay you back in safety and savings. ;-)

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