Monday Mileage Champion: An Open Request

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

This week has been nothing less than the usual.

The top 5 vehicles were either Toyotas or Ford trucks, with a 2005 Toyota RAV4 that had galloped 425,904 miles skating right past a 2003 Ford E250 with 413,579. Eight of the top ten were either the usual Ford/Chevy/Toyota truck, or a Honda/Toyota car. Only a solitary Vulcan V6 Ford car and a Nissan Maxima interrupted the usual domination. Both of those models I’m thinking about adding to the list just because they are frequent enough to merit that distinction along with Sajeev’s beloved Panthers.

But then again, I did have one big surprise. Anyone remember the Mercury Capri?

monday mileage champion an open request

A 1992 model with 294,766 miles in rust free Albuquerque, New Mexico made it to the top 25. This one came with the sundial slow 1.6 Liter non-turbo and a handshaker. Two important qualities that likely kept this old convertible from an early grave.

Chrysler fielded a minivan with 302k that apparently did time in Leavenworth… and that was about it. Everything else was composed of vehicles that were perhaps 40% of the usual car population back in the day, and yet they once again yielded 80+% of the high mileage vehicles.

This brings me to an open question for the Best & Brightest. The database I use will field over 200,000 trade-ins during the course of the year and the brand population for all those vehicles will be exceptionally neutral. Chevy dealerships attract more Chevys. Ford dealers get more Fords. This firm offers none of that static or orientation.

I am planning on building what can loosely be considered a long-term CSI index. Back in 2009 when I wrote an article called Kiametrics (one of my personal favorites) I noticed some unusually strong tendencies from certain manufacturers. The outperformers back then routinely fielded vehicles with well over 200k as trade-ins while those with lesser reputations routinely displayed trade-in mileage at less than 100k and rather scary announcements on the block (engine needs service, transmission needs service, lemon law buyback, etc.)

Read Kiametrics first here and consider the following questions…

1) At what mileage point and/or age has a typical vehicle earned a good repuation for quality?

NOTE: I am mentioning age on this question because certain enthusiast vehicles (Miata, Wrangler, Corvette) and those with an older clientele (Buick, Lincoln, 90’s Cadillacs) routinely get traded in with less than 100k.

2) Would you be interested in knowing about whether certain models have a high tendency for failure?

VW and Volvo transmissions. Chrysler 2.7 Liter engines. Mercedes electrical issues. The mainstream media may love covering the mileage issues of Ford and Honda hybrids for example. But the population of older hybrids with battery issues may also be worth a far more serious issue for the buying public. What about the longevity of the CVT? Are those models less relaible and more expensive to own than ye olde conventional transmissions? That’s an important question to me as a dealer since it’s virtually impossible to rebuild a CVT or find an affordable replacement at the junkyards.

3) Finally. If you are interested… can you help me a bit with the data?

It’s not that hard to do and should take no more than 15 minutes a week for any three major brands. The company has provided an automatic sorter so all you need to do is add them up, and write the numbers down. 26 Ford trucks had over 200k, 2 had less than 100k, etc.

My hunch is that certain mainstream publications don’t have the means or the interest to divine these questions. But the answers could be especially useful for millions of folks who will buy an older used car. Maximas may have far fewer mechanical problems than Accords and Tauruses. The F150 may be a far better choice at a higher mileage than a Ram or full-sized Chevy. The Buick Regal can be a hidden gem in an endless mineshaft of GM mediocrity.

There is a lot of solid statistical ground that can be covered with well over 200,000 vehicles.

What are your thoughts? And please take a quick look at the Kiametrics article first. Thanks!

Join the conversation
2 of 52 comments
  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Jan 08, 2013

    200,000 cars in six weeks? Ambitious.

  • Autojim Autojim on Jan 14, 2013

    1999.5 F350 4x2 crew cab shortbox SRW Lariat. 7.3L diesel, 4R100 transmission. As of this morning, 308,900 miles. Currently my daily driver/tow beast. Lived in SE Michigan from new in 03/1999 until 12/2008, when it moved me to Houston, hauling my enclosed trailer containing '65 Mustang and all the stuff the movers either wouldn't take or I didn't want them to take. Stuff that's gone wrong that isn't really a wear item: - Pinion seal @ 85k - Water pump @ 146k - Rear axle hub seals twice: ~170k and ~280k (related to towing with a lot of tongue weight. I've reconfigured the trailer load-out to compensate.) - Ball joints @ 110k, 180k, 280k (replaced with Moogs at that last one. Technically, these are wear items, especially in SE Michigan.) - Rear axle cover rusted through (thanks, Jac Nasser, you cost-cutting little prick) @ 85k and 210k (replaced with 2008+ finned aluminum cover, no more problems) - CHMSL housing/wiring pigtail @ 130k (socket melted) - Hydroboost pressure line @ 165k - Torque converter stator overrun clutch came apart @ 228k and spread junk through the transmission, whole transmission replaced with Ford Authorized Remanufactured HD 4R100. - Rear axle brake hardline from ABS module to flex hose (and flex hose) corroded, replaced @ 260k - Blower motor, blower motor resistor, and blower motor resistor wiring connection replaced @265k - Alternator @ 270k The leather driver's seat bum has worn out (Wet Okole seat cover set over all seats), as has the leather steering wheel wrap (Wheelskin to cover it). I've replaced all 4 speakers after one died. It's got a few bumps and lumps, the paint has seen better days, and the underside looks like it lived in SE Michigan for the first 10 years of its life, but it keeps rolling and most folks are shocked to learn it's got over 300k miles. This one's a keeper. Book on it is around $11,700 top retail on a good day, $10k private party. A new equivalent F350 stickers around $65k. I can put a reman 7.3 in it for under $10k should it come to that and for another 5K put some Banks goodies on it if I'm so inclined -- no signs of distress from the engine so far, I'll hasten to add -- and be thousands of dollars ahead. Hell, it's still got the OEM exhaust system on it...

  • MaintenanceCosts This class of car competes hard with Chargers/Challengers and modded diesel pickups for the douchey-driving crown.
  • 28-Cars-Later Corey - I think I am going to issue a fatwa demanding a cool kids car meetup in July somewhere in the Ohio region.
  • Master Baiter Might as well light 50 $100 bills on fire.
  • Mike1041 At $300K per copy they may secure as much as 2 or 3 deposits of $1,000
  • Sgeffe Why on Earth can’t you just get the torque specs and do it yourself if you’re so-inclined?!