Monday Mileage Champion: Tom Tuttle's Tacoma
My grandma was a bit of a card shark. You name the game, she played it.
You would think that she would show a teeny bit of mercy to a six year old kid like me back in the day. Nope. Not a chance. Whenever she was about to beat me… yet again… grandma would flash an ear to ear grin on her face and bellow out her trademarked version of checkmate.
“Stevie? Do you want the old news? Or the bad news?”
I would flash my own waning innocence in these matters and say, “What about no news?”
No news, indeed. If you are looking to find yet another new name to take on pole position in our weekly mileage race, think again.
This 1998 Toyota Tacoma may represent the ultimate nirvana of long-term durability.
Easy maintenance. A transmission that is less taxed over the log haul than Mitt Romney. An engine that originates from a million clones and ten million near replicas. Toss in OBD-II diagnostics and a good owner, and the Tacomas of this generation present better real-life results than an Al Gore environmental symposium.
409,440 miles. No announcements. Not even much in the way of physical wear.
Of course you get that little whiskey on the side which seems to be endemic with these models. Even my retired neighbor who lives diagonal from me is chugging along with a 275k truck that has been given the custom “fat check treatment” from two different wayward travelers. It seems that about a third of the older trucks in my neck of the woods have been permanently customized with a hard dent or a long scuff.
No matter. This SR5 model should be able to go for as long as a frugal truck owner is willing to invest in this little beast. Other notable rides this time were…
A Southern Neon with over 308,000 miles… still running.
A double whammy 1999 Pontiac Grand Am SE that suffered from a prior rental history and the virulently hated 3.4 Liter V6. Still chugging along with 305,867 miles. No announcements.
Then we had the proverbial cockroach of the road. 2004 Chevy Cavalier. As base as you get with the 5-speed and power nothing. 272,494 miles. No announcements, and a lifetime in the rust ridden roads of northern Illinois. This one must have been garage kept.
The Accord and Camry combined are still offering more 200k cars than all of Europe by a greater than two to one ratio. Audi and Kia are still the two laggards of longevity along with the habitually broken VW’s and the locally defunct SAAB and Suzuki brands. As for the often unloved Pontiac Grand Prix… it still seems to be offering just as many 180k+ trade-in vehicles as the entire Volkswagen brand.
Two months of data so far now for the Trade In Quality Index (TIQI) with ten more to go. A forecasted 300,000 vehicles will go in this system and thanks to TTAC volunteer Nicholas Lariviere, we now have a database that will require no recounts.
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"The Accord and Camry combined are still offering more 200k cars than all of Europe by a greater than two to one ratio. Audi and Kia are still the two laggards of longevity along with the habitually broken VW’s and the locally defunct SAAB and Suzuki brands." There's a private seller in town with a 1989 Audi 90 with an impressive 236,000 miles on it. He says it's been in his family its whole life. As an owner of two old Audis, it gives me hope (though I must admit, even as a fan of the brand, I was pretty surprised when I looked at the odometer).
I was impressed when my friend told me his 2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac had 190,000 miles, right up until he told me what he'd had to replace. That thing is George Washington's axe. Had he known about the cascading failures that started a year ago, he'd have been much better off dumping it when the first four figure problem reared its ugly head. He's driving a rental right now waiting for the gas tank to be replaced. Ford charges over $1,000 for the tank, BTW. Other repairs have included the radiator, water pump, transmission, rear axle, fuel pump($800 installed), and other more normal replacements. If it is really worth the $5K that KBB says it is, he'd have been better off not spending dime one and selling it as a mechanics special for anything over -$2K when it started to go bad.