The real secret why cars dont last

JHZR2

Staff member
Messages
45,952
Location
New Jersey
I know this is an oil site, and we think all things oil and lubrication as the solution for longevity and good service life. I am on travel this week... I have a rental vehicle - a chrysler town and country. OK, its not a performance vehicle by any stretch of the imagination, but its good as reference, as there are a lot of them on the roads around here. background: usually, I drive to maximize my fuel economy. I dont accelrerate super slow, but I drive like there is an egg in my shoe, and watch it so that I don't jackrabbit or hit too high of RPMs. I get excellent MPG in all of my vehicles, and exceed EPA estimates on all of them. Since I have the rental, I drive harder... At stoplights, I try to keep up with the other cars accelerating. A number of times now Ive been next to chrysler town and country vehicles. To accelerate like most folks on the road, i need to severely stress my engine, getting to 4000 RPM or higher, and often needing downshifs to keep up, etc. thats a lot of stress on the engine and trans, regardless of oil or what not in there. All of our cars have lasted far beyond 100k, in fact, all have lasted beyond 150k with nothing but routine PM. No issues at all... transmissions that shift super perfect at 200 or 230k miles. Why? we drive gently. 2500 RPM shift points are typically the max. Light accelerator touch. Driving for mileage. I am convined that regardless of oil choice, regardless of foreign or domestic... it is the USER IDIOCY that causes vehicles to not last. Sure, poor aintenance doesnt help, and some crs likely are made better than others... but at the end of the day, IMO beyond say some materials or electric switchgear, the actual longeivty potential is about the same. Driving harder opens your succeptibility to sludging and whatnot even more too. Drive gently and have a vehicle that lasts. Drive hard and its anbody's guess. Most folks drive really hard... wonder why most folks cant get much over 75-100k out of a car before its shot... JMH
 
Messages
570
Location
Maine
most folks? I've retired my vehicles at 450k (Chevy C1500), 150k (toyota MR2), and I'm currently at 200k+ on my Chevy K2500. I drive the **** out of my vehicles and I don't think 100k is even broke in. [I dont know]
 
Messages
416
Location
San Jose, CA (USA)
JHZR2's pointing to RPMs as the measure of major automotive components. There's certainly some merit to the proposition. Higher RPMs=more stress on everything, thus shortening the ultimate life of the car. However, I just gotta say, "****, folks!" Life's too short not to enjoy a good run to the redline and a little tire squeal every now and then. Come out of your shells and live a little--life's a terminal disease, so enjoy it while it lasts.
 

jaj

Messages
1,060
Location
Vancouver, Canada
JHZR2 I had an interesting conversation with a cab driver (owner-operator) recently. He was driving a brand new Lincoln Town Car. He figured it was cheaper over 300,000 miles than pretty much anything else. "You'll put some sensors in it, but that's it." "Cadillacs get expensive over 100,000 miles and everthing else just won't stand up to being a cab that long." He gave his last Lincoln, with 350,000 miles on it, to his wife to drive. He was a gentle driver for sure, but he also knew what worked for him, and he stuck with a formula he knew. Consistency produces the best results. Incidentally, oil changes with 5w-20 at the recommended intervals. No magic on the oil front. Cheers JJ
 
Messages
1,508
Location
Colorado
I seem to be easy on cars. Knock on wood, but they last a long time and rarely have problems. JHZR2 I think you have a good point, but I also think good cars (most are these days) are made to be driven hard without problems. I drive gently most of the time, but hard a fair bit as well. I'm a little mellower than ten or fifteen years ago, when I drove the snot out of everything, but that didn't seem to hurt, either. I think, really, it has more to do with having a basic sense of mechanical empathy. Going easy when it's cold; keeping your senses open for unusual sounds/smells/vibrations; keeping an eye on things in general and being reasonably attentive with maintenance. I think more cars die from being run out of oil, overheated, or having timing belts break than from being worn out. - Glenn
 
I agree with you, JHZR2. 95% of the time, I get passed around town by far slower vehicles, with their drivers pushing them hard in their normal driving. It's wild to see people firing up their cold vehicles and then tearing off down the street, first thing in the morning. Now, the other 5% of the time, I'm in a mood to have fun, and I do have fun... but it is ALWAYS after my vehicle is thorougly warmed-up, and under the circumstances of my choosing, such as on an open road, with minimal safety risk. I couldn't care less how fast these geeks want to accelerate around town, and I don't let them influence me... I'm no granny, but I care about my vehicle and I know the harm it does when one constantly drives his/her vehicle aggressively, and that's what a lot of people do - drive hard all the time. Not me. [No no]
 
Messages
855
Location
India
The trick is not to flog them, in my opinion, the maximum damage occurs at stop and go drags on boulevards. High power engines are always at an advantage as they develop more HP and therefore don't need to be stressed much, a well maintained sports car can probably do very high mileage in regular driving conditions.
 
Messages
2,493
Location
MSP 'burbs, MN
quote:
Originally posted by Blake Sobiloff: However, I just gotta say, "****, folks!" Life's too short not to enjoy a good run to the redline and a little tire squeal every now and then. Come out of your shells and live a little--life's a terminal disease, so enjoy it while it lasts.
Amen to that! [Cheers!]
 
Messages
143
Location
DC
JHZR2 writes:
quote:
Drive gently and have a vehicle that lasts. Drive hard and its anbody's guess.
This advice is especially relevant to automatic transmissions. In a quest for lighter more fuel efficient vehicles, manufacturers are substituting aluminum and plastic for steel in many newer generation trannys. These newer designs are not bulletproof. Auxiliary tranny coolers, diligent ATF maintenance, and easy gentle driving are good ways to skew tranny reliability odds in your favor.
 
Messages
17,067
Location
Silicon Valley
That reminds me, my girlfriend's former landlord had a 2003 C230 Kompressor because it is the cheapest Benz out there. When she hit something and the turn signal at the front fell off, she use tapes to put it back in place instead of fixing it. Wonder what were they thinking, why not just buy a commodity brand?
 
quote:
"To accelerate like most folks on the road, i need to severely stress my engine, getting to 4000 RPM or higher, and often needing downshifs to keep up, etc. thats a lot of stress on the engine and trans, regardless of oil or what not in there."
Many smaller engines are designed to rev higher with no sacrifice in longevity (think Honda, Mazda, Toyota 4 bangers). Even outside that group, 4000 rpm and downshifts are not what I'd call severe service for a modern engine. That said, I've never driven in NJ.
quote:
"All of our cars have lasted far beyond 100k, in fact, all have lasted beyond 150k with nothing but routine PM. No issues at all... transmissions that shift super perfect at 200 or 230k miles. Why? we drive gently. 2500 RPM shift points are typically the max. Light accelerator touch. Driving for mileage."
My 1990 Honda (Acura) 1.8 litre ran beautifully, burning next to no oil when I sold it at 170k miles, enduring countless redline shifts and all the driving shenanigans a young man could throw at it. Before that, my Mercury 1.6 litre ran excellently until the body rusted to an unsafe degree (thank you road salt). Currently, my Miata 1.8 has 110k, 70k of that mine. Track days, autocrosses, and shifting such that most of my time is spent from 2500 to 5000 rpm, I fully expect this engine to perform for another 100k before it shows any real significant wear.
quote:
"I am convined that regardless of oil choice, regardless of foreign or domestic... it is the USER IDIOCY that causes vehicles to not last. Sure, poor aintenance doesnt help, and some crs likely are made better than others... but at the end of the day, IMO beyond say some materials or electric switchgear, the actual longeivty potential is about the same. Driving harder opens your succeptibility to sludging and whatnot even more too."
You're calling me an idiot, although my cars last. [Razz] No car of mine has had a sluding problem. Perhaps the Miata does not because it's enjoyed Mobil 1 for nearly my entire ownership of it. In any case, the right tool for the right job, right? Idiocy to me means driving without "mechanical empathy" and is very different from even vigorous excercise within a car/engine's limits.
 
Messages
4,378
Location
Camas, WA
"Idiocy to me means driving without "mechanical empathy" and is very different from even vigorous excercise within a car/engine's limits." I agree. I put 83k miles on a Suzuki 1100 bike before it was stolen, they were 'fast miles' :^) but without drag starts, and the bike was still running fine. I saw 120mph and higher at least weekly as it was so effortless. Either Taurus that we have is a different matter, mainly due to the auto tranny which has a poor reputation. We're creeping up on 196k miles on the older one, and while I'm still trying to fix an intermittent low speed hesitation it runs fine on the highway. Auto in pickups are typically using 'torque management', where the advertised power output for the engine is being lowered in more and more places in the rpm & load range in order to the get the trannys to last.
 

ALS

Messages
1,862
Location
Pittsburgh
Guys this isn't a unique problem. This type of behavior is normal. The techs at my dealer told me they can't think of 5 customers like me that service their cars at the recommended intervals. They are amused that I change my Mobil 1 every 5K miles. Why are they so amused is there are as I said above maybe 5 or 6 of us that do change their oil at 5K or as with the new cars 7.5K miles. Most of the cars coming into the dealer haven't seen an oil change in the last 10K to 12K miles and they are filled with bulk dino. The techs and service writers tell all the good customers never even consider purchasing a Leased Volvo. Everyone of them has been grossly abused with zero to minimal maintenance.
 
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