What Do You Think About Long-Term (20+ Years) Ownership Potential Of Modern Cars?

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29
Location
Indianapolis, IN
Like many of you, I don't turn wrenches for a living, but I do all of my own mechanical work, and consider myself a halfway decent mechanic. Given enough time, I can usually figure most anything out and get it fixed. However, I'm beginning to get the feeling that my ability to do this is coming to an end. As modern vehicle technology continues to accelerate at a rapid pace, I am starting to think that the notion of buying a modern car and keeping it long term is just off the table.

It's a bit strange because in one sense, cars are better built than ever. Drivetrain parts regularly exceed 200k miles with minimal issues, and the engines/transmissions/etc themselves aren't significantly different than the stuff we are used to. However, what is different is the electronics. All of my mechanical experience is with vehicles from the 90s and early 2000s, so I'm not afraid of EFI or anything like that. What frightens me about owning a modern car 20+ years from now are failures in systems like crash mitigation, automatic braking, steer by wire, etc. or even a more benign concern like the infotainment dying and leaving me without the ability to defrost the windshield because all the climate control is in the touchscreen. If you've got a 20 year old car and the infotainment dies...it will cost as much as the car is worth to get a new screen for it...and most new cars have 2 or more screens that are required to see critical information like oil pressure. Hell, the new fords don't even have gauges...just a screen, and the manufactures won't commit to keeping these systems updated for even 5 years, let alone 20+.

So in my estimation, despite drivetrains being more reliable than ever, and rust-proofing being better than ever...car have been really begun to be turned into appliances because of the electronics. As a result, I think that I am most likely going to build and maintain a fleet of late 90s/early 2000s cars that I know how to service and repair and feel comfortable with.

What do you guys think? I'd be interested in your points of view.
 
Messages
612
Location
Joplin
I think you have a good plan and tend to agree with you thoughts. The same thing has happened with household appliances and I'm sure many other items. OTOH, aftermarket suppliers may step in to produce some of the electronic items and screens you mentioned.
 

Msmith68w

Thread starter
Messages
29
Location
Indianapolis, IN
I think GDI modern cars and all the computers are going to make servicing cars after 20 years a possible pain and more expensive than
a car from the late 90s. Also newer cars have almost no room to access anything easily. You have to remove more things to do some repairs.

This is sort of a case by case basis. My 2014 Charger R/T has pretty good access to most things, as does my father's 2018 Ram, but in general I agree with you. If you pop the hood on most cars today it looks like 50lbs of **** in a 10lb bag.

I think you have a good plan and tend to agree with you thoughts. The same thing has happened with household appliances and I'm sure many other items. OTOH, aftermarket suppliers may step in to produce some of the electronic items and screens you mentioned.

Yep. My grandparents have a stove, deep freezer, dishwasher, etc from like 1975 that all still run perfectly. Go spend a couple thousand on the latest fancy washing machine with a touch screen in it and see how many years that garbage lasts. Maybe 5 years tops. Planned obsolescence has become much more ubiquitous.
 

JC1

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5,551
Location
Oshawa, Ontario Canada
This is sort of a case by case basis. My 2014 Charger R/T has pretty good access to most things, as does my father's 2018 Ram, but in general I agree with you. If you pop the hood on most cars today it looks like 50lbs of **** in a 10lb bag.



Yep. My grandparents have a stove, deep freezer, dishwasher, etc from like 1975 that all still run perfectly. Go spend a couple thousand n the latest fancy washing machine with a touch screen in it and see how many years that garbage lasts. Maybe 5 years tops. Planned obsolescence has become much more ubiquitous.
You are right one of the reasons I bought the caravan was that there is more room under the hood. My 98 sienna had less room to access stuff like the power steering pump.
 
It takes a special person to want to keep a 20 year old car. Hopefully it has a bit of collector value. Safety is a big issue. For instance a spring in a strut can bust, eviscerating your tire and perhaps careening your car into the patch of a semi. You cannot leave certain parts go until failure. You have to be prepared to replace some parts for safety sake. Here is a photo of a chunk of 20 year old spring. The remaining piece tore a hole in the tire. I’m not too worried about the electronics. It will still be issues like rust, the starter, the suspension, the sensors, seals etc.that need attention.

B94831CC-6643-4C96-8A8B-46C840DC1D35.jpeg
 
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Messages
6,073
Location
northern Alabama
Our 2016 Toyota Highlander XLE doesn't require a screen for the stuff you have concerns with. Now, I'm also running a 2002 Honda Accord with 255k miles, and a 1994 Pontiac Grand Am with 250k miles, and a 2001 Ford Ranger with 160k miles.
So, just don't get a vehicle that requires a new screen to do everything.
 
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1,751
Location
Danville, Indiana
I've got a 99 E430 that is doing well. My 08 Jeep runs and looks like new after 13 years. Our 04 Grand Cherokee was bought used, but with some minor upgrades, it is doing very well. My 18 Jeep feels more solid than the 08 in every way, so I don't see why it wouldn't easily get there.

It has more to do with how you take care of them than anything else. My neighbor had two K-cars that both went 200k and looked great after many years.
 
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1,830
Location
Virginia
Yeah, I'm absolutely with you. Hell, I dread the day I have to buy a car with direct injection much less one with some massive "infotainment" center in the console. Give me a radio with dials and buttons and AC controls with knobs. My Prius has a little touch screen in the dash with the A/C and stereo controls in it. Just kinda waiting for it to go. Pretty cheap to replace 'em, thankfully. The entire dash on the Prius going black is a known problem. Haven't had it yet, but I've got a spare for when it inevitably happens.

There was a 2016? 2017? Volvo S60 T6 on IAAI near me a while back. I think it ended up going for around $4000? It had 60k on it and was in absolutely perfect condition but the dash/instrument cluster/etc. had died and wouldn't start (or even turn on) as a result. What's that tell you?

I'll keep my XG350 and my Prius for as long as I can. A known good Prius long block is $200 around here. Transaxles are $100-150. I can rebuild the hybrid battery with cells ranging from 2004 - current, so long as they're NiMH cells.

XG350? Well, I hate the car, but it's mechanically simple and parts are dirt cheap.
 
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3,521
Location
Northern Ontario, Canada
Problem is manufacturers stop stocking parts after 10 years. And aftermarket won't step in. Thinking Ford E350 5.4L engine harness I had a problem with as an example when running a large fleet.
 
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Messages
3,365
Location
Chicago
It takes a special person to want to keep a 20 year old car. Hopefully it has a bit of collector value. Safety is a big issue. For instance a spring in a strut can bust, eviscerating your tire and perhaps careening your car into the patch of a semi. You cannot leave certain parts go until failure. You have to be prepared to replace some parts for safety sake. Here is a photo of a chunk of 20 year old spring. The remaining piece tore a hole in the tire. I’m not too worried about the electronics. It will still be issues like rust, the starter, the suspension, the sensors, seals etc.that need attention.

View attachment 30971
Off a ford?
 
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4,855
Location
Pittsburgh,PA U.S.A.
Some vehicles that are very common like my 2016 Honda CR-V or the Toyota Rav-4 will have used parts including the electronics available at large auto salvage yards for a very long time. As far as these vehicles go as long as it is not a rare version such as the few with a standard transmission, used parts will be available for a long time.

So one thing to keep in mind if you plan on keeping a vehicle for a long time, is weather or not it is a vehicle that is one of the top sellers.
 

Nick1994

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Messages
12,886
Location
Phoenix, AZ
I think it depends on the car. I currently have a 2020 Hyundai Kona as a dealer loaner car while my Genesis is in for some work. It's a very basic car that I think would be pretty serviceable after 20 years. It's only gadget is lane keep assist, which can easily be turned off if in older age if it started to give trouble.

I'm not so sure my Genesis will age super well. Mileage wise I think it's fine, but 20 years? Meh. I'm having trouble with the front parking sensors right now, they're damaged from rocks on the freeway. Dealer wants $1,350 to fix. When the car is older, how many people would pay that? Since it has lane keep assist, the windshield was $1,434 (Insurance cost, which is higher than consumer cost). Power folding mirrors, radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, panoramic sunroof, 12 way power adjustable seats that are heated/cooled etc. Who is gonna pay to repair that stuff when it's old? Don't know, but I'll enjoy it while I've got the bumper to bumper warranty until 135k miles.
 
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452
Location
pa
been driving a 99 honda accord..still running great ,no sign of rust ,,I have kept up with the recommended maintenance such as timing belt etc...why give up a good running car to buy something new that most likely will end up in the scrap heap in 5-6 years..i do most of the work needed on my cars but at times I have to farm it out to a local mechanic
 
Messages
253
Location
SW Missouri
I am from a small town and the newest vehicle we own is a 2004. Ive posted about it before, it’s a Ford Taurus with around 375,000 miles and still making a 100 mile round trip every day. When we got it, I didn’t expect it to even be a 200k mile car due to the slew Of transmission problems that plagued these cars. My point is, basic maintenance can likely see almost any modern car into the 200,000 mile range. This thing hasn’t had anything but basic maintenance and a couple major suspension and brake jobs(never a failure, just replaced due to wear). Only one belt, one starter, and one alternator. The transmission is finally showing its age but a service usually breathes a little life back into it. My parents said that they’ll rebuild it if it goes as it should see my mom through retirement and the end of her commute. She’d rather have a large repair bill than a payment after she retires.
 
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