Why did our old engines live so long?

MolaKule

Staff member
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21,698
Location
Iowegia - USA
I think a couple of reasons are the lower power densities, the larger sump capacities, the short oil change intervals, and larger cooling capacities. The oils certainly weren't the quality or purity of today's oils, nor did they have the latest additive technology. A huge all cast iron/steel engine was required to put out less horsepower for the weight. Today in the US, we're running engines with high power densities, small radiators, lower sump capacities, and trying to circumvent problems with newer oils and additive packages to gain EPA approval at the same time. I see the EPA as a two-edged sword: 1. They foster competition for more fuel efficient engines with less pollution, 2. But they base so much of their regulatory edicts on pseudoscience.
 

MolaKule

Staff member
Thread starter
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21,698
Location
Iowegia - USA
Many of my Dad's and Uncle's old Straight-Eights went beyond that before rebuild. These were large clearance engines that used 10W40's or the "new-fangled" 10W30's.
 
Messages
209
Location
Spring TX
quote:
Originally posted by Pablo: You had a bug engine go 300K miles with no rebuild? THAT's a miracle!
That's right ... with no moly or boron either!! [Big Grin] [Cheers!]
 
Messages
486
Location
Los Angeles, CA
I plan to keep my 13 year old car with low 70k miles for as long as I can as well mainly through a lot of TLC and to watch my driving habits, but that gets boring quickly. What was your driving habit or style like and did you use any cleaners or decarbonizing chemicals and fuel additives such as BG44k, Techron, or AutoRX?
 
Messages
209
Location
Spring TX
quote:
Originally posted by razel: What was your driving habit or style like and did you use any cleaners or decarbonizing chemicals and fuel additives such as BG44k, Techron, or AutoRX?
You've heard of slow and steady? Well, with me it's more like fast and steady [Big Grin] And I've always driven my cars every day. Never used any additives of any kind. The only real additives back then that I remember were STP oil treatment and Lubrilon. Both were expensive as I recall.
 
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372
Location
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
quote:
Originally posted by JoggingGuy:
quote:
Originally posted by razel: What was your driving habit or style like and did you use any cleaners or decarbonizing chemicals and fuel additives such as BG44k, Techron, or AutoRX?
You've heard of slow and steady? Well, with me it's more like fast and steady [Big Grin] And I've always driven my cars every day. Never used any additives of any kind. The only real additives back then that I remember were STP oil treatment and Lubrilon. Both were expensive as I recall.

I've never driven a bug myself, but I remember once reading a column in one of the automotive magazines where the writer recalled with pleasure how his old bug was the only car he'd ever owned that could literally be driven full-throttle 100% of the time. [Big Grin]
 
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22,188
Location
Colorado Springs
[/qb][/QUOTE]I've never driven a bug myself, but I remember once reading a column in one of the automotive magazines where the writer recalled with pleasure how his old bug was the only car he'd ever owned that could literally be driven full-throttle 100% of the time. [Big Grin] [/QB][/QUOTE] If not, your getting passed by 90 year old ladies with walkers [Big Grin]
 

ALS

Messages
1,863
Location
Pittsburgh
I think it is relative to the owners care of the car. Any car will last if it is maintained properly. Even today I see cars with 140K, 150K and more miles on them. In the old days people thought nothing of dumping a car with 50K or 60K miles on the clock. Why? Same story "It's going to start to cost me money." My mother 78 years old is from that era. She traded her 86 Olds 98 with 35,000 miles in on a 1995 88. Then traded the 95 88 in with 13,700 miles on a 1999 Park Avenue which just passed 7,500 miles. The trading in of the 86 Olds 98 was the best excuse I ever heard. I had to put on two front tires and front brake pads. It was starting to cost me money. This from a women that changes the oil every 6 months and has the car detailed each time the oil is changed. With the Park Ave that is 1250 mile oil changes. Today with the average cost of a new car nearing $25K people are taking better care of their cars. Although the techs at my dealer will tell you not to even think about touching a ex-leased car with out a 100K mile certification warranty. They say they are abused and rarly maintained. Bodies today are lasting much longer than in past years. I think that is probably the main reason many people are keeping their cars longer. Hey as long as the car looks good it's worth fixing and running into the ground.
 

ALS

Messages
1,863
Location
Pittsburgh
I Forgot to tell you the 1995 Olds 88 got traded because it was "five years old" and was going to start to cost her money. BTW the salesman that sold her the Park Avenue calls every 4 or 5 months to see how she is doing. Yeh right he cares about her. He wants that Park Ave bad and at a cheap price. He bought the 88 off the dealer for his wife to drive.
 
Messages
56
Location
Los angeles, CA
While I used to think cars would start costing over 160K I see oils and engines have much better technology to last much longer these days. Only problem is the engines tend to outlast the rest of the car. Everything around the engine starts to wear and go bad whereas the engine is still good as new. Axle's, pumps, differentials, tranny's, radiators... [I dont know]
 
Messages
486
Location
Los Angeles, CA
quote:
Originally posted by ALS: She traded her 86 Olds 98 with 35,000 miles in on a 1995 88. Then traded the 95 88 in with 13,700 miles on a 1999 Park Avenue which just passed 7,500 miles.
She's sounds similar to the old lady who used to own my car. It's a 1990 and I bought it in 95 with 8k miles. The car was immaculate. It still is. The dealer said, the car was always garaged and she just used the car to drive her dog to the park. I guess that's what those old Beverly Hills ladies all do.
 

ALS

Messages
1,863
Location
Pittsburgh
Naw she lives in Naples Fl.on the water. The car lives 150 yards from the Ocean. She had to replace the rotors and pads this spring due to rust and the fact she doesn't drive it much. The dealer yelled at her and told her she needs to take it out at least three times a week for an hour or so. I wouldn't want that car if you gave it to me other than using it as a trade in. It is a really nice car but with it being that close to the Ocean there is that nagging rust problem.
 
Messages
209
Location
Spring TX
quote:
Originally posted by rich mds: Only problem is the engines tend to outlast the rest of the car. Everything around the engine starts to wear and go bad whereas the engine is still good as new. Axle's, pumps, differentials, tranny's, radiators... [I dont know]
This is what happened to my old Honda. Although the engine was still fine, it had two transmission rebuilds, rust on the truck lip, AC was getting weak, etc.
 
Messages
1,992
Location
Windsor,Ontario
I like low revving,cast iron motors...use more gas but run like a tractor...in other words a long time with minimum repairs...bought my Chev S-10 new in 85 for $9,200 taxes in,out the door...just sold it last year for $500 with 329,000k on it...engine/tranny ran great,a little blow-by for sure...but the body was gone...looked high and low for another "new" old design (cast iron,two valves etc.) bought a 99 Cherokee new...liked it so much got a 01 TJ new also...both the old 4.0l design...run em' both on Mobil with 5k intervals...hope they last as long as my Chev did [Big Grin]
 
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34,044
Location
Southern NJ
I think newer engines are better made. 100K miles before tune ups and overall less maintenance. There were some Iron block old engines that did hold up amazingly well, but they were also less efficient. Today's engines are much more sophisticated and require less service. Back in the day, anyone could work on there car and fix it, but today you have to call IBM. [Wink]
 
Messages
209
Location
Spring TX
I was thinking back to my first car when I was 16: a 1974 1600cc VW Bug. I drove a lot of miles back then, and did it in Houston's heat and humidity. I remember more than a few summers where it was 100 degrees or more for weeks at a time. I drove my first Bug 160,000 miles before someone ran a stop sign and squashed it [Smile] . I replaced it with another Bug that actually had AC installed which added load and heat to that little 63hp engine. Yet I drove that thing another 350,000 miles before it dropped a valve, and I could still see the hone marks on the cylinders when tore it down to put new bearings, piston/cylinders, and heads on it. Then drove it another 230,000 miles before trading it in on my first new 1984 Honda. Drove that Honda 250,000 miles before trading it in on a Tempo. Drove that 100,000 miles before trading it in on my current 2000 Ranger. So why did my car engines live so long? And the Bug didn't have an oil filter, only an oil strainer! I've run Havoline in all my cars for the past 25 years, and so has my dad for the most part. In the Bug, I ran Havoline 10W40 in the winter and 20W50 in the summer. During the hottest summers, I ran Castrol 70W motorcycle oil. I could barely maintain oil pressure even with that oil in 100 degree ambient temps and 600 degree cylinder head temps. I checked the stick every weekend and changed it when it got dirty brown. About every 3000 miles which also happened to be the recommended interval. The only other thing the Bug had going for it was a very simple oiling system. The pump was at the same level as the oil and strainer. Plus, the oil passages to the crank were only a few inches from the pump, with the cam passages a few inches above that. The lifters were solid, not hydraulic ones. An oil cooler stuck up into the fan shroud, with a pressure relief valve so that thick oil would bypass the cooler when cold. Another relief valve maintained a constant pressure on the engine bearings. The one thing this system has going for it is the ability to get lots of oil to the bearing extremely fast. With no filter and such short distances to travel, the cold start time is extremely short. So even with no oil filter, why did these engines live so long? I've only done 3 things all these years: 1 - Regular oil changes as needed. 2 - Clean strainer or change oil filter every time. 3 - Match grade of oil to ambient temps and engine requirements. That's it. My dad has always followed this regimen too, and neither of us has had an oil-related engine failure. This mirrors the experience of the other BITOG forum members from what I've read. And if a Bug engine with no oil filter running SF-rated oils from the 80's can go 3000 miles, I see no reason why newer engines that have oil filters running much better SL-rated oils can't go 5000-6000 miles as a regular interval [Big Grin]
 
Messages
1,397
Location
Katy, Texas
quote:
63 HP
Don't u mean 36? I read somewhere that the old VW Microbus had the same engine as the bug and it has 36 hp..... maybe im just tired....
 
Messages
1,992
Location
Windsor,Ontario
quote:
Originally posted by buster: I think newer engines are better made. 100K miles before tune ups and overall less maintenance. There were some Iron block old engines that did hold up amazingly well, but they were also less efficient. Today's engines are much more sophisticated and require less service. Back in the day, anyone could work on there car and fix it, but today you have to call IBM. [Wink]
If you think the new breed of engines reqiure less maintanence...then try doing less and see what happens...Toyota sludge issue for instance...the new breed engines have more plastic,higher heat and more revs to keep them efficient..to me that is a case of more viligence on maintenance...or when they snap you can throw them away...which is the case more often than not.My entire family is comprised of class "A" mechanics...and we are having a tough time keeping up with the stuff the manufacturers throw our way.If you think just because you go to a dealership they know what they are doing..you are sadly mistaken...they only send two or three people for updating on new vehicles and they are supposed to train the rest of the bunch...we are mechanics,not teachers and it's getting worst because qualified people are leaving the trade going to the big three...more money,less work...if you can do most of your own service yourself...you are far ahead of the game my friend.
 
Messages
23,591
quote:
quote: 63 HP Don't u mean 36? I read somewhere that the old VW Microbus had the same engine as the bug and it has 36 hp..... maybe im just tired....
I'm not sure about the exact hp, but I know that some people put bus engines into their bugs because they had more hp. I also remember that there were stock Super Beetles with a lot more than 36hp.
 
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