Question for Joe Holihan (automotive)
Submitter Question: Are you finding a lot more work with people trying to get a couple of more years out of their clunkers? Also, whats the key to getting a car to 100,000 plus miles?
Answer: I would have to say no..this is only my experience..what I do see is a lot more people trying to do it themselves. Also a few of them are bartering services. Their services for yours. The next part of the question is whats the key to getting a car to 100,000 plus miles? A 100k is not hard at all, going beyond is tricker..First and foremost regular maintenance, you have a manual with cars/trucks of when things are needed to be done ; every 3k oil and oil filter, every 6k lubricate chassis, every 15k replace automatic transmission fluid and filter,also at 15k inspect air filter element and replace if needed, and don't forget the tires rotate at the first 6k then evey 15k after that. Each vehicle will have other things to check at different intervals, so if you want your ride to last..do them.
"Just, Meyer, please."
What I find interesting, and what i was thinking of adding to the "clunker" thread, was the issue of resale value. I usually buy with 90k klm (60k miles) to 75k miles, but if you run up more than 100k miles it is very difficult to get anything for a trade-in. Yet there is a lot of life left; many vehicles will run well past 200k miles and more, but with increased risk of expensive repairs. I always turn in regularily, make payments forever, hate breakdowns. It is a shame, though; vehicles keep getting better and better.
Mileage isn't the issue, maintenance is.
There are a couple things to consider when thinking about buying used vs. new. First, when buying a fairly high mileage used vehicle (unless you knew the previous owner and how that vehicle was serviced) you're taking a huge chance. When I worked in the auto repair industry I was employed for a while by a shop that got all the used vehicles ready to sell for a huge dealership. I can still remember the dealership guy saying, "Just make `em good for 30 days".
My point is, mileage in and of itself is not a good measure of that vehicle's performance into the future. As state above, if it was maintained the right way, it will last a long time. If not, you're in for some huge maintenance costs.
Usually, in tough economic times, people tend to put off vehicle maintenance in leiu of keeping their heads above water with their regular living expenses.
A further question if I may.
I live in the Chicago area. I followed the maintenance manual to the letter on my Chrysler van, except that I also added the first oil change after the first 1,000 miles. This was the first new car I have ever had.
I undercoated the car for better protection, and I would get the under- carriage wash at the car wash to get the salt and mud off of the car.
So while the engine had 126,000 on it , and ran perfectly...when the car was 15 years old and the bottom rusted out so badly, my mechanic said the car was not safe. I was furious. I don't have $25,000 just lying around to replace a vehicle.
My father had passed on a Chrysler station wagon to me years ago with all the same maintenance as above, and first the entire rear bumper fell off due to rust. There was no way to reattach it easily, and we paid a ridiculous fee to have it fixed. I guess you can't weld chrome or some such thing. Plus the mechanic was worried because it would no longer function as a "bumper".
Then the bottom rusted out, making the car unsafe. We were able to sell the engine for $500 because it was in excellent shape and was some old V-8 that mechanics really want for some reason.
What is the point of keeping these engines in good working condition, when the body of the car has not been manufactured to stand up to years of use? What else do you suggest to help the body last?
A body shop man told me last year that cars have to be housed indoors so they have a chance to dry off completely. Does that make sense?
Buy the new one
I don't know how old your van was, but I do know that in the past, auto manufacturers didn't rustproof new vehicles as they should have when building them. Undercoating as you call it doesn't do much good when the interior panels were missed at the factory. Cars built today are MUCH better in that respect and usually carry a lifetime rust through warranty.
About keeping a car in a garage to let it dry out...I don't buy into that. A vehicle that's properly rustproofed at the factory should be able to sit out in any condition with out rusting away.
When unibody vehicles started becoming more prevelent in the late 70's to early 80's, rust protection became very important. The reason for this is the frame in a "unibody" vehicle is made of the same sheet metal as the fenders, doors, etc. What makes it strong is the multiple layers that are welded together into one "unit", hence the name "unibody". If the center section of the vehicle rusts through, it is a very dangerous vehicle to be driving. Imagine what the outcome would be in a crash when the structure of the vehicle is weakened by rust.
This was a 1993 Chrysler mini-van. The old V-8 station wagon was from the late 70's and I got it in the mid 80's.
I never had a problem with other used cars rusting out that I owned in the 60's, 70's or 80's. The motors always went, or something became too prohibitive to repair.
I was incredibly disappointed that this happened in my van. It changed the way I looked at Chrysler. I am not willing to pay thousands of dollars for something that falls apart. This is not the forum for a discussion about why consumers accept this so readily.
I wanted to give you the age of the cars. So they should have been properly rust-proofed at the factory, and weren't I guess. Which is my suspicion about how cars are made in America.
I am looking for a way to prevent this, short of constantly buying a new car or one not made by Chrysler. Which because of my experience is what I think the car companies want you to do. They deliberately manufacture a product that will not hold up.
Rust never sleeps...
Yeah, the 70's were indeed the dark ages for American Auto Manufacturers. That's when we lost out to the foreign manufacturers. We made cars with no style and they rusted away before the owner was half way through the payment book.
The `93 Mini Van shouldn't have rusted that bad. Were you the original owner? Is there a chance it could've been involved in some prior body repairs in which the correct corrosion protection may not have been re-applied correctly?
It was the first brand new off the show room car I had ever had. I bought it in 1993 and it was a 1993 dark green Chrysler mini-van. I took excellent care of it and it was never in an accident.
I am wondering if Joe, or any other mechanic or body repair person has some tips on upkeep for a car's body.
I think undercoating can form bubbles after it's sprayed on and that's where the winter salt water gets in. I've seen it bubble, usually around seams where chassis welds are, particularly at insulator brackets and in the case of uni-body, at the floor pans.
Then you can't hose out those nooks and crannies to get them neutralized.
The underside of the car has to be perfectly clean and dry to start with and a primer would be the first thing before undercoating.
As mentioned already, underpans and doors are better manufactured now and sealed before assembly.
My slight transmission leak keeps the underside lightly coated with synthetic ATF-4 which stops rust instantly!
Now, my 1996 Chrysler has peeling paint at the top of the rear hatch.
It's that classic Chrysler white with the inept grey primer.
198,000 and going strong. Do all my own work.
Question for Joe: Oil brand................
Is it true that Pennsylvania oils contain parrafin that helps the oil work better?
Today's vehicles are better corrosion protected than ever before. They are treated at the factory with corrosion protection materials. As far as protecting you vehicle's body, the clear coat put on at the factory protects your finish against UV damage. Many people think they have to coat their cars with wax to protect them, but for the most part, these days, wax just improves the shine. Rust generally comes from the inside-out. Sometimes water and salt get trapped in interior panels of your car that just can't be detected until you see the rust bubles. Since you live in an area where winters are brutlal, and tons and tons of salt are used on the roads, the best you can do is keep your car as salt-free as possible in the winter, and inspect the lower most panels on you vehicle regularly. If you spot rust soon enough...it can be cured.
Or...move to Phoenix.