Friday, November 11, 2011

Zombie cars...

I don't see much on this list to disagree with. Certainly old RWD Volvos and diesel Benzes are capable of prodigious feats of odometer heroics.

An interesting point is raised by the very first car on the list, the old A-body Cutlass Ciera. There are still an awful lot of Buick Centuries and Olds Cieras tooling around long after most of their more numerous and mechanically-identical Chevy Celebrity and Pontiac 6000 stablemates have gone to that Great Scrap Heap In Shanghai, which should speak reams about the longevity value of spending the first decade of your existence always being garaged, promptly serviced, and never exceeding 30mph on the way to the bingo game.

I will admit that, when it comes to superannuated automobiles, to having strong (not necessarily rational) negative biases about 4WD or RWD. Differentials and CV joints are expensive to replace, and so the fewer of them the car has, reasons my hindbrain, the better off my finances will be down the road.

44 comments:

Duke said...

I helped my daughter get a Buick (like the one # 2 on the list) over 10 years ago and it is still going, It's a second car now but refuses to die.

Borepatch said...

In engineering school I was taught that you can't add reliability by adding parts. It was one of the best lessons I learned there, because it forces you to really think about what you want to accomplish.

Lazy Bike Commuter said...

I would definitely have to go with a pickup over the cars, though (I know pickups were intentionally left off the list). It would be nigh impossible to count the number of very high mileage Rangers and F150s still out there.

And not ALL Subaru wagons have bumper stickers all over them. My Outback is sticker free, though I keep being tempted to add a Gadsden flag.

Joseph said...

Had a Celebrity and the only thing wrong with it when I sold it was the steering rack issue common to these cars that made it difficult to steer until warmed up a bit.

Tam said...

Lazy Bike Commuter,

True.

I've mentioned before that when I bought my '84 T/A, it wasn't for the pretty sheet metal or the leaky t-tops, but because I have to (grudgingly) admit that the caruburetted Chevy small block/Turbo Hydramatic/10-bolt rear end is maybe the most thoroughly debugged powertrain in the history of automobiles, and can be repaired by anybody with spares bought from anywhere...

Wilson said...

I've been driving 4WD Hondas for decades. Most of them to 200K miles, much of it on dirt roads. I've only had to replace one CV joint, about 20 years ago. Not sure that CV joints are a reliability issue.

Buzz said...

Subaru Justy north of 250K.
Jeep CJ7 also north of 250K. (I wouldn't expect such with anything other than the classic straight 6. I don't hold out much hope that the 3.8 V6 in my current Jeep will go much more than 100K without assistance.)

My wife's Civic that she had when we met was limping severely by 100K.
Pontiac Montana started having tranmission funkiness after it passed 100K, traded it on a used Town & Country, which, to my great amazement, is still going strong past 150K.

Tam said...

Wilson,

I said it wasn't rational.

perlhaqr said...

I've got a 185k mile Subaru I'm driving as a spare right now.

It's got a CV death click up front, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it's only $50 for the replacement. (Of course, it's also about 3 hours of highly annoying labor, too.)

Bubblehead Les. said...

A lot of people keep those old Buicks up here around Cleveland. Because of the way the hunting laws are written, it's the only thing one can use come Deer Season. ; )

Buzz said...

Commuter:

You MUST put conservative/libertarian stickers on your Subaru.
The vast majority of the rest of them have stickers that qualify them as display pieces at a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit.

acarnowski said...

My Outback must be the bad karma sink for all the rest of them out there. Saturday will be spent finding something to trade it into. The AWD will be hard to give up though. Last winter in MN was very, very white.

SpeakerTweaker said...

the caruburetted Chevy small block/Turbo Hydramatic/10-bolt rear end is maybe the most thoroughly debugged powertrain in the history of automobiles, and can be repaired by anybody with spares bought from anywhere...

So full of win!

How I miss the good ole' days. Less wires. More grunt. Any idiot could (and regularly did) tune a 350 to fire-breathing with surprisingly little effort.

Try and change a cam on a 2012 Camaro. Go ahead. I'll wait. If the end result doesn't thoroughly explain the existence of the Fast-and-Furious-esque, ur doin it rong.



tweaker

Anonymous said...

I am shocked that they didn't list the 1963 Chevy Impala. I see them driving around all the time from beaters with what's left of the original paint to fully restored daily drivers.

Gmac

Tam said...

SpeakerTweaker,

...and I write that as someone who has owned t-shirts that read "Mopar or No Car."

Anonymous said...

My '85 Toy 4WD PU is pushing 300K. Never any differential problems. Replacing the 90W every now and then is a Good Thing. And that ancient-design solid front axle only occasionally needs seals.

Oughta be in Guinness: Crossed the Rio Grande with water over the headlights. Crossed Terlingua Creek with water over the headlights; made an onlooker nervous when the tail lights went under.

'Rat

Lazy Bike Commuter said...

Buzz:

Definitely something I've considered, but I don't like to advertise all that much. Maybe just NRA and Gadsden, then balance off the other side with International Mountain Bike Association. Confuse 'em, that's what I say.

og said...

It's all about maintenance.My first exploder, which I still have, is well over 400,000 miles, and I intend for it to get to half a million.

The things that have failed on it have been things like shocks, brakes, rotors, fuel pumps and water pumps,which cannot be "maintained". All the parts on the vehicle which can be kept in good nick by the occasional application of lubricants are still mostly oiginal.

If someone isn't in the habit of keeping their own vehicles themselves, instead trusting to the ministrations of others, owning a more complex vehicle is more expensive. Owning something ridiculous like a BMW X3, which is (Compared to an explorer, or a Land Rover) a horrid off road vehicle is doubly expensive, since the CV halfshafts which cost $92 on an Explorer cost $1100 on the BMW. Subarus, very nice cars made right here in Indiana, are also very economical to drive and to maintain (Usually). And a frigging blast to drive, too, but God help you if you have a weak bladder (that could just be because I'm almost as big as the car; normal sized people might find them more comfy)

Anonymous said...

293K on a '97 Outback. 'Nuf said.

JT

wv="logglu" the stuff that holds trees together

Tam said...

Og,

"Owning something ridiculous like a BMW X3, which is (Compared to an explorer, or a Land Rover) a horrid off road vehicle..."

As the industry long ago figured out, people don't buy "tall wagons" to go off-roading.

Car-based SUV's are naught but minivans with chest toupees or booster seats for seeing over traffic.

blindshooter said...

I have a 97 F150 showing 369k, one alternator, one belt, one idle air bypass valve, 2 sets plugs/wires and the EGR return holes cleaned twice. Forgot how many tires, brakes, filters and such. Can't get anything for it so I keep it just so I can drive something smaller and still have a hauler when I need it. The smaller one is a 01 Escape with 229k. I have had to replace some seals and oil pan gaskets on that one.

og said...

"Car-based SUV's are naught but minivans with chest toupees or booster seats for seeing over traffic."

Which is a horrible shame. Mercedes actually knows how to make a real off road vehicle (Gwagons) and they persist in foisting off trash like the M class. The worst part is, most people who will buy a Gwagon not only have no idea how to use it, but will never let it's tires touch grass. BMW has the AWD technology down, too, and they don't use it. Dumbasses.

Tam said...

Og,

Why not go on?

Nissan and Toyota both make tremendously capable offroad vehicles, as well as silliness like the Altima-based Murano and the Corolla-based RAV-4.

Hell, Ford apparently decided that nobody off-roads Explorers anymore, with the latest generation.

og said...

"Hell, Ford apparently decided that nobody off-roads Explorers anymore, with the latest generation."

Shamefully, this is true. Which is why when I got my second, I bought an old, real one, with an all-cast-iron V8.

Nissans aren't quite as nice as Isuzus in this respect, but the Hilux may be the pinnacle of off-roading utility. And the F40- even the new one- is a damned nice vehicle. Only real problemis the Hilux will beat you senseless. I stood in the back of a Toyota and thought it was gonna break both my legs, while the back of a land Rover was gentle and civilized, by comparison, even with giant leaf springs.

the Isuzu Rodeo Bighorns and Troopers are very, very nice vehicles, both to drive and to work on, I'm very impressed with everything but the durability of their sheetmetal.

og said...

And thankfully, though they make a lot of shitty cushymobiles too, you can still buy a real Jeep from Jeep.

WV: expumpo. My 16 mpg truck is seldom expumpo.

Anonymous said...

I was griping to a Toy salesman about the 1986 change to a wishbone front end on the 4WDs. He pointed out that I was only 20% of the market, doing "real" off-road driving.

I love "flat" cars like the old Lotus Elan and the Chev-Healey I once had, but Exploders and such let you see over the incompetents in their snot-bubbles.

'Rat

Tam said...

Og,

I'll say this for some of the more shamelessly car-like "crossovers": I've driven both the Nissan Murano and its Intiniti FX sibling, and both are serious enough in the on-road performance department to make me reconsider my hostility toward anything that isn't a sports car/sports sedan.

I wouldn't mind some luggage space, AWD, and being able to see over traffic, but I wasn't willing to deal with a sluggish-handling, wallowing hog of a vehicle to get it. The FX-45 was especially eye-opening; it drove like it was a lot lower to the ground...

og said...

Tam: Have you driven the Forester? On bumpy roads or offroad, it's hard on you, but on smooth roads it's OK, and for a lot of the driving you do it's probably a pretty good fit. It also corners like it's on rails, or at least the one I drove did. Similar suspension to the WRX, after all, and you can use a lot of the WRX aftermarket suspension parts on it.

Lazy Bike Commuter said...

Or get a Forester XT, which has pretty much the WRX drivetrain in it too.

I very nearly got a Forester instead of my Outback, but the Forester on the lot was an automatic and I was less sure of it's mechanical well-being.

Speaking of the new Explorers...at least when they completely neutered them, they also came out with the Raptor. Part of me wants Raptor and a desert. Or a Rally Fighter and a desert.

pax said...

My beloved (and well-dented) '92 Toyota Camry has 366k on the odo. I don't think it will ever die. If it does, I'm scouring teh internets for another.

I think it's obscene to throw away a functional automobile...

og said...

I have to admit some serious cravings for a Flex, just because of it's 50's station wagon looks. if they made it in a real 4wd and put a decent engine in it, I'd be there.

Marja said...

Ladas seem to be pretty long lasting things. At least the couple I have owned, I'm still driving the Samara I bought 2002, and I did use it for 8 years in my job as a morning paper carrier (drive a few hundred meters, stop the car for 10 to 20 minutes, start it and drive another few hundred meters, repeat this for four hours...) and it still runs well enough.

Biggest problem: those things are worth nothing after a couple of years of use, no resell value, so the best way to go is, usually, just to drive the car until more than a couple of places per year start falling apart, then sell it to a junkyard. And probably buy another slightly used one.

Joe in PNG said...

Here, in a land where the 'good roads' tend to be the ones that have pavement to define the potholes...

I was discussing Toyota Hiluxes with a few others just yesterday, and happened to wonder after one I drove frequently about 11 years ago- a 2.4D double cab that was pretty old back in '99. Well, it's still going strong.

Clarkson is right, you can't hardly kill one.

perlhaqr said...

Mercedes actually knows how to make a real off road vehicle (Gwagons) and they persist in foisting off trash like the M class.

Enh, the Gelaendewagen is nice, but I used to own a Unimog. Now that is an off-road vehicle.

Of course, there is something to be said for being able to do 55 mph, and not getting 4 mpg.

CGHill said...

I frankly prefer the FX35 to its V8-powered brethren: at 300 or so, it's not really lacking in horsepressure, and there's a lot to be said for not spending the extra ten grand for two more cylinders.

That said, for about FX35 money you can get a droptop Murano, or so I'm told: I've never actually seen one on the road, and the pictures pretty much tell you why.

Standard Mischief said...

The honda? yea, if nothing goes freakishly wrong with the timing belt.

The subaru? Well with mine, the factory manual was split into 4 books, each over a hundred bucks. And they deliberately decided to split up the repair procedures such that you would need to own all four books. And the digital equivalent of the points in my 85? $450 each for a epoxy potted piece of crap that broke twice.

Now I drive cars that are popular enough that the after-market keeps repair parts and information from being a total goat rape.

(prices quoted are well over a decade old)

Tennessee Budd said...

I have a 2004 F-150 and several motorcycles, all Honda DOHC models. What else could I possibly need?

farmist said...

Retired the '87 Toyota pickup (22R-TE) at 225,xxx when the timing chain got noisy. Retired the '88 Camry at 330,xxx when it wouldn't pass inspection because of rust - mechanically it still ran like a top and got 30+mpg. Mrs is now driving an '04 Accord with 170,xxx, runs like new, also 30+mpg.

Will said...

Regarding those CV Joints:

If the boot goes bad, and you can't afford to fix it right away: Get a can of m'cycle chain lube (non-oring type*, I prefer the PJ1 black/yellow can). Liberally spray the joint (don't fill the boot) and let it sit for a while (all day if possible). Repeat a couple times a year.

*(o-ring type is designed to protect the outside of a chain, and has no penetrating ability. The non-oring type is designed to penetrate as a light oil and then congeal into a heavy grease)

og said...

"Enh, the Gelaendewagen is nice, but I used to own a Unimog"

I have had some fun in a Unimog. Will pull a Hummer sideways through door-handle deep mud, that one will. Good fun!

Joat said...

I've bought Cherokees sight unseen with more than 200k miles on them. Not the greatest mileage but lots of room and they work well off road an they can pull a 7,000 lb trailer if you get one with a good rear axle. And I use them for both jobs. My current daily driver has 260k and I think tires are going to cost me more that the jeep did.

the pawnbroker said...

Late to this one, and I can't speak to the Rolling Dead anyway...I like to swap vehicles and rarely take one past the bumper-to-bumper warranty.

But as to some of the high-milers others have mentioned: Ford trucks are undergoing some big lineup changes. I just bought a Ranger because this is the last year for them and they're a deal; my four-door supercab XLT 4X4 MSRP was 27,500 and I paid 18,500 and I got 20 in trade for my '08 Ram Quad Hemi 4X4 (bought in August '08 when gas hit 4.25; the Dodge dealer ran a 40% off sticker sale on any full-size truck...MSRP 40, paid 24). After a couple hundred for fees, I drove out with the little truck and a check for 1200.

And in a couple of years I would expect the Ranger to fetch just a couple thousand less than I paid because it's the last of its breed and you can't buy anything with four wheel drive for that price.

Apparently Ford doesn't plan to have a small truck platform going forward. The F-150 has an available twin-turbo V6 that way outperforms the available V8; it cranks out 365 HP and tons of torque at low revs, tows 12,000 lbs, and turns a consistent 92-94 mph quarter mile...and it's rated at 22mpg highway, 2 mpg more than the little current Ranger V6. I'd have liked to have one, but I don't really need it and can't justify the extra 10,000, wifey doesn't like to drive a big truck, plus that would eff up my plan to break pretty even when I make my next contrarian trade.

The complications inherent in these new ones might not bode well for them taking their place next to their brethren in the quarter-million mile club, but that's not really a factor for me, though I do like to admire those old survivors. But I am trying to get past the old-guy tendency to cling to simplicity, as I have been convinced that the new stuff, largely due to electronic systems, is vastly superior to the old...at least in the short term; time will tell as to longevity.

Justthisguy said...

I got my '83 Mazda B-2000 new in late '82, and ran it until sometime in 2005. Toward the end it was hard to get even used junk parts for it. I figure that was because everybody else who had one did as I did, and ran it until it dropped. Oh God I miss that truck!

It was the last of the old-fashioned vehicles, having an all-brass radiator, a carburetor,no electronics except for an op amp in the wiper delay circuit, rebuildable water pump, et multiple cetera. I had to adjust the valves from time to time, but that was a soothing discipline for me. There was nothing in that truck I could not work on and fix, given the proper tools and parts. I remember putting a helicoil into its carburetor.

Justthisguy said...

P.s. My cat really liked it too. He doesn't seem to care for the F-150 I have now.