Economic Indicator, Quality Indicator or Lifestyle Shift?

Apr 2013
37,595
25,662
La La Land North
#1
I receive a daily business email from CNBC. It had this headline this morning which got me thinking. Is this due to a slow economy or is it more indicative that cars are now better built and last longer, or is it that a shiny new car isn't the "must have" status symbol it once was?

Despite near record high auto sales, the latest data from IHS Automotive shows the average age of vehicles in America has again climbed to an all-time high of just over 11.4 years.
Just ignore the Obama bashing.
 
Last edited:
Jun 2013
5,662
1,730
Katmandu
#2
I receive a daily business email from CNBC. It had this headline this morning which got me thinking. Is this due to a slow economy or is it more indicative that cars are now better built and last longer, or is it that a shiny new car isn't the "must have" status symbol it once was?



Just ignore the Obama bashing.
You have to drive it till the wheels fall off here in the Obamaconomy.

I noticed that Government Motors has slide to number three automaker now.
 
Oct 2010
67,373
27,271
Colorado
#3
I receive a daily business email from CNBC. It had this headline this morning which got me thinking. Is this due to a slow economy or is it more indicative that cars are now better built and last longer, or is it that a shiny new car isn't the "must have" status symbol it once was?



Just ignore the Obama bashing.
Too late....

Cars are much better built now. I haven't purchased a new car since 1992. It makes no economic sense to buy a new car, but if you do you should keep it 11.4 years, at least.
 
Likes: 2 people
Feb 2014
12,580
7,844
nunya
#4
Too late....

Cars are much better built now. I haven't purchased a new car since 1992. It makes no economic sense to buy a new car, but if you do you should keep it 11.4 years, at least.
I generally agree with your statement. Automobiles for the most part can go a lot longer, especially drive train wise. That's assuming a 3-5k oil/filter change and some of that pesky preventative maintenance. The oil change thing gets me. All the automobiles today have the "don't worry the car will tell you when its time for an oil change". I have never ever trusted that horse shit. Especially on todays higher RPM 4-6 cylinder vehicles.
 
Likes: 1 person
Oct 2010
67,373
27,271
Colorado
#5
I generally agree with your statement. Automobiles for the most part can go a lot longer, especially drive train wise. That's assuming a 3-5k oil/filter change and some of that pesky preventative maintenance. The oil change thing gets me. All the automobiles today have the "don't worry the car will tell you when its time for an oil change". I have never ever trusted that horse shit. Especially on todays higher RPM 4-6 cylinder vehicles.
I've got a 2008 Honda Element. The redline is 6500 rpm, but on the highway at 65 mph the four-banger is only turning ~2000 rpm. I think back to a 1979 Accord I owned. At 55 mph it was turning ~3000 rpm.

Engine technology has come a long way. Closer tolerances mean the oil stays cleaner longer. I'm using full synthetic in the Element, and I replaced the auto tranny fluid with synthetic. That made a huge difference, much, MUCH smoother shifts, hardly perceptible.

I recently set the valves, and that made a huge difference. I can't hear or feel the car at a warm idle. Thankfully, Honda has a lock-out on the starter. If it's running, even if you turn the key to start the starter won't engage. It's saved me a couple of times.
 
Mar 2013
9,803
10,525
Middle Tennessee
#6
I generally agree with your statement. Automobiles for the most part can go a lot longer, especially drive train wise. That's assuming a 3-5k oil/filter change and some of that pesky preventative maintenance. The oil change thing gets me. All the automobiles today have the "don't worry the car will tell you when its time for an oil change". I have never ever trusted that horse shit. Especially on todays higher RPM 4-6 cylinder vehicles.
What you fail to understand is the oils themselves are vastly superior to those from just a few years ago. It is the automakers, not the oil companies driving the oil technology. The additive packages in todays oils are just phenomenal.

Unleaded fuel and fuel injection has greatly reduced the contaminants that used to wind up in oil. Most new engines are now coming with direct injection which is even more efficient. Engines heat up much faster and run hotter, most don't even turn the fans on until 220 deg F, unless you have the a/c on. Even then the fans are for the a/c, not to cool the engine. Metallurgy and sealing technologies are light years ahead of where they were.

RPM plays little roll in the normal wear and tear of the average engine. Ford proved that 40 years ago. They took 100 Comets and Falcons down to Daytona I think. Half were 6 cyl, half were V8. Half were automatics and half manual trans. They Put them on the track at 100 mph. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 100,000 miles. They only stopped to add fuel, change oil and drivers. They did not have a single car fall out of the test. They took them back to the factory, tore them down and had NO measurable engine wear.

At a meeting I went to a few years ago, Mobil 1 had become the recommended oil for certain high performance cars. The engineers told us of a test. They had take a new very high horse power car right off the assembly line. It came factory filled with Mobil 1. Every 10 thousand miles, they changed the filter and added about one quart of oil, to replace what they lost while changing the filter. At 100,000 miles of normal daily driving, they pulled the engine and tore it down. It had ZERO wear.

I actually had the pleasure of meeting the engineer that did the research for one company's oil life monitor. She had a Phd in chemical engineering and had spent a year on that one project. They went from northern Canada (minus 40 deg F) to Death Valley (140 plus degrees). Short trips, long trips and everything in between. She knew what she was talking about. I trust the oil change light.

Cars themselves are infinitely better. The worst car on the road today, would have been a top ten contender in the JD Power surveys from 10 years ago. The best cars from 20 years ago, wouldn't even make the list today.

Many dealership service departments are struggling these days because the warranty work has simply gone away. I know one manufacturer has seen a 50% drop in warranty in the last five years. They had already seen a 50% drop in the previous 10 years.

20 years ago, only 20% of cars sold ever returned to the dealership during their warranty period. Today that figure is closer to 5%.

In spite of the absolute explosion of electronics on todays cars, the truth is they just don't break down as often. I can remember when IF a car made it to 100,000 miles, was still running, and hadn't needed major work, it had been a very good car. It was now worn out and used up. It would need major work.

Today, if a car doesn't go 100,000 miles without major work, YOU DID SOMETHING WRONG !!!

If 11 years is the average ?? How many 15 and 20 year old cars are out there cruising around ? When I was growing up, 20 year old cars were pretty rare unless they were extremely well maintained or had some collector value or potential. Even if the power train didn't fail, the bodies were almost certainly going to rust and the interiors just rotted to pieces.
 
Jun 2013
28,864
15,448
Ohio
#7
I generally agree with your statement. Automobiles for the most part can go a lot longer, especially drive train wise. That's assuming a 3-5k oil/filter change and some of that pesky preventative maintenance. The oil change thing gets me. All the automobiles today have the "don't worry the car will tell you when its time for an oil change". I have never ever trusted that horse shit. Especially on todays higher RPM 4-6 cylinder vehicles.
Go to fully synthetic oil. You can easily double your time between oil changes.
 
Jun 2013
5,662
1,730
Katmandu
#8
What you fail to understand is the oils themselves are vastly superior to those from just a few years ago. It is the automakers, not the oil companies driving the oil technology. The additive packages in todays oils are just phenomenal.

Unleaded fuel and fuel injection has greatly reduced the contaminants that used to wind up in oil. Most new engines are now coming with direct injection which is even more efficient. Engines heat up much faster and run hotter, most don't even turn the fans on until 220 deg F, unless you have the a/c on. Even then the fans are for the a/c, not to cool the engine. Metallurgy and sealing technologies are light years ahead of where they were.

RPM plays little roll in the normal wear and tear of the average engine. Ford proved that 40 years ago. They took 100 Comets and Falcons down to Daytona I think. Half were 6 cyl, half were V8. Half were automatics and half manual trans. They Put them on the track at 100 mph. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 100,000 miles. They only stopped to add fuel, change oil and drivers. They did not have a single car fall out of the test. They took them back to the factory, tore them down and had NO measurable engine wear.

At a meeting I went to a few years ago, Mobil 1 had become the recommended oil for certain high performance cars. The engineers told us of a test. They had take a new very high horse power car right off the assembly line. It came factory filled with Mobil 1. Every 10 thousand miles, they changed the filter and added about one quart of oil, to replace what they lost while changing the filter. At 100,000 miles of normal daily driving, they pulled the engine and tore it down. It had ZERO wear.

I actually had the pleasure of meeting the engineer that did the research for one company's oil life monitor. She had a Phd in chemical engineering and had spent a year on that one project. They went from northern Canada (minus 40 deg F) to Death Valley (140 plus degrees). Short trips, long trips and everything in between. She knew what she was talking about. I trust the oil change light.

Cars themselves are infinitely better. The worst car on the road today, would have been a top ten contender in the JD Power surveys from 10 years ago. The best cars from 20 years ago, wouldn't even make the list today.

Many dealership service departments are struggling these days because the warranty work has simply gone away. I know one manufacturer has seen a 50% drop in warranty in the last five years. They had already seen a 50% drop in the previous 10 years.

20 years ago, only 20% of cars sold ever returned to the dealership during their warranty period. Today that figure is closer to 5%.

In spite of the absolute explosion of electronics on todays cars, the truth is they just don't break down as often. I can remember when IF a car made it to 100,000 miles, was still running, and hadn't needed major work, it had been a very good car. It was now worn out and used up. It would need major work.

Today, if a car doesn't go 100,000 miles without major work, YOU DID SOMETHING WRONG !!!

If 11 years is the average ?? How many 15 and 20 year old cars are out there cruising around ? When I was growing up, 20 year old cars were pretty rare unless they were extremely well maintained or had some collector value or potential. Even if the power train didn't fail, the bodies were almost certainly going to rust and the interiors just rotted to pieces.
In general I agree with everything you said.

There are still issues with some models like the Toyota oil sludge problem in their V6 in the 2000s and Nissan's 2.5L oil consumption issues during the same time period. I got burned by both of those. Drive by wire has reduced the abuse that today's cars get. When you stomp the pedal, it is just a request, the car decides how it will react.

I am on the road a lot and am very hard on cars. The transmission came out of my 2012 just before the warranty expired.

Our fleet cars get 7,500 oil changes with synthetic blend.
 
Apr 2013
37,595
25,662
La La Land North
#9
Many new cars, mine included come with synthetic oil and to maintain the validity of the warranty, only synthetic is allowed to be used. The other thing I find sort of hard to accept is that it uses 5-20 synthetic. My b-i-l, a licenced mechanic says that is largely for gas mileage and is possible now with the far better performance of the synthetic oils.

But even in the old days, I was always taught that cold starts and idling were the worst thing for engine wear
 
Jun 2013
5,662
1,730
Katmandu
#10
Many new cars, mine included come with synthetic oil and to maintain the validity of the warranty, only synthetic is allowed to be used. The other thing I find sort of hard to accept is that it uses 5-20 synthetic. My b-i-l, a licenced mechanic says that is largely for gas mileage and is possible now with the far better performance of the synthetic oils.

But even in the old days, I was always taught that cold starts and idling were the worst thing for engine wear
The Fords I have had since 1997 called for 5w 20, everything else is 5w 30.

I've driven 4 to 300,000, 2 of those with no major drive train issues.
 

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