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Can a car last forever if maintained?

Make Your Car Run Forever: Five Tips

How do you make sure your car runs forever, even when the cosmetics start to look their age? It might be a simpler process than you'd expect!

Posted 2:21 am by admin & filed under Used Auto Parts.

There’s nothing more frustrating than a car that suddenly won’t start when you’re already late for work. Every car owner has probably dealt with this at least once in his or her life; but it’s something that’s easily avoidable if you take proper care of your car. Even if you drive a beater of a vehicle with only one working window and a steering wheel that looks as though it’s been chewed by a gerbil, it’s possible to keep your car’s engine running perfectly for years.

But how do you make your car run forever, even when the cosmetics start to look their age? It might be a simpler process than you’d expect!

Here are a few tips for making sure your vehicle stays in tip top condition until you’re good and ready to buy a newer model!

1. Change Your Oil Regularly

This may seem like an obvious tip, and it is, but it’s an important one nonetheless. A regular oil change is an easy and cheap way to ensure that your engine stays well-lubricated and young even when your car is getting up there in years. Regularly changing your oil is essential to your car’s upkeep. If you do allow your car to go many months and thousands of miles without an oil change, it can really affect the performance of your engine.

2. Check Your Tire Pressure

Again, this may seem like a small thing, but keeping your tires nicely pumped up will not only make your tires last longer, it will also ensure that you get better miles-to-the-gallon as you’re driving. Keeping your tires at optimal air pressure will also make you less susceptible for flats or torn tires.

3. Be Aware of all Those Bumps, Rattles and Rat-Tat-Tats

Don’t be afraid to be one of “those people” who call up their local mechanic at the smallest strange sound rattling around in their engine. Sure, chances are it’s nothing – but if you’re wary and attuned to your cars little moans and groans, you have a better chance of catching problems before they become serious, and expensive.

4. Read the Manual

Your car’s manual will have a detailed explanation of when and how to keep your car maintained. It’s tempting to let a couple months slide when it comes to your oil change or tire rotation; but in order to keep your car running for years, you will definitely want to follow the manual. Each car’s manual is slightly different than the next – so read through each one whenever you get a new car.

5. Maintain an Emergency Fund

Of course, even if you keep your car well maintained, accidents still happen. Sometimes it’s that guy in the grocery store parking lot who dings up the paint on your driver’s side door; or sometimes it’s a legitimate fender-bender that leaves you with thousands of dollars in repairs and medical bills. Either way, it’s important that you keep a decent-sized nest egg in your savings for just such emergencies. It’s never a comfortable feeling to know that your car isn’t safe to drive because you just don’t have the money to fix it. No one should be in that situation if you can help it at all.

Of course, these tips are helpful for any car, make or model; but it’s helpful if you already have a decent vehicle. For example, a junker that’s not made well is basically always going to be a junker. You can keep it running for a while with regular maintenance; but it probably won’t last forever. Try to invest in a decent new or gently used vehicle if you truly want a car that will last you for years. Japanese cars are typically very well made, and several American brands are also gaining accolades as well-made and long-lasting vehicles.

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It’s also important to make any necessary repairs as quickly as possible. Keeping a repair fund is useless if you procrastinate for months on replacing those brakes or your transmission. Be on top of your car – that’s the best possible way to keep your vehicle in tip-top condition. Regular maintenance and routine checks to scan for any damages or needed repairs; and everything else is just advice.

Cars just need a little love, like pretty much everything else in your life. You provide them with plenty of TLC, and you’ll have years of loyal love and devotion from your vehicle.

You Can’t Make Your Car ‘Perfect,’ and You Won’t Keep It Forever

Doug DeMuro explains why the idea of keeping and maintaining a car forever doesn’t really make sense—financially or emotionally.

by Doug DeMuro | PUBLISHED Feb 22, 2023 3:30 PM EST

You Can’t Make Your Car ‘Perfect,’ and You Won’t Keep It Forever


Doug DeMuro

Doug DeMuro View doug demuro’s Articles

The worst decision I’ve ever made with a car. That’s a tough one, folks, and it’s not because I’ve got this whole car thing down to the point where everything I do is fantastically brilliant. On the contrary: I’ve made so many bad decisions with cars that there are times when I wonder if I’ve picked the wrong thing to be interested in, and if I should instead devote my life, my passion, and my YouTube channel to decorative drink coasters.

Editor’s Note: Doug wrote this last year to answer the prompt «what’s the worst decision you’ve made with a car» for a series. Since he’s selling his 1994 Audi RS2 Avant this week, illustrating exactly the point made in this story, we’re re-running it for those who missed it—and for those of us who still need to read these words of wisdom.

There was, for example, the time that a 17-year-old Doug was cited for going 76 mph in a 35 zone, which resulted in a 100-hour community service sentence that I served by scanning returned books at the library. Beep, boop, beep, boop, all day long at the library for weeks on end, simply because I had to find out what speed my 1996 Volvo 850 Turbo could reach in a tunnel. (Eighty-one, it turned out.)

Or how about the time that I wanted a Mercedes-Benz G500, but I was also 23, meaning I HAD TO HAVE IT RIGHT NOW—so I bought the closest one on Autotrader without any due diligence or inspection. It was perfectly shiny on top, but underneath it was so rusty that it looked like an artifact Robert Ballard brought back from the Titanic. I sold that to CarMax after about six weeks of ownership, and I lost $10,000.

I have a lot of these stories, and I’ve spent the last few days mulling over exactly which one to tell here, but I think I’ve finally zeroed in on it: The time I tried to make my 2007 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon perfect.

Doug DeMuro

Before I explain why this was such a mistake, allow me to provide a little history here. When I graduated from college in 2010, I simultaneously accepted jobs working for Porsche Cars North America by day and writing articles for Autotrader on evenings and weekends. Putting the two jobs together earned me over $100,000 per year, which was more money than I could then fathom, as a 21-year-old whose primary source of wealth, up until that point, was a plastic card issued by my university that was refilled periodically by my parents so I could eat Froot Loops in the dining hall.

Another important point here: Back then I lived in Georgia, which had the incredible advantage of having no sales tax on private car sales. If you were an individual, and you bought a car from an individual, you paid no sales tax. And, dear reader, there is nothing on the planet more dangerous than a 21-year-old with newfound money who doesn’t have to pay taxes on his purchases.

As you can imagine, I cycled through cars at an unbelievable pace during this period: I had a 1993 Mercedes-Benz 500E for three months, a 2004 Cadillac CTS-V for five months, a 2006 Lotus Elise for six months. There were six weeks with the G500 and only a little longer with a 1998 BMW M3 sedan. It really was a fever dream of car purchases, fueled by low living expenses, this favorable tax law, and the reality of being 21. I had approximately the same level of mental fortitude as my dog, Noodle, whose only certainty in life is that he wants to come inside, roughly 24 seconds after you just put him out. Indeed, no matter what car I had just bought, I REALLY HAD TO HAVE a completely different car. RIGHT NOW.

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At some point, I decided that I REALLY HAD TO HAVE a Mercedes-Benz AMG wagon. This was back in 2012, so there was only one generation of AMG wagon that I could reasonably afford–the W211 model, which was offered as the E55 AMG Wagon in 2005 and 2006, and the E63 AMG Wagon from 2007 to 2009. Mercedes-Benz had sold approximately 300 total across both models, and finding one was virtually impossible–but I did. I bought a 2007 AMG Wagon from a guy in Indiana who got so drunk the night before I arrived that he forgot to pick me up at the airport. Then, during my test drive, he preceded to lock himself out of his own house. These were red flags that should’ve told me “this isn’t the guy you want to buy an expensive, high-performance European used car from”–or, perhaps, “this person is about as trustworthy as a meerkat.” Sure, in retrospect, I SHOULD have figured that out. But you don’t understand: I REALLY HAD TO HAVE this car.

When I got home to Atlanta, I discovered that there were some flaws with my wagon–and this is where my bad decision really took form: I told myself that this time, with THIS car, I would own it forever. So I had to make it perfect. And I set out doing exactly that.

The tires on the car were fine. Good tread, decent brand, fine. But simply “fine” would not stand for my New Wagon That I Will Own Forever, so I replaced the tires with an expensive new set of Michelin Pilot Sports.

The brakes on the car were aging, but fine. AMG brakes from this era are incredibly expensive – even the regular steel ones. And I seem to remember the fronts alone cost as much as a cheap Craigslist beater–or at least what those once cost, before the chip shortage put the cost of a used Corolla at approximately the same level as getting an elevator installed in your home. Anyway, the brakes weren’t quite ready to go, but I had to make it perfect, this Wagon That I Will Own Forever – so I had them replaced.

There were a lot of things like this. Minor cosmetic imperfections were replaced and perfected. Anything with wear was eliminated, replaced, perfected. The very worst example was when I would accelerate in my Wagon That I Will Own Forever, I heard a small whine. Nothing major, almost completely imperceptible–the kind of thing where I would notice it, and my wife wouldn’t hear a peep, and it would eventually create a rift in our relationship so large that it would lead to a Seinfeld-style breakup. (“She didn’t hear the noise, Jerry! Do you believe it?”)

But I noticed it, so I had the differential replaced. The entire differential. This was like four grand, but remember, folks: this isn’t just any car. This is a SPECIAL car. This is the Wagon That I Will Own Forever. When I got the car back after the differential replacement, the whine was still there – but SLIGHTLY quieter. At the time, a huge victory.

Two things happened next. One, as I kept replacing stuff, as I kept pouring money into the Wagon That I Will Own Forever, it … kept breaking. This was not Mercedes-Benz’s finest era of quality. And at the same time I was dumping money into my “just a few more months and it’ll be perfect” E63 AMG Wagon, the check engine light would go on. Some sensor would fail. A window motor would stop working. So as I was trying to make this 70,000-mile used car “perfect,” it was simultaneously trying to do the exact opposite, like a petulant child who wants to go to bed, but now that he knows YOU also want him to go to bed, he’s going to find out what happens when you un-roll the toilet paper down the stairs.

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The author, after encountering his old car on the street years after he sold it in 2021. Doug DeMuro

And that’s the first lesson I learned here, folks: your aging used car will never be perfect, so stop trying to make it so. I probably dumped $12,000 into my AMG Wagon over the course of a year, and it was NEVER perfect. And even if you do somehow attain that dream of perfection, you’ll get to a point where you won’t actually want to use the car, because it’s then too perfect. I have friends like this. Days on end spent washing, waxing, polishing, replacing, refinishing, reupholstering … and when it comes time to head out to the canyons, they’re afraid to actually drive the car. “No, you go ahead, have fun!” they say. “I’ll join the next drive.” But they never do, because their car is too perfect – and the only true satisfaction they get is pulling into the garage after cars and coffee, knowing the car has made it through an outing unscathed. And then they do a full paint correction.

The second lesson I learned here, though, is a more obvious one to me now that I’ve grown up a bit: there’s probably no such thing as a car you will keep forever. Now, this is the internet, and so I know some guy out there has a 1936 Hupmobile he bought from Jimmy Smith’s Hupmobile Emporium in Salinas, Kansas, in the summer of 1935, and he’s kept it all these years, and he’s going to figure out how to use a computer, and set up an e-mail address, and sign up for social media, just to send me a tweet telling me I’m wrong.

Yes, there are exceptions. But generally speaking, for the vast majority of enthusiasts and normal people alike, that Car You Will Own Forever? You will not own it forever.

I’ve lost track of how many car enthusiasts have come up to me at events, how many people I’ve met on the street, how many friends I’ve talked to, who tell me they have some special car they are NEVER GOING TO SELL, a car they will keep until they die, a car they will pass along to their children, and then I’ll talk to them a year later, and guess what? That was actually two cars ago, and oh, they never said they’d keep it FOREVER, I must’ve misremembered. That car? Forever? Nahhhh. The Toyota dealer gave them a great trade offer on a TRD Pro, so they traded it in. But oh, by the way, the TRD Pro? Now THAT, I’m keeping forever.

Well, folks, I’m here to tell you: it ain’t happening. There’s no such thing as “forever” when you’re a car enthusiast who’s been given the fantastic gift of depreciation–God’s consolation prize for the cost of maintenance and repairs. Your dream car that may be unattainable now will be in your price range in four years–and there’s another dream car coming down the pike after that. Two of the four fun cars I have sitting in my garage right now, I bought from guys who told me they thought they’d never sell.

Doug DeMuro

So, here’s the worst decision I’ve ever made with a car: dumping money into a car and trying to make it perfect because I believed I would own it forever. In the case of my E63 AMG Wagon, “forever” turned out to be less than a year, and my total loss was around $16,000, most of which came from replacing and fixing things that didn’t really need replacement or fixing, all in the pursuit of perfection.

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These days, of course, I regret all that. Now I actively try to keep a few flaws in my cars, just so I know they’ll never be completely perfect. And it seems like a good idea, right? This is a solid plan! Don’t focus on perfect. You won’t keep the car forever. Just enjoy it as it sits, use it, drive it, have fun with it!

I bet you’re sitting there nodding. I bet you’re sitting there in agreement, with a smile on your face, your opinion completely changed on this issue. I bet you’re thrilled at this newfound perspective.

I bet you will close this page and go right back to searching for that missing cupholder insert for the rear middle seat, which was only offered on Special Edition models during the first half of the 2003 model year.

I don’t blame you, though. You’re going to own this car forever.

This post originally appeared on Car Bibles. Doug DeMuro’s YouTube channel reaches more than 4 million subscribers. His writing has appeared in Jalopnik, Autotrader and other places, and he is the author of two books.

Why Not Keep Your Favorite Car Forever?

Cars can be like significant others. If the relationship is tumultuous, you can emerge from it with more gray hair than when it began. But when you’ve found “the one,” there’s a chance you’ll know immediately.

Then again, like Reb Tevye and his wife Golde in “Fiddler on the Roof,” it could be decades before you discover your affinity for the faithful companion who has been around for so long. For Grace Braeger, of West Bend, Wis., the connection she has with her 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air has been kind of a mix between the two.

She bought the car new and has been driving it ever since. The same is true of Irv Gordon, the retired Long Island high school teacher who just hit three million miles in his 1966 Volvo 1800S.

So what is it that makes some people keep cars forever and others to discard them after a few years? People in Cuba have done a nice job keeping Detroit iron alive for eons, but they’ve really had no choice. But what if more of us were like them; not because a restrictive economy forced us to be, but because we found ourselves able to really enjoy having the same car for that long?

Personally, I’ve owned quite a few vehicles in my lifetime, but I appreciate where these people seem to be coming from, as there have been a handful that I’ve kept for relatively long periods of time (for me) because utility or some other aspect drew me to them: an ’83 Toyota Camry hatchback that I would have kept forever if it hadn’t rusted into a heap of red flakes, and my current ’86 Subaru GL wagon, which – barring the crash that would certainly end its thin-gauge existence – refuses to die, among one or two others.

As with the denizens of Cuba, necessity can be the decider for many of us when it comes time to decide whether or not to assume the out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new mantra. But sometimes, there’s some familiarity we’d rather not shed. Owning a car can be such an intimate experience. The way you interact with it – how high you sit, what the steering wheel feels like in your hands, where the controls are located, and, most importantly how you feel when you’re driving it – determines your whole experience.

I called Ms. Braeger to see if she could shed some light on the question of why and how someone could keep a car for as long as she has. In the 2010 YouTube video posted above, she notes that lots of people say they used to have a ’57 Chevrolet they should have kept, to which she replies matter of factly, “Well, why didn’t you?”

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Interestingly enough, her perspective seems to have changed a little over the past few years. When I first learned of her, she just seemed very practical – she is – and someone who doesn’t let silly things like avarice cause her to get rid of something perfectly good. Something like the ’57 Bel Air of which she’s been the sole owner.

Here’s how it happened. Ms. Braeger told me that back in 1957, her 1950 Chevrolet Club coupe seemed like it wasn’t going to last much longer. There was some noise coming from it that someone had told her foreshadowed the car’s impending doom. She happened to be in Milwaukee at the time, and noticed a Chevrolet dealership with which she shared a name: Braeger Chevrolet. She met the owner, bought the new Bel Air, and drove it home.

“I guess I just thought I’d keep it until I needed a new one, but I never needed a new one,” she said. “A lot of other people have had ’57 Chevys, and they might be driving them, but it’s not their only car. It’s my only car.”

Ms. Braeger said that keeping up with the maintenance – changing the oil and getting regular tune-ups and the like – are all part of keeping a car a long time. But she also said the car – which she calls 57 Lady, because that’s what its license plates say – underwent a 14-month restoration back in the late ’80s. Until that time, it had been parked outside for most of its life, and needed some major repairs, including new floor pans and a new interior. Since then, she’s kept the car in a garage.

“The interior still looks new because I don’t take passengers and I keep it neat.”

Perhaps another reason Ms. Braeger has been able to keep her car for so long is because she stays away from modifications. As anyone who has modified a car knows, there’s a fine line between sprucing up your ride and ruining for yourself and all future buyers (I’m talking to you, fake hood scoop installers). She has avoided that risk by keeping the Bel Air as it came from the factory. When she took the car to a show in Milwaukee recently, she admitted to being baffled that a guy whose ’57 Chevy had a chrome covered engine and black-walled tires won the top awards.

“It didn’t seem authentic,” she said. “I had an extra set of wide white wall tires that I offered to give him, but he didn’t even want them.”

But at the end of the day, Ms. Braeger says she would like to experience new car ownership one more time in her life. As she advances in age into her late 80s, that time is getting shorter. Asked if she would consider selling her beloved ’57 Bel Air, she said, “If I got a really good offer, I’d sell it.”

She and 57 Lady have been through a lot together. With well over 100,000 miles on the clock, it has been through 23 mufflers – 21 of them, she said, were free under the Midas lifetime guarantee program. She and her car were even featured in a book dedicated to Chevrolet’s 100-year anniversary. And although she said she immediately fell for the car when she bought it, and has enjoyed it these many years, she thinks perhaps it’s time to move on. So Ms. Braeger is currently trying to get the car into the Guinness Book of Records for something, anything, in order to get the word out about her one-owner classic.

“As far as I’m concerned, I can’t get enough publicity so I can raise the value of the car,” she said, adding, “57 Lady is going to be 57 in 2014, and I’d still like a new car in my lifetime. I really don’t know what I’d chose, though.”

I guess it just goes to show that nothing can last forever.

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