• Nov 1, 2008
Economic doom and gloom might have you thinking differently about the vehicle sitting in your driveway. Keeping it alive a few extra years will head off increased expense, and cars are easily able to reach beyond 100,000 miles these days. Inveterate wrench-turners have long relished stretching their dollar by breaking out the tools. When you spend less than ten bucks to solder in a new set of regulator brushes in your alternator, you feel like you've won something; you've certainly saved a fistful of cash. So what do you spend time on repairing yourself versus going with remanufactured or new parts? Popular Mechanics has a quick guide that makes some good points about the repair versus replace conundrum. The general gist is that you'll be spending more time rebuilding calipers and rodding out radiator cores on your Fury III than you might on a Chevy Lumina, though both vehicles can be kept roadworthy for as long as you please with some savvy maintenance and repair without breaking the bank.

[Source: Popular Mechanics]


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  • 26 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      The amount of money people spend on doing the brakes on their car is staggering to me. The cost seems to be based on the importance of brakes, rather than the actual costs in doing the job, which with some research can be done by pretty much anyone.
      • 6 Years Ago
      100k? Please, my household's 4 cars have somewhere in the neighborhood of 777,000 miles combined.

      1993 Mercury Grand Marquis 4.6L (all original): 183,000
      1994 Geo Prizm 1.6L (replaced trans): 185,000
      2000 Dodge Intrepid 2.7L (all original): 195,000
      1989 Dodge Shadow 2.5L (all original): 214,000

      That's miles btw.
      • 6 Years Ago
      100K? Geez, any car built in the past 20 years should be able to roll past that even with heaps of neglect. If you take reasonable care of a car, I would expect 200K minimum.

      My '92 Chrysler is past 175K now with little more than routine maintenance.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Oh that's impossible. Everybody knows that American cars blow up within the first 50,000 miles. :rolleyes:

        I had a 93 Lumina that made it past 300k before being retired by it's third owner. Yes, you can get damn good reliability out of any car if you take care of it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Is it true that GM cars used to only have 5 digit odometers?
      If it is would the odometer just reset when went over 99,999?
      I just had a thought. What about the Canadian cars? Would they only show 99999 kilometers?
        • 6 Years Ago
        No, they would go back to 00000. My old 92 metro only had 5 digits and I rolled it over.
        • 6 Years Ago
        ALL cars used to have 5 digit odometers. I have a '71 Mercedes diesel with a 5 digit unit (that has rolled over a few times)
      • 6 Years Ago
      With economic recession ahead we really needed some post like this to save some bucks on car maintainence
        • 6 Years Ago
        The only problem with this article is that it seems quite out dated.

        This is 2008, and who really need to know how to solder up a copper radiator? Or know about 12V VW buggy conversions and 68 Mustang alternators?

        A better article would be to simply teach people how to propersly maintain the cars: cooling system flushes, transmission flushes (you can do it BETTER than the dealer, believe it or not), brake replacements, rubber belts, brake flushes, oil changes, etc.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I would love to know more about fixing my own car, because it does save tons of money - especially on the common stuff like brakes, tires (winter/summer) and spark plugs. A set of good brake pads will cost you $20, the shop will charge you $250 to install. But if you live in an urban setting, its tough to find a place to do it! And if you do find a place but something goes wrong or you get past your experience level and you're half-way through the job, what then? You have to get to work and your car is sitting in a friends driveway without any brakes.
        • 6 Years Ago
        good advice - is Haynes the best?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Get a Haynes Rapair Manual. Read the instructions BEFORE you touch your car. If any of it doesn't make sense or beyond your ability, don't do the work. If you are going to do the work, get started in the morning. That way parts stores are open should you need anything.
      • 6 Years Ago
      First off to answer someones question ..Yes all old cars had 5 didgit odometers and after 99,999 km or mi they went to zero.Look at the old cars for sale ever wonder how there are so many claimed low mi cars its 99% b.s you take care of them they look/drive as new.I used to buy comuter cars mostly 1970's Cordoba's,in the 90's very reliable I never knew how many actual miles were on them because they held up well and rolled over at 99,999 mi or kms and when I sold them ,when I tried to be honest saying the car has 260,000mi they wouldnt believe me, plus it was harder to sell so yeah 60,000 sounds better and you could not tell.I always had a long comute 30,000 mi a year and.I laugh when a 70 Cuda goes for sale and it only has 20,000 original miles but had a complete resto.and a replacement block ha!!!20,000 yeah right,those old cars ran and lasted forever with little maintance.My 70 Cuda 440 used as a comuter by my dad from 77-86 rolled over 3 times(300,000 miles) before I got it in 1993 drove another 40,000 before restoring it and my dad only replaced tires,brakes,rear end bearings and a carb rebuild,spark plugs,ignition wires of its 342,176 miles to be exact..and still ran 12.50's all day long.@230,000 miles on the clock...all stock mind you.(295 tires on 15 rallye wheels).Had original shiny paint though the drivers seat was ripped a little.Also i've had many newer cars,now a 2003 Ram with 180,000 miles comute vehicle also very reliable, tires,brakes that it so far..
      • 6 Years Ago
      Rust trumps all, taking strength out of bodies and frames, ruining electrical contacts, freezing fasteners. My mechanic buddy relies on his Tennessee socket set- a torch- to take old cars apart. Often there's no fastener to grab with any tool, and must be drilled and tapped out. Fine threads are the worst. Those who haven't spent a life drenched in salt have no idea.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I gotta agree with you, you can do maintenance all you want, if your car lives 50% of its life on a salty road its going to kill you. My old celica was a good example. The rear brake line rusted and broke up (follow that up with the 3 fuel lines/evap..). So the caliper had to be bleed..well, the bleeder was rusted shut...new caliper needed too. You see where all that sad stuff goes? :(..I sold it because of the rust, its just not fun fighting with rust.
        • 6 Years Ago
        My friend had a six year old Celica with fewer than 30k miles. It needed a fuel tank and lines, and brake lines, too. Cost was more than it was worth. It got traded in on another Toyota, believe it or not.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Most people have no idea how to maintain the car, let alone do the repairs....

      Topping up screenwash (windshield fluid in US English?) or oil is off-limits to most.
      Changing rubber bits on wipers?
      Forget it.
      Cleaning the the underside of the car?
      Why bother.
      Inflating tires?
      What's that.
      Inflating tires to the correct pressure?
      He?

      People are used to abuse their cars and treat them like kettles or microwaves, don't expect them to take care of their cars any time soon. It's been going on for generations and it will be hard to change people's ways. It's like teaching them to make dough from scratch, start fire without matches....

      Other thing is that modern cars have pushed many DIY stuff off limit even to enthusiasts. Yes, you can DIY ancient OHV engines, good luck with anything computer controlled VVT.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I Do this stuff already, and right now, I have access to a Full shop with Tire Changer, Balancer, Alignment Machine, and 2 4 Post lifts.
      • 6 Years Ago
      My daily driver is a 1986 Pontiac Fiero 4 cylinder. The turd of the bunch, but I do all of the maintenance myself, because most mechanics look at the car and shake their head. Also it is a quirky car that needs someone to understand the quirks. That car has been more reliable than any of my newer cars, and it gets better gas mileage. Most fixes on a car do not need special tools, and will take less than 2 hours to do even for a novice.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I own a BMW 7 series and the dealer wants an amazing $500.00 to change 8 spark plugs.

      A neighbor owns a 1967 Chevy Impala. It has been his daily driver for 41 years. He can replace 8 spark plugs in twenty minutes for $20 and not have to "reprogram the on board computer".

      I feel like the biggest sucker on the East coast.
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