BAY SHORE, N.Y. (AP) — It just keeps going, and going, and going. No, it's not a battery. It's IrvinGordon's 1966 Volvo P1800S.
Gordon's small, red two-door has well more than 2 million miles on the odometer, the equivalent of nearly 1,176 times across the globe.
The retired schoolteacher from Long Island hopes to reach the 3 million mile mark by next year. He only has 34,000 miles to go.
The 72-year-old Gordon drives his Volvo everywhere. He has held the Guinness World Records mark for High Mileage Vehicle since 2002 and was the first person to hold that record.
"It's just a car I enjoy driving," he said.
He bought his beloved car on June 30, 1966, for $4,150 at the age of 25. "It was a whole year's salary," he said.
Gordon originally wanted the convertible Volvo with air conditioning, but it was too expensive. He paid extra to have an AM/FM radio, though.
"It was $10 extra, and at that time, $10 was a lot. But an AM/FM radio was a big deal," he said.
Gordon's car has just enough room for him and his essentials. His front bumper is filled with pins of his mileage achievements. Even his license plate says "MILNMILER." And his trunk overflows with the many car parts he thinks he might need when on the road.
"I have a set of everything," he said. "If I have it, then I am not going to need it."
Gordon has been taking road trips since he was a kid and continued through his adult years. He says he would just tell his family to pack their things and hit the road. Gordon's two daughters went on his road trips until they outgrew the tiny red car.
"They just couldn't fit in the back anymore. That is when I bought the station wagon," he explained. "Volvo, of course."
His odometer doesn't have enough digits to display the actual mileage, but Gordon has tune-up records verifying it.
Now divorced, Gordon takes road trips alone. With trips to Montreal, Texas and Michigan in just the last month, the last leg of his trip should not be too hard. It took him 21 years to reach the first million miles and 15 more years to reach 2 million. Gordon averages 85,000 to 100,000 miles per year. Most of his trips are for auto shows, but he also takes trips across the country just for a good cup of coffee.
"I have had coffee in every state," Gordon said. "I am my own travel channel."
The avid driver believes in taking care of his car, and he doesn't let anyone else drive it.
"That's why I bought my girls their own cars," he said.
Jordan Weine is a mechanic at Bay Diagnostic, an auto shop based in Brooklyn and a Volvo expert. He says because Gordon takes care of his car, he is able to get high mileage without much change to the car's original mechanics. The car still has the original engine, though it was rebuilt twice in the car's lifetime.
"How high does a redwood grow? If it is not messed with, it will grow," said Weine, who hasn't worked on Gordon's car. "And there are very few redwood trees and the same goes with this. There are very few people that can achieve 3 million miles."
It is clear that Gordon loves his car and he can't imagine getting rid of it.
"Why would I want to get rid of it?" he asked. "Kind of like a good woman."
Gordon's car has brought him fame. Joe Brusack, a mechanic who worked on his car when it was on its millionth mile more than 20 years ago, said it's come a long way.
"I think it was just amazing that he got this far," he said.
Gordon himself is surprised every time he gets into his car and edges closer to his 3 million mile goal. But the miles have taken a toll on the car. Recently, some black tar got into the car's carburetor. He has to get that fixed before he can hit the road again.
Volvo has sent Gordon to trips around the country and the world to represent Volvo in auto shows.
"I don't think (just) any car could do it," said John Maloney, president and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America. "It is a combination of a car beloved by his owner that has gotten Irv to this mileage."
Gordon thinks that his Volvo will last way longer than 3 million miles.
"I have a feeling I'll be dead long before the car."
While you may not hit 3 million miles in your car, it is possible to achieve some serious longevity. The same way good genes keep humans living long lives, the quality of your car engine is the key to longevity. But, also just as with humans, diligent care is also key to getting your vehicle to last, and last, and last.
Follow these 5 tips and your car should last much longer than you may expect:
1. Aggressive Oil Change Practices
For every complete revolution the crankshaft makes, a piston travels up and down one time. We will call this a stroke. At 3800 RPM (Rotations Per Minute) and roughly 65MPH, each piston in a V8 engine strokes 475 times per minute or approximately 8 times per second! The pistons and cylinders are made of metal (subject to friction) and the average combustion chamber temperature is 1,000 + degrees at any given time. Would you say that these are intense conditions? The environmental conditions that the oil must deal with are friction, intense heat, and corrosive contaminants.
In short, the demands made on the oil are very "draining" (no pun intended). If left in the engine too long, the oil eventually loses its ability to lubricate, clean, inhibit rust and scale buildup, resist chemical contamination, absorb heat, resist vaporization and flow freely. This phenomenon is called "viscosity breakdown." Each function is extremely important to the performance and life of the engine. Changing the oil according to the factory service schedule is what we call "cheap insurance," with an extremely high return.
2. Aggressive Fluid Maintenance
In addition to engine oil, there are other fluids that need regular care if you want to realize maximum vehicle longevity.
Cooling system: The cooling system is responsible for keeping the engine operation temps at factory specs. Engine coolant, like oil, is formulated to do multiple things. For instance; absorb heat and carry it to the radiator where it is released, provide heat inside the vehicle when needed, inhibit rust and scale buildup and lubricate the water pump & resist freezing. If left in the cooling system too long, engine breakdown and/or failure becomes evident.
Transmission and drivetrain fluids: Transmissions, differentials, transfer cases, viscous couplers all rely on fluids or lubricants to operate properly. Ignore them and over time units break down and fail. Carmakers have set up a regular maintenance schedule for fluid drain intervals and filter replacement where applicable. Follow them. Four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive systems can use very specific fluid specifications along with drain service schedules, to realize maximum trouble-free mileage, follow the maintenance schedule to the tee.
Brake & steering fluids: Have the brake and steering fluid checked every time you have an oil change. If any fluid has to be added, find out why and repair it, as low fluid levels indicate leakage.
3. Regular Undercarriage Inspections
Whenever you go in for an oil change have the undercarriage checked for worn suspension and/or steering parts, brake systems, brake and fuel lines, tire wear, fluid leakage. Worn steering and/or suspension parts: Worn parts translate into poor cornering and handling and in extreme cases, loss of vehicle control, as well as premature tire replacement. Whenever worn parts are noticed, they should be replaced, as leaving them on the vehicle can result in additional wear to related parts.
Braking systems: Brakes should be checked every time the vehicle goes up on a lift. By being proactive and staying on top of brake system condition, you circumvent major brake failure in the form of drum and/or rotor replacement, caliper replacement and any other related brake system failures.
Brake and fuel lines: Brake and fuel lines are made of steel and thus are subject to rust and corrosion. Stay on top of rusty lines and replace or repair as necessary as a fuel line leak in the presence of an ignition source such as a hot exhaust pipe can result in a fire, or a burst brake line can result in loss of vehicle control due to complete loss of brakes.
Tire wear: Tire wear can tell a trained eye if the vehicle needs an alignment or steering or suspension component replacement. If when the vehicle goes on a lift, you have the tire wear checked, you can circumvent premature tire replacement.
Fluid leakage: Tend to any and all fluid leakages immediately because when fluids are allowed to run dry, component damage occurs.
4. Performance Systems And The "Check Engine" Light
In order to realize maximum engine and electronic engine management system longevity, tend to all lit check engine lights and regularly scheduled maintenance tune ups according to factory recommendations. If a malfunctioning performance system is left unchecked, poor fuel mileage, inefficient combustion, out of control tailpipe emissions, and internal engine damage can occur.
Maladjusted fuel delivery results in excessive fuel either spilling down into the crankcase where it dilutes the oil and accelerates internal wear, or the unburned gas finding it's way into the catalytic converter and forming a rock of carbon clogging the cat and shutting down engine performance. Additionally, when spark plugs, wires and malfunctioning ignition components are left alone, they tend to result in more inefficient combustion, poor fuel mileage and poor performance, not to mention the fact that in states where emissions checks are part of the state inspection, the vehicle will fail inspection and cannot be driven until it is fixed.
5. Exterior & Interior Care
Years ago, the national Car Care Council released a study where they followed national car auction pricing of the vehicles that were sold. One of the findings: If two vehicles identical in year, make, model, mileage and equipment went through the auction, the vehicle that was detailed, clean and cared for would bring half again as much as the dirty, unkempt vehicle. So just for economic reasons it makes sense to keep your vehicle clean.
Then, there's the value of keeping your vehicle clean for the long haul in that the, paint, body, carpets and upholstery will last longer without additional cost. If you live in a salt belt state (a state where salt and other road clearing chemicals are used to keep roads clean during the winter months) and intend to keep your vehicle for a long time, consider having a professional rust protection done to the vehicle to keep rust and corrosion down. This is best done at detail shop, not buying the quickie rust-proofing sold by the dealer when you buy the car. Finally, if rust and corrosion has set in on your vehicle, have it taken care of immediately to avert acceleration of the condition.