Million Mile Joe

Honda is calling him "Million Mile Joe." And even though we know calling attention to his achievement is a huge plug for Honda, AOL Autos is always happy to spotlight those careful, conscientious souls who stiff to put at least a million miles on a vehicle that most people would trade in after 150,000 at the most.

Joe LoCicero, from the cold climes of Norway, Maine, a place where summer pretty much happens on a Wednesday in July before turning to Autumn, is approaching one million miles this month on his 1990 Honda Accord.

How did he do it? What kind of oil does he use? How anal retentive is he about keeping maintenance records for his light blue Accord? How lucky is he? The Federal Reserve seems to be telling us that the economic malaise gripping the U.S. could take several more years to put behind us. That means Americans are going to have to put more money aside to make up for lack of growth in investments and housing values. Check out the gallery, and learn how you could save money over the next 21 years by driving the same vehicle

Using Factory Parts

LoCicero only ever used Honda parts such as air, oil and fuel filters. There are other brands that are cheaper, but the fact is that automakers optimize the parts they make and sell for their vehicles and their engines. Amazingly, he bought the car used in 1996, with about 34,000 miles on it, so this car has not been in his doting hands for its entire life.

Original Engine Still Chugging

Just because LoCicero has almost one million miles, don't get the idea that nothing has ever worn out. He has replaced the fuel pump, both cooling fans, and the radiator has been replaced twice. The engine, though, remarkably, is the original. It's worth mentioning that Honda is known for being one of the most innovative engine makers in the world. In fact, it started out life as a maker of engines and small motors, and then it got into the business of building stuff that the engines could go into. That's why Honda today makes lawn mowers, snowblowers, weed trimmers, generators, as well as scooters and motorcycles. It is the most vertically integrated engine maker in the world.

Driving Carefully and Judiciously

LoCicero is a careful, fastidious driver. In 15 years he has only gotten one speeding ticket. He also babies his use of the brakes. Living in rural Maine means there isn't a lot of stop-and-go traffic, of course. He drives an average of 62,500 miles per year visiting car dealerships across Maine.

Organization Geek

Joe is like that Dad at least one of your friends has when it comes to cars. He began keeping detailed maintenance records when the car hit 300,000 on the odometer, and has a stack of notebooks with impossibly detailed information. LoCicero is the sort of guy the Car Guys, Click and Clack, worship, yet make fun of on their show. Once he realized he was chasing one million miles, he began taking snaps of his odometer. He has over 600 photos of his mileage. LoCicero is a certified mileage geek.

Is It Honda or Joe?

So how much of this one million mile feat is Joe and how much is Honda? At AOL Autos, we believe such feats are a collaboration between owner and car. There are clearly lemons in the world. And Germans have often talked about "Monday Cars," the cars that are built on Monday morning after workers have had beer-laden weekends. But no matter where a car or brand may fall on, say, the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study ranking, we believe following Joe's example gives the owner of any car today a decent shot at hitting one million miles.

Save Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

How much money could a person save by driving the same car one million miles? Consider that while Joe has driven his car, others have bought perhaps 8-10 cars. Joe bought his car used. The average transaction price of a new passenger car today is around $30,000. Now, few people put as many annual miles on a car as Joe does. Most put between 12,000 and 20,000 miles a year on their vehicles. A person who is 30 years old today, and who puts 20,000 miles a year on their car, could reach one million miles in…hmmm…fifty years. We aren't sure too many people want to buy their last new car at age 30. But if they did, they would save perhaps $150,000 in principle based on today's average car price before fifty years of compound interest started mounting up.

In other words, following Joe's example could create several hundred thousand dollars in extra retirement assets. With the stock market whipsawing IRA balances, it might be comforting for some to know that extra care for their car could help make the difference between a affording a nice retirement condo in a warm weather place and finishing up in a house trailer in the snow-belt.

Follow Joe To The End

You can follow Joe's progress toward one million miles this month at Honda's Facebook page.

Some commenters have suggested that Honda should give Joe a new Accord when he passes one million miles. Why? The car seems just fine. What do you think?

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