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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

1966 Volvo: 2,700,000 miles!

New car dealers probably would shudder in fear if they heard the names Irv Gordon, Alvin Elam, Pete Biro, and Rebekah O’Connell. Those four own cars that have at least 231,000 miles on them and are four reasons why the car service centers mentioned in the previous blog are doing a great business during the recession.

Gordon’s story is the most impressive as he drives a 1966 Volvo that he bought new and so far has driven it an astounding 2,700,000 miles according to a recent story by William Jeanes, former publisher of Road and Track.. The car is currently in the shop getting its carburetors rebuilt which Gordon says is important to have done "every 900,000 miles whether they need it or not."

Elam, Biro, and O’Connell aren’t yet in Gordon’s league for getting maximum mileage out of their cars but Elam has coaxed 447,000 miles out of his 1992 Toyota Camry, Biro has 231,000 on his 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and O’Connell has 307,000 on her 1997 Honda Civic.

They all agree on one thing: It is extremely important to read the owner’s manual of your car and follow all the instructions on maintenance. Gordon mentions that finding a good mechanic is also essential along with keeping your car clean. He says a good mechanic will take you more serious if your car is clean and well maintained than if it is dirty and filled with trash.

So, why keep a car so long and run up all those miles? If you look at the numbers, it can save you a lot of money over buying a new car. If you drive 22,500 miles per year (average is 15,000) you will cover 112,500 miles in 5 years. Normal maintenance cost during that time is about $3,500 or $700 per year. If you bought a new car for $20,000 and financed $18,000 of it at 7% for 48 months, your payments would be $5,160 a year plus maintenance costs.

When I look at those numbers, my old ‘98 with 116,000 miles looks pretty good. So far, I have taken good care of it so maybe I can get a few hundred thousand miles on it. In the current economy, I’m certainly not in the mood to be buying a new car.

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Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,

I have been searching for this article on maintaining old cars. I am a retired nurse with an '02 Saturn that I would like to keep runnig (110,000 miles).
Could you possibly e-mail me the entire article?
Keep up the good work.

Jim McAllister said...

Nancy I hope the information I sent was helpful.

Thanks, Jim

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