Extended Vehicle Life—What Does It Mean?

In America, schmoozing with the latest model cars, trucks and motorcycles is an established tradition. Buyers or the merely curious flock to auto shows, showrooms or online sites to see what’s cooking in the automotive world. In 2016, Detroit and other large auto shows report 7-percent growth in attendance, and industry leaders expect that 2017 numbers will repeat this success.

What Extended Vehicle Life Means to Owners

But while new car buyer wannabes are enthusiastic, the behavior of older car owners is very different. Recent trends show that:

  • Cars on the road are getting older. Americans are holding on to their vehicles longer than ever before, an average of 11.6 years in 2016. That’s because owners are in less of a hurry about trading in their vehicle.  Manufacturers continue to improve the build-quality of new vehicles, and consumers seem more willing to maintain them.
  • Most modern cars are designed to run more than 200,000 miles. This is far longer than their older counterparts, which peaked at 100,000 miles.
  • Lengthy loans are more common. Manufacturers continue improving the build-quality of new vehicles. So, high sticker prices of new cars and higher mileage life of cars generally have led to a rise in six- or seven-year auto loans.
  • Average annual maintenance costs don’t tell the whole story. Hidden costs of specific models and manufacturers provide a more refined way to identify long-term costs. This article slices and dices annual maintenance cost data for popular cars and trucks.

Older Car Parts Most Likely to Fail

Let’s face it, 150,000 miles is a very long distance. When you drive, your vehicle parts are subjected to high speeds, extreme temperatures, heavy pressure and all sorts of environmental contaminants. Keeping your “baby” safe and healthy requires attending to the details—oil changes, tires properly inflated, rotated and aligned.  The secret is to monitor any part that has contact with other surfaces. The main idea is to avoid wear and tear.

Here’s a list of components most likely to fail in mid-to-long mileage cars:

  • Suspension arms
  • Ball joint
  • Steering rack
  • Turbo
  •  Water pump
  • Wheel bearings
  • Fuel pump

Experienced DIY enthusiasts might want to change their older car’s coolant, heater hoses, water pumps, brake fluid and oil. However, work on critical steering and suspension components should be farmed out to an experienced repair shop.

What Does Extended Life Mean When You’re in a Crash?

What does all this mean when your older vehicle is in a crash? If you are still making payments on your vehicle, you might opt for professional repair rather than DIY work. These days, this is the trend for both mechanical and cosmetic repairs.

Most Frequent Accident Repairs

When you bring your post-accident vehicle in for repairs, what can you expect? We assume that you have already done the payment dance with your insurance company. (That’s a big assumption, we know, but that’s another story for a future post.)

Now that you have chosen a repair shop and are ready to get things fixed, which car parts are most likely to get damaged in a crash? Starting with the most likely parts:

  • Front bumper
  • Fender
  • Rear bumper
  • Grill
  • Hood
  • Trunk
  • Front and rear doors

Notice that the list of accident-damaged components is totally different than the list of normal, wear-and-tear-damaged parts.

Getting the Three Essentials Right

The good news: because you drive a “vintage” vehicle, you avoid the costly air bags, expensive electronics, and lightweight body materials that drive up the cost of fixing newer cars. A majority of the time, you can repair rather than replace body parts, including doors. So, no matter how your older vehicle get damaged, repairing rather than replacing your car might be a good idea.

The not-so-good news: If you take the repair route vs. replacing your vehicle, a happy rehab experience means finding:

The right parts. Ideally, your repair center would find and install OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts. Next-best is new non-OEM parts. A successful search might depend on how many vehicles like yours are still on the road. For instance, if you have a 1967 Chevy Thunderbird, good luck.

The right repair tools and experience. Most repair centers now emphasize work on modern cars, so finding one that can help you repair your car body and install the right parts might be difficult.

Although diagnosis of older cars might be easier, the repair process on older, high-mileage vehicles is far more difficult than lower-mileage counterparts. A common vintage car repair scenario goes like this:

  • A faulty part on a car is buried by other components.
  • A tech begins a repair on an older car by removing these components to gain access to the faulty part.
  • One or more components will break under stress of removal, especially if they are made of plastic or low-grade metal.
  • Furthermore, there are also many rusted nuts and bolts in older cars. Then there’s the nightmares of past repairs that were not done properly.
  • As you can see, just because modern cars are full of electronic controls and new materials doesn’t mean that older cars are simpler to repair. Instead, they need to be treated differently because they’re built differently.

Folks who know old-car paint. If refinishing your repaired vehicle requires only a few touch-ups, good for you. But what if you need more extensive paint work?

Whether your car is old or new, matching paint colors is complicated. Basic ingredients, application processes, amount of the car’s UV exposure—the list of variables goes on and on. Does your repair center know where to find and how to work with the right paint and application methods?

When New Damage is Discovered

And what if everyone’s nightmare—finding non-accident-related damage—turns up during repairs? It’s time to choose a repair shop with a reputation for strong ethics and quality work.

New Life for Your Damaged Older Vehicle

Yes, these steps might seem challenging. But you can still get first-class repairs for your older car or truck.  At Ric’s, our experienced, certified technicians will:

  • Dig up even difficult-to-find parts.
  • Use modern tools and methods to do the most difficult installations.
  • Give your vehicle that classic car finish.
  • Speak plainly and honestly if they find non-accident related damage.

Call (480) 998-5969 for a free estimate. Or, come on by at 14850 N 83rd Pl, in Scottsdale.

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