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Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?

Author Topic: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?  (Read 10134 times)

michaeld

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Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« on: 27 May 2006, 08:57 PM »
How many of you have heard that Japanese cars are the most durable automobiles?  I myself hear it all the time, and I think most people believe it: Japanese cars have a much lower depreciation than other comparable cars; and they routinely sell for more than US cars that were more expensive when new.

Here's my question: why is this?


I have heard people talk about "the Japanese car that went xxx,xxx miles"; but that is more of an anecdote than a proof.  I had an 82 Datsun 200SX that I bought new and drove for 217,000 miles before a pickup truck totaled it in a parking lot; but I also had a 70 Ford Galaxie 500 that I bought with 204,000 miles on it (and I and rang up 25,000 more before passing it on still running strong).

When I've shopped for cars (and I always buy used these days; I won't watch my new car lose half its value in the first 3 years), I've noticed that Japanese cars are way overpriced compared to American cars.  The American cars, with bigger chassis and engines, and more features, routinely sell for less.  So I've been buying American; so far, I've been happy every time.  Frankly, I've wondered if the myth of Japanese superiority is due to a supremely clever marketing campaign.

I can propose one method of discovering which makes and/or models last the longest: learn the final mileage at "retirement" for all of the Toyota Camrys (or whatever), and then divide by the number of cars measured.  That would then accurately indicate how many average miles each model lasted.  An only slightly less accurate method would be to do the same with the mileage at the cars' final registration.

Has anyone come across any objective measurement of which cars actually last the longest in terms of both make and model?  Boy, would that be interesting to see!
Mike 

Denis

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #1 on: 28 May 2006, 02:32 AM »
Hello michaeld and all

Over the years, I have heard what I believe is the valid case of Japanese cars, especially Toyota being dependable cars, not durable. I think that many people confuse the two and assume that a dependable car is a durable one.

I have seen a few old Toyotas with several thousand kilometers but frankly, they were plain awful : fried paint, sun-baked upholstery, creaky body shells - now compare that to a Mercedes.

Also as hokman might know, compare that to an old Volvo. IMHO - no contest.

This question about durability is partly answered by the fact that Paris taxis STILL are about 95%Mercedes-Benz - currently a 220 cDi and if these guys could cut costs, they would. They know that their cars will do their million kilometers in tough start and go traffic and still be saleable at the end.

Denis

Paris, France

davestlouis

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #2 on: 28 May 2006, 05:41 AM »
I had a 1991 Camry 4 cylinder that had 185xxx on it when I sold it, but it was starting to use oil...paint and seats looked good.  I also has a 1990 Dodge Dynasty V6 that I destroyed in a collision with 190xxx on it, running strong till the bitter end, seats and paint looked good.  In my personal experience, almost any car can run 200xxx, but truthfully, I have never actually run a car to death.  My dad had a VW Type 3 Squareback that he bought new in 1968 that he literally ran until he had to limp it to the dealer in 1st gear, barely running, to trade it in in 1975 (on an AMC Gremlin of all things). 

I have also put in excess of 100xxx on 2 Kia Rio's now...the 2003 I have now still has the factory rear tires on it, with 105xxx.  I've done nothing but front tires, front brakes and oil changes( at 10xxx intervals).  I gave the 2001 to a family friend with 125xxx on it, in 2003, and I still see it around town, beat up, but rolling just the same. 

And before you think Toyota is the paragon of dependability, they have a horrible sludge problem with their V6 engines.  If you stretch oil change intervals in these, you're asking for trouble.
1978 280SE, 1979 450SE Euro, 1986 420SEL, 1986 560SL, 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2003 Kia Rio

oscar

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #3 on: 29 May 2006, 04:39 AM »
We had a Mazda 323 in the early-mid 90's that never missed a beat.  Having said that, we sold it at 120,000km on the dial.  Who knows how long it would've gone before needing major work.  Nonetheless a great cheap to run car at the time.

Toyota Landcruisers are worshipped by many in Oz.  Many stories of long lived cruisers, but I haven't got any to tell.  I've only driven about 4 relatively new "troop carriers" for work and as 4x4's they do what they're supposed to.
1973 350SE, my first & fave

michaeld

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #4 on: 06 June 2006, 10:49 PM »
I found a post (having nothing whatsoever to do w/ MBz) regarding Japanese cars and trucks
http://forums.automotive.com/community/70/7460/by-manufacturer/mazda/so-you-think-foreign-cars-are-so-reliable/index.html

It represents the viewpoint of someone (on a Japanese car forum, nonetheless) who doesn't believe Japanese cars are more durable.

Considering the initial purchase price - and therefore relative rarity - of Mercedes-Benzes (at least in the USA), I do see a fair number of old 3-pointed stars on the road where I live.  I sure don't see a whole lot of 70's (or even early 80's) Japanese cars.

That might be yet another way to track long-term durability: given how many of a given car make/model were manufactured, how many are still on the road today (or at least still registered)?






Denis

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #5 on: 07 June 2006, 11:37 AM »
Hi fellows

Let me just say that it is not very hard to find a decent, cheap W108 in France, and you do have several specimens to look over.

People here REMEMBER the Toyota Cressida but nobody has seen one in years...I can take you for a walk in nearby streets and show you at least three W123s...and there is a "heckflosse" three strets from here...

Denis

Paris, France

michaeld

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #6 on: 10 June 2006, 05:00 PM »
I am given to wondering if the myth of Japanese superiority began with US automakers resting on their laurels whilest the hungry Japanese implemented a long-ranging marketing strategy to create the impression of particularly long-lived cars.

The Europeans (at least in the US) didn't have a major advertising presence for a long time.  They're all over the airwaves now, however.

There doesn't seem to be any question that most Americans believe that Japanese make better cars.  Strangely, Mexicans - and maybe Central and South America too? - have a negative view toward Japanese cars and prefer American.  It's actually kind of funny: while Americans complain about illegal immigration for taking US jobs, those same illegal immigrants are actually out there buying cars that keep Americans employed!!!

PS, yeah, Denis, I see more old Benzes than I do old Japanese cars; and then it occurs to me that there were a LOT more Japanese cars sold here than German ones!
« Last Edit: 10 June 2006, 05:02 PM by michaeld »

OzBenzHead

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #7 on: 10 June 2006, 06:08 PM »
About four years ago (following a redundancy) I spent some months unemployed. I used to get the strangest looks from people when I parked a Benz outside the dole office whilst paying my "respects" to that institution! "Hey, man, how come you can afford a 'Merc' when you're on the dole?" It seemed not to occur to them that I might have worked my arse off for close to 40 years before becoming unemployed; neither did the fact of the car's being over 30 years old seem to register with them. The assumptions people make!

Des

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #8 on: 10 June 2006, 08:00 PM »
Sometimes I think I may take my MB's for granted, that is until I ride in something else. Australian cars are horrible to ride in, suspension? talk about shake your teeth out. Engines in the Holdens are worn out by 180-200k's, Benz motors, especally the diesel's will do twice that, Ford's have always had crappy gearboxes, you will go through about 2 gearboxes per motor, just rubbish.

1977 W123 230 
1977 W116 280S *new*
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OzBenzHead

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #9 on: 10 June 2006, 08:24 PM »
And, of course, there's "Australia's own car, built in Australia, by Australians, for Australian conditons" - the Holden (owned, of course, by General Motors, which is as Australian as tiger sh1t).

How is it, then, that in typical "Australian conditions" - a high-30s summer (that's about 100 degrees for those still in prehistoric Fahrenheit mode  ;) ) - most of the cars one sees sitting at the roadside, venting steam from their pathetically inadequate cooling systems, are these marvellous "Australian" cars?

I get into a ford or holden and wonder if they have any suspension at all; it's like riding a (squeaky and rattly) park bench!

davestlouis

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #10 on: 12 June 2006, 07:07 PM »
I think the only Australian-built car we've ever seen in the US was the Mitsubishi Diamante station wagon (estate) in the late 80's-early 90's?? The few they foisted on an unsuspecting buying public were not well-regarded and they disappeared from the scene.  As I am typing this, it dawned on me that the Pontiac GTO is a Holden product of some sort, but it just went out of production too, the victim of poor sales. 

1978 280SE, 1979 450SE Euro, 1986 420SEL, 1986 560SL, 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2003 Kia Rio

OzBenzHead

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #11 on: 12 June 2006, 09:35 PM »
The Mitsubishi Diamante was, I think, the car called Magna in Oz. Very Mitsu; very ho-hum (though the common opinion seems to be that it was a better built and engineered car than the local Fords and Holdens (GM) - not a hard benchmark to beat.

The last version of the Pontiac GTO was, indeed, an Oz Holden Monaro - which is nothing more than a Holden Commodore (family hack) with two fewer doors and a lower roof (and some fancier badging, go-faster stripes, and similar crap).

michaeld

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #12 on: 12 June 2006, 10:08 PM »
There seems to be a consensus building amongst you that Holdens do not merit consideration in the "most durable car" category.  It seems entirely possible that Australia - land of great waves, cool aborigines, marvelous English accents, and just a genuinely cool continent (OR is it really an island after all?) in general, may not be the land of the best built cars.

But, of course, the question is, where would that place be?  Japan?  Or somewheres else?

Now, Denis raised an intriguing distinction between durable and dependable.  I kind of lumped those ideas together in my mind; Denis split them apart (there's one in every crowd, isnt there?).

One question would be, is Denis right?  (Did I choose the wrong adjective?).  Could durability and dependability be different enough so that one car may be more durable, and another one be more dependable?  And again, are Japanese cars more dependable?

I've seen high mileage 80's Japanese cars; but then, I've seen high mileage American cars too.  And I've heard of some very high mileage German and Swedish cars (let's not forget Volvo).  It's all too easy to hear of a couple of stories and form a conclusion based on those stories that isn't actually true.  I'm wondering if there is actual, scientific, statistical (specifically NON-anecdotal) evidence that one car maker makes cars that outlast the rest.

There are some mitigating issues, I think.  Fuel economy is one.  Diesels have racked up more miles than gassers.  But I think gassers have substantially caught up in durability (primarily because of fuel injection).  If one car gets substantially better fuel economy than another car, that car will likely be driven more - and more often - and rack up higher mileage during its useful lifespan.  [This just a theory].  Japanese cars have always tended to have smaller engines than others, and get very good fuel economy. 

Another issue is desirability; if a car is less desirable than other cars, someone may simply not want to spend money on (routine) repairs to keep that car on the road.  So a car that is actually very durable may be "ended" before its time.  And a less durable - but "cooler" - car may stay on the road just because people are willing to keep forking over the bucks to keep it on the road when they wouldn't do so with many other cars.  A few of  you indicate that most people just wouldn't want to be caught driving an old Japanese "beater" out of a humiliation factor.  A car that still starts up and goes but looks like crap could nevertheless meet an untimely appointment with the scrapyard.

Well, what cars are the most durable - in the sense of remaining on the road the longest?  Are Mercedes-Benzes on the short list for that title?  How do the car makers rank in this department?

And (if there is a real difference), what cars are the most dependable - in the sense of starting up and going with little or no maintenance/repair work needing to be done?  Are the Japanese best at making such cars?  Or not?  How do the car makers rank in this department?

Personally, I HOPE that Mercedes Benz are not high in the former area but low in the latter.  Given the fact that Mercedes-Benz parts are more expensive than most other OEM parts - and that fewer non-OEM parts are available (given the high price and therefore lower production numbers compared to other cars), I don't want them to need more repairs/maintenance to boot!!!  Rather, I would want the car - given the fact that it is an initially high quality car that uses high quality parts - to require LESS repair work than other cars.

Sometimes, if you pay more for a better quality product, you get a better, longer-lasting product.  And other times (the fashion industry often falls into this area) you don't get better or longer-lasting products at all; you pay more just so you can show others that you can pay more!  As for the latter: no thanks; I aint no elitest snob ostentatiously flaunting my wealth!  I don't got a lot of wealth, and I wouldn't flaunt it if I did!

Now, a mediating viewpoint is that Mercedes-Benzes AREN'T the most dependable of cars, but they make up for it in the quality of the ride and the sheer luxuriousness of their performance.  Here, they would cost more, and cost more to maintain - and even need to be maintained more frequently - but they would be worth it just because they are so wonderful when they DO work!  I KNOW a lot of you think that our cars offer this kind of luxury; but do you think that dependability and durability accompany that luxury, or do you think you chose luxury at the expense of dependability and durability?

P.S. I read an article that said that the reason that GTOs didn't cut it in the market was because they looked so common (by which I mean, like any other mass-produced standard compact POS).  People who were buying high performance cars wanted YOU to know they had bought a high performance car!  I didn't know it had links to Oz.

OzBenzHead

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #13 on: 13 June 2006, 02:21 AM »
Michaeld: Far too many points for me to consider right now (life just got busy) but, on the point of "common" (your reference to the Pontiac GTO looking nonspecial), here is a pic of each of the Commodore and the Monaro.

A few trim detail changes, two fewer doors, a lower roof, a shortened wheelbase, and voila - a "different" car (not!).

Lengthen the wheelbase of the sedan and you have (1) the station wagon or (2) the Statesman/Caprice (the "luxury limo" versions: leather, ersatz wood, a little chrome around the dashboard, softer springs ...).

Exciting (not).

Monaro:

The "reflection" underneath the Monaro is actually an image of the first model Monaro (1968).

Commodore (a.k.a. Commode, Commonwhore):


One of the handful of brand-new cars I've had was a 1970 Monaro GTS. It was, truly, the most execrable POS I've ever owned. I kept it a whole six months and 8,000 miles. If something on it could fail or fall off, it did (and I was treating it carefully, running it in by the book). I replaced it with a Mazda R100 (Wankel rotary); the Mazda's standard of build and finish, its reliability, and its overall owner satisfaction were many times superior to the Monaro's. (Pity about the atrocious fuel consumption!)

I've had numerous Holdens (and Fords) as employer-supplied cars and, whilst none of them was quite as bad as that 1970 Monaro, the very best of them were tawdry, boring, and, in the handling department, pants-sh1ttingly scary.

If anyone would like to copy these images, please do so, as I don't want them polluting my site longer than necessary.   ;)

Denis

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Re: Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?
« Reply #14 on: 13 June 2006, 07:21 AM »
Hi Michaeld and all

Here are a few remarks that may help people think about the issue you raised in thsi thread.

I maintain that durability and reliability are NOT the same and usually not found together in most products. Here is an example : in the early eighties, the Volvo 240 was a good quality car. It was NOT reliable - many people had to visit their dealers frequently for little repairs and adjustments. Once sorted out, these cars accumulated hundreds of thousands of kilometres - they were clearly durable. And then started to show signs of reliability  :o

At the same time, french people were excited by a Toyota model ? that was incredibly reliable - you bought it and drove it, never a glitch but after a few years, they were all camping in the car graveyards  ::)

The notion of "desirability" is a good one and IMHO a real factor. I have a sentence of wisdom about this (michaeld thinks I came down a mountain with some tables  ;)

If your car loves you, you love your car and it will be durable.

People will fix and keep nice cars on the road, not nasty ones. A decrepit "suspensionless", trashed seat Yokomobile dies young. A Volvo 240, with comfortable seats, good visibility and doors that shut well along with ergonomic layouts GETS fixed because it LOVES it owner. An old BMW 323 will make you feel good - it LOVES its owner and it also gets fixed.
And of course a W116 is the same...mine LOVES me which explains why I am building the aftermarket EFI for it...

OK, here is another way to say it : you will resole a great old pair of quality shoes...

Cheers mate

Denis

Paris, France