Someone suggested in an earlier thread that the modern automobile is
vastly superior to those of earlier generations.
Do modern automobile's really last longer and take more abuse than
those of earlier generations?
Is the complexity/reliability of newer automobiles worth sacrificing
the simplicity of repair and part replacement of an older
Can something simply be "over-engineered"?
And finally, are things today "built to last" like they were say 100
I'd like to get an Engineer's perspective.
No points to adjust. Plugs last 100k miles at least. Really no such thing as
a tuneup ever needed. Self- diagnostics.
Connectors are still an Achilles heel, and getting more so as signals get
And those high performance plastics will degrade to dust.
Today's cars are much better than those of one, two, three generations ago.
But they won't be restorable in one or two generations, so enjoy them now.
Oh..how soon we forget! Automobiles were never intended to last long!
I read (or heard) that Mr. H. Ford considered giving away model "T"s
and live off the replacement parts at a hefty profit margin -
secondary producers would be kept out by patent protection or forced
out by changing the parts year by year - so it would be harder to hit
a moving target (sound familiar - OPERATING SYSTEMS?)
Corrosion science (beyound painting)was not used consistently until
the early 1970's - cathodic protection in the form of galvanization is
Electronics in automobilies built within the past 20 years is the real
"quality enhancement" - mechnical carburators cannot achieve the
required engine control that electronic can do for the common auto.
"Built to last" ? by itself this is highly subjective. As an
engineer, I would certainly say that everything designed is built to
last. But, the real question is: how long?. Engineering at an
earlier time was done with less sophisticated analysis tools
available. The tendency was to design with a large safety factor to
account for the great unknowns that went into a design. In this way,
many items had a very long life ? or they were built to last forever.
Today, we are blessed (or cursed) with a high level of sophistication
of analytical tools. With a high level of confidence, we can
determine stress, strain, fatigue, etc. in complex parts. With a high
level of confidence, we have very detailed statistics of the life of
components. Now, you have to realize that companies are run (for
better or worse) by bean counters. These bean counters also have
highly sophisticated analytical tools that determines profitability
given all sorts of variables, including component life. The bean
counters know that on a given widget, they can save 1 cent, for
example, on material if it is redesigned with a slightly shorter life.
Applied over millions of parts, this 1 cent adds up to a nice bonus
in their pockets. In addition, with a finite life designed into
parts, you ensure repeat business.
So in conclusion, things are still built to last. However, how long
they are built to last is now highly controlled. Take for example
your timing belt in your car. Most need to be replaced at a factory
recommended 60,000 to 90,000 miles. You almost never experience a
failure of the timing belt BEFORE the factory recommended interval.
However, failures shoot up dramatically the further BEYOND the factory
I do not believe I am exagerating when I say built to last means "on
average" a 5 year life.
There is no money to be made in after market sales if things are built to
last 20 years.
This can only be acheived with a a vigorous maintenance regime.
In addition, people tend to see things that are old as needing replaced
especially something that has significant style changes every couple of
years that can date it.
Donald L. Phillips, Jr., P.E.
Worthington Engineering, Inc.
145 Greenglade Avenue
Worthington, OH 43085-2264
(remove NS to use the address)
Suppose I wanted to rebuild a car to last. What would be a good car to
start with, something with a real frame, and what would be the best
stuff to use, axle drive train etc. The goal would be to have a car that
could be maintained myself and would be a general driver car. Assume I
would have a fair homeshop and average metal working skills. I would
want a mininum or no of specility "dealer only" parts. After it was done
I would not want to continually work on it.
What would have to be redesigned because the "best" for cheap
manufacture is not the best for maintainence. I'm thinking about things
like the double flare brake lines. Good the first time you assemble it
and it last but once you have to reseat them they dont seal very well.
The AN type flare is better.
"Alpinekid" wrote in message
a modern car should last for 15 + years, and 150,000 + miles.
Unless you are prepared to spend a HUGE amount of money you will not better
Now ask yourself this question... If I was offered a 20 year old car, in
brand new condition would I want it ?
It will have a 3,000 mile service interval, it will have poor power, crude
ride, poor petrol consumption, bad road noise......
In twenty years time you will want to junk your everlasting car for
something a lot better.
Have you looked at kit cars, mine is all fibre glass, no rust problems.
Davrian 8, BMW M3
Remove AT to reply
An AN type single flare will split the double wall copper brazed steel tube
that is used for brake lines
Neither single nor double flare can be trusted if re-assembled absent sealant
or a copper gasket.
I just said AN type because I read it someplace. I dont really know what
Maybe my problem has been the lack of sealant or copper gasket. I have
never seen either used on brakes.
What sealant or copper gasket do you use when working on brake line in
Copper gaskets are often found on banjo bolts, which are seldom used in
American cars. They work, once. You are supposed to replace them, or anneal
them before reuse.
I, personally, use a vanishingly thin, not quite invisible, film of either
Permatex #2 or Loctite Pipe Sealant or RTV. Thin, as in smear a little on your
finger, rub the finger and thumb together, then apply your finger to the part,
leaving a fingerprint. Smear the fingerprint and assemble the joint. That is
of course not an officially recognized procedure anywhere. If it voids your
warranty or kills you, remember that I didn't tell you to do it.
Hmm, RTV in a normal automotive brake system sounds like a literal
recipe for disaster. As you tighten the joint a wafer thin film of RTV
will be extruded from the joint, into the pipe. I agree, it probably
won't break off. I also agree that at least initially there is not
enough motion of fluid in the pipes to move it anywhere worse, but what
happens the next time you bleed the brakes?
Goobers of RTV that break loose can interfere with an engine's operation by
jamming the oil pump relief valve shut. On some random cold start, the pump
inflates the filter, the filter gasket blows out, and the engine's lube oil is
pumped out on the ground in a few seconds. I recognize the noise it makes,
now. And I stopped using RTV in engines for that reason.
A tiny goober of RTV couldn't be a threat to a classical passive brake system,
any more than the usual wear and corrosion products found therein. A goober of
just the wrong size might be a problem to the complex innards of an antilock
brake system. I wonder how they respond to the usual wear and corrosion
I'm not so sure "a real frame" is a feature ensuring or even
contributing to longevity. One concern is, even if the frame was
painted and finished carefully there will be many pockets to trap dirt
and salt. For years it seemed pickup truck frames and suspension were
not even painted, relying on a little extra thickness to provide a
"corrosion allowance." Our 1980 FORD Fairmont had its barely painted
oil pan and rear axle cover rust through. Corrosion protecting a
multi-leaf leaf spring is a daunting task.
My vote for a long lasting, repairable and maintainable vehicle is a
RWD Volvo, either 240 or 740 series. 740 is much more refined
compared to 240. My current ride is a 240 wagon with 230,000 miles.
I've had several 240 wagons. In some ways I think they are the
On Fri, 24 Oct 2003 19:04:36 GMT, Alpinekid w