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2002 Mazda with 210,000 miles, longevity expectations?

My son is about to start a residency in Internal Medicine, God willing as some say. He has a 2002 Mazda, I think it’s a Protege, but can’t remember. Not sure if it matters, it is a small one.

It has 210,000 miles on it. He will probably be commuting nearly 70 miles a day, due to lack of suitable housing where the hospital is. It seems to run out well; he just did a 3,000 mile trip last week or so.

He does keep it maintained well, changing Mobil-1 every 5,000 miles, and changing transmission fluid from time to time.

He worries it may blow up on him any time. I told him it may go a long while with highway driving and good maintenance, to go until it blows.

Did I tell him wrong? I don’t see Mazda blowing up with little or no warning on highway driving. Does anyone have any knowledge on them?

With over 200k miles, nobody can accurately predict what will or won’t happen to the car.

If this car has a timing belt–and I believe that it does–hopefully it has been changed on schedule in order to eliminate one potential area for failure. If this car is the only option for his transportation, all I can suggest is to continue to maintain the car at least as well as Mazda recommends. After that…Vaya con Dios.

+1 for VDC. This Mazda may go 500,000 miles or 210,001 miles.

While there is no suitable housing near the hospital, maybe he should live nearby anyway. I know a doctor that did his residency in Bronx, NY. They specialize in emergency/trauma, and many of he patients were gun shots, stabbings, “falls” from roof tops; they did more of this type of business than any American hospital not in a war zone. He lived in a Very Bad Neighborhood close to work and even drove a Pinto so he wouldn’t draw too much attention to himself. As you can tell by his car, that was a long time ago. And he’s still alive and working in emergency medicine. He’ll rarely go home anyway. If he’s married, then his wife deserves better than a crummy neighborhood.

+1 @jtsanders - the son should really check carefully if there’s a decent place to live a LOT closer to work, otherwise he’ll be spending what little free time he has commuting.

There are often good residential areas scattered around in surprising locations, if one looks hard enough.

I forgot that, but yes, he well knows to replace the timing belt on cars that need it. His maintenance is usually carried out very well.

No, living near the hospital is not something he is going to do. And, yes, his wife is an issue. She shuddered as they drove around town. It is not crime, city-data is like 230 I think. The streets are like gullies and foot deep potholes, and a lot of boarded up houses. Population has dropped 14% since 2000.

His (hospitalist) residency is going to be 80 hours a week, maximum under current Federal law. I realize there are hospitals which tell residents to write down 80 hours even if they work 110, but this director is gung-ho on education, and she says over 80 hours is not education, it is abuse. Yes, that was a long time ago, and residents killed too many people after 24 or 30 hours without sleep.

My son says non-profits get paid a lot of money for each resident. So, working over 80 hours is basically using them to make even more money for the hospital. In this case, the rural area has an extreme shortage of doctors, so they are hoping some will stay there after licensing.

The statement that it might go 500,000 or 210,001, if sincere, is what I wanted to know. If someone said no Maza will go 250,000 miles or ? that would be scary. But, if some do go a long ways with highway driving and good maintenance, then I feel I told him correctly.

He has already looked around at used cars, because his wife will need one if she teaches. He saw a 2009 Crown Vic Interceptor with 110,000 for $6,000. And, a couple 2004/2005 Le Sabres for $5,000. I don’t know if all Le Sabres get great highway mileage, but at one time they cranked out over 30 mpg at 70 mph.

OK, I understand the location problem.

I’d rather keep the well-maintained car I know and see how it does. All this assumes he has a backup plan in case it dies. Basically, have the $$ ready to go buy a replacement on short notice. That way, those $$ might just be there when he’s done with his residency.

I have had a few friends get in an accident while driving after a shift/sleepy. That is his biggest enemy. I will join the others to voice concern over the long commute. Doesn’t have to live in the neighborhood, but anything else closer than 70 Miles? 15-20 mile should be the max.

I agree with the others that the car isn’t what he needs to woory about. Properly maintained, it should have many, many more reliable miles.

However, I strongly suggest that he find affordable accomodations right by where he works…or he’s ultimately likely to show up in the ER on a gurney one day rather than on his feet.

Thanks, Texases. Yes, while we certainly can’t pay his med school debt, we can wire him a few thousand for another car if he needs it. (He is going to adopt us when we get old. Hee, hee.) Actually, they have learned to live very frugally, not many luxuries or even common “necessities”. Rent; food; some clothes; Internet; run 4 miles a day with exercises on the route; fishing as a hobby; and study. So, in a few months they will develop a cash buffer. And, he is the traditional type of man who wants to do it himself if he can.

Galant, sorry I did not make that clear. That is 70 miles total, actually around 33 miles each way. And, he will be working 12 hours as longest shift. The problem is he has until Sept 1 to start work, so they are limited on housing search. A builder built a bunch of new houses at the 33 mile point, and has chosen to rent because no one is buying. He is asking around $500/month for two bedroom houses. He called me earlier today, and so far houses they found were pretty junky. One mobile home they were asking $700 and it had high water marks on the walls from flooding. He says there is an oil project being developed in the area.

He will be looking during the next year, and if there is a better deal closer. There was a beautiful condo on a lake, about the same 40 minutes, though closer, because it is quite a distance from the main highway on winding two lane roads. But, they want $850 a month and the $350 will pay for some considerable gas if that car holds up.

The Director of Residencies also lives out about that far.

Somehow I have a failure to communicate here. Federal law has limited hours of residents in Federally funded residencies, which this one is. He will have an 80 hour week, with one twelve hour “call” a week, and the director says if they work over one week, they get comp hours the next week. This is because they finally realized the traditional 36 hour shift not only did not educate, it was killing patients.

Also, he has not been able to find anything livable any closer. This morning, three new rentals came up, and by the time he called they were already rented out.

I appreciate the additional thoughts, but living closer is simply not working out. He will be alert for availabilities next year.

And, thanks, TSM for the encouraging words that a Mazda can sometimes run a long ways. That would be a big plus in his financial condition until he builds a cash buffer.

At the very least he should scope out cheapie hotels in the area for those really bad nights until he can find something more permanent.

I would add that if he can’t live closer, to have the locations of a couple nearby hotels in case something goes wrong or if he doesn’t think he can drive home due to tiredness or bad weather. and keep an overnight bag with him in the car, too.

Good ideas, thanks. My guess is he would sleep in his car if the highway is blocked by ice and snow. I trained my kids to have cold weather gear in the car in case of being stuck in really cold weather.

Hospitals have beds and a cafeteria for the employees. I would bet that there is a place for the residents to stay if the weather is so bad they can’t get home or if threatening weather might make it difficult for them to get to the hospital the next day. Your son might also take a cue from the television program “Trapper John, M.D.” and do what resident Gonzo Gates did. Gonzo parked his beat up RV in the parking lot and lived in it.
I like to live close to my work, but when it isn’t possible, then one commutes. The people I know who have owned Mazdas have found them quite reliable. Apparently, your son has maintained the car quite well. Things like battery or the alternator may go wrong. A tire may need to be replaced, but I doubt that the engine will blow.

@irlandes; I guess 33 miles is better, esp if no traffic.

Now, the peak of sleepiness is at around 7 AM and then 2 PM, so if driving back at those times, he should be very careful, or better yet go to the call room and take a nap. Coffee takes 30 minutes to kick in, so coffee and a 30 min nap is the best but can not rely on it for a long-term plan.

I trained before the “80 hr” rule and then was supervising the folks who were only working 80 hours max and no more than 24 hrs straight. We did a study to see what the residents were doing with their extra time. They spent only an extra 15 min on sleep. The rest was spent watching TV, playing video games and browsing the net and this was before social media era. So tell your son to use his time wisely.

I have done this training for quite some time, different countries and different settings. It is a fun challenge, My longest commute was 80 miles one way, but that was only for one month at a time. The longest steady commute was 50 miles each way and during that drive I was always on the phone (headset)

Thanks, Triedaq. New battery in October. New tires a few weeks ago. That Protege had an odd sized tire, very expensive. a tire man helped him find a slightly larger substitute that are much cheaper. Your words are reassuring. He knows bad things can happen.

He is still looking. He did find a remodeled 4 bedroom farm house much closer, $775, but he would probably need satellite Internet. And, it is fuel oil heated, so he needs to study that out, fuel oil heating can be very expensive.

There is an apartment complex 13 minutes from hospital, but it looks like a lot of apartments all stuck together, and he needs quiet to study, $550. Also, somewhat bedraggled.

He went out timing exits, and the place far away is actually only about 31 minutes, but 66 miles a day. Around $500 a month for a two bedroom, new house, but he would have to pay all utilities.

I realize this only connects to cars because he will need a car that will run out good for the distance he may have to drive. So, as most of you probably know better than I do, transportation and housing are closely linked.

They drove around the town with the hospital and his wife actually got extremely depressed just driving around. It is that bad.

Galant, I think I sent you a PM, not sure. Some dirty laundry in your profession not appropriate for an open board, so I hope it’s private.

Thanks for tips. He will probably come here, and will recognize himself, so I may get cussed out. He does love to study almost as much as being on call. So, I do not think he will slough off with extra time.

We are encouraged by the opinions that high mileage is at least possible. I know we have regulars who talk about 300,000 or more, but I wasn’t sure about Mazda.