Thanks for the informative comments.
Can’t tell if any of them came from mechanics but they are reassuring.
I’ve been driving an '89 Chevy Van for the last 20 years. I bought it used in '92 with about 60 K mi.
It now has only about 115,000 mi. For most of those years I did a lot of air travel and only drove about 2,000 mi/yr.
At 11 to 13 mpg around town, I naturally try to limit the amount of driving I do. But, I’d like to feel free to drive more, which I could do with a vehicle that gets much better mpg. The CRV looks like a good multi use choice.
Before the Chevy van I had an ‘85 4 cyl. 105 hp Nissan King Cab 1/2 ton PU. I bought it new, took good care of it, but worked it hard. With a class III trailer hitch I used it to pull a 21’ Prowler RV Trailer all over the USA.
How hard did I work it? Out of curiosity I checked it out on some truck scales with a fully loaded bed and trailer (I was a book distributor at the time). I weighed in at about 7,900 pounds combined weight.
With a 5 speed manual transmission, I sold it in 1992 with about 160,000 mi. having never changed the clutch (which was still in good shape) and only changing the brakes one time (also still in good shape).
Other than regular oil changes/greases and tune-ups, tires and the one brake pads/linings change I never spent a dime on repairs. I also drilled and tapped for grease fittings rather than depend on the “lifetime” self greasing mechanism.
I can see no reason why that little Nissan 4 cyl. couldn’t easily make it to 300,000 mi. plus. But the long clutch and brake life tell the story of how carefully I drove the vehicle.
In those days Nissan had a great reputation for reliability.
In 1992 Chevy had a terrible reputation for reliability but I needed a larger passenger carrying vehicle and took a chance buying an 8 passenger van with a 5.0 L engine twice the size of the 2.4 L of the Nissan.
Surprisingly, my experience with the Chevy Van was roughly the same as that with the Nissan P/U, for the first 15 years or so.
I didn’t work it nearly as hard, except for one high speed round trip from NJ to CA where I pulled a heavy trailer load of books on the return trip. What do I mean by high speed? There’s a lot of open highway between the two coasts. The speedo needle was north of 90 much of that time.
Now, with about 150 k mi., the engine and transmission still seem to have a lot of life left in them.
It’s age, not mile-age that seems to be taking its toll.
23 years may not be so hard on a fairly well sealed engine that is properly lubricated, as it is on rubber and plastic that oxidizes with exposure to air and sunlight.
I don’t have any confidence in the rubber bushings, hoses, clamps and so on. There are also tell-tale signs of aging wiring. Window gaskets no longer seal out the rain and are expensive to replace.
The last time I replaced a tire I was surprised when they wouldn’t honor the warranty. It had about 70% of the tread left! Then the mechanic showed me the receipt, it was over 8 years old. The tire failed due to cracks in the sidewall, most likely caused by exposure to sunlight, the enemy of rubber. Not covered under warranty.
Although the van is great for hauling 12’ lengths of 2x6 lumber, or 4’x8’ sheets of plywood (with all doors and windows closed) on short trips around town, I am not so confident about longer ones. I think it’s time for something a bit newer and I don’t haul all that much lumber.
Looking at used CRV prices I have to say I’ve probably become a little spoiled. I picked up this van in good and clean condition at a GSA auction in '92 for just at $3,000.
Other than spending about $150 for a new computer and another $120 for an alternator about 10 years ago, I never paid for a repair until the last 3 or 4 years. Since then, I’ve spent more than the previous 15 years combined. Not on huge repairs, but they’re starting to add up. A radiator, a water pump, a couple A/C blower motor swaps, and now the A/C compressor has seen it’s last days, all leading me wonder if the law of diminishing returns is catching up to me.
My options for repair facilities is also diminishing as fewer shops want to deal with the problems of “pre-computer” vehicles. Yeah, it has a computer, the first model year to have one, but modern readers don’t even connect to the ancient port supplied under the dash and it wouldn’t tell you much anyway.
The $6 K to $8 K I’ll have to spend on a new CRV would probably cover another decade or so of repairs to the old van. And, in a couple more years it will be so old that NJ won’t even require emissions inspections any longer.
It’s such a beast that I’m generally sitting above the hood height of other vehicles. I’m more worried what will happen to the other guy in a crash, should my front bumper go crashing into his windshield while I look around to see if I hit a speed bump. So even the updated safety features of a CRV with airbags and so on don’t seem to give me that much of an edge.
It’s just that I’m starting to wonder every time I leave the driveway, will I drive back, or be towed?
Please keep the comments coming. I want a little more assurance before I trade one set of unknowns for another.