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Predicting Longevity by Make

In another discussion, people are posting about how those old Toyotas just go and go and go (long past 200k miles); how do you “in the know” think the new Toyotas, such as the Yaris, will stack up against them in terms of reliability and longevity?

Also, how do other makes do? Notably, my 2000 Suzuki Swift; what kind of lifespan?

You can’t really tell. It’s an EDUCATED guess. Even the BEST made vehicle won’t hold up to a bad maintenance schedule.

Based on my past experience and family and friends…GM and Ford have had dismal life spans. I maintained my GMC S-15 religiously for the 7 years I owned it. But no matter what I did it started to fall apart at 150k miles. Did the same maintenance to my 90 and 98 Pathfinder and both saw over 300k miles and were running great when I no longer drove them. Daughter is going to graduate this year and hopefully the 98 will last that long. Running great now at 330k miles.

I have a feeling you’re going to continue bringing up the Toyota Yaris for months with various posts. This isn’t a life changing decision you know haha. If you like the Yaris go pick one up and see how it goes.

Anyway, to answer the question briefly: The Yaris is a simple car with a reliable and durabel Toyota drivetrain which I suspect will last well over 200,000 miles with regular and thorough maintenance. The Suzuki Swift is not in the same league as the Toyota and in general will not be able to last as long without problems. I’d say the Toyota is 50,000+ miles stronger if you’re looking to quantify it.

Otterhere; you posed both a philosophical and a very technical question. A few posts ago we talked about the 3 lives of a car; Design life, economic life and actual life.

First of all design life; it’s generally agreed that Toyota, Honda and Mazda (and Nissan, Volvo and Mercedes in the past) have the longest design life. This means that the manufacturer has thoroughly designed and tested that vehicle, and ensured it would last, say at least 300,000 miles with normal upkeep. American cars used to be overdesigned so that they too could last that long, unles they rusted out first.

Your Suzuki, although it is Japanese, is a “poor man’s Japanese car”; it does not quite have the designed-in lifespan of the ones above. Most Korean cars, with the exception of newer Hyundais, also fit in that category. That’s why no one recommend you buy an Aveo sold by Chevrolet; it’s a cheap Korean Daewoo (now defunct) design.

European cars have a Jekyl and Hyde personality; some components are high quality and long lived while others are dismal, resulting in an expensive and unreliable car with high mainteance cost. Volkswagens are typical.

When we come to economic life, we look at the cost of spares and repairs, and judge at what stage the car should be scrapped. Some high quality cars have extremely expansive spares, and will not last their design life because of repair costs. BMWs and Audis, and Jaguars often fall in the category. On the other hand, full size US pickup trucks, and the old rear wheel drive sedans (Crown Vic, Caprice) seem to run forever, since cheap parts are avilable from many sources.

Cars that have a short econimic life ususally have high depreciation and are a poor investment. Good cars with a long economic life such as Accords, Camries, Corollas, Civics, etc have always had good resale value, even when gas was cheap.

The ACTUAL life of a car is the life you can achieve if you just keep replacing parts regardless of cost. If the car is rust-resistant, that life could be very long. Chevrolet Corvettes seem to live forever, since they have fiberglass bodies.

The old Checker Cab was an example of a “continuous rebuildable car”.

From the above and other advice you are now aware that reliability and long life do not have to cost a great deal. The Yaris is the most reliable car Toyota makes. The Fit is one of the best cars Honda makes. Most Volkswagens, selling for a few thousand dollars more have dismal reliability by comparison, and are much more expensive to maintain.

In summing up, your Suzuki Swift has an average lifespan on par with US compact cars, but considerably less that the best Japanese cars and the nwer Hyundais.

Hope this sheds some light on a very controversial subject.

Although I tend to rate Toyotas highly the Yaris is not familiar to me. But the poor reputation of domestic vehicles is often not deserved. In recent years I have serviced many Ford and Chevrolet light duty trucks which ran reliably for hundreds of thousands of miles. Ford Aerostars, Econolines and F-series, Chevrolet Astro vans, G-vans, and C/K pick-ups have surpassed 300,000 miles with the original engines and transmissions while being regularly serviced by my shop. I don’t recall ever having a breakdown requiring a tow. Friends who service local cabs have similar opinions of Ford Crown Vics and Chevrolet Caprices. The new Prius factory is within a bike ride of me and I hope the cars live up to their reputation but the domestics are much better than their reputation it appears.

Very thorough discussion, and very helpful; thank you!!! While reading about all the Toyotas that are going 200k-300k miles, I begin to think that perhaps I’m being a bit premature in planning to replace my 108k mile Suzuki Swift, since it’s also Japanese and, for all I know, could ALSO go 300k??? What I don’t know is Suzuki vs. Toyota, and this does shed some light.

As for the Yaris, is Toyota still building them to last, or have they also gone disposable? At any rate, it’s the best car for the money, so I’ll just have to take my chances with it.

Thanks again!

I would agree that the larger domestics were generally good and inexpensive to keep going, with the exception of some components. The bad reputation was mostly earned by small trucks (S-10) and small domestic cars, which did not get the design attention they should have had. Many of my more conservative relatives happily drove Crown Vics, Caprices, and Buick LeSabres for many years.

Both the Yaris and the Fit are family cars overseas; these are bread and butter cars for Japanese manufacturers and they have to be good. We lived overseas for 5 years and the Yaris (here called the Echo at that time) was a mainstream seller with the Corolla sold as a managers’s car or larger family car.

Suzukis sold for considerbly less, as did Daewoos and Kias.

The thing to avoid is extras on Japanese cars that are only sold in the US. Honda once offered some self adjusting shock absorbers on their Accords. These things lasted only 10 months on bad roads and cost $600 to replace. These items were not available on overseas cars.

As others have indicated , a Suzuki wil easily run 200,000 miles with good care, but at 300,000 it will likely not be reliable enough for YOUR peace of mind, although it will still be cost-effective to operate.

This is an impossible question to answer. Everyone has their own life experiences that determines their world view. I have never put a small car though on the road for daily pounding and that has worked for me, but do what you like and report the results back here again. I’m starting to wonder whether my Buick will make it to 500,000 from the 476,000 its at now but who knows. This morning the guy with the Chevy truck with one million miles was on the radio, but these must be aberations.

I believe the type of driving and the maintenance of the vehicle are the biggest factors. I have one Saturn and a bunch of Japanese vehicles. The Saturn has been up there in quality, actually better than the Honda’s. We once had a Chevy (Suzuki Swift of 1988) that later became the Geo Metro. I think it would have gone 200k if it hadn’t been totaled. At 120k, the only non PM maintenance was the rear shocks.

The Suzuki engine is a very durable design as long as you keep a good timing belt in it and change the oil on schedule. I think the domestic vehicles are unfairly bashed. I have a Saturn that has been just as reliable as any Japanese car we’ve had, and we have had quite a few. We have had a couple of Honda’s and currently have one, and they have actually been higher maintenance vehicles that the rest. To be fair though, most of the others were basic vehicles where the Honda’s have been optioned up. They have more to go wrong.

You can keep a vehicle too long. We had an 86 Toyota Tercel 4wd Wagon. They were a quirky, odd looking little car, but once you have one, you love it. It was perfect up to 192k miles, then the transmission lost 5th gear. Had it rebuilt but it only lasted about another 40k. I put in a JDM transmission. At 306k, the engine ate a valve. I rebuilt the head but the renewed compression only blew out the rings. Tried a junkyard engine, that only lasted about 6k and it blew up, literally. It blew chunks all over the place. I was following it at the time and it looked like an IED went off under it.

At 306k, I should have junked it, but I really liked it, and so did my son who drove it daily. I would have but I saw a reman engine for sale on ebay from a reputable reman facility that was reducing the inventory on these engines. Got an engine for $250. That was only the start of the wallet drain. New carburetor came next. Within the next 20k miles, I would no longer have had to buy any more parts for it as almost everything in it had a lifetime warrantee from Autozone. Then it got totaled. True that many of the parts were bought before the engine incedent, I was using them a lot for free parts. But after the new engine went in, I rebuilt the car from bumper to bumper, almost everything.

The last time I went into Autozone to get something, and it had been quite awhile since I had been there, they asked immediately about the car. I think they were happy that I wouldn’t be in for anymore free parts.

The truth is ALL car makes and models can go and go and go. The major factors are maintenance along the way, LUCK, and driving style/type and habits. The last one is how much you can stomach repair costs and how much money you want to spend…

People assume domestics do not last and let them fall apart. On the other hand people assume Toyota/Honda last forever and pay for expensive repairs past 150k that send most other makes to the scrap heap.

How do you explain the recent ads for Chevy trucks where the drivers have gone over 500,000 miles? One guy has over 2,000,000 miles on his truck. Anecdotal evidence? Yes, but so is yours.

I begin to think that perhaps I’m being a bit premature in planning to replace my 108k mile Suzuki Swift,

I have thought so since you first started asking. Your Swift probably has at least another 100,000 reliable miles in it, assuming good maintenance has been performed, but you have worries about being stranded and no amount of rational discussion will allay those fears. I would not be worried about a well maintained Suzuki with 108K miles on it and I would not worry if my daughter were driving it alone in desolate areas. My daughter might feel otherwise, and indeed I know she would, but that’s not really a car issue.

There are no guarantees. Your brand new car might have an engine failure in the first 10,000 miles, and your Suzuki might make it to 1 million miles. You can only play the odds as you see them.

Your concerns about your car are really not about the car but about your comfort and peace of mind. I won’t try to convince you to change your mind because you would still be worried. Life’s to short to spend it worrying about a car.

None are going to be very accurate. I think I could predict a car’s life better by taking a look at the history of the driver than the history of the make of car.

Adding to that, let’s face facts. The owner of an expensive high quality car noted for long life is far more likely to maintain it properly than the owner of a Yugo.

Your Buick must have received good care, since you are happily driivng it at 476,000 miles! As others point out, the regular care and driving style are important, but Buick has long been the most reliable GM car other than the Geo Prizm, the Corollla clone. I would not worry and keep driving it until your cash flow out on repairs indicates that you’re better off getting a replacement (end of economic life).

“I have a feeling you’re going to continue bringing up the Toyota Yaris for months with various posts.”

I do like to think things over carefully; not one to act impulsively. And I HATE spending my money.

Anyone can make a Chevy last 500,000 miles if they are willing to keep up on repairs. The distinction is that the Toyotas will get as far with fewer repairs. This is supported by actual data. Just look at CR’s used car guide for the data.

There are still Model A Fords on the roads (mostly in parades) with their original engines. That doesn’t mean they are as reliable as a Toyota.

There are some factors that are out of your hands,cars that had bad designs.I can think of the Chrysler mini-van transmission issues,Subaru headgasket issues,BMW V-8 engine block failures,Vega engine block design,Toyota engine oil sludging,older VW Rabbit electrical systems,full size pick-ups with inadaquate front brakes,all the design errors on the air cooled VW the list go on and on.The best maintiance and the most conservative driving habits will not help cars with basic design errors.

Add garbage Honda transmissions of the early 2000’s.

Consumer Reports, available at your local bookstore, is the best source available. My own experience of over 40 years owning various cars has been remakably consistant with CR’s data.

Properly maintained and not abused I would expect the Yaris to provide many miles of useful service.

I have no knowledge of or experience with Suzukis.