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What guides your answer to this question?

We hear it alot on CarTalk, the OP is concerned that something in a cars history (be it maintiance, accident, operation in adverse or extreme conditions)will reduce the amount of undegraded use of their vehicle that they would have had if the car had not been exposed to whatever the issue was.

An example would be “my car had an overheating event, how much did that take off its life” or “my cars previous owner did not follow the maintiance schedule closely” or “my car was in a severe accident and the insurance company almost totaled it”.

I ask can any predicition of lifespan lost be made in these or similar circumstances? My feeling is no number can be assigned (but we sure are asked too) just a statement that some life was lost.

I’d agree with you. Or perhaps the lifespan wouldn’t be changed a lot, but the vehicle would never run or drive as well as it would have if the ‘event’ had never occurred.

It’s pretty impossible to guess in most cases, but it’s usually easy to tell if there’s been a serious compromise to it’s lifespan IF we can get enough detail from the OP. Far too often we don’t get all the necessary information.

I don’t think there’s any way on Earth of predicting how much life remains in whatever is being questioned, be it a complete car or a unit such as an engine or transmission.

We get posts from people that want to be compensated for the life lost due to a mechanics mistake, I just can see this as a claim that could go anywhere. Or on the same train of thought compensation because now their car is more prone to failure,this is another concept that I don’t see going anywhere.

My feeling is that you must first suffer the damage, then compensation as who knows perhaps an accident makes the mechanics mistake or lack of maintiance a “moot” point.

In many cases no life is lost. At least none that the owner will ever reach.

What may occur, to the same varying degree, is lowered/degraded utility. Engines are like humans. The life span is built into the design. You can maybe shorten that time line, but not too much, usually. What you do, as with a human, is make the (near) same time line less favorable.

My doctor was please to inform me that since I quit smoking, I’d die in much better health.

I opine that once a car has been involved in a perceived loss of useful life that the owner stops taking as good care of the vehicle. The car does not get washed and waxed as often; oil change intervals are stretched; regular maintenence items are put off; minor body damage is not repaired; the interior is not kept as clean and maintained; detailing is suspended; the car is not driven as much; it is parked outside; etc.

The end of useful life is when the owner perceives the vehicle as worthless junk.