When is old car too old?

I drive an 89 4wd Toyota truck with 125,000 miles. There is some rust on the body but not bad. The mechanics were impressed with the absence of rust underneath. I’ve replaced the timing chain. I live remotely and worry about an untimely breakdown. Is there any way to diagnose the reliability of this truck?

My '89 Toyota pickup had 338,000 miles on it when it got totalled by an errant Hyundae. It never had any major engine or drivetrain work, and still ran great, burning a quart of oil about every 1200 miles. Heck, I even goto 295,000 miles out of the original clutch! No fooling!

Maintain it well, don’t abuse it, and you have a looooooooooooooong way to go. Or, you could sell it to me. I miss mine.

My daughter has a Toyota pickup with 165,000 miles on it and it’s as solid as can be. Still on the original clutch, and really very little need for worry. Keep your truck.

You can break down with a 1999 vehicle just as easily. The stuff you’re going to have problems with are the hard parts that just fatigue due to age. You’re already into that range of age …and somewhat beyond it. In 4 years this could qualify as an antique in my state. Your mileage is atypical for this vintage of automobile. That will reduce the fatigue rate to strictly age.

I would drive it and maintain it as needed. When too big a job presents itself, I’d then junk it. Keep in mind that the true costs will be cheaper fixing this than buying another vehicle, so it comes down to a convenience matter. Eventually you just write it off …drop back …and punt. You could merely buy a whole other car (a beater even) to use if and when this one needs heavier service.

It probably has another 125k left in it. My previous Accord was an '87 model. It had 190k+ and a little rust, and the original motor ran fine until my friend wrecked it. Well even after that it STILL ran fine, but the body was pretty much shot. I can’t believe he didn’t die. Enjoy your truck.

I assume if you did the timing chain yourself, you do the oil changes, lube changes, coolant changes, tune-ups, and most other maintenance. Your in the better position to know the overall condition of the truck. When you do the maintenance, is there anything amiss that worries you? I had a 1990 model Toyota P/U, 22R, 2-bbl Carb, 4-speed stick, and put 325,000 miles on it. All I did was 2 clutches and a head gasket job besides all the regular maintenance. I believe it would have gotten to 500,000, but the retaining wall my wife hit had other ideas.

If you can afford another vehicle without going deeply into debt, then worry about unexpected breakdown can be a reason to trade up. That is a pretty old vehicle. But, economics is important. Don’t go way into debt just because of imaginary worries that it might break down. In cold weather make sure you have emergency supplies and equipment such as extra blankets, fire starting equipment and so forth. If you have cell coverage, keep a prepaid cell phone with you in case of emergency, things like that.

I spend a good deal of my work with reliability engineering issues. Most of my clients have plant equipment that has run for 20-30 years, all the time, except for maintenance.

A 20 year old Toyota in good condition is more reliable than a new Chinese, Russian or Indian car. Having said that, if you maintain the vehicle religiously, it stays reliable.

Case in point, I had a 1984 Chevy Impala, an average car for reliability. Over 200,000 miles of driving for 13 years, and 10,000 trips, I had 3 flat tires and 4 “breakdowns”.

These breakdowns were not serious, like the wiper motor burning out, and only one made for lost time, the water pump bearing blew, needing a day in the shop. Using military terms like “mission availability”, I had 4 outages in 10,000 trips, which means a 9996/10,000 x 100=99.96% mission availablity. The US army does not do any better than that.

The message here is that a basically good car, maintained well can be extremely reliable even as it ages.

A few years ago when I was overseas I rode in a Toyota Corolla diesel taxi with 1.4 MILLION kilometers on it, or 875,000 miles of rough service. The car looked a little rough, but the driver said it worked every day!

You can’t determine exactly how reliable your truck is, just assume that if everyting is up to scratch after a mechanic’s inspection your truck is as reliable as one that 1 or 2 years old.

The make of vehicle is more important than its age. I would rather make a cross country trip in a good 15 year old Toyota than a new car from any native Indian or Chinese or Russian maker.

Hope this provides some insight; you are the most important factor in how reliable your vehicle is.