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Will it last, or will it bust?

Ok so I have a 2006 Chevy Cobalt named Yuki, not that you needed to know that but I LOVE my car. Being that I love him so much (and the fact that I am a poor college student ) getting a new car is not an option at all right now.
It has 146k miles on it, it runs fine, however it has a slow burn of oil; maybe like 1/3 between oil changes when I measured it.

The problem is I need this car to get to my school and obviously around town. My school is in Alabama, I live in Michigan. My Dad swears up and down it will die before I get there, and I swear it will be fine if I take the trip slow.

So part of this is I wanna know who is right, another is I don’t want to get stranded mid-country, and the third is I wanna know, will it last or bust?

Thanks in advance!!!

Do you mean it gets 1/3 of a quart low between oil changes? If so, that’s great!

As for the car, no way to tell from here, do you have a mechanic you trust to look it over? Is the oil changed on the recommended schedule? Are the tires good? How old are they? Is the other maintenance up to date?

This car could be absolutely fine, if all the above checks out.

It’s gotten lower before but yes typically 1/3 low. And yes again to the mechanic, he hasn’t seen anything wrong with it recently.

The tires are a year old and were just rotated

Unfortunately, it is not possible to give you an answer, because the most important factor in a car’s reliability and its durability is its maintenance, and you told us nothing about its maintenance record.
This blind question is the automotive equivalent of asking us how long you might live, but not disclosing anything about your eating habits, or your medications, or your weight, or your exercise regimen, or your immunization record. Do you get my drift?

If you want to post the full maintenance history of the car, that would be the best way to try to secure an answer with some validity, but if you don’t want to go to those lengths, then just answer the following questions:
Do you have a copy of GM’s maintenance schedule for this model?
Have you done everything listed on that maintenance schedule at least as often as the manufacturer prescribes?

And, just for the record, the speed of your trip isn’t anywhere nearly as important as how the car has been maintained over the past 10 years.
An old car that has been properly maintained and that has good tires can make a long trip at high speed.
An old car that hasn’t been properly maintained and/or that has dodgy tires might not make it to the next town, even when driven at a slow speed.


Stop listening to your dad swearing; these cars will run much longer with reasonable care. The oil consumption is very good; many new cars use that much oil!

So, just keep driving it till you graduate and get a good paying job. Then you can get a car that will make both you and your dad happy.

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Dad is worried about you. He is supposed to do that. I worried about my daughter driving from Maryland to South Carolina when she was in college with an almost new car. You will likely be fine. Do you have roadside service? If not get it. Your car insurer may have a program, or you could join AAA. Tell Dad to pay for it to give him peace of mind.

That daughter drove a Cobalt, BTW. It runs fine, as does a 2010 Cobalt we own. Drive it to Alabama at the beginning of the school year and home at the end. For trips in between, get a ride or take a plane. Again, maybe Dad will spring for the plane tickets so he can see you more often. My daughter flew to and from Charlotte and got friends to take her to and from Columbia, SC.

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Let me provide some simple comments:

1.I have a Cobalt 2008 with almost 120K miles and I have seen this car to go up to 200K miles and be on sale at high mileage
2. Let us first find out what is going on. Find out if Mr Yuki is burning the oil or leaking the oil. Put some clean card board underneath the front of the car underneath the engine over night when the engine is hot and inspect the next day if Mr Yuki is leaking
3. I have seen oil leakage because of the oil cap becoming bad or not tight enough to withstand the oil pressure. A brand new oil cap is about 7 dollars online.
4. Also I have seen that infrequent oil change lead to the o-ring of the oil filter becoming bad and not be able to withstand the oil pressure. Also, some oil changes may forget to change the o-ring with a brand new and you can easily start to leak oil as the rubber of the o-ring becomes bad over time due to heat.


I absolutely agree.
To make dad feel better, carry a quart of oil and a funnel in the trunk. Dollar Tree even has small packages of 10 disposable rubber gloves you can bring with you… as well as $1 funnels in oil-change size. And show dad that you’ll have your AAA card with you, a cell phone, and a credit card (these you should have for emergencies anyway).

As Texases said, the car should get a checkup occasionally anyway. Add that to the above suggestions and dad should feel much more confident in your car… and you’ll show that you’re a responsible adult.

Oh, by the way, I’m speaking as a dad of now-grown children. If dad is a military veteran, you may even ask him what he was doing at your age. When I was college age I was in the military, a year of it deployed to southeast Asia… during the Vietnam war. I used to remind myself of this when I had a hard time accepting my kids’ growing up years.

Sincere best.


One idea, before the trip up north take Yuki to an inde mechanic and ask them to do a general inspection.

I hope you are checking the oil on a regular basis and not letting it drop too far between oil changes. Whenever you get gas, once you are done filling up, check the level, if it gets to the add mark, add a quart

I don’t think it’s wise to buy oil at Dollar Tree . . . we were just talking about that, and they’re the ones that were selling that obsolete oil

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Your dad is a Michigander. He is enveloped in a mind-set that screams in his head that a car with over 100,000 miles is no longer a car, it will break, fall apart or spontaneously burst into flames, whatever. He can’t help this. He lives in the middle of the North American automobile design nexus and is no-doubt surrounded by people who design and test new cars for a living, get big discounts on new cars and have grown up thinking it is un-American to own a car more that 4 years old.

I worked in the car industry with these folks (but lived in Ohio), I have 3 Michigander brothers-in-law and lots of Michigan family who think the exact same way, so I’ve seen it firsthand.

Don’t worry, have the car checked out as others here have suggested, and just understand your dad loves and is concerned about you and but he just can’t help himself.

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A lot of us from all parts of the country grew up believing that. It had some basis in reality in the '50s and '60s, but the world has changed… and so has the technology. But there are still those “set in the old ways”. As long as they’re good people, I salute them. I miss a great many things about the old days myself.


However, since we really don’t know much of anything about this car’s maintenance record, its ultimate longevity is still pretty-much guesswork for us.


Agree on the old mindset. When my dad was working in a garage pre Korean war, cars were always getting a complete overhaul by the 50,000 mile mark. In later years, he would always trade cars before 100K 'cause nobody would want to buy a car that had rolled over.

Those who yearn for “the good old days” of cars seem to forget that, by 50k miles, most cars needed a ring & valve job. And, then you have the rampant body rot on old cars, usually after just 3 or 4 years.

When I was a kid, back in the '50s & '60s, every summer drive included the sight of many overheating cars on the side of the road. (For some reason, most of them seemed to be Buicks…)
Yes, the cars of yesteryear are charming to look at, but they were not always reliable, were rarely durable, had weak brakes and poor handling, and–by comparison with modern cars–were not particularly safe.

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good advice up above.

I would add that if dad is super concerned about your trip, he could buy you a new car. :wink:

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Ask dad for a plane ticket and leave Yuki home Amy. Having lived through college, I can’t remember many good things that came from having a car on campus. 1800 miles round trip sounds like a lot to this dad of a kid headed to college.

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There’s no guarantee that any car on the planet will make a road trip without breaking down and that includes brand new cars. If the car runs fine I’d drive it without worry but would advise that you check the fluids now and then rather than assume they will be fine for the entire trip.

My late father was one of those who thought that a car was nearing the end of its service life by the time the odometer hit about 60k miles.

As for early ring and valve jobs; that not due to materials or construction so much as it was an issue of leaded gasoline.
There’s a night and day difference with the internals on an old leaded gas engine vs an unleaded fuel engine.

Not to be contrarian, but here’s the thing. Having driven cars state-wide with 200, 300, 500K miles on them, I’ve had a few issues on the road. The problems are no longer major engine or transmission failure due to modern manufacturing, but things like sensors (crank, cam, MAF) idler pulleys, leaky water pumps, alternator failures, and so on. I always tried to do preventative repairs so that I would replace wear items before failure because I didn’t want to be 100 miles from home with a car problem. There’s no reason to expect a car with 150K on it to have an engine blow up on a long trip, which is relatively easy on a car, but you can certainly have a sensor failure, a wheel bearing failure, a fuel pump failure, an alternator failure, and so on.

With luck, the failures will happen at a convenient place and near a helpful mechanic. Without luck it’ll be 11:00 at night, pouring rain or snow, and in the middle of nowhere. More than once I made the call to the motor club for service on my son’s car a couple hundred miles away or drove the 90 miles for a repair. Stuff happens, and the older the car, the more likely something will happen. You can’t preemptively replace every dang wear part in anticipation or you might as well buy a new car.

So really knowing nothing about the car except a worried dad, its a crap shoot and maybe time for a new car. My main point is that good maintenance will not prevent a problem on the road. When my son was heading to school 200 miles away, I was relieved when he decided to give me back my Riviera and buy a newer car. Just sayin’ is all. Its a lonely road, people don’t stop to help anymore, and lots of women now carry weapons for protection.