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April 30, 2010

Yeah, But They Are All Highway Miles

So when does it become ok, a badge of honor if you will to start having your cars rack up the miles.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really one of these people who worry about how many miles I drive, and NOT driving because I don’t want to put miles on my vehicle.  This is good as I put 30,000 – 35,000 miles a year on a vehicle.  I think cars are made to be driven, and when something breaks, you fix it (or let it go until it gets worse).  That said, when a vehicle is new, it is nice to try to keep it new for as long as you can.

I’ve bought a brand new vehicle exactly once in my life, a 1997 Dodge Ram 1500.  Black Sport 4x4 with a 318, and dual exhausts behind a flow master muffler (thanks to Mike Owczarek).    Brand new meaning you were the one who drove it off the dealer lot.  I remember how quickly I hit 30,000 miles, and how upset I was that it happened so fast.

I sold that truck when the opportunity came up to purchase my father’s truck, a 1995 Dodge Ram 3500 dually 4x4 Cummins Diesel.  If you google bad ass Dodge Ram 3500 in Michigan, his truck comes up in the images section, so I really had no choice.  Keep in mind for the sake of this blog post that this truck had almost 350,000 miles on it when I sold it.

Since then I’ve purchased 3 other vehicles (all of them with my wife).  A 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 Cummins Diesel (see a pattern developing here), a 2002 Chrysler Sebring (really purchased by my in-laws), and a 1966 VW Bug. 

Currently the 2500 Cummins has 105,000 miles on it, the Sebring has 160,000 miles on it, and the Bug is unknown, and really not important…I’m not even sure why I’m bringing it up, maybe because old cars are cool regardless of make and model.  We own a car that is almost 45 years old, still in solid working condition, ready for the road at any moment (as soon as I get the carb fixed).  So I now own two vehicles, making payments on one of them, with more than 100,000 miles on them.

Because I’m a car geek, and a bit of a dork, when the Sebring hit 150,000 miles, I pulled over on Grand River in Howell, near Burkhart Road (yes I remember where, because again I’m a dork) and took a picture of said event.  I’m proud of it, and can’t wait to hit 200,000 and beyond.

So when does this happen?  When did I go from being pissed about 30,000 miles to being elated about 150,000?

I think 150,000 is my personal magic number.  100,000 used to be the number, but I think with the way cars are built now  - a - days, that is too low, heck, you don’t even have to change spark plugs until 100,000 miles now  (if your vehicle has spark plugs, keep in mind that 1/3rd of my vehicles do not).  100,000 miles is the new  50,000 miles if you ask me.

So 150,000 is it, the point where I quit being worried about how many miles I put on a ride, to wanting to rack them up to hit the next 50,000 mile milestone.  There is a certain sub plot here with me, and that is American cars do last, they get a bad wrap with the national media, and the Big Three DOES BUILD QUALITY PRODUCTS.  While I do think (and wish) more people should buy American name plates, I don’t want this post to turn into a pro American car one, or an anti foreign one.  I work for a company (an American company) whose biggest customer right now is Toyota.  Having worked on programs for Toyota, Honda, Subaru, KIA, and Hyundai, I understand that this is a global market, and the sales of vehicles in general help my company out, and keep me employed. 

I do buy American name plate cars, and more specifically Chrysler American name plate cars (you know aside from the German made 66 bug).  This is mostly due to the fact that my father worked for Chrysler, it is hard to beat his employee discount on cars and parts, and I still have a good network of knowledge from his Chrysler contacts that help when I work on and service my vehicles.

Which leads to my final point, I maintain my own vehicles.  Recently on the Sebring, I replaced all four struts, rear ball joints, front ball joints (upper and lower), front sway bar links, among some other things.  I am my own warranty policy as a diesel buddy of mine likes to say.  I think when you do this, you take more pride in owning a vehicle that has racked up a bunch of miles.  When you can tell someone that your car has 160,029 miles on it, and quickly go through in your head the list of maintenance items you have personally performed to help keep on the road to hit that number, your smile gets a little larger when you tell the story.

200,000 miles is less than 40,000 miles away, and I can’t wait to write the blog.  Now, if everyone can join me in knocking on wood so something catastrophic doesn’t happen now, I would appreciate it.

Thanks for Stopping By - Dan