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Record Age of Cars Proof of Better Built and Maintained Autos

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Dan Toreno, owner of C.A.R.S. in Sleepy Hollow, with shop manager, Frank Perez. Dan Toreno, owner of C.A.R.S. in Sleepy Hollow, with shop manager, Frank Perez. photo: Robert Kimmel

If you think you are seeing more older cars than ever cruising along the highways, it is not your imagination. Three or four decades ago when vehicle odometers read up to 99,999 miles, and then often reversed to zero, most Americans knew at that high point it was time to dispose of their autos. That has changed.

The average age of operating vehicles today is hovering at a record peak of just over 11 years. You can get 200,000 miles from your car today, if it is properly maintained, according to Dan Toreno, who operates C.A.R.S., (an acronym for Complete Automotive Repair Service), in Sleepy Hollow.

The existing use of many aging vehicles can be partly attributed to frugality brought about by the edgy economic times, but autos are built now to last longer, explained Toreno, a graduate of Denver Automotive College. “Cars run so much cleaner, leaner and are so much more durable today,” he said. 

“Back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s you were back in the shop every 15,000 miles for plugs, points and condensers,” Toreno noted. “Today, you are in the shop every 50-80,000 miles for plugs and filters because we’ve eliminated points, condensers, caps and rotors; they’re non-existent now.”

Autos were changing back in the 1980s when Toreno began using his expertise in the field by teaching personnel from some 4,700 auto repair shops throughout New York State.   

The emergence of computer diagnostics during the 80s helped make identifying auto problems much easier, as well as making it safer to operate a vehicle, Toreno said. Before that, he opined that “a mechanic needed a good ear and experience. “Cars would come in the door knocking and banging and the mechanic would have to figure out that it was coming from this or that area. Come into us for a check-up now and we can hook your car up to a computer and the computer guides us in the right direction to where the problem is.  Then, of course, you need the knowledge or degree of education to find, trace and thoroughly diagnose the problem,” he said.

Toreno said the overall maintenance economics are far better for car owners than they were in the past. “If you compare the longevity of a vehicle by maintaining it properly now, compared with the cost of repairing it back 20, 30 years ago, it is much better,” he said. He explained that a valve job then was required every 30 or 40,000 miles. That work necessitated tearing down and completely reassembling the engine. Improved engineering and advanced metallurgy has pushed that maintenance forward to from 80,000 to 100,000 miles, according to Toreno. 

“Change your oil, is among the best advice anyone can give you,” Toreno said. “Today it is mostly every 5,000 miles although there are still 3,000 mile oil changes. It keeps the metal sound and the life of the vehicle going. We also have oils in the power steering, in the brake system, cooling system and transmission, and they must be given the same attention that you treat your engine oil.” He is so certain that good maintenance, particularly changing oils when required, will keep your car in good shape and extend its life that, “If you do these services with us, we’ll give you an extended lifetime guarantee.” 

As for the coming winter driving season,  “The only thing I ask of customers who keep their cars maintained, is to check the brakes, check the tires to be sure they are safe on the roads, and your heating system, and continue on your maintenance schedule,” said Toreno. “If you bring your car in for an oil change, we automatically go through a check list.” 

Describing what to look for in an auto repair shop, Toreno said, “.. it is cleanliness, trust in the mechanic, and being sure that he has the credentials to service your car properly.”

Last modified on Thursday, 04 October 2012 11:42

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