General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Are cars doomed to break, or can they be maintained indefinitely?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10465points) May 3rd, 2010

straight forward…

If you do every normal practical thing to keep a car well maintained, will it just run tip top forever? changing out all oils, changing gaskets, changing replaceable parts…

My main question regards the drivetrain I suppose, since most of the other parts are pretty much exhaustible (no pun intended).

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21 Answers

frdelrosario's avatar

Old Volkswagens were built to last forever, but everything since then is meant to break.

johnny0313x's avatar

I think technically if you spent the money you could keep something running for a lifetime(forever is undefinable so it’s not fair to say that) but it would be cheaper just to buy a new car. Plus eventually doors would begin to rust away….just not worth it to maintain a car for that long. Guess all that is common sense though…

Akiora's avatar

No. No matter how ‘well-greased,’ you keep your car, the friction from use will eventually degrade the parts to a point of being unusable. Granted, if you continue to replace parts in the car every time they go…you could have the same “car” for an indefinite period of time…but when does it stop being the original car?

john65pennington's avatar

My 2000 Toyota Solara just turned 245,000 miles. i change the oil every 7,000 miles and have only replaced the timing belt. on my 5th set of tires. everything else is original equipment. i did just have the AC tune up with only freon. i do baby my car and plan on keeping it for a while longer. i honestly do not believe i can find another vehicle as good as my Solara. should i try for 500,000 miles? Toyota should be proud of this car, i am.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Parts wear down. Unless you can eliminate friction, your car is doomed but with routine maintenance, you can keep that car running a good long time.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Ok, forever is the wrong choice of words. What do you think is the upper cap for mileage with a perfectly maintained vehicle.

jerv's avatar

There are some Mercedes diesels that have well over one million miles on them. I know many a Toyota other than Mr Pennington’s that are over 200K, mine included.

On the other hand, a late-‘90s Mazda 626 with a Ford CD4E automatic transmission has a shorter life expectancy unless you do a little modding to the trans (maintenance alone won’t do it; flawed design) so it varies considerably.

@Akiora Piston rings are the most likely to fail first from friction, yet are easily replaceable so it’s not terribly bad to have a professional rebuild an engine. Brakes and shocks/struts are considered “wear and tear” items, so I don’t count those. Basically, as long as you aren’t stupid and the people who designed the car did their job, that isn’t really an issue.

DarkScribe's avatar

Of course they can keep going if maintenance includes engine and transmission rebuilds when necessary. This one is nearly ninety years old.

plethora's avatar

There was a UPS guy who put a million miles on his truck

WestRiverrat's avatar

There are several vehicles that have gone 1 million + miles. Just put it in your browser and you will find several stories.

ShiningToast's avatar

Like what @jerv said, a well built car can run a damn long time. It’s not uncommon to have an ‘80s Porsche (specifically the 911) that runs to over a quarter-million miles without any major repairs.

roundsquare's avatar

Sure, but eventually, is it really the same car?

JeffVader's avatar

When I worked for Mercedes we were told by the UK head technical expert that MB could build a car that would never break down & that nothing would ever wear out…. the only problem, he said, was that it would cost in excess of £12million to make.

DarkScribe's avatar

@roundsquare Sure, but eventually, is it really the same car?

As much as we are the same person as our body replaces cells throughout our life.

Snorkledorf's avatar

Maintenance or otherwise, cars rarely last very long in cities where they salt the roads in winter. When I visited Kentucky from Michigan I was like, “Look at all these old cars!” The old cars where I came from all corroded away long ago…

roundsquare's avatar

@DarkScribe Maybe this isn’t the thread to start up a metaphysical debate but…

In what sense are we the same person? We talked about this once in college and no one could give a good answer. What makes me 10 seconds ago and me now the same?

I don’t remember the whole debate but one interesting idea was continuity through memory. Of course, it was college, so the big question that came up was “well, what if I got really drunk last night and can’t remember what happened?”

Another idea was that an object x and time t1 and y and time t2 (where t2 – t1 is “small”) are the “same” if the change from x to y (in terms of the number of particles) is “small.”

Then of course the idea of teleportation came up. Different particles, but the same person?

And so on…

Fun stuff (for me anyway) but like I said, nothing to do with maintaining your car.

jerv's avatar

@Snorkledorf It is common knowledge that in New England, any 2nd or 3rd-gen VW Golf (‘84–94) will have either holes or patches in the floorboards. I’ve seen cars less than three years old with hefty rust on them.
It is possible to keep a car rust-free in New England, but it takes a little care and vigilance.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@roundsquare I think this is a fine arena for the debate. Shall we then. It relates directly to the question in any regard! I cannot say if an object can remain the same definitely when its components are replaced, but I dare say that our human being can have components replaced without being a new human. I attribute this difference to memory, and experience, and the current position we find ourselves in at every conscious moment.

When we find our awareness in the present, at that moment we are in possession of the person we were in bygone minutes. If this were not so, there would be no anchor for reason. Discuss…

roundsquare's avatar

>If this were not so, there would be no anchor for reason.

How do you mean? Lets take an example: Adam murders Bob. During the trial, Adam claims, “but that was Adam at t0, I’m Adam at t1, a completely different person. If you believe that, you can’t punish me for something Adam(t0) did. You wouldn’t punish Chris for this crime would you? Of course not, he’s a different person, just as I am a different person from Adam(t0).”

If you believe Adam(t0) != Adam(t1) (!= means “does not equal” since we can’t do the equal sign with a line through it) then it seems reasonable that yo can’t punish Adam(t1) for Adam(t0)‘s crime. But, even under the reasoning that that Adam(t1) != Adam(t0) I would still argue for punishing Adam(t1). The reason is that there is very strong correlation between Adam(t0)‘s actions and Adam(t1)‘s actions (and also further iterations of Adam). This correlation manifests itself in various ways:

1) Adam(t0) cares what happens to Adam(t1). So much so that if an action will cause Adam(t1) unhappiness, Adam(t0) will reconsider it.
2) Adam(t1) remembers what happened to Adam(t0) and this informs his emotions and future actions. E.g. if Adam(t1) remembers that yelling at his boss got Adam(t0) fired, Adam(t1) might well refrain from doing so in the future.
3) If Adam(t0) acts in a certain way in certain situations, we could reasonably expect Adam(t1) to act in a similar way. Of course, he might change his behavior from lessons (as in point 2) but certainly the actions of Adam(t0) can inform us in predicting what Adam(t1) will do.

I’m sure there are more examples. All of the points above are very similar to what someone what might say if they considered all iterations of Adam to be the same person. I think this logic can be extended to most of the ways we think about people. So our reasoning doesn’t fall apart if we consider Adam(t1) != Adam(t0). Our language for describing things would need to be subtly modified if we wanted exact clarity in what we say, but thats about it.

However, I can see one advantage to this way of thinking. If someone suffers brain trauma and, as a result, we can say that the correlation described above does not hold, then we have good reason to treat Adam(t1) in a wholly different way then we would without the brain trauma. Even if the trauma is not complete, it would still be easier to justify treating him differently. Of course, we may do this even now, but I think the logic behind it is more clear this way.

Or, maybe I’m completely missing what you are saying.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Not at all to ignore what was just typed, and I will return to it…

When we are formulating thoughts it is unreasonable, in my opinion, to consider a thought as a sort of baton which is handed between our successive selves. If the thought is being handed off in a way that is the cohesive to experience then (even if it is a given that we are constantly leaving our self behind and a new self is taking the old ones place) it seems like you have then unraveled selfhood altogether. Why not consider everyones thoughts in the same manner. Since effectually you are using the thoughts of your former selves, not unlike scientist have relied on the minds that came before them to move forward. Responsibility is thusly nullified.

More than merely changing language it would have to be said that adam t1 is in fact innocent of the crimes, he should be punished for. Furthermore, Adam should never have been given the opportunity to commit a crime since his experience cannot be said to truly be his since it is constantly being bequeathed to his new selves.

Rights must then be sacrificed. Ownership, and the freedoms of liberty are really then illusions that are being painted senses of the experiencer.

No. I say that this anchored effect that binds our conscious thought together from moment to moment is not a mere baton pass. It is instead a fourth dimensional relation that our consciousness has with the physical plane. Adam t0 is Adam t1 despite his whole being changing just short of his actual, and complete, demise.

What say you…

roundsquare's avatar

First of all… I wish I could write like you. Your command of language is much better than mine.

But, back to the debate:

On responsibility, I disagree that responsibility is nullified. Its all in how we set the rules. If we were to start from the thought-baton (TB) position, the concept of responsibility would be reworked.

As things stand now, we say, “you are responsible for something you did before because you are the person who did it. Even if you have had a complete change of heart and would never do this again, you are still responsible so ought to be punished.”

However, if we start from the TB position, we would merely need to lay down the rule: All future iterations of yourself are responsible for for what a past iteration does. From there, we could say adam(t1) is responsible for what adam(t0) did and not have a problem. The rule would work fine (in most cases) because earlier iterations of each person do in fact care about what happens to their later iterations. From there, the thread that connects one iteration to another is essentially the same as the way you would define what makes someone the same through time: continuity of thought. That thread remains a vital component.

Similarly, rights would not be sacrificed. It would no longer be the case that Bob owns the car, but it would be that at all future points in time, future iterations of Bob own all future iterations of the car (as indeed, one would need to apply this iterative version of “things” to inanimate objects as well).

The key point is that all the rules would need to be rewritten. One cannot start with non-TB laws and try to apply them in a TB world. If one does, they end up like a person who tries to learn relativity but refuses to leave some Newtonian concepts, perpetually confounded by apparent paradoxes.

(As a side note, I would wonder how culture would have evolved differently had we started with this view. I’m not able to imagine such a culture off the top of my head, but any theories would be fascinating).

At some point, this might begin to sound like we’re playing with words. Aren’t we, in effect, saying the same thing with different words? Effectively, in normal every day life, there is no distinction between what we are talking about. However, its in the edge cases that things might become difficult. You need to move near the speed of light to actually notice the effects Einstein described.

And my beer is here, so I cannot keep writing. Therefore, I leave with a parting thought, and a promise to return: What happens if we build a teleportation machine that destroys one body and recreates it on the other side. Now, what happens if it recreates the new version without destroying the old one? I shall meditate on this question and, hopefully, return a bit wiser.

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