August 27, 2011


1 million km and still running (click to read article)Just like us, cars have survival rates. Some last longer, perhaps not 1 billion seconds but longer than many marriages (average of 14.2 years in Canada). As you might expect, more expensive brands tend to last longer. They're probably built better and maintained better. There are noteworthy differences among brands.

Survey Says

"All our cars are designed to have a long and useful life on the road. In an age of mass production that sometimes favours planned obsolescence, our products look to provide long-term value. And the numbers back that up." — Mercedes Benz Magazine
DesRosiers Automotive Consultants looked at vehicles sold 21-24 years ago (1985-1989) that are still on the road in 2010. Here are the survival rates:
  • Mercedes-Benz: 63.7%
  • Second Best German Brand: 34.9%
  • Best Japanese Brand: 11.7%
  • Industry Average: 6.4%
The results for Mercedes look impressive but can you trust them when they’re published in their own magazine?


Statistics can deceive. I wanted to know the identity of the unnamed brands. The omission made me curious. I figured the Second Best German Brand was BMW but where do Porsche and Audi fit in? A better comparison would look at Mercedes' real competitors, not the overall industry. You wouldn't compare a BMW with a Sonata, but Hyundai did.

Here’s what a Dec 2010 report (PDF) from DesRosiers shows. Compared with Mercedes
  • Porsche is higher in every period (85.1% for 21-25 years old vs. 59.8% for Mercedes)
  • BMW and Lexus are higher for the first 15 years
  • Audi’s survival rate for 21-24 years is only 6.5%
  • “Few Ladas and older Hyundais have survived the trip from 1985 to present due to an almost comical array of quality issues”

Wrong Measure?

BMW: 6 years or 160,000 kmLongevity may be the wrong measure. Wouldn't you like to know the cost of repairs too? What if Mercedes vehicles last long but  require triple the maintenance?

If Mercedes are so well-built, why is the warranty on used vehicles substandard? The BMW Certified Series Protection Plan warrants used vehicles for the earlier of 6 years and 160,000 km. The Mercedes Extended Limited Warranty is also 6 years but only 120,000 km. Mercedes-Benz: 6 years but only 120,000 km That’s 40,000 km less. If the cars are that great, why isn't the coverage for more years and more kilometres? Perhaps the maintenance costs get crazy after 120,000 km?

A warranty is insurance. Isn’t more protection better?


A nice vehicle, may last for ages but there are problems. Your vehicle may start reaching a point where the repair bills start piling up. Paying does not guarantee that your vehicle will last. If you're able to maintain your vehicle on your own, that's different.

Newer vehicles are safer. That's worth something, depending on the type of driving you do. Your survival rate is also important.


Podcast 132 (5:34)

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PS Beware of the most dangerous part of driving

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