This GW drives a Camry, two Camrys actually, and lives in Berkeley, as he has for a long, stable, time. One of his Camrys is a 1988, sixteen years old as I write this, with 188,000 miles and it is the state of this car that is so notable.
This Camry never arrives here low on oil. It doesn’t drink much, while just about every other 88 out there drinks, from a little to a lot. Not this one.
This Camry goes to town. To Ashland town. And it never makes me nervous. This in a world where many of the 88’s that I know cause me concern when I hear they are going to Marin, nervous because I am aware of maintenance and repairs recomended and deferred on these cars. As far as I know, and that is pretty far, this Camry has never let its owner down, at all, and I have no expectation that it will.
So why is his 1988 Camry so flawless? It is pathetically simple. He bought the car, read the manual, and has performed as instructed there. As the car has gotten beyond the issues described in the manual, I have found myself on arguing with GW, where I argue for deferral, and he argues for not delaying the inevitable. He aggressively pursues the careful maintenance of his Camry, and unflinchingly repairs that which fails or threaten to fail. And so is rewarded with a perfectly reliable ride.
If you consider that depreciation is the largest single cost facing most car owners, and that deprecation is best understood as the purchase price divided by the period of years in service, you can see that one cost of GW’s is clearly better than those who hold their cars a more ordinary seven years. Also, his insurance cost is greatly diminished, as the insurer has very little at risk now, and his registration fees are similiarly very low. I am quite certain that all of these benefits are real, and substantial, and far exceed the sum of his also substantial maintenance costs. Another notable thing smoothing GW’s way is that his not deferring costs means that costs never build up, the way they almost always do for so many other 1980’s car owners, so he never has to feel that one bill will exceed the value of the car. Over and over, we see people put off ‘a’, drive a little further until ‘b’ is due, and so one, until ‘x’ breaks, and now, they need a,b,…x, and they say “Gee, that and five plus years of hefty but predictable debt payments will get me a new car”…and new insurance, new depreciation, new registration, etc., etc.
Anyway, GW seems to achieve with little effort and little cost something that many people say they want, and probably really need, but somehow generally do not achieve. Tax bill interferes with a maintenance decision. A busy calendar means an oil change is skipped. Not for GW.