Join Date: May 2012
Location: Surrey, United Kingdom
My auntie and uncle who lives in Canada just over the border from Maine have a 15 year old family saloon car which is either a Honda or a Toyota, I cant remember exactly. He is not a car person and just has the yearly servicing done on it at a garage and he never does anything himself or even opens the hood.
I was visiting relatives in Maine a year ago, so I popped over the border to see them. This car still looks in excellent condition and the rear wheel arches are only just starting to bubble with some very small rust blisters. In the UK it is quite normal to see 10 - 15 year old cars that still look immaculate and not showing any signs of visible rust. But our winters are nowhere near as bad.
When I was young I would go to scrap yards with my father in the late 1970's and early 1980's and most cars in there were basically completely rusted out. Underneath and on top. The engines were probably still usable. Now when I go to scrap yards, the cars in there are either written off from an accident, or they look immaculate and the engine has expired. It seems a shame to see cars going into the crusher and the bodywork is still more or less rust free. It is just uneconomical to get the blown engine replaced and people just scrap them.
Cars here in the 1950's and 1960's had practically zero rust prevention on them. New cars are exempt from our yearly inspection for the first 3 years and then every year after that. It was quite normal for a car to fail its first inspection when only 3 years old from some sort of structural rust in the floor or chassis legs. Our winters were a lot harsher than they are now, but even so, that is pretty poor. Back then Jaguars, Vauxhalls, Rovers, just rusted in not time. And even worse was Lancia's, Alfa Romoe's and Fiat's. If you starred at them long enough, you could probably see rust appearing before your eyes. Now All these cars last very well. All car manufacturers have had to up their game. Even Italian cars now can reach 10 plus years old with no visible rust.
The only old cars that really survive now are the ones that have been pampered and looked after, or some sort of barn find and it just happened to be in a dry damp free environment.
My father sold a 1960's Jaguar in the early 1980's. The bodywork on the outside and the interior was in really good condition. But underneath it was completely rusted through in structural areas. He sold it for next to nothing. He thinks the buyers were going to restore it, but I think they were just buying cars for banger racing.
The failures I seem to see now on modern cars seem to be things like fuel pumps, injectors, sensors, ball joints, rubber suspension bushes and snapped cam belts if they were not replaced at the correct intervals.