Machines wear out. Guns are machines. Maintain the machine properly, changing disposable parts if necessary, and they’ll last longer.

There are serious shooters who keep track of their round count. I am not one of them. When I test a firearm for a gun magazine, I pass it around to as many different shooters as I can to see how well it works in various hands with various skill levels. I’m not always there with a notebook when each member of the de facto test team is pulling the triggers, and I’m lucky to be able to say within a hundred rounds how many shots went through the test gun. I do require all the testers to keep meticulous count of any malfunctions.

It’s kind of like automobiles.

When I was a kid, if anyone we knew had a car that reached 100,000 miles and was still running it was an occasion for hosannas of praise and maybe a party.  Vehicles are better now. The last several cars the Evil Princess and I have bought new didn’t get traded in or sold until they had well over six figures on their odometers.

Case in point: A certain Chrysler Town & Country. The EP and I figured out long ago that mini-vans were ideal for our needs. Lots of space for luggage, handout materials for students, AV equipment for classes, and of course guns and ammo.  (I think of them as “Barbie Vans,” she calls them “Urban Assault Vehicles”…whatever. ) We bought it new in Rochester, IN when a 2010 Dodge Caravan we’d bought that year and was WAY past its 100K showed signs of being ready to go into automotive hospice.  When the Chrysler was way past 100K we bought a then-new 2019 Dodge Caravan SXT and kept the older van for spare, which worked out this year when my wife had to drive to Chicago in the Dodge to give some long-term assistance to her aging and ailing mom. (She’s still there at this writing.) NO problem: I had the old van to drive way up north for a class in Pennsylvania, and was driving it home when Cylinder #5 finally gave out just after I crossed the WV/VA line. It was about 3:30 on a Friday afternoon in a torrential downpour, and by the time AAA got a tow truck there, all the receiving auto repair centers were closed, leading to a four-day stay in the Southland over a weekend. By the following Tuesday afternoon I had it on the road again. So, maybe 173,000 some odd miles was pushing it…

We drive a lot. A month ago I bought a new Chrysler Pacifica van, which as of today has 4,215 miles on it. (Like I said, we drive a lot.) Interestingly, the older Chrysler had gotten me back home just fine after $2100 in repair bills, and is still running fine as it approaches 175,000 miles. 

The lesson: we maintained it scrupulously with oil changes at the prescribed intervals, new tires when needed (current set was put on in first quarter of this year) and the prospective buyer of the nine-year-old Town & Country, who runs the auto repair shop that has taken care of it and knows how scrupulously they maintained it, figures it will give its new owner many more miles.

The lessons I see are twofold. (1) Whether it’s a car or a gun, if you take care of it, it will take care of you. (2) When you sense it is wearing out, however much you have bonded with the machine, it may be time to retire it and replace it.

28 COMMENTS

  1. When I was young I could run all night & day with little fuel or rest. Now I consume too much fuel and need to recharge for a long time overnight. I used to start right up in the mornings but now it may take several attempts & some days I don’t make it out of the garage. Despite a pretty good maintenance schedule I have had to have several major repairs over the years. Lately my wife has been talking about getting a newer better looking model but the lack of any trade-in value may save me.

  2. In those days of yore you speak of, oil consumption of about 1 qt per 1000 miles was about average for cars. At 60,000 miles worse and a engine overhaul might be in your near future. By your 100K, a certainty. Things are definitely better-at least some things. Back then, your local garage could do a “ring and bearing job”. Not so today.

    Maybe 10 years ago, I was peeved that I needed to replace the clutch on my Toyota pickup at only 23XXXX miles. Replaced the engine at the same time. It still ran, but close inspection showed it needed some serious work and the swap was easier.

    You do, however, have to maintain your equipment. ALL you equipment.

  3. We have a Ford Edge with about 230k on it. It’s basically a regional runabout at this point (NE OK), but it’s running just fine for us.

    • Bob, T Y for your Edge report. The 2013 I that am driving has a hundred thousand miles less than yours. At the rate that I don’t drive any more, the car hopefully will outlive me. The best long distance car I ever drove was a Ford Pinto station wagon. I don’t know why, but I could drive it on 4,000 mile remote trips in five days at just under 50 miles an hour, while stopping to rest occasionally for a couple of hours. Crazy, but it was easy. That was a time when there were a lot fewer cars on the remote highways for some reason, though.

  4. This is why I have pairs of pistols that I train, carry and compete with. They ones carried are the low mileage versions. If the high mileage versions fail in competition I always have an identical backup handy.

  5. Due to a bad accident the insurance company provided me with a new Hyundai Tucson in 2007. When my kids wanted me to buy something with fewer miles on it in 2020 it had over 330,000 and was running fine! I donated it to a needy family. It is still going strong! Some vehicles have strong genes 😂

  6. Just bought a new car in February after selling my Honda Element that I bought new 20 years ago. It had 204,000 miles on it. Sold it to a buddy at work for his kid to drive. Always took excellent care of it and as long as my buddy takes care of it, the car should easily go another 50-100,000 miles.
    Still have my Glock 19 that you bestowed on me over 20 years ago. It too is in excellent condition, and I expect it will last forever as long as I continue to take care of it. Don’t shoot it as much as I would like but know it is close at hand for protection if needed.
    Thanks for an entertaining article Mas.

  7. Sorry to hear about your unplanned delay in WV/VA, and best wishes to the Evil Princess and her mother. One thing we have going for us with guns is the excellent lifetime warranty support that many firearms manufacturers provide. For example, a couple of years ago at a GSSF match I asked the Glock factory armorer to take a look at the 1991 gen 2 G17 that I was using at that match for an assessment of its “mileage”. Although it was still working fine, he suggested that I send it in to the factory for a complimentary rebuild. A few weeks later I had a refurbished firearm; I think that everything was new except the frame, slide, and barrel. Good luck getting an auto manufacturer to rebuild your 30+ year old car! I also had an excellent customer service experience with Sig this year. I’m amazed by the way that many gun companies stand behind their products.

    • Smith are that way as well. When I as first charting new-to-me territory with handguns i ended up wih a Smith and Wesson semi auto nine mm. It was OK but every once in a while, far too often I thought, it would fail to feed. I cleaned oiled, inspected.. finally rang them up and told my sad tale. He asked about round count.. I have no idea, it was used when I got it. He suggested I send it in for a once over and gave a very reasonable price for the service. I said I’d consider that but just before we closed the call I asked “wha iff that long coil spring up in he slide has lost its tension.. seems that might explain what is going on. He said that’s a very good question… you may be on to something. Please give me your mailing address. I did so, he said thank you. I have a new spring and have put it into an evelope for you. Please ring me back if that does not help.

      It did so I didn’t. Cured the problem completely. Since I had just been introduced to and fallen in love with the classic Browning High Power pistols I was able to quickly sell off that Smith and buy another BHP.

  8. Mas I think you could get a little more mileage depending on the vehicle. I have had several Ford Expeditions that I have done absolutely all the maintenance and replacement recommended. 99% with Ford Dealership. My average mileage is about 235,000 miles on 3 vehicles so far with the current one about 175,000. If you wondering about my maintenance cost obviously it’s pretty low in the beginning and eventually there is a major repair but not many. I think you wind up spending on average maybe 2 months of what a new car payment would be per year. My record was a 1986 Volvo 740 turbo which I gave to my son to use in college at 200,000 which he sold still going strong at 420,000.
    I purchase the 100,000 bumper to bumper coverage which seems to work for most majors repairs. If there is a major bad part it tends to happen in the. 100,000 mile coverage.

    As for gun maintenance I agree and keep some common backup parts in case you need them.

    • That was just about the last of he really solid Volvo cars. Once they jumped in bed with Ford they were no longer like that. they tturned he engine sideways, went over-engineered complicated, lost quality control and design integrity. Typical max life is about 200K for the ones after that model you had. That one was still a true Volvo design. The earlier pushrod iron block and head models (early 1950’s through I think 1973 or 4 when they went to the alloy head) were near impossible to destroy no mater HOW abusive or neglectful the owner got. I’ve known few to get well above a million miles and still be running well. Back with carburetter feed and point type ignition I’d tune those things on point and blast down the freeways all day long at 85 mph and get 42 miles per gallon doing it. If doing a rebuild anyway I’d spec a mild camshaft profile increasing power and fuel economy. They handled amazingly well, too.. the ultimate “sleeper car”. Sure would like to find a 122 or 140 series car again…

  9. And the new Pacifica you can’t actually shift gears only dial D or L, runs on 0-20w vs 5-20 oil as thin as water, the parking brake is electronic and can’t put in neutral unless engine is running. Hood latch lever is plastic as is the hinge on the gas door. No gas cap so knuckle heads can put in whatever whenever. Many negatives vs the old tried and true T&C and Grand Caravans. We just learned a single fast doe can do 13K of damage on our new Pacifica. Other than that Mrs. Lincoln the play is great. Still love the Stow and Go.

  10. I had to laugh about your story about the Chrysler Mini Van. We (wife & I) got our first one in 1988. That one served us well, being in the military it traveled all over the US and even over to Germany. It even did well on the Autobahn, cruising at 100mph. Very easy in maintenance and it kept going. It was only replaced due to damage on shipping it back to the US. Of course it was replaced by a second Chrysler mini van. That one was replaced years later, as we just wanted one a different color and more features. But we had kept up on maintenance. But really never had any issues. Hard to believe, but on our third Chrysler mini van, and it’s old enough to drink now (it’s a 2001 model). Still running strong. We keep up with oil changes, transmission flushes, new tires, brakes etc. Only issue is the head line has fallen, my re-attachment attempt, leaves something to be desired. But I’ve seen home reblueing jobs on firearms that look worse.
    The only real reason of not shopping for a New Pacifica are the salesman.

    We do our routine maintenance and it keeps running. But we aren’t every week doing a tire rotation or oil change just because we drove it around the block.

    Basically, the same way I do maintenance on my guns. Keep them clean, replace worn parts as needed, don’t abuse it.

  11. I can’t fix cars, or any machines. I do preventative maintenance for that reason. In 2004, I bought a new Toyota Corolla, manual transmission. It lasted 12 years, 218,000 miles. In 2016, I bought a used, 2013 Toyota Corolla, automatic transmission. I’ve had it for 8 years, and it will soon reach 190,000 miles.

    The Japanese make good cars. I guess we taught them, and they listened, and they also listen to customers. Aren’t you glad firearms last longer than computers? And, they increase in value, too.

  12. I’m one of those cleaning junkies not just to abate corrosion and keep these machines lubed and running, but to inspect. Loose screws. Chipped BCG lugs. Clogged, or nearly clogged, ports. A habit I learned in naval aviation when the machines HAD to work or lives were lost.

    I also learn the machine literally inside and out. This education helps me clear malfunctions effortlessly and diagnose chronic issues for others.

  13. I hear you, Mas. Especially your last point #2. But my 2001 Audi A6 has a 6 speed manual, and it has no GPS. Less than 120K miles, and I haven’t driven it much at all in the last 3 years. It also needs about $2-3K of maintenance, but that’s cheaper than a new car. But if the A/C can’t be repaired, I may have to part ways with it and free up the garage for more storage and work space.

  14. I have had 2 cars go over 400,000 miles; a Volvo 245 and a Mazda 626. Manage all the fluids to factory spec and you should be fine.

  15. I am a Field Service Technician, a 30+ year ASE Master Auto Technician, 12-year Navy Veteran and now drive as you guys do (about 1000 miles/week) for the last 4+ years; I love it.
    A fellow Floridian & road warrior, just back from our driving vacation to Tuscon, I am relating to your story like it was my own.
    Our 2016 Grand Caravan is now at 165k, and still my daily Batmobile, for all of the same reasons you guys love yours.
    I even convinced my brother to convert!
    Hopefully, I can scratch MAG training off of my bucket list in the near future.
    Keep writing, my brother!!
    You da man….

  16. Mas

    Just a follow up. The main reasons I but the Factory 100,000 bumper to bumper warranty are:
    1 – A friend bought a NON Factory warranty the Dealer sold and the company went out of business. The dealer position was tuff luck, not our problem pay the bill your self.

    2 – Expensive Electronics tend to fail early if they are going to fail at all.

    Side Story – My old neighbor designed military missile systems, He was also Cadillac lover. He bought a new Cadillac in the early 1990s, and the main circuit board ($2000+) failed 3 times in under 3 years. He took the 3rd failed board into work and studied the chip. His conclusion was the design was bad and failure prone. He redesigned the chip and made a large scales mockup (Breadboard) and put it in his Cadillac and was sill driving it with the breadboard 5 years later when we moved.

    He said he sent the design to Cadillac and offered it to them for free if they would just give him one when they made them. They declined. Planned obsolesce?????

  17. “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.”—Indiana Jones

    On that note, I’ve got a WWI-vintage (as in manufactured 6 days before “The Great War” ended) Colt M1911 that keeps losing her front sight…I reckon that’s telltale sign it’s time to retire her to “safe queen” status.

  18. 2005 honda element, 230,000k, only thing major was a new clutch, flywheel and starter at 200,000. the 2005 subaru outback needed control arms replaced at 70,000, now approaching 150,000k. both manual and AWD. i alternate days of driving year round. hopefully they will outlast me in the end…

    epstein didn’t kill himself…

  19. There was a nagging thought running in the back of my mind. After re-reading the post above, I realized why. The EP referring to mini vans as Urban Assault Vehicles. Thirty odd years ago, at least around Richmond, VA, the cargo versions of vans were described as “gunships” in some circles.

  20. While I enjoy the information that Mr. Ayoob shares with us I am most thankful when he refers to his wonderful wife as the EP (Evil Princess if I remember correctly). It shows me the love that he has for her and how special they are as a couple!! My beautiful wife is home in Heaven now but when I see Mr. Ayoob mention the EP it immediately makes me think of my beautiful wife and how much I miss her, she went home to Heaven in 2006. While we are all taking care of our firearms, I hope and pray that those of us with our wonderful wives still with us will take the time to tell the wives how much you love them, how much they make you a better person, how much they enrich your lives, and please buy them flowers, send them a nice card or note, and take them to dinner. God has given us a blessed country with a 2nd Amendment, let us each remember those most precious to us as we live under the umbrella of God’s Love and protection. May everyone have a safe and blessed day. Thank you.

  21. It is certainly true that you will maximize the lifespan of equipment by maintaining it properly. Way back in 1999, the car that I was driving was stolen. The insurance company paid for a rental car, for a couple of weeks, and then paid off for the stolen car. I used the insurance payoff to buy a brand-new Nissan Altima sedan.

    I was careful to always perform proper maintenance on the Nissan. Eventually, I gave the Nissan to my elderly mother to drive. It only saw light use, in her hands, but I still made sure that it was maintained.

    A couple years ago, my mother (sadly) passed away and I inherited the Nissan back. I sold the car to a family friend. He wanted an inexpensive “runabout” car. He has been racking the miles up on the car recently.

    So, this car is going on 25 years old. Because it was well-maintained, it is still going like the “Energizer Bunny”!

    It is true for firearms too. I purchased an old Colt Police Positive Special revolver from an online auction. Got it for what I consider to be a good price. The bore is pristine but the bluing has some holster wear (it came with an old police holster). It looks to me like an old police revolver that was carried a lot but shot very little.

    I took it to the range and test fired it with standard pressure 38 Special Federal ammo. The first 3-shot group measured about 1 inch (at 10 yards, off-hand)!

    Note that this old police revolver was (by the serial number) manufactured in 1923. The revolver is over a century old and still shoots great. It is amazing how long a well-built product can last if it is maintained properly.

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