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    Thread: Odometer Readings - Do they speak the complete picture?

    1. #1

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      Odometer Readings - Do they speak the complete picture?

      Hi GearHeads,
      In the jam of Bangalore traffic I was thinking about my #Ford #Figo and realised something: We almost always measure the "newness" or "oldness" of an engine by the number of km that it has clocked on the odo. But there is an inherent problem by doing this and that is there are several hours that cumulatively add up when the odo does not move even 1 click but the engine is running. At traffic lights e.g. Hypothetically speaking if I idle for a total of 5 min a day it adds to about 60 min every 12 days where the engine is running without the car moving an inch.. And this is only considering traffic lights / police canopy stop. Add an occasional traffic snarl and the figure spikes up a bit. So even though the car has not moved a bit the engine has cumulatively turned a few 1000s of revolutions thereby getting that much "older".

      So, is an odo reading a fair indicator of the health of an engine? Thoughts and comments on this are welcome. Also, is there a better way or a device that can be used instead? I'm thinking on the lines of watt hour Meyer like on #diesel generators.

      TIA.
      Mods, I could not think of a better place to place this discussion please feel free to move it.

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      Interesting point of view getkaizer! Never thought of it like that!

      But yeah, IMO the ODO reading is still the best indicator of engine health as long as it has not been tampered with. The real issue in India of course is that you simply cannot buy a car from a used car dealer with "real" mileage on it...
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      When idle, there is not much of a damage to the engine. Yes, over idling is BAD for the engine. Most of us aren't rich enough to idle the engine for prolonged duration.

      Typically cars driven in traffic remains healthy enough till 80-90K kms. This includes idling time too. When you check the odo and buy lets say a 30K driven vehicle, you automatically know that if maintained properly it would easily complete a 80-90K reading.

      You check most of the portals and would find cars which have 60-70 K readings for sale are more in number. This is the time when the car starts giving minor problems and the owner is also too bored of it.

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      Quote Originally Posted by getkaizer View Post
      So, is an odo reading a fair indicator of the health of an engine?
      Good point, but to me the only closest option to check the life of an engine is with the number of miles it has done.So ODO gets you closer .. IMHO

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      Quote Originally Posted by getkaizer View Post
      So, is an odo reading a fair indicator of the health of an engine? Thoughts and comments on this are welcome. Also, is there a better way or a device that can be used instead?
      A very keen observation. Yes, you are right that the odo reading does not paint a clear picture. Any IC engine for that matter will be in the best of health if you drive on open roads, within a specific power band (with occasional bursts of high revs). Continuous city driving is not good for any engine's health, and neither is continuous high revving. City speeds and enviornment (read --> stop-go traffic, unclean air etc.) are not good for any engine's health. In such a enviornment, if you wish to keep the engine in the best of health, you have to reduce your oil change intervals.
      However, most modern engines can live healthily in city traffic even if you follow manufacturer specified intervals of oil change. So for all practical purposes, it is still advisable to go for a car with low odo readings. If, however, you know the seller very well, you can buy his car even if the odo reading is high (provided of course, he maintains the car well).

      Another thing: some manufacturers (japanese especially) engineer their engines and drivetrains in such a manner that they can withstand outstanding abuse. Toyota deliberately does not give the innova more power even though it can easily handle it because they target reliability more than anything else. You will rarely (I have not heard of any) hear of toyota cars having engine / drivetrain failures. My dad's best friend has a corolla which is badly abused. It's suspension, bearings, exhaust, lights are all shot BUT the car still doesn't die. I have driven it, and the engine still feels like new (despite the fact that it is rarely serviced). Even honda's engine's are very abuse friendly. Euro engine's are also abuse friendly provided you know the right one's. Merc's have always had their drivetrain's better built than the other rivals. Renualt and peugeot diesel's are outstandingly reliable.

      So, if you had an option of choosing a high mileage car, it is better to go with japanese cars, and then just do a thorough tune up of the car.

      Another area of concern nowadays is the turbo health. However, I believe that with modern turbo's, you don't lose much. Just be aware of cars where turbo's are more prone to failure (say the T30 X-trail. The T31's turbo is much better engineered to withstand abuse) by scouting out auto-forums. That will give you a good idea.

      Regarding whether there is a device or not to test the engine's health, YES, but I am not aware of these available in India yet. Most are kept at factory level where they do a testing for R&D. There are various things which are tested (like oil condition, metal stresses etc. and most of the times the engine's are opened up).

      However, as of how things stand today, low odo reading is the best way to go, for most if not all people. Of course, this is assuming that the engine is not making funny sounds.

      Thanks,
      Simple_car

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      Nice thinking getkaizer , But the problem is how one calculates the engine running life, an impossible task. I feel it is only possible if the manufacturer gives one this kind of option in MID.
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      Quote Originally Posted by tadukuttan View Post
      The real issue in India of course is that you simply cannot buy a car from a used car dealer with "real" mileage on it...
      Is this because they rewind the odometer?

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      Quote Originally Posted by S.Gautam07 View Post
      But the problem is how one calculates the engine running life, an impossible task.
      Thanks S.Gautam07 and there fore i mentioned that we need to use something like a watt hour meter that is used in diesel engines that are stationary and supply generated power. This would definitely give a picture closer to the real life of the engine.

      EDIT: Tagging S.Gautam07 correctly.
      Last edited by derPoltergeist; 12th Sep 2013 at 08:59. Reason: tagging user correctly.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Indian View Post
      Is this because they rewind the odometer?
      Indian the issue that you mention is rare on a certain segment of vehicles but on high end cars, where the customer is paying a lot money, independant and unaffiliated dealers sometimes resort to this.
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      Quote Originally Posted by getkaizer View Post
      Indian the issue that you mention is rare on a certain segment of vehicles but on high end cars, where the customer is paying a lot money, independant and unaffiliated dealers sometimes resort to this.
      Hm, not rare. Literally every other car with a used car dealer in Bangalore has a corrected ODO meter.
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