While there is no denying that a classic car can outlast most modern cars today, they were likely treated to decades of great maintenance and even modern upgrades. Newer cars, with all the technology that’s available today, are built to last longer than ever—and with less need for maintenance.
We have the rapid development of various kinds of car technology to thank for the excellent longevity that cars have today. To better understand how tech helps modern cars last longer, here are a few examples of car technology that make cars more durable than ever before.
Car electronics have come a long way from stereo CD players and manual window cranks. However, it’s not only convenience that modern car electronics provide. New cars today have onboard computer systems that alert us when something is about to break or fail. These systems help us conduct preventive maintenance before problems occur which, in turn, helps our vehicles last longer and run more smoothly.
Furthermore, car safety technology such as cameras and accident detection systems help prevent damage to our cars—and more importantly, injuries and deaths due to road accidents. By alerting drivers that they are about to crash into the vehicle that suddenly stopped in front of them, they are better able to avoid car accidents and, thus, prevent the deterioration of their vehicles.
Something as simple as parking sensors can also help prevent damage to our cars. Aside from making it easier to park, a sensor that will beep when you are about to scuff your car on something can avoid damage to your paint.
While AR applications to car repair are still not a common thing, we can expect the technology to develop in the near future. Modern cars usually have complicated and increasingly detailed systems that may be difficult to access by a mechanic, much less repair. With augmented reality, mechanics may soon use AR tech like Google Glass to see visual information about the vehicle that is out of view or reach.
That said, AR technology can help car maintenance safer, faster, and even cheaper. For instance, when a Subaru vehicle enters the shop, a technician can use AR to easily determine the problem, eliminate guesswork, and thus make Subaru repair costs cheaper.
Timing belts to chains
Today, almost all car manufacturers use timing belts instead of chains in their vehicles. This transition was one of the first innovations that made cars last longer and is a significant reason why modern cars have longer lifespans than their older counterparts.
Before, cars had timing belts that were durable in their own right. However, the rubber in timing belts would lose elasticity and stretch out over time, often leading to blown engines if not addressed soon enough. Today, cars have timing chains that are far more durable and have a lower risk of causing a blown engine, even with years of use. However, they still need replacing every 120,000 miles or so, but this is a far greater distance than an average timing belt lasts, which is around 65,000 to 100,000 miles.
Some of you reading this may be old enough to remember the time before fuel injection. Older engine systems used carburetors that sent fuel directly to the engine without precise control of the amount. With enough time, the excess fuel travels down the cylinders and accumulates, leading to all sorts of issues, including engine failure.
Today, cars make use of fuel injection to send precisely the right amount of fuel to the engine cylinders at any given time. This way, there is no unburnt fuel that builds up inside the engine, preventing failures caused by gunk accumulation.
3D printing holds the potential of making even older cars last longer, especially classic vehicles with parts that are no longer in production. With 3D printing, car shops can take out the component that failed, scan it with a computer, and 3D print a new one.
However, 3D printing may still be out of reach for average car owners for now, as the process is still expensive. Nevertheless, we can look forward to a future where industrial-strength 3D printing becomes more accessible and affordable, which may not be that distant given the speed at which 3D printing is evolving.
The average car lasts around eight years or about 150,000 miles, but cars with today’s technology can last even longer thanks to the technology that we have today. As car technology continues to progress, who knows? We may be looking at a future with cars lasting thirty years, if not longer.