How old are you – in car years?

By on July 22, 2011

Here’s a question: how old are you? Think carefully before you reply. It’s a lot trickier than you might imagine. The correct answer, it turns out, is about 15 and a half. According to recent research, that’s the average age of your body – your muscles and guts, anyway. You might think that you have been around since the day you were born, but most of your body is a lot younger.
That may come as no surprise. It’s a common belief that the human body completely renews itself every seven years, and though biologists would hesitate to put a firm figure on it most are happy to accept that cells eventually wear out and are replaced.
Your vehicle, however, has no such system for replacing older, worn out and/or dirty parts. Even the filters need to be replaced lest they get clogged and no longer function. Can you imagine your vehicle on dialysis?
I like to think of it in terms of dog years or car years. It is generally accepted that dogs age at a rate of 7 to 1. Therefore if you have a dog that is 7 actual years old it would be equivalent to 49 human years old.
Since the average car on the road today is generally done somewhere between 9 and 14 years and the average lifespan of a human being currently is just shy of 80 years ,in this country, we can see a similar 7:1 ratio.
The NTSB or National Traffic and Safety Board says that the average age of a vehicle on the American road today is 11 years. Average remember. Now multiply that by its car years and you get a 77 year old.
As we mentioned earlier, your body has a system for getting rid of old parts and replacing them with new. Your car does not.
Ever heard of Jaundice? This is a condition where your body’s filtering system breaks down. Very quickly your skin turns yellow and often the whites of your eyes will turn brownish in color.
Your vehicle has filters as well. Air filters, cabin air filters, oil filters, fuel filters, power steering filters, transmission oil filters, all kinds of filters. These need to be inspected and changed as they dirty up..
Generally the following is a good rule of thumb:
1. Air Filter – 1x per year or 15k miles
2. Cabin Air Filter – In the Spring or 12k miles (in the spring just before the pollen hits is a great time to think about this filter. Changing this filter also keeps your fan motor alive longer)
3. Oil Filter – every 3-5k miles (depending if you use and oil additive or not)
4. Fuel Filter – Every 15k to 20k miles. NM has the worst fuel so I recommend sooner intervals than most owner’s manuals
5. Transmission Oil Filters – every 30k miles unless chemically cleaned during a flush. Then every 100k miles.
6. Power Steering Filters – Few cars have these and they only need to be changed every 100k miles or so.
The last difference between the human body and your car is that this auto regeneration slows as you grow older. With your car, if you keep the fluids and filters fresh and change out the worn parts your car can quite literally live forever.

Scott “Da Bear” Chazdon, Doctor of Automotive Wellness, owns Maintenance & More Automotive Service in Albuquerque. If you have a car related question for the Dr. email at, visit online at, call 505-717-2211 if you live on the westside or 505-256-3333 for the eastside location.

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