1996 Lexus ES 300: Twilight or Endless Summer?
July 27, 2012
First off, your web browser isn't acting up. This photo is my 15-minute attempt to duplicate the classic "Endless Summer" movie poster -- with very limited Photoshop skills.
I recently attended an auto industry webinar, hosted by Experian, which made me think about the longevity of our long-term Lexus. A slide regarding vehicles out of operation caught my attention. It stated that the average lifespan of a vehicle is 16.1 years and the most frequent age at time of disposal is 17 years.
Our 1996 Lexus ES 300 is almost 17 years old. The earliest record on the car is from September 19, 1995, when it was manufactured and shipped to the original dealer, according to Carfax.
It seems like a reasonable lifespan for a car. The last car I owned was 17 when I decided to get rid of it. The repairs had started to add up and it left me stranded on a few occasions.
But when I drive our Lexus, it doesn't feel like a car that is in its twilight years. We've made a number of repairs (which we've chronicled in Debt-Free Car Project Chapter 4) and have breathed new life into it. The car is far from perfect -- few used cars in this price range are. For instance, it has stranded us once for a lot longer than we would have liked. But we're confident we've sorted that issue out and it hasn't cropped up since.
Maybe I'm a glass-half-full person, but I am confident that our car will not only make it through the end of its one-year tenure in the long term fleet but also will have a long life well after we are done with it. Perhaps our repairs will make the process smoother for the next owner and give him a fewer things to worry about.
What do you think? Does this car have more summers in it?
Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor @ 146,576 miles