Cars

Longer-Lasting Cars Poses Unusual Challenge for Automakers

Man tops off power steering fluid

Many car enthusiasts wish their favorite vehicles, like the El Camino or Thunderbird, could’ve stuck around for a bit longer. But many great cars were discontinued in the ’70s and ’80s. Since the latest cars are built with advanced technology and high-functioning machinery, it won’t be as much of a hassle to restore them later.

According to the IHS Markit, the average age of any given car on the road is nearly 12 years old. This is great news for drivers since it means they won’t have to repair their cars as often.

Why are cars lasting longer?

Automakers now know more about what makes a car run in peak condition than ever before. Cars now have stronger fuel-injected engines in place of clunky carburetors prone to carbon buildup.

The car’s exterior is built with tougher materials to reduce the structural damage caused by collisions and other accidents. Using synthetic oil has also gotten more popular in recent years, which reduces engine wear and can give cars an extra 2,000 miles in between oil changes.

Outdated infotainment

Despite a superior build, these cars still struggle in a few areas. Newer vehicles are constantly getting technology upgrades involving touchscreens, Bluetooth connectivity, and Wi-Fi hotspots. After Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were utilized, a study showed that drivers were less distracted because it made the infotainment system easier to control.

A 10-year-old car won’t likely have all these features since it was released before smart devices were widely accessible. Even on newer vehicles, the infotainment software can become outdated. Sometimes you can update the system to fix bugs, but there’s no way to add new features released after the vehicle was made.

Interior starts breaking down

Another concern is the actual materials used for seats, dashboards, and other interior components. Even high-quality leather materials are prone to fading, due to age or being exposed to harmful UV rays. Materials with lighter colors are easily stained from spills. Vinyl seats and armrests can develop scuff marks and cracks.

Automakers’ solutions

Tesla is interested in developing a software update for all of its infotainment systems in order to cut back on glitches experienced by users. Automakers are also making plans to do away with cloth upholstery altogether.

While cloth is the cheapest interior material, it also deteriorates faster. Synthetic leather would become the new standard since it’s more resilient. Hard plastics are generally frowned upon by most consumers, but this material is the most durable. Because of this, auto companies want to use plastic that feels softer to the touch.

What can drivers do?

While automakers continue to research how to make car interiors last longer, drivers can do a few things in the meantime. To keep it looking new, clean your car’s interior regularly or have it professionally detailed. You can also park in a garage or shaded area to avoid direct sun exposure that contributes to faded materials.