I had the same Mark VIII alternator issue (because of course I did!) even the Ford replacement alternator (reman) left me stranded once. Now I have a good alternator (good enough) built by a local shop and I have a spare one from the parts store with a lifetime warranty that sits in a box...and that box goes into my trunk when I go on a road trip. The box got a little bigger now, as it has two spare VCRM modules...you'd do the same thing if you still had yours.
I bought some custom fab parts from SpecialT auto, a few were great, the water pump not so, it had a lifetime guarantee, but the owner died and there went the lifetime warranty, the need to do water pump now a third time with brand new parts from DeLorean. No more having to do same job more than once with questionable parts. Would rather be driving than wrenching.
Can't remember who said this, but now in the junkyard the German cars are 10 years old, the American cars are 15, and the Japanese cars are 20+ years old. The Germans in particular are in the business of leasing, not selling, so the first owner doesn't care about the car's complexity, the second owner buys as CPO, the third owner is the unlucky one. That's why they use all those plastic parts that break, the car just needs to make it to owner #3, who they don't care about.
Next time some car manufacturer touts their sustainability, just laugh, because their car in the junkyard in 10 years proves this to be false. The new BMW X5 PHEV has an 8 year warranty on its batteries. A new battery pack costs $29,000, so it will be worthless and in the junkyard after 8 years. Is that environmentally responsible?
I just watched the Savage Geese video on the new MB S-Class, and it has so many layers of tech, most of it unnecessary, they called it the disposable $100k car.
“More than that, for 35 years my buying habits have been predicated on the idea that I don’t need a new car or a five-year-old car because I can make nearly any car as dependable as it needs to be via preventative maintenance applied to “The Big Seven.” Now I’m not so sure.”
I arrived there recently too. I ran a 2005 X3 6-speed from 70K km (bought fresh off lease in 2009) to 250K km in 2019. I kept up with all maintenance and had to do a few extra things: rear shocks after one broke, replace weeping transfer-case gaskets, expansion tank, thermostat, VANOS thingy and oil filter gasket, disabled rear sunroof, one windshield. Not too bad, and a great family car for our needs at the time. I originally figured I could keep it up to around 300,000 km. But by 200K km, it was using a litre of oil every 1500 km and there was just no way I was going to spend the kind of money engine work would require. I sold it under full disclosure to a BMW mechanic for a fair price and replaced it with a 2018 Prius (wife’s choice), also with 70K km and fresh off lease. My choice for a second car would have been a 1960s domestic wagon that I could take care of myself, given that I anticipate putting around 5,000 km a year on a second car, 90% of it on unsalted, not-snowy Wet Coast roads, but my kids persuaded me that ABS, full airbags (front, seat sides, and side curtain), and traction control were more important. So I found a 2008 Subaru Outback that had just had a full timing belt set, new head gaskets, and a full set of maintenance records (at the dealer until 2015, and with a medium-sized shop thereafter). My days of maintaining either a medium-old European car OR an older domestic car as a daily are now officially over. Is that a function of my age (see my handle)? Maybe. But also practicality and optimization of function—
"Old cars" might be a relative term. This looks like a convention of the Used Car Club of America.
Two things to remember: Late model modern cars have a preponderance of plastic, including the engine bay. Heat degrades plastic.
I'm including Mxfrank's refreshing, overdue, informed post above here, because it bears repeating. The constant, and dated, down-home snarls about "China" underscore a virulent racism and no understanding of manufacturing: