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Alfredo still has a car that displays 950,000 km in the odometer: "She was never in the garage, I always kept myself"

It does not show 300,000, not even 500,000, not even 800,000 … but 950,000 km on the clock! In 34 years, Alfredo's Audi 80 swallowed the miles like whey. Today, this young retiree reveals his little stories with his faithful vehicle, but also his tips to keep him in shape. Has it reduced its environmental impact by not exchanging a vehicle, as it explains to us? Will it keep your Audi up to a million miles? The answers below

The history of this Audi, Alfredo had already told us in 2014 when it reached 840,000 kilometers. Five years later, our editorial office recently received a new e-mail from Alfredo through the orange button Alertar-nos. Our attention was immediately drawn. "I own a Audi 80 car 1600 diesel engine, which will have 34 years of circulation in March 2019. It has reached 950,000 km and I always roll with"our witness writes.

We went to Alfredo, Frameries, to discover his faithful mountain.

She survived the 2014 blackout

It is behind a solid gate that the precious Audi is parked safely. She is 34 years old, she does nothing. The few darker or lighter spots in her gray dress barely reveal a busy story. "I fixed the few small rust spots"says Alfredo with a small smile.

Five years ago, in our previous article, the Framerals thought he was about to lose his beloved car. Touched by a collapse, he used his mother's car. We asked him how he managed to revive the Audi for another five years. "In fact, the day after the publication of his article, I discovered that it was a small collapse. It was a pellet in the engine block that was rusty. She pierced. I changed the pellet for 5 euros, the glue cost me 15 euros, and it went away"says Alfredo.

And the Audi went on its merry way, taking its owner every day at his place of work in Gosselies, to arrive at a very closed circle: that of cars that flirt with millions of miles. Here is the list of vehicles (cars and vans) sold in 2017 with the highest mileage on the meter:

  1. TOYOTA COROLLA, 1999: 999,197 km
  2. MERCEDES A 170 CDI of 2003: 926,262 km
  3. FIAT SCUDO 2010: 887,500 km
  4. OPEL VIVARO 2011: 887,197 km
  5. MERCEDES SPRINTER 2009: 874,055 km
  6. FORD GALAXY 2005: 841,244 km
  7. MERCEDES SPRINTER 2014: 831,431 km
  8. OPEL VIVARO 2011: 812,693 km
  9. CITROEN BERLINGO, 2001: 797,227 km
  10. MERCEDES SPRINTER 2009: 787,349 km

(CAR-PASS figures)

I changed the engine myself, it's very easy on that car.

In 950,000 kilometers, the Audi had some great adventures. Fifteen years ago she had a real open heart surgery. "I replaced the engine. He was still spinning, but he smoked a lot. I then found a new engine that was about 300,000 miles long and is still there now. I changed the engine myself, it's very easy on that car."says the happy owner.

To take care of the beauty, there were almost only Alfredo's skilful hands. "I've been doing this ever since I got it. At first I left school as an auto mechanic, so she was never in the garage, I always kept this on my own"proudly announce our witness."There are no electronics, so it's easy. It is purely mechanical and electric. It is within the reach of all. It was the advantage of this car: we can replace everything with traditional tools. No special tools required".

But how to maintain a car for so long? "This is an important point: as soon as there is a problem, do not wait until it gets worse. It's settled directly, and that's how I kept my car for so long"says Alfredo, simple but obviously very effective advice!

Rider and mount get a well-deserved retirement

But since 2014, Alfredo's situation has changed. At age 65, the aeronautics design designer has just retired to rest. And after decades of loyal service, he decided that his Audi 80 also deserved some rest. "The adventure ends almost at the same time as for me. My car is also retiring."says Alfredo.

If the thirty-year-old heart still swallows the miles so quickly, her dress has worn over the years. "As was often left outside, the rocker is badly damaged. I wanted to pass the technical control, but it did not happen … and I do not want to charge more"says Alfredo.Mechanically, there are a few things to fix, but this does not really bother me. It is mainly the bodywork aspect that discourages me from continuing", he says.

From now on, the thirty-year-old sleeps peacefully in Alfredo's court, looking for a buyer as attentive as he is.

Who to succeed to the Audi 80?

To accompany him in his future adventures, Alfred chose a place. "The car is tidy. It's a Aztec, an SUV. The car is taller, it's easier when you get to be a certain age. I took the smallest engine to pollute as little as possible: a liter of 1.0. It is an essence. I tried this … It's just like any new car, it's not a miracle … I liked mine, but hey, you have to change"says Alfredo, who will remember for a long time his old Audi.

It's that, despite his age, he had many advantages. "I could do everything, fix it all by myself. But today cars are much more electronic than mechanics, so it's very difficult to intervene alone with my gear. And then she was much stronger than today's vehicles. I renewed my whole house with her! You can touch the hood of a new car, I'm sure it will sink faster than in my Audi 80"says Alfredo.

But our witness is also realistic. He is well aware of the developments he will benefit from. "I was used to maneuvering through the windows, but it's true that the electric windows are more comfortable. The automatic headlamps also … By cons, I think the rain sensors is mostly a gadget. And then there's all the safety equipment: ABS, fatigue detectors, trajectory correctors … These are important developments"admits Alfredo.

Overall, I feel that I have reduced my impact on the environment

Another factor that led Alfredo to participate in his Audi 80 is ecology. Because with the new standards and restrictions that are increasingly imposed in cities, the young retired feared not being able, one day, to use his old car. According to him, maintaining the vehicle for so long has reduced its impact on the environment. "CO2 emissions are related to consumption and at that level I was around 6 to 100. In terms of carbon dioxide (Note: another name given to CO2, or carbon dioxide), I pollute no more than a recent car"says Alfredo."For fine particles, this is something else.".

Indeed, the Audi 80 is not equipped with catalysts, which allows the fine particles to spread freely in the air.

But for Alfredo, prolonged use of his car remains a positive element. "Over 30 years, the Belgians change average car four times to four new cars to produce, and four cars to destroy." "You do not think all this, pollutes?" So, yes, my car pollutes but overall, I feel that reduced my impact on the environment", Alfredo reacts.

Our witness is not wrong. According to FEBIAC data, which represents manufacturers and importers, a consumer who buys a new vehicle keeps it for about 7 years before reselling it. Regarding the dismantling, the fateful moment is, in average, 15 years and 8 months of life of the car.

Finally, while one might think that the consumer society is pushing to replace its vehicle more and more rapidly, it would be the opposite. The proof on the chart.

Pollution: Is it better to keep your vehicle or change it regularly?

In the interest of our article, we contacted the Inter-Environnement Wallonie (IEW), the federation of environmental associations, to determine what is best for the planet: change the car regularly or keep it as long as possible? The goal is not to catch Alfredo, but to objectify this question. "It is very difficult to talk about a particular case. But if we summarize strongly, it is estimated that a vehicle traveling 150,000 kilometers emits 20 tons of CO2 throughout its entire life cycle, including manufacturing and recycling."explains Noé Lecocq, climate scientist at the IEW.

It is difficult to have precise numbers, but a study carried out in 2009 for the European Commission estimated that the manufacture and recycling of a vehicle represented (still in the big shell) about 5 tonnes of CO2. In the case of the 950,000 km driven by the Audi 80 Alfredo, vehicle use would account for 95% of CO2 emissions and manufacture and recycling 5%. But be careful: these numbers should be taken with forceps. However, by avoiding the exchange of cars four times, Alfredo avoided the emission of about 20 tons of CO2 (4 x 5 tons). Already a success.

But this point of view addresses only one element: CO2 emissions. In the environment, CO2, carbon dioxide, is considered a global pollutant. It pollutes our planet in general and is one of the people responsible for climate change, but it has little direct effect on health. However, there are other pollutants to consider: local pollutants. Contains, for example, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. In addition to their effects on the environment, local pollutants are very harmful to health. "Old cars emit many local pollutants"says Noé Lecocq.

For a second point of view, go to FEBIAC. "Between an unfiltered vehicle and a vehicle conforming to the Euro 6 standard, there are approximately 99% fewer emitted fine particles"says Joost Kaesemans, spokesman for FEBIAC," we asked him what he thought of maintaining a vehicle for so long. "It may be pulling a little too far on the rope because the car no longer meets the needs of the environment. But it is a balance to be found between not switching too fast to not "wasting", and waiting too long and taking the risk of not having a standard vehicle"he answers.

So, change your car often or keep it for a long time? Here is the response from the IEW project manager: "If we drive very little, that is, up to about 10,000 km per year, it makes sense not to replace the car many times, it is better to extend it. However, if you travel more than 20,000 km per year, it may be better to switch to reduce fine particulate emissions when using"says Noé Lecocq.

Cars of today, less reliable?

Finally, our interview with FEBIAC's spokesman led us to one last, equally interesting question: are today's vehicles more or less reliable? "As the numbers show, the average age of cars is increasing over the years. It makes sense because they are more reliable. 200 thousand or 300 thousand kilometers are nothing for a recent vehicle. Because? Because we produce better, technology is better, oil and fuels are more efficient, there is much less rust and so on."says Joost Kaesemans.

Some arguments from the dealers' representative seem quite reliable … However, Alfredo's words about the robustness of his old Audi still resonate in us. It is true that the belief is that cars now would not be as reliable as the "good old equipment" a few years ago. "What can make today's cars more vulnerable is electronics. It is more complex and there is a risk of"acknowledges Joost Kaesemans."But personally, I remember my father going to the garage with his ladybug every 5,000 kilometers. Today, you can drive a lot more without having to"says the spokesman.

All my grandchildren are sad to see you go.

But maybe something is missing in all these new cars: a crazy charm. Because it is impossible to reproduce the particular atmosphere that prevails when you walk in a car straight from the 80's. This atmosphere, Alfredo allowed us to taste one last time before his faithful mount leaves him. Because today she is waiting patiently for a potential lover in love.

In the family, everyone regrets their departure. "My girls, ages 18 to 14, loved the car. They are sad. They had been accustomed since they were very young. And I have a 6 year old granddaughter who loved to come with me … Even my 4 year old grandson is sad too"Alfredo says, because with the miles passing over the years, some cars sometimes become a little more than just cars …

David Fourmanois

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