A few days ago, my trusty Nissan Patrol reached 500,000km on the odometer. Certainly an impressive feat for any vehicle and not without it’s challenges!
My Dad bought the car new back in 1990 and I’ve been riding it in since I was two years old. I have great memories as a young fella heading down to the coast with the boat to go fishing. After Dad sold the boat, the Nissan sat in the carport, rarely used for 10 years.
When I decided that I wanted to tour Australia, Dad passed the car onto me with 180,000km on the clock. That was 5 years ago. In those 5 years, I’ve added over 300,000km of bitumen, sand, gravel and snow. I’ve used 60,000L of diesel, done 55 oil changes worn out 10 tires and replaced a clutch.
When I first started travelling, I didn’t have any mechanical understanding of my vehicle. I had always sent my car into a workshop. I quickly discovered that I wouldn’t be able to afford the cost of getting my car serviced with the kilometres I would be driving. As I travelled, I quickly worked out how to service, maintain and repair the old Nissan and in doing so, I’ve saved over $25,000 in workshop costs over the last 5 years.
From basic oil and filter changes all the way though to installing a lift kit and replacing my clutch, I’ve managed to work out how most things work on the ol’ Nissan.
I even managed to do some panel work on it after hitting a cow at 80km/h on the highway. Turning a $15,000 write-off into a $3,000 repair project.
I’m often asked if I’ve had problems with the car and the simple answer is “No, I haven’t”. The The old Nissan (with the TD42 motor) is a workhorse and if you look after it, it doesn’t stop. But looking after it is the key and you’ll find that many people push the limits of their vehicle too far and for too long causing damage that costs thousands of dollars. I don’t know anyone my age that has self-maintained a car for 300,000km and crossed that 500,000km without any serious mechanical issues.
On the road, I’ve had 2 punctures and 2 big blowouts. The blowouts, I could have avoided with higher air pressures in my tires. Lesson learnt.
I’ve had a blown radiator hoses, leaking injector lines, a cracked thermostat outlet and blocked fuel filters. Heck, I’ve even pulled up on the side of the road to weld up a broken exhaust pipe in the middle of the Western Australian outback.
One of the many lessons I’ve learnt on the road is to have the confidence to make informed decisions. When you’re out of phone range and up to 1000km from the nearest town, you have to think way out of the box. Finding the nearest fence for some wire or using tape to fix a cracked radiator housing is just the beginning of travelling those big k’s across Australia.
Here’s to the next milestone, the big 1,000,000.