Living where he does in rural Herefordshire, Rich James might well be expected to clock up the miles in his car. But more than 450,000 miles, and in a 60-plate Volkswagen Touran that’s not yet five years old? That’s a phenomenal tally. So it’s unsurprising to learn that Rich is a private hire taxi driver, and that the 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI engine in his Touran Sport, bought new in December 2010, spends most of its very busy life on motorways doing airport runs to Heathrow and Gatwick, as well as on other long-haul trips around the country.
The car is still on its original engine, starter motor, turbo, fuel pump and – remarkably – the same battery and original exhaust, although a few other things have been replaced along the way. How has he managed it? “Oil and servicing are the very important things,” says Rich. “I do 10,000 miles every four to six weeks, and that’s how often it goes in for service, with no expense spared. I always use the same local garage, South Hereford Garage owned by Charlie Richards, and they look after it. I always use Volkswagen parts for any repairs, and use Quantum oil, the best quality one. The oil is changed at service time, together with the filter, and I never need to top up in between. Every 40,000 miles the fuel filter is changed. I’m pretty mechanically savvy, so if anything breaks I have a pretty good idea what’s wrong and what needs doing.”
So far the Touran has had two new clutches, a new flywheel, two new front stub axles, a pair of rear shock absorbers, and steering joints, all of which Rich describes philosophically as “normal wear and tear items”. The original clutch lasted to just past 200,000 miles before it “started chattering” and had to be replaced. The second one went at 390,000 miles. A new diesel particulate filter was needed at 250,000 miles, putting pay to the myth that they are troublesome. Since then he has switched to Shell V-Power diesel, on which he thinks the car runs smoother and the filter stays cleaner. “It may be all in my mind, but I’m convinced that the car is better for it,” says Rich. What else has needed replacing? Tyres of course. They last between 15,000 to 20,000 miles on the front, and up to 40,000 at the rear, and the tally of tyres thus far in the car’s life is 66.
The Touran has done better than Rich’s last car, a Volkswagen Sharan, which clocked up 423,000 miles before a blown engine sent it to the scrapyard. He’s long been a bit of a VW fan. “I’ve had a Golf, four Sharans, the Touran, and my wife has a Polo. But before that it was 12 Ford Orion diesels.” The trusty Touran being in constant long-distance, long hours daily use means that it gets through some £710 of diesel a week, and about £70,000 of fuel bills over a year. There are some compensations, though, for the huge expense of such high mileage. “When the Touran had done 200,000 miles, the garage gave me an Audi R8 for a day, and at 400,000 miles it was an R8 V10, again for a day.” What’s in store when he clocks half a million miles? “I dunno, but I’ll soon find out. It won’t be long. I expect to get there early in the New Year.”