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In it for the long haul

Mar 03, 2017

These Toyota owners have logged a lot of miles on their trusted Toyotas. What are their secrets to maintaining their vehicles.

Reliable and Roomy

John Bickert Toyota Camry

John Bickert, Calgary, Alberta

Calgary chiropractor John Bickert was driving a luxury car nearly a decade ago, and enjoyed it, until things on the vehicle started to break down. Bickert was looking for a reliable, roomy vehicle to replace it when he came across a 2002 Camry with about 120,000 kms on it. He has since added nearly 450,000 kms. “It’s a comfortable drive,” he says. “It hasn’t needed anything but minor repairs, and they’ve been inexpensive.” He swears by preventive maintenance, which he has performed at his nearby Toyota dealership, where he finds the service staff genuinely concerned about him and his wheels. Regular oil and filter changes are a must, he says. Like all residents of the Prairies, he’s had to deal with some bitter winters, but they haven’t fazed his Camry. “It always starts. It doesn’t matter if it’s plugged in or not, it still starts.”

4Runner part of the family

Moira Groeneveld Toyota 4Runner

Moira Groeneveld, Canmore, Alberta

Moira Groeneveld’s 1988 Toyota 4Runner was left to her by her late father, so its value goes beyond reliability, and she says it’s still one of the vehicle’s most notable assets. “It has honestly been the most reliable car ever. Even at this stage, it starts 100 per cent of the time, even if it’s really cold, even if it’s not plugged in. It’s incredible. It’s been minus 30, and it always starts on the first try,” says the Canmore, Alta., resident.

She and her husband Todd have had the 4Runner for 16 years, but her father bought it gently used in 1992, so it’s been part of her life even longer. “When I was young, I just thought it was so cool. It has that sporty attitude. We’d go skiing, go to the mountains, it was always great for cargo — and you can put quite a few people in it!”

The 4Runner has long served as a reliable workmate, too. It was an integral part of her father’s landscaping business. “He carried a lot of stuff!” says Moira. Moira’s other Toyota is a 2001 RAV4, which she bought when it had more than 200,000 kms on it, and she has since added as many herself. The couple faithfully bring the vehicles to their Toyota dealership in Calgary, whose staff Moira says are like family. “I’ve known one of the service guys since I was a kid. It’s always nice to show up and see friendly faces.”

Echo is small but mighty

Randy & Johanna Wells, Sarnia, Ontario

Randy and Johanna Wells have a trio of Toyotas that share their Sarnia, Ont., property — a 2013 Camry, a 1991 4Runner and a peppy 2000 Echo now nearing the million-kilometre mark at 926,000 kms and counting.

The 4Runner, too, has proven itself a trusty companion, with more than 500,000 kms on the odometer, and it still does snowplow duty on their long driveway every year. “It’s not like living in the city,” Randy says of their rural location. “We can’t just jump on a bus. Not only have we depended on these vehicles for a long time, but our family does too.”

“We’ve had some tough winters,” says Johanna, but nothing seems to daunt their Toyota Echo, even once driving through snowdrifts that reached as high as the vehicle’s hood when the highway was closed down. “We were the smallest vehicle but it wasn’t long before we were the lead vehicle, with a whole convoy behind us. Some of our family members were following us, and they said they just couldn’t believe that we got everybody through.” Randy is a big believer in preventive maintenance and has a great relationship with the service team at the local Toyota dealership where he bought the Echo, as well as the Camry. “I know everybody there, and they know me. People-wise, service-wise, they’re just great.”

Camry life is family life

Pauline Christiuk, Toyota Camry

Pauline Christiuk, Steinbach, Manitoba

There’s no cargo more precious than her family, so when it came time to look for a new vehicle, Pauline Christiuk put safety first — and did her research. “I hadn’t driven a Toyota before,” she says. “I wanted something dependable,” she says. She had read about Toyota’s reputation for quality, reliability and owner satisfaction. With four kids and all their activities to consider, she was looking for space in the cabin, and trunk space to match.

It was 2002, and she knew she’d found what she was also looking for the moment she saw a new titanium-coloured Camry on a local lot. “I took it for a test drive and loved the feel. It was really smooth.” Her Camry has now passed the 550,000-km mark.

Living near Winnipeg, Pauline says winter performance was also something she’d have to be able to count on. “This car has gone through — well, you just wouldn’t believe what this car has gone through.”

She gives credit to preventive maintenance for the car’s longevity, for which she visits her local Toyota dealership in Steinbach, Man.