June 8, 2009

How Long Will a Car Last?

My car had a little over 80,000 miles when I bought it. Its a Toyota Camry and I was assuming that I'd be able to get another 70,000 miles or so out of it before I ran into major problems. I've had it for a couple years now. Its got over 100,000 miles and so far so good. Is it realistic for me to expect to get 150,000 miles? What is the average that a new car will last nowadays?

I went searching on Google and found a couple references to lifespan of cars.
This MSNBC article says that "Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.org/) says the average life expectancy of a new vehicle these days is around 8 years or 150,000 miles. Of course, some well-built vehicles can go 15 years and 300,000, if properly maintained."
This site states that "The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that the average life span of a vehicle is just over 13 years, with a final mileage of 145,000 miles."

So it seems like the average is somewhere around 8-15 years and 150,000 to 300,000 miles.

Of course the life of a car will depend on a LOT of factors.

  • Quality of the car.
  • Nature of the driving.
  • Maintenance and upkeep.
A car driven hard up and down hills in stop and go traffic which never gets an oil change may break down fatally well before 100,000 miles. But the same model car could last 250,000 miles easily if its driven mostly highway miles on flat stretches and gets pampering and considerable routine maintenance.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the lifespan of cars is increasing as newer and better cars come out. Today's cars last longer. Back in the 50's or 60's you'd be lucky to get 100,000 miles out of a car without major problems. Nowadays 100,000 miles is pretty much expected out of any car. In the future we can expect cars to be more and more durable and last even longer. If you have a much older car like a vehicle from the 1980's then I would not expect to get as much life out of it as one of todays newer cars.

If you assume that you perform proper maintenance on your car and you don't abuse it then you should be able to expect to get 100,000 to 200,000 miles out of a newer car.

But if you treat your car right and have a little luck it could last much longer than average. Here is an article with an auto expert claiming that the family car can last 1,500,000 miles. There are a handful of car owners who have gotten over 1,000,000 or even more than 2,000,000 miles out of their cars. Some examples: A Volvo with 2,600,000 miles. and a Dodge Ram truck with 1,000,000 miles. Of course these are not normal situations and I would not expect to get a million miles out of a car. I'm sure that there are a LOT more instances of new cars breaking down and needing a total engine rebuild or replacement within the first 10,000 miles than there are cars that reach over 1 million miles. 1 million mile cars and lemons are the outlying exceptions. I would hazard a guess that 75% of cars will last 100,000 to 250,000 miles. There will be a few cars that break down sooner due to abuse or simply being lemons and a few cars that last much longer.

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