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How Many Miles Will My Vehicle Last?

BY: Keith Benline
Blonde woman driving a car and waving out the window

It’s no surprise to anyone who’s been car shopping recently that automobiles are expensive. The average new car costs $48,000, while the typical pre-owned car costs about $25,600. These are considerable investments, so it’s only natural for a buyer to want to get the most miles possible out of their new ride.

But unlike something you’d purchase at a grocery store, vehicles don’t have an expiration or best-used-by date. Many factors determine a car’s lifespan.

Understanding these elements can provide critical insights during shopping and help keep your vehicle on the road longer. Keep reading as we explore this essential information.

Understanding Vehicle Lifespan

The answer to the “How long will my car last?” question has improved in recent decades. At the start of the 21st century, the lifespan of the average light vehicle (passenger cars and light trucks) was about nine years, reports the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. By 2023, the typical vehicle would stay on the road for 12.5 years, a gain of 40%.

From a mileage perspective, this means that modern automobiles can reach 150,000 to 200,000 miles, according to Consumer Reports. This achievement is a significant improvement over cars from the 1980s and 1990s that struggled to reach 100,000 miles. The progress can be attributed to better engineering and manufacturing techniques and consumer demand for more reliable vehicles.

Key Factors Influencing Vehicle Lifespan

Many factors contribute to vehicle longevity, and these can influence your car-buying process. Here’s a breakdown:

Make and Model

The make and model of your vehicle play a significant role in its expected lifespan. Some automakers have a reputation for producing cars that can rack up major mileage. Brands like Toyota and Honda are known for cars capable of traveling 200,000 to 300,000 miles or more with attentive upkeep.

In addition, certain models tend to be especially long-lasting. Search any well-known online marketplace, and it’s not too hard to find a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord with 300,000 miles or more. Full-size pickup trucks like the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado are capable of even higher mileage.

It’s vital to remember that build quality influences vehicle lifespan, but only to a point. There are other ingredients in a long-life formula.

Routine Maintenance Practices

Regular maintenance is essential to achieving a long vehicle life expectancy regardless of what you drive. Neglecting oil changes, tire rotations, fluid flushes, and other routine services can lead to premature wear and breakdown of critical components. Following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for your make and model is crucial.

Critically, staying on top of routine servicing keeps your car’s engine running efficiently while minimizing strain. This is also an opportunity to catch minor issues before they become big (and expensive) problems.

Your Driving Habits

How you drive also influences how long your car will last. Frequent hard acceleration, slamming on brakes, and aggressive cornering all put added stress on your vehicle. Over time, this type of driving can lead to excess wear on the engine, transmission, suspension, and other components.

Smooth, steady driving puts less strain on your car. Accelerate gradually and anticipate stops to minimize hard braking. Go easy on your vehicle, and it will likely return the favor with an extended lifespan.

The type of miles you drive matters, too. Many short trips never let the engine fully warm up, allowing condensation and sludge to build up. Whenever possible, combine errands into longer trips. Steady highway driving is easier on a car than the constant stopping and starting typical of urban and suburban driving.

Environmental Conditions

The environment your car operates in also plays a part in its longevity. Extreme hot or cold temperatures can accelerate wear.

If you live by the ocean, salt in the air and water can speed up corrosion, especially of the undercarriage. Regular washes can help mitigate this. Road salt has a similar effect in snowy climates, making frequent washes key. Scorching temperatures can be equally harsh on plastic and rubber components, leading to cracking and splits. Parking in the shade and using sunshades can reduce heat exposure.

Potholes, gravel roads, speed bumps, and other rough conditions increase the toll on your suspension and steering components. Avoiding hazards and checking the alignment if you hit a bump can prevent issues from worsening.

Maximizing Your Vehicle’s Mileage

Taking your car for granted is the surest way to reduce its longevity. In contrast, a proactive approach to ownership will extend your car’s life while preserving value and minimizing the risk of a breakdown. Here’s how to keep the odometer rolling.

  • Observe the recommended maintenance schedule for your make and model, which includes:
    • Regular oil changes and filter changes
    • Tire rotations and alignment checks
    • Transmission, coolant, and brake fluid changes
    • Belt and hose inspections and replacements
    • Air filter changes
    • Spark plug replacements
  • Check fluid levels regularly and top off as needed.
  • Keep the tires properly inflated for even wear, and periodically inspect them for wear or damage.
  • Use quality replacement parts that meet factory specifications.
  • Keep the exterior washed and waxed.
  • Be alert for unusual conditions like a strange smell, an uncommon noise, or vibrations.
  • Address minor problems right away.
  • Drive smoothly and steadily, and avoid rapid acceleration or sudden braking.

The Role of Extended Warranties

While diligent upkeep goes a long way, unexpected breakdowns can still happen, especially as vehicles age. The older your car gets and the more mileage it has, the higher the likelihood of needing repairs. An extended warranty, like those offered by Endurance, can be essential to your car’s long-term health.

An extended car warranty, also called a vehicle service contract or auto protection plan, helps pay for certain repairs after the factory coverage expires. This is vital protection because, like car prices, repair costs have risen.

According to Kelley Blue Book (KBB), a visit to the mechanic can be eye-opening and wallet-draining. Here are the average out-of-pocket expenses for some popular vehicles. Luxury models are even more pricey.

  • Honda Civic: $1,667
  • Tesla Model Y: $1,356
  • Subaru Outback: $1,768
  • Ford F-150 (regular cab): $1,833
  • Toyota Camry Hybrid: $1,726

Meanwhile, specific repairs can be especially costly. RepairPal reports the following:

  • Air conditioner compressor replacement: $930–$1,149
  • Fuel pump replacement: $1,082–$1,251
  • Exhaust manifold replacement: $1,180–$1,284
  • Cylinder head replacement: $3,575–$3,928
  • Transmission replacement: $5,266–$5,469

In short, extended warranties provide peace of mind against surprise repair bills and make the cost of car ownership more predictable.

When to Consider an Extended Warranty

Several scenarios make an extended warranty worthwhile. Consider this protection if you:

  • Have a car that has lost or is losing its original coverage
  • Are purchasing a used vehicle that doesn’t have warranty protection
  • Prefer the predictability of affordable monthly payments over large, unplanned repair costs
  • Drive an older car or one with high mileage.
  • Can’t afford a large and sudden repair bill or the downtime associated with a major repair

Vehicle Longevity FAQs

What is good mileage for a used car?

The answer depends on the vehicle’s make, model, age, and overall condition. Generally, most modern cars can last 150,000 to 200,000 miles or more with proper care. When evaluating a used car, consider not just the number on the odometer but also its maintenance history, previous use (a highway commuter will likely have less wear than a city delivery vehicle), and how well it’s been cared for. A well-maintained car with higher mileage may be better than a neglected one with lower mileage.

How many miles can a car last?

There’s no set rule for how many miles a car can drive, but with current manufacturing standards, most vehicles can deliver 200,000 miles or more with proper maintenance. Some makes and models can have even longer lifespans, with 300,000 or more miles possible. Factors like upkeep, driving habits, and conditions all impact longevity.

Is it worth buying a car with 150K miles?

It can be if the car is well maintained and in good overall condition. At 150,000 miles, many modern vehicles still have significant serviceable life left. However, you’ll want to be especially attentive to car maintenance and be prepared that some wear items, like the timing belt, water pump, and suspension components, may need replacing sooner than on a lower-mileage car.

What is the average lifespan of a car?

The average American car life expectancy is around 12 years or about 200,000 miles. However, this is just an average — many vehicles last significantly longer with proper care, even in high-mileage vehicles. The make and model, driving habits, maintenance practices, and operating environment influence how long a specific vehicle lasts. Generally, a well-built and well-maintained car can deliver many years and miles of reliable service.

Get Ready for the Road Ahead with Endurance

Keeping your car in drivable condition means paying for costly repairs — a vehicle service contract from Endurance can help. Car owners can choose from primary coverage that protects the powertrain (engine, transmission, and drive axle) or a more extensive plan with safeguards like a manufacturer’s bumper-to-bumper warranty. Intermediate programs balance cost and protection. Endurance even has plans for high-mileage cars, select luxury models, and commercial-use vehicles.

Every Endurance extended warranty includes the freedom to choose from any ASE Certified mechanic or facility, 24/7 roadside assistance (with towing coverage), rental car reimbursement, trip-interruption support, a 30-day money-back guarantee, and flexible payment terms.

Learn all the benefits of Endurance. Request a FREE quote or visit our online store for instant price and plan information. Call (800) 253-8203 to speak with an Endurance plan advisor and get one-on-one help finding a plan that meets your situation.

Explore the Endurance blog for timely articles covering car repairs, maintenance advice, warranty recommendations, and more.

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