So, how long can a car last?
When I was a younger man, a vehicle that had 100,000 miles on it was probably about done. Trying to keep a car on the road with that kind of mileage in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s is what led to me learning one end of a wrench from another. Oil changes every 2000 miles, tune ups every 14,000 miles, greasing the suspension and steering, constantly replacing belts, hoses, dealing with drum brakes that never seemed to work just right and don’t even get me started on carburetors. Those 60’s cars had a look but they were a pain.
Let me tell you a little story. A few years ago my wife told me she wanted a little red sports car as a birthday/anniversary gift. I found a sweet red (The color she insisted on) 1990 Miata with 130,000 miles. Home run! She loves that little car and I like it too. My wife normally drives a Corolla in her 110 mile per day commute so I get to drive the Miata since it gets much better mileage than my Jeep. Even though I keep up on the maintenance pretty diligently I’m a little rough on cars in that I like to drive them hard. Once the car got close to the 200,000 mile mark, still running like new, I figured that pretty soon I was going to need another engine so I went out a bought one. That was 2 years and 50,000 miles ago and that Miata still runs great and the spare engine is gathering dust. My wifes’ Corolla, which we bought new in 2006, has 238,000 miles on it and is nearly perfect. When I change the oil it still comes out looking like honey. I have a customer that used a Kia Sedona for deliveries between Phoenix and Las Vegas and when he finally traded it in it had well over 500,000 miles. All this got me thinking about how long you can reasonably expect a car to last here in Tempe.
People are keeping their cars longer than ever. Here at All Tune and Lube Total Car Care in Tempe we regularly see vehicles with way over 100,000 miles and 200,000 miles plus is not even noteworthy. I read someplace that the average age of cars on the road in the U.S. was 10.8 years. My guess is that cars in the Arizona desert beat that average since we don’t have to deal with the rust that eats cars alive in the northeast. With regular maintenance and staying on top of the normal sorts of repairs a car sees a vehicle can last a very long time indeed. Some of that maintenance can get a little pricey. For example, the Sedona I mentioned went through several sets of tires, a few axle shafts and a pair of catalytic converters that set him back over $3500. But that little van still ran great, had no major leaks and used no oil when he finally got rid of it for a car that got better fuel economy.
Before I started writing this I got on line to see if there were any studies that had a handle on how long a car would last with proper maintenance and what I found was a ton of, well, crap. Plenty of anecdotes about cars going a million miles, articles saying that a transmission or a timing chain would only last about 125,000 miles and car forums where you might read anything.
Well, I guess I’m not really going to be able to add anything useful to the discussion. But my personal experience and what I’ve observed as an auto repair shop owner is that there is no reason why a modern car shouldn’t see 300,000 miles if properly cared for.
From your Local Mechanics, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete auto repair and maintenance.