Your parents probably told you by the time your car got to 100,000 miles, you might as well trade it in or sell it since that’s when they usually start giving out. However, your parents are old, and modern cars are new. Science has evolved, and standards have improved drastically. So, as long as you take care of it, how many miles can you expect a new car to get today?
Prices are increasing, but so are the miles
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It’s no secret that new car prices have increased over the years. Even the prices of new cars over recent years show an upward trend. According to Statista, the average new car in 2016 would have cost you $34,450. The average new car in 2022: $46,290. But prices aren’t the only thing increasing; the miles you can put on them have as well. According to Progressive, a modern conventional car can last for 200,000 miles, and a well-maintained car can reach the 300,000-mile milestone. A similar trend can be seen in the average life span of cars, which reached an all-time high of 13 years for passenger cars in 2022, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
If you do routine maintenance, get small repairs finished quickly, regularly wash your car, and drive your car carefully, you can even surpass that number. But don’t be fooled into thinking all cars are made the same.
Cars are better built today
It makes sense that companies get better at their craft the longer they do it. Everything from the metals they use to the paint is more rust-resistant than they were in the old days, so corrosion is far less likely. There is also better technology and systems in place to alert drivers about issues and remind them to keep up with maintenance.
Not every car can reach 300,000 miles
A rule of thumb is usually to avoid buying the first year of a new model car—nobody really knows yet how the car will perform long-term. Usually, the first people to buy it are the ones letting the manufacturer know of any issues with the car. By the second or third year, most of the kinks and issues are usually resolved.
By the same logic, models that have been along for the longest and are known for reliability are the safest bets when it comes to getting a good reliable car that will go the distance; think Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic (check out this 2006 NBC News post with a person who had 235,000 miles on their 1993 Toyota Camry).
Here’s how to get the most miles out of your car
- Use your car: It might sound counterintuitive, but the more you use your car, the healthier it’ll be. Your car is a living machine that needs its fluids to circulate, rubber seals and gaskets to be used, and its tires to roll to avoid building flat spots. A stale car will have a big problem if you leave it unused for a long time. A general rule of thumb is to turn it on at least once a week.
- Keep up with the maintenance: It’s a no-brainer that you need to keep up with your car’s maintenance. But just as important is that you do it promptly, not tomorrow or next week. Make sure you follow your car’s manual for oil changes and tune-ups. Have a mechanic do a general inspection for brakes, tires, filters, and other vital parts every year.
- Cleanliness is key: Depending on where you live, you might have a more or less favorable climate for your car. Things like heat, snow, seawater (sea breeze, too), and salt and road grime will dull your car’s paint and lead to rust on vital parts under the car. A car wash can help get rid of the elements that can damage your car.
The technology has improved drastically to make our cars last longer, but nothing has really changed as far as what you need to do to keep your car humming along. You might pay a bit more now than you would have years ago, but you will get to drive your car for much longer if you take care of it.