How to make your car last 200,000 miles

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How to make your car last 200,000 miles
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Americans are keeping their cars longer than ever before — in fact, a big percentage of vehicles on the road now have racked up more than 100,000 miles.

The average age of all cars on the road in the U.S. is more than 11 years — up from only about eight years in 1995. And while Americans have been keeping cars longer ever since the Great Recession, doing so has also become a lot easier than it was years ago.

“Big improvements in powertrain technology, rust prevention, lubricants, and more have led to game changing improvements in reliability and durability,” Consumer Reports stated in a recent report. “Now, almost any car can make it well into six-figure territory with proper care.”

The financial benefit of keeping your car longer

In a nutshell, the longer you keep a car, the better bang for your buck

Let’s say you buy a brand new $30,000 car. I

Thanks to something called depreciation, that new car will lose about 10% of its value the second you drive it off the dealership lot. Here’s how depreciation would impact the car’s value over three years:

  • After you drive off the lot: 10% loss = $27,000
  • After one year: 20% loss = $24,000
  • After three years: 50% loss = $15,000.

So if you want to get the best bang for your buck, it means keeping the vehicle longer.

To give you some context, according to data from Consumer Reports, driving a car past the 200,000 mile mark (which would take the average driver about 15 years), “could result in savings of $30,000 or more.”

Read more: These cars will almost certainly last you 200,000 miles

Follow these tips to make your car last 200,000 miles

If you want your car to last you for the long haul, there are a few simple things you need to do along the way in order to avoid big, expensive problems and to ensure that your vehicle is kept in tip-top shape!

According to a report from Consumer Reports, taking the following steps will give you the best chance of reaching 200,000 miles or more!

Buy a reliable model

The idea of keeping a car longer is to save the most money over time — and buying a reliable model is the best place to start.

Do some research on the overall reliability of the cars you’re considering, because this can not only cut the cost of repairs way down over time, but also ensure you’re getting a vehicle that will last.

Follow the recommended maintenance schedule

This is crucial to keeping a car in good shape — and can actually be pretty easy if you just follow the recommended maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual.

It will tell you how often you need to take care of certain routine services your car will need over time in order to keep it running smoothly. A few examples include:

  • Oil changes
  • Filter changes
  • Brakes
  • Fluid changes
  • Tire rotations
  • and other general repairs.

According to CR, “even missing one oil change can contribute to premature engine wear or cause damage, and reduce the chances of your car remaining reliable for long.”

Here’s a simple maintenance schedule that will help make your car last longer.

Don’t go cheap on necessary parts

When we’re talking about reaching 200,000 miles, you have to play the long game — which may mean investing a little extra money here and there, but it will save you over time by preventing major, costly repairs.

“The wrong type of oil or transmission fluid, for example, could cause damage leading to expensive repairs, void your warranty, and diminish long-term reliability,” says CR. “Cheap and no-name belts and hoses might not wear as well as those from a name-brand supplier. To be safe, use only parts and fluids meeting manufacturer specifications.”

Pay attention to anything out of the ordinary

Frequently checking for odd noises, vibrations, smells, leaks and anything else unusual will help you spot potential problems early and prevent them from causing major damage.

Avoid short trips as much as possible

When the engine doesn’t have time to warm up, it has to work harder — and over time, this can cause major damage and reduce the life of your engine and/or car. So if you’re making frequent short trips, just let the car heat up before driving it. And as a general rule of thumb, try to avoid short trips as much as possible.

Read more: The least and most expensive cars to maintain

Car buying 101: Everything you need to know

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Alex Thomas Sadler About the author:
Alex is the Managing Editor of Clark.com and host of Common Cents, a series that makes money simple. By breaking down complicated concepts, Alex shows you how to better understand your money and make smarter decisions — so you can take control of your own life and future! Learn more here.
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