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How Many Miles Can a Car Last? 4 Tips for Longevity

Whether you’re used car shopping or hitting six digits on your odometer, mileage may start to feel more like a countdown to the end of a vehicle’s lifespan. However, in some cases, you may be worrying over nothing. So how many miles can a car last anyway?

Cars are improving every single year. In addition to new high-tech gadgets and better safety features, newer cars are coming with a higher life expectancy than ever before. For rideshare and delivery drivers, this means a one-time investment may be able to help you earn even more.

This article will give you more insight into how many miles a car can last and how to maximize your vehicle’s life expectancy. We’ll also recommend a few car models that are proven to last hundreds of thousands of miles with proper care.

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How Many Miles Can a Car Last?

Not every car model is built to withstand the same mileage. Just looking back a decade ago, many car owners were already bracing for the 100,000 mile mark and on the lookout for major issues to come. However, the average passenger car now has the potential to last for at least 200,000 miles or nearly 12 years.

Of course, many drivers go well beyond the average while still actively using their vehicles, leading to thousands of dollars saved in the long run. In the end, your mileage is only a fraction of what affects your car’s ability to run. Regular maintenance is key to a long-lasting vehicle.

4 Tips to Help Your Car Last Longer

So what exactly does it mean to take care of your car? In order for your vehicle to go beyond the 200,000-mile average, you must be proactive about your car’s needs as soon as you take it home from the dealership. Here are four tips to help you with your car care:

1. Follow a Car Maintenance Schedule

Men looking into hood of blue car

Every car owner should be following a set car maintenance schedule, so you’re always preventing issues instead of spending hundreds of dollars to fix them. This schedule should include:

  • Getting an oil change every 3,000 miles
  • Cleaning car battery terminals every 6,000 miles
  • Getting tires rotated every 6,000 miles
  • Keeping your vehicle clean inside and out every two weeks, or when needed

Car maintenance should also involve regular inspections, so you can catch any present issues before they truly damage your engine or other parts of your vehicle. You can check your fluid levels — including your coolant, transmission fluid, and engine oil levels — as well as your tire pressure and lights straight from home. For more complex inspections, like brake system and wheel alignment checkups, you can simply head to a professional once per year.

You can use our suggested car maintenance schedule, specifically tailored for rideshare and delivery drivers, as your complete guide.

2. Diagnose and Fix Issues Quickly

Of course, your car maintenance schedule is a method of prevention and not a guarantee that issues won’t occur. While your vehicle is built to last for many miles, specific car parts like your car battery will naturally die out in half the time. The best way to ensure that these issues don’t affect the rest of your vehicle is to pay attention to how your car drives and head to the repair shop as soon as you notice an issue.

Some common signs of car problems to look out for include constantly decreasing fluid levels and strange noises like rattling or squeaking. You also definitely don’t want to let your check engine light sit for long.

3. Invest in Quality Parts

Closeup of vehicle wheels

When you do need to replace parts of your car, it pays to invest in high-quality parts, including better tires and longer-lasting batteries. This will ensure that fewer replacements are needed over time.

You also want to make sure you’re always using manufacturer-recommended parts, instead of using alternatives just to save. Using regular fuel instead of premium on some car models, or using the wrong type of engine oil, can even damage a new car or low-mileage vehicle quickly. Always consult your owner’s manual or an expert for the best parts to use for your car.

4. Drive Safely

When you’re a rideshare or delivery driver, you’re already practicing severe driving, which involves driving in stop-and-go traffic and frequent idling. Since your the nature of your gig doesn’t always allow you to drive gently, you don’t want to add more strain to your vehicle. Keeping up with safe driving habits is the best way to keep your vehicle healthy for as long as possible.

Start accelerating and braking gently, and only make gradual turns — rideshare passengers will thank you for it, too. When you’re not waiting for passengers to arrive, or when you’re off the clock, avoid leaving your car running when you’re just sitting in your vehicle. As always, you should be practicing defensive driving to avoid dangerous, costly accidents caused by weather, other drivers, pedestrians, or you.

7 Best High-Mileage Cars

How many miles can a car last: Blue Ford truck

While mileage isn’t the sole factor that affects a car’s condition, you still want to seek a vehicle that will be well worth the investment, whether you’re on the hunt for a used or new vehicle. Here are a few of the best high-mileage cars that are likely to get you beyond 200,000 miles with proper maintenance:

  1. Honda Civic
  2. Ford F-150
  3. Toyota Camry
  4. Toyota Corolla
  5. Honda Accord
  6. Chevy Equinox
  7. Subaru Legacy

If you’re seeking a vehicle for your ridesharing gig, you can compare these vehicles to what’s recommended in our Uber and Lyft car buying guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Perspective from dashboard looking out to highway

There’s no one answer to our initial question — “How many miles can a car last?” — but there are definite tactics you can use to extend your car’s lifespan. To learn more about keeping your low-mileage and high-mileage vehicle alive, read our answers to these common questions:

1. What are some signs of poor car maintenance that I should look out for when used car shopping?

If you notice any signs of rust or corrosion throughout a vehicle while used car shopping, this can be a sign of poor maintenance and buildup overtime. Even if it’s not presently causing any major issues, it could quickly lead to some. You should also look out for paint overspray, which can indicate that repairs were needed. Asking your dealership for a vehicle history report can also give you better insight into a car’s condition.

2. Is there a maximum mileage that I should look out for when shopping for a used car?

Many car shoppers avoid buying cars that have 100,000 miles or more, so they can keep driving their vehicles for as long as possible. However, as we’ve highlighted in this article, mileage isn’t always a major factor if you see clear signs of regular maintenance, like an engine that’s still like new after many years. Plus, our recommended high-mileage car models frequently last for double (sometimes triple) the amount of time that an average car lasts, so they can be safer bets if you don’t have the budget for a newer car.

3. At what point should I be seeking a new car?

If your car is getting to the point where repairs are nearing the cost of a new purchase, or repairs are no longer keeping your car issue-free for long, it may be time to go car shopping. Most car owners are keeping their vehicles for an average of six years — though you can definitely keep it for longer when you stick with a schedule — so don’t feel like you’re stuck with your car until it’s completely useless.

Maximize Your Miles

While high mileage can be a sign of an aging car, which naturally comes with some repair needs, it doesn’t mean your vehicle is nearing the end of its lifespan. Vehicles today are built to withstand plenty of years and miles, even under the severe driving conditions that you’ll be putting on it as a rideshare or delivery driver. Your commitment to regular car maintenance can make all the difference for the final value of your investment.

Vehicle maintenance does require you to have basic auto supplies on hand, such as a tire pressure gauge, engine oil, and windshield wiper fluid. As an independent contractor who’s responsible for taking care of these costs, you may be wondering how much you’ll really be spending on top of your fuel and insurance. Learn more about Uber and Lyft driver costs and expenses in our guide.

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