Whether you’re buying something used or just taking stock of your vehicle, you may be wondering what benchmark number makes a car old or obsolete. Usually, you’d turn away from a more than ten-year-old vehicle, but even newer cars may have some pretty high mileage – sometimes even 200,000 miles.
200,000 miles is a lot for a car to have on it. Most cars only last for about 200,000 miles, even if you give them all the preventive maintenance and the utmost care. If you find a vehicle with 200,000 miles already on it, it’s likely on its last leg.
Most cars will start to develop problems around 150,000 miles, and 200,000 is pushing it. Below, I will discuss how long cars may last after 200,000 miles, why mileage is so important to consider, and what a high mileage might indicate about a vehicle. Then, I’ll talk about how many miles you should consider “too much” or “bad” on a used car.
Cars can last more than 200,000 miles, but most car manufacturers cite 200,000 as the vehicle’s life expectancy. On average, most people will put about 14,263 miles on their car in any given year. A car with 200,000 miles has seen about 15 years of driving at this rate.
On average, people will add between 10,000 and 15,000 miles to their vehicle each year.
That may seem like a lot but think about it this way. If you work five miles away from your home and drive to and from work five days a week, you’re adding about 200 miles to your car a month. However, you’ll likely drive more than that. You’ll also have to consider the miles you spend driving to the grocery store, going on trips, or letting your car run in the winter.
Notably, in 2020, people drove around a lot less in the beginning. Being stuck in our homes for quarantine meant we were getting things delivered and working from home without commuting.
However, some people began traveling more, making their office mobile as they toured the country. A trip from somewhere central, like Missouri, to somewhere on the coast like California, is about 2,000 miles. Just one trip can add a significant amount of miles to a vehicle.
With most cars expected to last around 200,000 miles, you can see how the best and most involved car owners would still only expect to drive their vehicle for about ten years.
Even in the first scenario, where a car is used only for the average amount of miles a year, a car would only last 14 years. That would also be if the car ran perfectly, always got its oil and fluids changed, and is in a climate that doesn’t usually make cars rust.
Your car needs annual maintenance dependent on the miles, and it’s easy to overlook the schedule when things start to line up. It can be costly to do precisely as the owner’s manual guides you, and sometimes, it’s easy to forget about the little things.
In general, you need to:
- Get an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles
- Replace your filters every 15,000 to 30,000 miles
- Get a new belt every 75,000 to 90,000 miles
- Get new rotors every 60,000 miles
- Replace your tires or get them rotated every 6,000 miles
Doing some basic arithmetic, you can calculate how many times scheduled maintenance might have happened in a 200,000 miles-old vehicle. Still, this doesn’t consider parts that break and need to be replaced, no matter how expensive.
Sometime’s, engines stop working or crack, batteries go out, and other parts of the vehicle begin to disintegrate in time. You know how a car’s interior can fall apart if you have kids, and accidents happen every day.
If you’re active in the car community, you might have met some car fanatics who boast about their odometer being way higher than average because they take great care of their cars.
It’s important to remember that while the average car, when taken care of thoroughly, should only last 200,000 miles, some people get much more out of their vehicle. Highly above average, the longest-lasting cars can last over one million miles.
The record for the highest mileage was awarded to a 1966 Volvo with 3.25 million miles on the odometer. This driver credited his long-lasting vehicle to following the maintenance manual to a T and doing consistent oil changes for the car.
Fortunately, most vehicle manufacturers don’t expect you to get your car to a million miles. Even with routinely scheduled maintenance and oil changes, your car will likely start to give you problems around 150,000 miles.
If 200,000 miles is the end of a car’s life, what should you be looking for in a used car? Some cars run much better than others and tend to have a longer life, so you should consider the car’s make, model, condition, and mileage. For a general rule of thumb, we suggest nothing over 150,000 miles.
A lot of miles for a used car is anything over 150,000 unless there are other huge pulls towards the vehicle. 150,000 miles is when cars develop problems, and most manufacturers only expect cars to last about 200,000 miles. You’ll only have a few years left to drive the vehicle at this rate.
That isn’t to say that some gems of vehicles won’t last past the 150,000 mark, but you have to think about your return on investment from a used car.
If you’re going to spend five grand on a used vehicle that only has a year or two of life left, you can count on spending another five grand or more once that car starts working. At that point, it might’ve been a better plan to invest more in a vehicle that would last you longer and save you money in the long term.
A car’s average life expectancy is about 200,000 miles. Usually, people add a little less than 15,000 miles to their car in one year.
So, even if your vehicle is relatively new, or a used car you’re looking at is a newer model, 200,000 miles means the car has nearly been driven for 15 years in car-time. You should consider the added cost of a vehicle with higher mileage, even if the initial price is lower.
- A Complete Guide to Buying Used Cars
- How Many Miles on a New Car Before It Is Considered Used?
- Best Oil for High Mileage Cars (Over 100K Miles)