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How Long Do Cars Last?

Here is a great list of answers to the question "how long do cars typically last?" Trying to decide how long to keep a car is tricky and so many factors can influence it. I'm glad I read through this and can think on all of the vehicle information in the answers.

Hey everybody!  Today I am actually asking you all a question instead of really answering any.  How long have your cars lasted?

It just dawned on me that my stupid car is already 6 years old.  My husband’s Prius is 4 years old.  We only ever really expected for our cars to make it 7-8 years overall.  That means that I will hopefully be quitting my day job to blog full time at the same time my car is hitting the big 7 year mark.

My Car History

I know, you are going to ask me why I only expect 7-8 years out of a car.  Honestly, I don’t know.  The car I drove the first part of college, a 1999 Mazda Protegé, was very badly abused before I owned it, so I shouldn’t use its sad 4-5 year existence to judge cars as a whole.

Plus, the 2003 Chevy Cavalier I borrowed the year after that is still going strong with my sister, so that’s good news.  In short, I really don’t know why my husband and I only really expect 7-8 good years…

Of course, the crappy parts they used to build my Chevy Aveo don’t hold much of my esteem.  I mean, what sort of car company builds a car with a plastic thermostat housing?!  For those of you who may not know, the thermostat housing keeps the radiator fluid enclosed…it’s a part near the engine.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that plastic is probably not the best material to use next to a searing hot engine!  Even Chevy must have figured it out since the replacement part was a metal one.  But there was no recall…grrr…

My Husband’s Car History

So, I do not have high expectations about my car.  On the other hand, my husband’s 2007 Prius hasn’t has even one little problem in the last 3 years that we’ve owned it (it was 1 year old when we bought it).  We’ve had its oil changed and have replaced the tires, but no parts have broken or seem to be dying.  Overall, it truly impresses me with how easy it is to own.  I did not expect that out of a hybrid – I just assumed the technology would give us problems.  I’ll let you all know if/when it does.

But, we sold my husband’s last car, a 2003 Hyundai Sonata, after 5 years since it started sounding funny.  It never really was the same after a huge wreck we were in when it was only 6 months old.  The other guy’s insurance company “fixed” it instead of totaling it, which I thought was truly awful since there are just some things that can’t be fixed.  Like a completely crumpled front end…engine and everything…

Of course, I should base the life of a car off of something like that either since our current cars have never been in a wreck.

So, what kind of cars have you owned?  How long did they last in general or just with you?  What do you think I should reasonably expect out of my 2005 Chevy Aveo and my husband’s 2007 Toyota Prius?

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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29 thoughts on “How Long Do Cars Last?

  1. I had a Toyota Tercel that lasted 10 years. We now have a Toyota Sienna that is almost 7 years old and has 92,000 miles on it. I think rather than how many years, it is more important to focus on how many miles, what kind of miles (city or highway), and how you have taken care of it. You will need to invest some money in it as it gets older, but we plan to keep the Sienna hopefully for 10 years.

  2. I’d say for a japanese car, they’re good for a minimum of 10 years without having to spend much at all on them. Aside from tires, brakes, and a battery or two. My corolla I sold after 10 years and 165,000 miles. THere was nothing wrong with it but my FIL died and my MIL had an extra car that was brand new that she couldn’t sell. My poor corolla got totaled 3 months later by the teenager who bought it. So sad. I loved that car and it still had a lot of life left in it.

  3. I put almost 200k miles on my first car, a 1984 Honda Accord and man did I treat that car like sh$#t. So apparently honda’s can take quite a bit of abuses and keep rollin’! To this day I’m a honda man!

  4. Well, my Chevy Aveo is 6 years old with 55,000 miles. My husband’s Toyota Prius is 4 years old with 65,000 miles. It looks like we both should have a while…

    @Melissa, good luck with the Sienna!

    @First Gen, oh, that stinks about the Corolla…sorry you gave it up to a bad death. 🙁

    @Car Neg Coach, lol, I wasn’t expecting you to have a favorite. 🙂

  5. I think a lot depends on how much you actually drive the car.

    My first car, the one I had in high school, was a 13 years old when we sold it. It was a Pontiac Fiero and I really don’t know how much life it had in it at that point. It needed work and my parents wanted me to have something safer for commuting to college so we sold it.

    The next car was a Pontiac Sunbird. It was 11 years old when I sold it and it still had low mileage and lots of life in it. I know the person who bought it was still using it two years later, but not sure if it is still being used or not.

    The first car I ever bought myself was a Chevy Tracker. I kept that car 5-6 years and it was still going strong when I sold it… I put average mileage on it.

    I sold the Tracker because I had an opportunity to get a used Volvo Wagon for cheap from a friend. As my commute was now longer than it had been when I bought the Tracker, I didn’t feel overly safe in it as I did in the tank (aka, Volvo) and the Tracker was already starting to nickle and dime me a little so I figured the future might be expensive with that car. It has 65,000 miles when I sold it.

    I drove that used Volvo until it was 11 1/2 years old and had over 130,000. I might still be driving it except the A/C went out and no mechanic could get it working again. Despite that, I was actually able to sell that car for the exact same amount I paid for it when I bought it!

    My current car is another Volvo Wagon that I bought new in 2007. It now has over 70,000 miles on it and is 4 years old. I hope to get 8-10 good years from it. Unfortunately, the number of miles I put on it a year mean that it may not last as long for me as I’d like. I’ll keep it as long as it lasts without getting costly with repairs or unreliable as I love this car.

  6. My parents had cars that lasted forever (VW Beetle, Oldsmobile Cutless Sierra) and cars that lasted 5 years max (Ford festivas, ford focuses, earlier versions of low level Hyundais). My first Hyundai Accent lasted 5 years, but this one looks like it will go a lot longer. We have had to replace tired on both our cars once in 4-5 years of ownership.

    Our Civic Hybrid’s battery died last year after 4 years, but it was still under warranty and they replaced it free.

  7. I own a 1995 Honda Accord Coupe and a 1997 Honda Prelude. Both excellent cars. They could last another 15 years! Frankly, I am a little bored with the car, but I don’t have a good reason to replace it.

  8. Only experience I have is with a 93 Concorde (so awesome on the inside, looks awful on the outside) which was unfortunately broken into pieces from a series of people slamming into it while it was parked. My “new” car is a 2003 Alero my sister wanted to get rid of and I wanted to buy on the cheap. 😀 I’m just hoping for another year or two out of it; it’s already at 115k-120k or something like that.

    After this car, I’m buying a new car. Maybe a new Focus or something, I don’t know. But the next car I buy I’m just going to buy it new and run it into the ground.

  9. My Blazer lasted 11 years and I only traded it in because the breaks went out and no one in Florida would replace them (the undercarriage of the Blazer had alot of corrosion from being in Ohio for 8 years). My parents just sold their Lumina after 12 years because they had the oppertunity to buy a nicer used car. The Lumina they had before that we traded in after 11 years. All of the above mentioned vechicles had ~120,000 miles on them (and all were in Ohio for most of their life….which can really eat away at a car….literally).
    My SUV that I own right now is 7 years old…but only have 30,000 miles on it (it was a granny car before I bought it) so I expect it to last at least 5 more years.

  10. I’ve had 3 cars since I started driving 19 years ago. First was a Mercury Cougar, that was about 12 years old with around 150K miles or so on it. Second car was a Ford Thunderbird, was running fine when I got rid of it. It was 12 years old at the time with 100K miles or so. It got totaled a few years after that. My current car is a 2001 Acura Integra (I know, purchased more car than I needed). I got it new and just rolled over 123,456 miles on it. I plan on keeping it for at least another 4-5 years assuming nothing major goes wrong with it.

  11. Let’s see… I had a 93 Subaru that had 90,000 miles that I sold in 2000 and still had lots of life in it. I actually had very little trouble with that car. The guy I sold it to got it towed and then never went to get it out of impound. So I don’t know what happened to it.

    After that I got a new 2000 VW that I sold in 2005 with 108,000 miles. It needed quite a bit of work but I also was pretty rough with that car.

    Then I got a used 03 or 04 (can’t remember now) Hyundi Sonata which didn’t give me trouble except for the air bag light kept coming on and was expensive to fix. Sold that with 70,000 miles about a year ago.

    My husband had a 2001 Hyundi Accent that he bought new and totally died after 65,000 miles in 2007.


  12. I’ve had three cars: a 1969 MGB, a 1987 Dodge Colt, and a 1990 Mazda Miata.

    The MG was 15 years old when I got it, and I kept it for 2 or 3 years. I loved the car, but British cars are notorious for needing constant care, and I wanted to be able to travel around and have a reliable car. So I bought a brand new Colt, which completely sucked. I had nothing but problems with that car. I sold that as soon as I was done paying for it, which was in 1991.

    I replaced that with the 1990 Miata, which has been a very, VERY good car. So 21 years for my current car. I keep saying I hope it will last another 10 years, and I think it could if I can continue to get replacement parts for the kinds that typically wear out.

  13. I currently own a 2002 Jeep Liberty that’s going on 10 years. It has 122,000 miles and is still going strong. Of course, at this point, it may start needing some maintenance, butI actually expect it to last another 10 years at least! Perhaps I’m more optimistic when it comes to vehicles.

  14. Honda all the way! I have a Honda Fit and my husband a Civic hybrid. We are expecting my car to last for at least another 10 yrs (5 yrs old now) and another 100000 miles. I love my car and am planning to drive it to the ground.

  15. My first car was a 1994 Toyota Camry that I got when I was 16 in 2002 I got rid of it in 2006-2007 when I started commuting to school and needed something more reliable.

    I got a 2004 Toyota Camry in 2007 and I still Have it. It only had 60,000 miles. 7 years old and still under its original warranty until next march. I’ll have it until at least 200,000 miles hopefully.

    My fiance is still driving his 1999 Ford… it ain’t pretty but it runs.

  16. I drive a 2000 Malibu, bought used in 2002. It is 11 yrs old and I have had it 9 years. It was a rental car in good shape. The place where I worked had the head gasket or something redone at the tune of $800 in 2005. I replaced the tires and one other tire that had a blowout from road debris. I think I replaced the water pump. One boot needs to be replaced. Otherwise, it drives fine and seems to have no problems. I bought it with 36K miles and it has 157K miles now. It had better last a long time!

  17. My Toyota Camry lasted 11 years and 220,000 miles. I drove it a lot, but it worked out great with very few problems – just some wear and tear related stuff as it got older. But it kept on going. Not sure if a Prius has the same lifespan (or worse or better, who knows) but I would guess that barring anything unusual, your Toyota should likely be functioning for a long, long time.

  18. The first car I owned was a 1986 Volvo, which I had for less than a year. Bought it in 2003 and it was totaled in 2004 (not my fault). I now own a 2000 Volvo and am planning on driving it into the ground or at least until 2020, which ever comes first. Not sure about Chevy’s but I know Toyota’s last a pretty long time. Maybe another 10 years?

  19. Every car I’ve owned, whether bought used or new, has had well over 10 years on it. My current car is a 10 year old Acura with 160k miles on it and I expect to get at least another 100k/5 years out of it before I get another one.

    I think expecting cars to die at 7-8 years is a disservice to yourself. As long as you keep up with regular maintenance, a good car should last you 10+ years.

  20. 2001 Toyota Corolla w/ about 55K miles for the Mrs. and a 2001 Ford F150 1/2 ton w/ 150K miles for me. I’ve had to have a couple of oil leaks fixed on the Ford, but so far, no major work required. We’ll probably pass the Toyota on down to #1 son, and eventually retire the truck to the farm.

  21. I have a 2005 Pontiac Montana with 156,000 miles on it. I am planning on driving it until it has 200,000 miles since I would love to avoid another car payment for a couple more years.

  22. Wow, it seems that I have been way off in my general car life assumptions!!!

    Based on all of your stories, I should be able to get at least another 4 years out of my Chevy Aveo (currently st 55,000 miles and 6 years old) and another 5-6 years or more out of our Toyota Prius (more than 60,000 miles and 4 years old).

    Cool beans. I’ll let you know if our next “new” car hits around 2015 as planned or not, lol.

  23. We’ve had several cars over the years. We bought a Hyundai Elantra new and then a Volvo V70 station wagon used. We were really happy with both cars. The insurance wasn’t bad for either of them and they had relatively low maintenance. We loved the Volvo the most actually and it wasn’t even new. Just a good car, I guess. Our satisfaction with that car will definitely lead us to buy another in the future at some point.

  24. I expect cars to last 20 years, but it depends what you mean by “how long cars last,” it depends on the car, and it depends on how the car is treated. I like to buy 10-year-old cars in reliable models and keep them 10 years. I don’t use them to commute to work, I am good with the oil changes, and I drive gently.

    First car: a 2-year-old 1983 Ford Escort. I sold it in 1990 with 60-some thousand miles on it the fourth time a mechanic basically looked into my checking account and charged me my entire balance. The guy who bought it fixed it up and sold it again, but I feel sorry for the owner. Lesson learned: don’t get a model with a mediocre reliability and don’t buy it from a car rental place (because people who rent cars abuse them).

    Second car: a 10-year-old 1984 Nissan Sentra wagon with under 100K miles on it lasted me 10 more years before it was rear-ended in an expensive-to-repair way and I sold it for junk. Lesson learned: A 10-year-old good car is much, much better than a 2-year-old mediocre car. I now wish I would have spent the money and repaired it. I loved that car; it was well designed and had better gas mileage than anything today.

    Third car: a 13-year-old 1991 Honda Civic wagon “lasted” me 9 more years but was not user friendly and required more repairs than my Sentra had. Sold it when I was having to get repairs of some kind or another more than once a year. The guy who bought it (for $300) loved those old Honda Civics and wanted it for parts. Lesson learned: don’t get a car that will drive me nutso (hated the automatic seatbelt and annoying doorlocks) when I want to keep a car for a long time.

    Fourth car: a 3-year-old 2008 Toyota Corolla sedan with 68K miles on it. (All the ten-year-old cars I could find had been in wrecks and were being sold by obvious liars.) I hope this car will last me 20 years. (This car probably still isn’t as good as my old Nissan, but Nissans aren’t as reliable as they used to be.)

    Best advice I ever got for keeping cars a long time: just fix things. Don’t think, “Oh, it’s getting old, I don’t need to fix this.” Eventually, there will be a lot of little things bugging you and you will look for any excuse to get rid of it.

    Another great thing about old cars: you don’t need collision insurance. No matter what happens, the insurance company will just say it’s totaled because even small amounts of damage will come out to large percentages of the resale value. (Just save the money you would have spent on collision insurance toward your next car.)

    Also, it’s good to remember that the resale value can be much, much lower than the value to you. Eventually your car will be “worth” only $1000 even when it’s in good running condition. But if you would spend more than that for a replacement, then that amount is also relevant.

  25. I purchased a Acura TL in 1999 and is nearing 300,000 miles. No major problems, had regular maintenance and a few replacements (radiator & rotors). Recently debated putting new tires on the car or trade it in for a newer model. I chose the tires. Sometimes new cars are lemons, sometimes you get lucky. A little luck combined with great design created a solid, dependable auto that couldn’t be replaced for the price of the tires.

  26. I am a keen bargain hunter and to date, all my cars have cost 2 k to buy and 1 k to fix but we’ve kept them over 5 years each.

    86 celica 300 000 km nothing wrong except bearings and brakes sold when alternator stopped working and needed new battery and check engine light from sludge
    88 celica 250 000 km
    master brake cylinder faulty, crashed into stalled car on live lane of highway
    94 cutlass ciera
    brake lines went, driven to scrap yard
    95 subaru legacy
    377 000 km still running strong, new fuel pump, and tires, driven 200 km per day
    94 bmw 325 replaced water pump, and plastic parts like suspension bushings and guido, only minor issues but driven daily
    350 000 km

    I plan to keep these cars another 10 years. the subaru will never fail etest as they can’t test an awd car and my bmw has a new muffler and struggles to pass due to its 6 cylinder on the etest.

    Only reason why many cars are scrapped in canada, the emissions test. At $400+ for a new catalytic converter, people will only spend the repair limit so many times before selling car as is for cheap

    As for rust, none. Why? I park in a heated garage and rinse off the salt every night

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