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How Long Do Cars Last? Car Longevity Statistics: 2024 Update

cars in a compound

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

The car is arguably one of the most important human inventions in history. It gave us more than just freedom, and that’s why we have no qualms about it being referred to as “The Social Game Changer.”

Today, we’ll be sharing information about the average car’s longevity. Why, you ask? Well, because we believe these statistics should be public knowledge. Also, they’ll make you appreciate the various improvements that we’ve witnessed in the technological field and maybe even teach you a thing or two about that four-wheeled beast of yours.

divider 4 Top 8 Car Longevity Statistics

  1. A car’s depreciation rate is 15-35% in year one.
  2. The life expectancy of a typical car is 8 years or 200,000 miles.
  3. In the 1930s, cars had a life expectancy of 6.75 years.
  4. Well-maintained cars can cover more than 1,000,000 miles.
  5. Keeping a car for more than 15 years will save you $30,000.
  6. Temperatures above 220 degrees will damage your car engine, and several other components.
  7. Cars should not be exposed to temperatures below negative 76 degrees.
  8. On average, a tire has a 50,000-mile lifespan.
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The Recommended Years of Usage

1. A car’s depreciation rate is 15-35% in year one

(Money Helper)

Depreciation is what remains after deducting the car’s selling price from its buying price. If you bought a car at a market price of $10,000, a year later, you may decide to sell it. But you’ll have to sell it at $7,000 because that’s what the market forces dictate. If you do the math, you’ll realize it has depreciated by 30%.

car dealer
Image Credit: andreas160578, Pixabay

2. Life expectancy of a typical car is 8 years or 200,000 miles

(Consumer Reports)

‘Typical’ in this case is used to refer to brands that are reliable and popular in the market. It doesn’t include small manufacturers that haven’t been graded by Consumer Reports. So if you’re looking to invest in something that will comfortably cover 200,000 miles or even more, go for a brand that has withstood the test of time.

Most of these brands produce cars that are so durable because they’ve done their due diligence and now know which kind of lubricants to use, how to prevent rust, and, more importantly, how to take advantage of an effective powertrain technology.

3. In the 1930s, cars had a life expectancy of 6.75 years


A lifespan of 6.75 years meant those cars could only cover 50,000 to 90,000 miles before being rendered unusable. Part of the reason why was that technology wasn’t quite as advanced as it is now. Also, the roads and infrastructure were terrible.

home with multiple cars
Image Credit: salmanbutt8999, Pixabay

4. Well maintained cars can cover more than, 1,000,000 miles

(Guinness World Record)

Have you ever heard of Irv Gordon? He was a Guinness World Record holder who owned the 1966 Volvo p1800, a car that covered 3,039,122 miles without falling apart. When he was asked by Popular Mechanics what he did to make all that possible, he said he always made sure that his transmission fluid was changed every 25,000 miles and the engine oil after every 3000-3,500 miles.

However, that’s not the only crazy part about this whole story. Mr. Gordon also managed to prolong the life of his car’s clutch (a manual transmission) to 450,000 miles. In case you didn’t know, an ordinary clutch has a life expectancy of 50,000 miles. Those who’ve tried to maintain it past that distance have only managed to get it to 100,000 miles.

5. Keeping a car for more than 15 years will save you $30,000

(Consumer Reports)

This fact sounds counterintuitive, but research experts at consumer reports have proven it to be true. First off, the repair and maintenance bills are factors that will always be there. However, if you maintain your vehicle and make every necessary repair, you can easily limit the depreciation impact. And in doing so, you’ll be saving money in the long run. For the record, driving a vehicle for up to 200,000 miles is not that difficult.

used car for sale
Image Credit: Bromine, Pixabay

6. Temperatures above 220 degrees will damage your car engine, and several other components

(McNally Institute)

Heat can extensively damage your car’s components, thereby reducing its longevity. Let’s talk about the battery for a minute. We’ve always been told by manufacturers (and even mechanics) that heat and vibration are the two worst enemies of a car’s battery. But the effects of vibration aren’t as severe as those of high temperatures because the vibration will only loosen up the plates.

On the other hand, heat will go as far as evaporating all the battery’s fluid. And once that’s gone, the internal structure of the component will be compromised. It’s also the cause of a cracked engine block.

7. Cars should not be exposed to temperatures below negative 76 degrees

(Mr. Transmission)

Hypothermia is not something you’ll have to worry about if you expose your car to cold temperatures. However, if you want to prolong its longevity, you’ll want to park it in a warmer environment.

Extremely low temperatures will affect various car components, including the fuel lines, transmission, batteries, tires, and engine oil. The oil, for example, will thicken and make it difficult for the pump to circulate it efficiently.

orange Aston Martin car
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

8. On average, a tire has a 50,000-mile life

(Bob Moore)

You should consider changing your tires every 3 to 5 years. However, this depends on several factors. Assuming they are softer tires, they’ll provide an incredible grip on pavements and will wear out faster than hard tires.

The treadwear rating is another important factor to take into account. If the ratings are high, your tires will last longer than the average.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is a 20-year-old car a good investment?

(Department of Transportation)

There’s nothing wrong with buying a 20-year-old car. It could be a classic with reasonable mileage. However, before investing your hard-earned money, you must consider the climate in your area. States that often experience heavy snow usually have their Department of Transportation salt their roads to ensure driver safety.

Winter roads have been known to cause a lot of accidents over the years due to the slippery nature of ice. And to remedy the problem, local authorities always sand and salt their roads. It’s a process that’s meant to drop the ice’s freezing point from 32 degrees to 20 degrees and increase traction.

Unfortunately, there’s a downside to this. The carbon dioxide and oxygen from melting snow and ice react with the car’s metal parts in the presence of free-radical ions (found in road salt) to create iron oxide—also known as rust.

used white car for sale
Image Credit: reverent, Pixabay

Is rust bad for cars?

It’s funny how drivers normally think rust (iron oxide) is a cosmetic issue that can be remedied anytime. When in essence, it’s one of those problems that can quickly snowball into something costly. If it somehow manages to get through the car’s surface, it will move on to attack the vehicle’s frame, and that’s when the real problem starts.

Any experienced mechanic will confirm that frame rust is a severe safety concern. It’s a problem that affects the vehicle’s integrity and can cause some parts to crack or snap off. You’ll be compromising your safety and that of other motorists and passengers. Additionally, since the affected parts won’t be as strong as they used to be, your survival rate will be dramatically reduced should you find yourself in a collision.

What’s the most reliable car brand?

(Consumer Reports)

We’re glad you asked because Consumer Reports released its 2021 survey the other day. They had Lexus as the most reliable car brand, followed by Mazda and Toyota. They were also gracious enough to share the most improved brands, and the award went to Acura and Infiniti.

Brand reliability is an essential factor to consider when trying to figure out a car’s longevity. You don’t want to buy something that only offers bells and whistles. Those features won’t last, and you’ll return to the dealership after 2 to 3 years.

Tesla red electric car
Image Credit: Pixabay

How much mileage is too much mileage?

There’s no specific number, but if the car has covered 15,000 miles or less in a calendar year, that’s a good number. Anything above that should be classified as high mileage.

Or we could look at it from this perspective; if it has accumulated 200,000 miles or more, it’s already lived a good life. It might not be ready for retirement, but you should know you’ll invest heavily in repairs and maintenance.

Are gas-powered cars better than electric cars?

Depends on how you look at it. If you want to get something that won’t make you sweat while looking for spare parts, the answer is yes. Gas-powered vehicles have been around longer. When it comes to electric vehicles, you’ll have to look for specific dealers. Dealers who, by the way, might ask you to place an order and wait so that they can ship in the parts on your behalf.

divider 4 Final Word

Taking good care of a car doesn’t mean it will serve you for the rest of your life. You’ll get to a point where you’ll no longer feel safe driving it, or the costs of maintenance will be too high for its value. You’ll know it’s time to move on to something better when that time comes. However, compared to the vehicles produced a few decades ago, modern cars last much longer and include more safety features.

Featured Image Credit: Didgeman, Pixabay


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