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    How to Make Your Car Last 200,000 Miles and More

    Holding on to your vehicle for as long as possible is the best way to save right now

    Illustration of car going through a odometer reaching 200,000 miles Photo Illustration: Ben Shmulevitch

    One day during my high school years, my dad got excited because the odometer on his car—a 1983 Toyota Camry hatchback he’d bought used several years earlier—was about to reach 200,000 miles. We were in the middle of running that afternoon’s errands, but he pulled over to the side of the road so that he, my brother, and I could sing “Happy Birthday” to the car to mark its major milestone. It was a silly thing to do, but we felt a collective sense of pride that the car was still going strong with all those grueling suburban commuter miles piled on. That pride remained for me years later, when I was still driving the same Camry past its 300,000-mile mark.

    I’ve owned a handful of other cars that rolled through 200,000-plus miles since then. Now, years later, my job is to research and write about automotive repair and maintenance, but you don’t need to be an expert to get your car to that milestone. I always stay on top of regular maintenance, and I take care of even small repairs before they can become bigger, more expensive issues. After all, there’s plenty that can go wrong with a car that could, technically, be ignored if the car still starts and gets you to where you need to go. But neglecting small repairs and maintenance issues as they crop up is a bad habit that can shorten your car’s life. I also put some effort into keeping my cars clean to protect against corrosion and to make them look nice.

    More on Car Reliability

    John Ibbotson, Consumer Reports’ chief mechanic, says, “It’s not rocket science. If you take care of your car, it will take care of you.”

    Fred Hellrich, who lives in Annapolis, Md., says he has had several cars pass the 200,000-mile mark—and a couple of vehicles that made it more than 400,000 miles—everything from a Chevrolet van to a Toyota Tercel.

    “It helps to get a good car to begin with,” he says, echoing CR’s long-standing advice to buy models with a strong track record for reliability. “That way you know it’ll probably go pretty far if you take care of it.”

    Taking care of and holding on to a reliable car—rather than buying or leasing a new one every few years—is almost always a smart financial move. These days, though, with used-car prices more than 50 percent above pre-pandemic levels and the average new car price over $46,000, it may be especially smart to hang on to what you have.

    Whatever your reasons—saving money, the comfort of familiarity, avoiding the worry of new car dings and scratches—it can be a rewarding experience to keep your car going. In the following pages, we tell you what to expect as your car ages, and how to make sure it becomes a 200,000-mile champ.

    See our list of most and least reliable new cars.

    They Keep on Going

    Check out these 12 cars proven to get to 200,000 miles and beyond.

    If you’re a Consumer Reports member, this article is available to you. CR members have full access to the results of our Annual Auto Surveys; first-drive reviews of the newest cars, SUVs, and trucks; and our full road tests and exclusive ratings for each vehicle we buy. If you’re not a CR member, click below to join. 

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