Vehicle prices go up over the years, but so does reliability

By Devin Pratt

There was a time when approaching 100,000 miles on a car meant you should start thinking about a trade-in. But with proper maintenance and the advancements in automotive technology, Consumer Reports’ survey data shows that cars today can last well beyond that point. 

Much comes down to keeping your car well maintained. If you follow the manufacturer’s service intervals, a modern car from a brand known for reliability should be capable of 200,000 miles or more

“Much depends on the specific make and model of the vehicle,” says Joe Veselak, an automotive tester at Consumer Reports. “There are used vehicles, such as the Toyota Tacoma and 4Runner, and Lexus GX, with 160,000 miles or more that are still selling for a lot of money because they’re known for reliability and longevity.”

With modern cars, there’s more to go wrong because you have more systems and technology than previous generations. On the other hand, they’re generally better built. Even the metals are more rust-resistant than they were in the past, so corrosion and body integrity are less of an issue nowadays.

To choose a car that will go the distance, always avoid buying the first year of a new model. This gives the manufacturer time to work out any kinks that might arise with new technology. By the second or third year, there’s enough real-world data to give you a general idea of its reliability. 

When it comes to a used car, it pays to do the research on that specific model to find out what problems might exist. For example, a 2012 Mazda CX-9 might be prone to transmission issues. You’ll want to see maintenance records to know that the car you’re looking at has been properly serviced and the transmission fluid changed. You should also have it inspected by a mechanic before purchasing. 

When it comes to making your car last, here are a few tips to keep it on the road for as long as possible:

Drive your car regularly. It’s a machine, and machines work better when they’re used. Fluids circulate, rubber seals and gaskets expand and contract, and tires won’t develop flat spots when you drive your car on a regular basis. 

Keep up the maintenance. Follow your vehicle’s maintenance intervals, particularly when it comes to oil changes and tuneups. Have your mechanic inspect brakes, tires, filters, and other vital parts annually, and replace them as needed. Many times car owners will defer maintenance until they have multiple costly repairs, and that can be overwhelming. 

Address problems quickly. As a car ages, it’s bound to develop a few rattles or strange noises. You’re better off having your mechanic inspect them now instead of having them turn into bigger problems later.

Keep your car clean. Over time, salt and road grime will dull paint and contribute to rust on the underbody. Be sure to run your car through a car wash periodically, especially if you live in a snowy region. 

Bottom line: Choose a reliable brand and a proven model, follow maintenance intervals, and treat your car well. The better shape it’s in, the more you’ll appreciate it and be willing to hang on to it longer.

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Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2024, Consumer Reports, Inc.

2023-08-20T10:29:53Z dg43tfdfdgfd