Going The Distance

By Teresa Iqbal

April 22, 2016 4 min read

Considering how expensive and integral automobiles are to our lives, most car buyers would like to know that they are making a sound, long-term investment. Fortunately, there are several makes and models that are well-known for their long-lasting capabilities. There are also several things drivers can do to maintain their car for many more miles, and years, than anticipated.

There is only one car that makes the cut for USA Today's "Top 10: Which vehicles will last 200,000 miles?" Since trucks are known to last -- they are produced to withstand excessive wear and tear -- they constitute the majority of the vehicles on this list. However, the Honda Accord, which has been known to be one of the most reliable cars on the market, competes with these rough and tough vehicles. Hondas, as well as Toyotas, are known to be equipped with highly dependable engines and typically last several hundred thousand miles before retiring. In fact, a similar article by Consumer Reports that focuses on just cars is almost entirely about models by Honda and Toyota. Specifically, Honda and Toyota are the strongest brands for buying reliable used cars. Many other car brands have only just begun to produce similarly reliable cars, so a new car would be required to match the safety and longevity.

Jim Gorzelany of Forbes magazine gives a brief explanation regarding another factor of why some cars last longer than others, "An owner is more likely to put forth the effort to hold onto a vehicle for an extended length of time if it's amenable to own in the first place, doesn't suffer from chronic breakdowns and isn't overtly costly to maintain or repair." Therefore, you won't see many vehicle models known for their expensive repair costs, such as BMW or Volkswagen, mentioned. This is another reason why Toyotas top these lists as they are considered to be a great alternative known for much less costly repairs. For example, an article on Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agents explains, "The 2012 Toyota Camry and 2010 Toyota 4Runner have average repair costs under $100." However, not all Toyota's are the same in this regard. The Toyota Prius is known for much costlier repairs and maintenance than other models, like the Corolla and Yaris.

Of course, you can't expect any car to have a decent chance at making it to 200,000 miles or more without proper maintenance. This begins with following your car manufacturer's maintenance schedule. Regularly checking fluids and tire pressure are simple tasks that play a big role in maintaining the longevity of your vehicle as well. Also, be gentle on your car. This includes starting up, accelerating and braking. Giving your car at least a few seconds after starting a cold engine gives it the necessary time it needs to lubricate the engine properly, since all of the oil has drained down into the oil pan. Being patient before switching between the appropriate gears is also vital to the health of your vehicle's transmission. This means waiting until your car has completely stopped before shifting into reverse and vice versa. Being attuned to your car's noises is also an important step to take toward preventing any existing problem from getting worse by taking care of it as soon as possible.

No car is meant to last forever, but choosing a car with a reputation for reliability is a good first step. And as repairs are inevitable, choosing a vehicle that won't cost you an arm and a leg to repair increases the likelihood that you will keep up with all maintenance, increasing the life span of your vehicle.

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