High Mileage on Your Car? Here’s Some Perspective

December 31st, 2013

semi truck

Road trips often lead to interesting conversations about cars.

There are two cars in my family, a 2013 Subaru Legacy that was purchased new and now has 16,000 miles on the clock, and a “new to us” 2008 Audi Q7 with a shade over 80,000 on the odometer. Driving across the state yesterday, the conversation turned to what constitutes high mileage on a vehicle. The Audi drives as if it’s just been broken-in even though the dreaded 100,000-mile mark is only about two years away.

As we spoke, the rain poured hard and we were passed by a fast-moving semi truck. Even with the wipers at full force, the tidal wave of water rendered the windshield useless.

But that truck sparked a question:

What’s the average lifespan of a semi truck? They are on the road for 12–14 hours a day for years on end. Surely 80,000 miles to a semi driver is just a moderate year, right?

With some quick research we found that used semis are available with upwards of 600,000 miles. Granted, we’re not talking the same class of vehicle as the average passenger car, but I wanted to know more. Answers on the topic range widely, but it doesn’t appear uncommon for a semi to go over a million miles before needing an engine rebuild. Many truckers say they average up to 100,000 miles per year on their rigs.

The engines in those machines are, of course, purpose-built to stand up to enormous work loads. They are also rigorously maintained, but the fact that they work so hard every day and last hundreds of thousands of miles longer than passenger-car engines drove home the point that maintenance is key to longevity.

I want both my cars to last well past the 100,00-mile mark. In fact, I see no reason why I can’t get them to 200,000 or more. When put in perspective by the semi trucks on the road, the 80,000 miles on the Audi makes her feel like a baby.

When shopping for used cars, try not to be too afraid of mileage. Always make sure the previous owner can supply maintenance records, make sure any recall work has been performed, and then spend the time and money making sure the car gets all the attention it needs while you drive it.

What’s the most mileage you’ve ever had on a car?

-tgriffith

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Subaru Legacy
Used Audi Q7

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  1. Jon
    January 1st, 2014 at 21:05 | #1

    My dodge pickup with a cummins diesel has 896,450. Longevity is definitely tied your driving style not just the inherent quality of the vehicle. My truck usually runs for 14 hours on the days that I’m working. My truck has original everything except for normal replacements like alternators, water pump, belts, u joints, ect.

  2. January 1st, 2014 at 00:03 | #2

    Buicks are awesome :-)

  3. Jesse H
    December 31st, 2013 at 17:53 | #3

    It definitely has a lot to do with proper maintenance, but I would also dare say proper operation. I see the way some of my friends drive their vehicles and it’s no wonder they never last long. I have a ’92 GMC Pickup with a 350 in it. It has nearly 475,00 km or 295,150 miles on it. I also have a ’91 Toyota 4runner with about 310,000 km or 192,625 miles. Both of these vehicles are very reliable and have never needed anything more than a alternator or a new starter. I change the oil regularly and keep up with proper maintenance standards. But I would say most importantly I drive my vehicles with some semblance of respect. I see so many people just flailing their poor cars racing from one red light to the next. The constant rough accelerations and quick stops really shortens the life of a vehicle. I’ve always been told the odometer is just a number it really comes down to maintenance and who was operating the vehicle previously.

  4. Jarno R
    December 31st, 2013 at 16:33 | #4

    I had toyota carina e it was 618000 kms driven when i swap it to volvo 745
    there is 452000 kms in volvo and still running strong…

  5. Joe J
    December 31st, 2013 at 12:06 | #5

    About 168,000 out of my 2001 Buick (technically my parents car, but I was the primary driver for about the past 4 years) before it got too expensive to maintain (transmission was making some pretty bad whining noises before we decided to donate the car to charity). I’m hoping for at least 200,000 out of my new Mazda. Now that you mentioned maintenance, it’s just about due for its first oil change, thanks for the reminder

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