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how long should a car last? years vs miles...

Because I have a child with a disability who loves being in the car (she's autistic), I am typically in the car driving 5 to 6 hours a day. So while my car is relatively new, it has many, many miles. Right now it's bearing down on 175,000 miles. Everything is working fine but I'm curious as to when I should be looking at another car.


  • edited March 2011
    As long as you've kept up on maintenance, it should last awhile. Though, since it's a Volvo, fixing things will be more expensive than a Ford or Honda.
    If you do a lot of highway miles, you might consider buying a diesel car. If it's around town, a hybrid will suit your needs best. Start looking now, get a feel for what you might want, figure a budget, then start saving.
  • edited March 2011
    thx... so "awhile" means what? 200K or are there are signs- stuff that needs to be replaced or fixed- that would indicate that it's time for another car? Better yet, is there a rule of thumb -e.g. 10 % of the value of the car?
  • edited March 2011
    It's really impossible to say. Some Volvos have gone half a million miles. Others haven't made it past 50. It depends not only on how well you maintain it, but also on a certain amount of luck. Some people get perfect parts in their cars, and others have parts that break before they should.

    Follow the maintenance schedule in your owners manual, and stay on top of things that break, but predicting how long a car will last is even harder than predicting the weather.
  • edited March 2011
    Driving around for 5 or 6 hours a day may accomplish some purpose but it's not the answer..Sooner or later you will have to seek out a different solution. It might as well be sooner...
  • edited March 2011
    If you can (a) keep out of accidents severe enough to damage the unibody, and (b) avoid rusting out the car, the answer to your question is "the car can be kept alive indefinitely."

    There are certain parts (engine, transmission) that wear predominately on miles. They can all be replaced as needed. Also, all of the rubber parts wear on the basis of age (and possibly miles, too). They are also all replaceable.

    What generally happens to a car that gets up around 10+ years old and 150,000 miles is that "something big" fails (like a transmission or engine), and the owner realizes that the repair costs meet or exceed the "blue book" value of the car (so s/he scraps it).

    However, you represent a special case: because of your daughter, this particular car has a personal value to you and her that will be over and above the "blue book" value as it ages. Thus, you may well decide to spend $2,000 on a repair to a car with a $1,800 "blue book" value. (Remember that such valuations only matter if you intend to buy and/or sell a car.)

    Collectible cars with unusually high "hull values" can be kept alive a long, long time. Not too many '64.5 Mustangs being scrapped because of bad engines!

    (You might, however, need to "stand strong" about fixing a car when a mechanic tries to convince you "it isn't worth fixing.")
  • edited March 2011
    because it is a Volvo -- soon, very soon. Repairs on Volvo XC70's are very expensive, and much more frequent as the age and miles add up. You are heading into expensive territory if you keep this car.
  • edited March 2011
    It's normal for the same two identical cars to last completely different number of miles and years. A car given hard but necessary use should be expected to give in, especially in salty areas and under more severe conditions. You'll have a better idea when to trade or dump a car when upon inspection it is unsafe and/or unreliable. Make sure you have a trusted mechanic monitor it's condition and don't use someone else experience dictate your own expectations. Having said that.
    I'll go out on a limb and suggest you dump if now, get something less expensive to maintain. I look into my crystal ball and predict expensive repairs are in your future with this car, soon.
  • edited March 2011
    thank you!
  • edited March 2011
    thank you! very helpful. I do stay on top of maintenance. Car has no personal value so I would never make a sentimental decision over an economic one. I just wanted to make sure that I'm not wasting my money on repairs.
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