At what mileage do you give up on your car?

Good evening everyone.

I’m just lying in bed wondering what the CarTalk community thinks is the best mileage to trade or sell a car for a newer one, and/or whether it’s best to drive a car to the ground.

Currently, my 18 Lexus IS has 50,000 miles on it. I’m the second owner. CARFAX report shows that the car has minor damages ( side mirror shell cracked and rear bumper was repaired ). As a result, I was able to negotiate the price down and came to a satisfying deal.

Should I worry that the CARFAX has minor damages on it? I’ve taken it to 3 shops for service: Lexus, Toyota and Mavis, and they all said the car is great.

But a bugging thought is ringing in my head: at what mileage is time to let go off of a car ?

I keep my cars for about ten years and 100,000 miles. You’re only halfway there.

1 Like

That is a personal preference and also depends on your budget…
You can spend $2000.00 a year and that is only $134 a month, even at $4000 a year that is still only $334 a month, can’t buy a car at those prices (well you can but…)… If you buy a new vehicle then you only have the $$$ car payment to worry about but it is not cheap… If you buy used then you are buying a vehicle that for what ever reason somebody else didn’t want anymore, plus you will have the car payment plus maintenance, unless paying cash…
With an older used vehicle you have owned for a while you should have warranty’s on the brakes and suspension etc if already replaced, so next time will be much easier…
Now if the repair bill is 75% of the total worth of the vehicle then it is basically totaled (ins standards), but if you love the vehicle and not going to sell it then it might be worth it to you to keep on repairing it… If you are tired of it then time to trade it in… Obviously if it is a rust bucket then I would dump it much quicker then if it is mostly rust free…
I’ve had my Toy since 1987 and never plan on getting ride of it, I have way more money in it then it is worth, but it is fun to drive… My Dailey Drivers I keep until they either Tick me off or fall apart or get wrecked…


You own the car and seems like it is a fine car, so previous damage history is irrelevant.
2018 with 50K miles is a baby in my book. We drive a lot, around 18K miles a year. We have a 2011 with 132K miles on it, a 2013 with 142K miles on it. The newer cars have less miles. We have 4 drivers/cars.

1 Like

There isn’t one answer fits all. We tend to keep our vehicles to about 300k miles. But that may be changing because we’re not driving anywhere near as much since we now work at home most of the time. My wifes car is 16 years old, but only has about 270k miles. Still running great. My 2014 highlander has almost 190k miles and still running strong. We’ll probably replace the Lexus when prices come back down to earth.


I’ve kicked three mirrors off my Pontiac and the bumper was replaced. Doesn’t bother me at all. In fact I have a spare
mirror in stock if I knock it off again.

Until the virus, I liked to have a four or five year old car. Current conditions though have changed that unless the industry goes into a severe decline. For the cars I used for work though, I traded at 520k, 480k, 350k, etc. so you get the picture. Depends on needs and wants. If you are that fussy though, buy new next time.

1 Like

Our record so far is 194,000mi with a 1990 Mazda after 19yrs it had served us well but wasn’t comfortable for the driver and it was time for a new car that met Mom’s needs better. We’ve sold a car after 2yrs that was in the shop every month at least and costing more than we were comfortable with every month. The minor damage this car has had are both what happens to a car in the real world, sounds like the repairs were done well and you can keep driving as long as the car works for you.

1 Like

I have never given up on a car because of mileage4. Rust gets them first.


As MikeInNH noted, there’s no one answer.

I used to keep all my cars till they reached 200K miles. And then I got rid of them mostly due to rust.

Now as I drive less each year, and I got rid of my last one at 180K.

1 Like

Most cars will easily run 150K miles if well maintained. Some will reach 300K. Some should not be owned past the maufacturer’s warranty period. Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Fiats come mind several Euro brands as well.

Davesmopar has the right yardstick… when the car starts to cost you as much as a new car payment it is time to cut it loose. Brands like Mercedes, BMW or Audi can be very expensive to do regular maintenance and worse for significant repairs an older car invariably needs.

Body damage doesn’t even enter the equation. That is preventable or insured. Fixed properly, it won’t affect the life of the car.


@Clueless33 You said you have a physical problem that makes many vehicle seats uncomfortable for you . So drive this thing until it needs major repair .

1 Like

That is correct. But what mileage do you change your car? Or do you drive your car to the ground ? What are your reasons for either one?


+1 to Mustangman’s comments.

I typically keep my cars for ~10 years/120k miles, but I had to ditch my POS Volvo by 70k miles, and I said bye-bye to my Chevy Citation at ~80k because of too many expensive issues. In most cases, the effective/practical life of a car is related to the way that it is maintained, but in the case of both the Volvo and the Chevy even excellent maintenance couldn’t overcome bad design/poor quality.

With the exception of those two cars, I could easily have kept all of my others for many more years, if not for the fact that I wanted new, updated features and/or I simply wanted to reward myself with a new ride. In November, I traded-in my Outback when it was 11 years old and had ~130k miles on the odometer, but I could easily have kept it for several more years due to its well-maintained/incredibly reliable nature.

If a car starts out with good design and high quality–as in the case of the OP’s IS300, good maintenance should allow him to keep it in reliable condition for at least 150k miles–probably even longer. Body damage can usually be repaired, so body damage shouldn’t enter into the process of ditching a car… unless the body damage was ignored for so long that severe rust damage set in.

So, as long as the OP maintains his car very well, he should be able to get many more years of happy motoring from it.


Sorry , but what I do with my vehicles is my business .

A person does what is best or just what they want to do at the time . What other people do should not have any bearing on that.


Mileage means almost nothing to me. It’s age and condition before mileage…

1 Like

As long as the car is still satisfying, keep driving it. You could easily go 200,000 miles on your IS before problems occur that aren’t simple to fix. Even then, if the cost of repair doesn’t bother you, the IS can still be worth keeping. I traded in my 2005 Accord because I couldn’t fix the SRS error at 187,000 miles. I just sold my 2018 Accord to my daughter because her husband’s Golf needs expensive repairs soon and is a coupe, plus the Accord sedan is a lot easier to carry their new baby in. The Accord has 53,000 miles on it.


From a purely financial standpoint, it is almost always best to keep the car you have until it no longer runs, and cannot be repaired again. For those who pay attention to the news, the Associated Press ran an article last week about the fact that car loan payments have surpassed $1000 per month–an astonishing amount–and that defaults are increasing due to economic conditions.

Even if your existing car needs a costly engine rebuild, transmission rebuild, major suspension repair, etc, as long as the body and interior are still in decent condition, it is worth it, regardless of what the KBB says the car can sell for on the open market. For example, if I pay $3k to fix the transmission in an old car, that’s less than 6 months of loan payments on a new(er) model. After 6 months, the car is literally putting money back into my pocket month after month after month as long as it still runs.

The only time it makes sense to get rid of a vehicle is if you need a different type of vehicle, if it has been damaged in an accident, if there is excessive rust/corrosion, if the current repair costs exceed the predicted remaining life, or if there are problems which simply cannot be repaired despite repeated attempts.


… or if one wants newer technology, or better safety features, or if he/she simply wants to reward themself for a lifetime of hard work. Not everyone is into self-denial.

Edited to add:
I just thought of another reason to dump a car, even if it has few miles on the odometer. Quite a few years ago, our old friend–Mountainbike–reported that he had to get rid of his almost-new Toyota Corolla because the seat was killing his back. He replaced it with a new Scion tC coupe. Even though it was also actually a Toyota, the Scion’s seat was much more comfortable for him. Needless to say, he lost quite a bit of money by trading-in the Corolla so soon.

Should he have denied himself the ability to sit in a seat that wasn’t painful, simply because his Corolla was nearly-new? No, because he had good sense. Not everyone is an adherent of self-denial.


My current car is 12 years old with 94K miles and has many good years ahead. My previous car had 18 years and 190K miles. At that time it had numerous issues and it was just time to let it go. The wife on the other hand seems to think 5 years is long enough, though we may go a few years longer this time.

1 Like

Depends on where you live . If you live down south where there is no salt the life could be 20 years . If you do the maintenance on a Lexus it should last at least 200000 miles before you have to worry about the engine or transmission crapping out . If you don’t then it could be 120000 miles . If you live up north where there is salt then maybe 10-15 years before the frames rust out. Of course every car is different . Yours is barely broken in . I have a 2008 Izuzu Ascender (Trailblazer) with 170000 miles and I live where they salt the heck out of the road and it is still in reasonable shape .