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Car for Life

Currently own a 2002 Nissan Altima with 126,000 miles and no problems. Am approaching 75 years old and would like to trade the Altima for a car to last the rest of my driving years (10-15?). Have heard Mercedes Benz was car to last longer than you; still true? Seems MB has gone from quality to quantity with later years. Any other suggestions?

Can you make a Mercedes Benz last for 10-15 years?
Can you afford to spend the very large amount of money necessary to do this?
Only you know whether that is the case.

Nowadays, virtually any car that is well-maintained can be made to last for the long term.
The difference between Mercedes (and BMW, Audi, Volvo, + other “premium” makes) and lower-priced cars is the cost of the maintenance and repairs over the years.

For what it might cost you to maintain and repair a Mercedes Benz over a 10-15 year period, you could likely buy a new, lower-priced car after only 10 years.

Why not replace the old Altima with a 2013 Altima?

Your Altima is more likely to last you the rest of your life without problems than a Mercedes. If you maintain it properly, you’ve probably got another 100,000 good miles on it. Granted, as you get past 150,000 or so you might have a peripheral component like an alternator or starter go out, but that’s minor.

If you like the Altima, and have a trustworthy mechanic, I’d keep it, change the oil frequently, it’ll do fine.

But if you want a new car, a Mercedes is near the bottom of my list for your situation, they are less reliable and more expensive to repair. The car buying guide from Consumer Reports would be good for you to get, lots of good info.

Personally I think Honda’s hold up the best over a 10-15 year period. The MB may last a long time but the cost of ownership is driven up to much more than an Accord by expensive repairs and maintenance. Older MB’s can get real expensive to repair.

Other’s I’d consider for a 10+ year car to own; Toyota Avalon, a Lexus, the bigger Hyundai, '13 Ford Fusion. If the OP has a bunch of money an MB is nice but I’d not keep it 10 years, 5 maybe but not 10+. I’d take a '13 Altima as a better bet at 10+ years than the MB.

I like the idea of just upgrading to a 2013 Altima. I have owned several Nissan Sentra’s and Altima’s and they are very reliable.

Before you buy a new car, have your PSA checked…The lowest maintenance longest life vehicles are pick-up trucks, if you can live with one…

Personally I’d check the Acura out if you like Nissan. 5 year 50K warranty. But why not trade in 5 years and never worry about a repair? Two or three trades and you’ve made your 10-15 years with no repair costs.

Almost all the new sedans come with CVT transmissions. I’m not sure that I am ready to trust them yet. I would advise you to throw the money into a CD for a couple of years and see what shakes out.

Keep the Altima; it has at least 10-15 years of reliable life left in it. If it fails pematurely, you can always buy a low mileage used car of your choice.

Check out a Hyundai Genesis sedan if you want a luxury car. If you don’t mind a smaller car, look at the Chevy Cruze 1LT or Ford Focus Titanium. The two smaller cars will be over $10,000 less.

How good are these CVTs holding up?Thats the only thing I have against an Altima right now-Kevin

Before your decide, take the time to review the Consumer Reports Guide to New Cars. Most public libaries will have it. Bookstores usually carry it too. They rate reliability. Might be a good idea to choose a make/model that has the best predicted reliability rating.

First you need an excuse to buy a new car now…you have It and I highly recomend that you help the economy and buy now. Secondly, you want something that lasts. The most reliable and long lasting lux .cars on the market are IMO a Lexus…
They will easily give you 10 to 15 more years.

Consumer Reports rates cars for reliability for a limited number of years and not longevity. It’s my view, however, that you can make any car last 15 years and more if you maintain it properly, don’t crash it, don’t try to murder the drivetrain when you accelerate from a stoplight, keep it out of the winter salt and if you live in the deep south, keep it out of the hot sun. If I had your goal, I’d buy a car that I like to drive and has the features that I like but with a few other considerations as follows:

You might want to consider a more popular brand and model to ensure that you can get parts at a reasonable price for a 15 year old car. Ask a Benz dealer about this. You can choose a part for a 15 year old car and then search for the part on the internet.

One of our cars is a VW over 20 years old. When I bought it new, I had no thought of keeping it until now and longer and could not have imagined how easy it is now to get maintenance parts that are either cheap or reasonably priced. It’s my guess that Consumer Reports would have verbally and with charts, crucified this car in their magazine. I don’t know specifically which car you can buy now to plan for 15 years from now that would be a better choice than others.

Judging by the assortment of cars I see on my college campus that are getting older, something like a Honda Accord will certainly last you however long you need it to, and I have also seen plenty of Altimas and Toyota Camrys that have lasted that long. If you want something a little nicer, there is something like the Acura TL or the Lexus ES350. I drive a 12 year old Accord, and it is still a great car.

Consumer Reports has rated the Golf highly in recent years and dinged many Hondas. I actually think they are too unbiased when it comes to cars, as they don’t hold brand history against specific models (I bear some scars.) What they rate is reliability over ten years, not ultimate longevity, but I suspect there is a strong correlation as some bad cars fail completely within that time, dragging down the reliability.

Some have had reasonably good luck with Volkswagens, while others have seen them become unreliable money pits after 5 years.

My brother will ask me in the next year or so what car (likely his last) he should buy. He will be scrapping his 1987 Accord with 350,000 miles on it. He has no spouse or children and is 68 years old. He does not drive as much as others his age.

I will not recommend any VW as a “car for life”, but will suggest he pick from a Mazda3, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, or Hyundai Elantra.

The Accord spoiled him, as he only replaced the A/C compressor, rad, brakes, battery,and a few other items over those years. His transmission was a stick shift.

A VW over 25 years and 350,00 miles will likely need a complete rebuild equal to the value of the car.

Docnick, those are some of the cars we considered a few months ago. We really wanted a hatchback, so didn’t look too hard at the Corolla. Even though it was only a sedan we gave the Civic consideration because we had a '94 Civic we loved and the Honda dealer is convenient and always treated us well. Too bad the Civic just didn’t feel very nice (why they gave given it a makeover for next year.)

Ultimately, it came down to the hatchback Mazda3 Touring SkyActiv vs. an Elantra GT (which is the hatchback model.) Price was about the same. The Mazda handled better and was peppier. The Hyundai was quieter, rode better, had a roomier back seat, had a nicer interior, and had more niceties like seat heaters, satellite radio, and better electronic gadgetry. So we now have an Elantra and are entirely happy with it. Because they misstated their gas mileage to the EPA we even get a few bucks back. Not that we care - the highway gas mileage has been fine, in the very high thirties right where we expected it to be.