Do Car Experts Keep Their Car Longer?

I know there are some very knowledgeable people on these forums when it comes to maintenance.

Do those that hold all this knowledge keep their cars longer than people without this knowledge?

When the average Joe has their transmission or engine fail, they just go get another car instead of sinking in a couple thousand dollars into a car that is worth less. But do the very knowledgeable people just spend a few hundred on parts and make the repair themselves? If you have the knowledge and expertise, is there ever a time maintenance and repairs does not make financial sense if you don’t have to pay for the labor of a mechanic, if you just make the repair yourself and just pay for parts? Besides when you get into into a collision.

I don’t have this knowledge, but I’m wondering if those that do can keep their car a lot longer.

That’s really hard to answer because we don’t have access to those figures.

Actually they generally can’t just buy another car. Often they still owe money on the car so they have the car fixed. It is cheaper to sink $2500 - $5000 into a car for a new transmission or engine than to buy a new car. When I was younger, I’d just buy a rebuilt trans for $1200 and install it myself. Or I’d rebuild the engine. The result is the same, the car soldiers on but my cost is far lower.

Once the car gets to the “nickle and dime” stage where it is $300 here and $500 there for repairs, I can do that for #125 here and $250 there.

Sure. That price point is just just different. Rust never sleeps so at some point, rust may become the biggest factor. Even if you can do structural repairs - weld patches and such - it becomes a waste of time. For sunny climates, roached paint, crispy rubber bits, cracked dash, split seats, droopy headliners all add up to a trip to the scrap-yard or a budget sale.


2 answers – 1. Yes 2. No

I do any and everything when it comes to my cars so I tend to keep them forever. My current Lincoln has going on 300k miles and with no obvious critical issues I will likely keep it the rest of my life. I feel the same way about old blue jeans and the house I live in. Forever items…

The only car that I’ve really wanted to be rid of was my old 1987 Mercury Sable wagon; the most uncool car on the planet. At 410k miles it was just flat mind numbing boring. A nasty storm sent a tree branch through the windshield one night so that was all the excuse I needed to be rid of it.

I used to work with a woman whose husband was an engineer, and who was able to buy used cars, repair them himself, and keep driving them for many years. One day, when he was leaving the house in his quest for a “new” used car, he asked his wife if there was any particular make or model that she would prefer, because they would likely have that car for a long time. Her response was, “Anything is okay–as long as you don’t come home with a Taurus or Sable wagon, because I can’t stand the look of those things”.

A couple of hours later, he arrived home with… you guessed it…
A Taurus wagon.
There was reportedly a bit of tension in the house for a few days…


Car guys probably take more time evaluating their new vehicles and that should lead to keeping them longer. There are times when that doesn’t work out. @Mountainbike bought a new car and it was very uncomfortable because of a bad back. He sold it once he found out about the pain issue and replaced it with a car that he found very comfortable and he kept it until he stopped posting here. He’s probably still driving it if he’s still around.

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Mechanics purchase the cheapest vehicles they can find, or find a free one if possible, and keep them running as long as possible.

That’s because mechanics know that vehicles are required pieces of property that are money holes, and try to keep the costs of owning one to a minimum.


No offence to mechanics, but in the 70’s I was advised to be wary of cars owned by mechanics.

Might be because some don’t get rid of them until they are too close to tough.

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I’ve heard that a lot, and a lot more recently than you did

I suspect it’s because mechanics are wrenching on customer’s cars and trucks 4 - 5 days a week, therefore they don’t particularly feel like wrenching on their own cars on the weekend

Kind of like that other saying . . . a cobbler’s own shoes are in terrible shape


As a follow-on, my daughter had a childhood friend who’s father fixed up and customized cars for extra money. I saw one in his garage when I picked her up one day. It was a black 50s Ford sedan with flames; a beautiful car. What did he drive? It was a salvage title Cavalier that he repaired enough to get it registered. The car crabbed down the street, but it worked for him.

I think there is no single answer for that. The category is just too broad. I’m sure some here will tear into engines and even transmissions, but I drought most would. At any rate engine and transmissions are pretty reliable for several hundred thousands of miles if maintained. It’s all the maintenance and other parts that I think mechanical people tend to tackle. OTOH the older you get the less you like to get your hands dirty.


Some folks like my family who rely entirely on professionals for car maintenance and repairs keep cars long miles and years. We’ve kept cars 16, 17, 18, 20, 24 years. The outlier was kept only 7 years.

I think it is mostly a matter of mindset, attention to good maintenance, preference, and resources that determines how long in time and mileage anyone typically keeps a car.

What vehicle was that . . . ?!

2007 Chevy Impala.

3.8 liter V6 . . . ?!

Well yes and no. Personally speaking (as a professional mechanic) I tend to keep my daily drivers for 2-3 years. That has as much to do with my short attention span as anything else. Much like most people don’t want to eat the same meal for dinner 7 nights a week, I don’t want to drive the same car all the time. So I tend to buy cars that are in cosmetically great condition but in need of mechanical repair. I fix them, drive them, then send them down the road when I tire of them. In 2014 I bought a 2002 Explorer that had a noisy differential, no A/C, and electrical issues that made the windows not work and the battery die overnight. I paid $2400 for the car, fixed it for $300 in parts, drove it for 50,000 miles, and sold it in 2017 for $2200. Two years ago I bought a 2006 Trailblazer for $3400. It had a grinding noise from the engine, the fuel gauge didn’t work, the A/C was stuck on full hot, and the check engine light was on. Fixed it for $250 in parts and have put 35,000 miles on it, though I did buy new tires last year.

On the other hand, my wife tends to keep cars a long time. She was driving a 15 year old car in 2017. She loved it and asked how long I could keep it running. I told her forever. Finally after enough nagging from me she bought a 2018 car. It’s one thing for me to drive old fixer uppers but I can’t have my wife driving a 15 year old car.

She loved her old car and she loves the new one. I can already see that 10 years from now I’ll be nagging her to buy a new one.


I think there’s another side to that that is just as true, that a professional in any trade will have enough pride and confidence to show others that he is the best at what he does. I have a friend who is a cabinet maker. His house has the finest kitchen and bathroom you’ll ever see. My friend who is a tailor is always well dressed.

I’m in charge of hiring at the shop where I work, and obviously was when I had my own place. If a mechanic comes in for an interview in a rusty beater that’s chugging and smoking and leaks oil, I probably won’t hire him. If he takes such poor care of his own cars how can I trust him to take care of customers’ cars?

3.5L engine, LS trim level.

Too many problems, far worse than average for that year and model. I just happened to have gotten a hanger queen. It’s replacement, my current 2014 Camry has proven very reliable.


I don’t think being a professional mechanic has anything to do with it. It’s a matter of peoples tastes/needs/wants. I’m not a professional mechanic and we keep our vehicles on average well over 300k miles.

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