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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.

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.

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?

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.

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…

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.”)

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.

Do Volvos last? Ask Irv:

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.

thank you!

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.

thank you! I don’t want to waste money but am not adverse to spending it. I do have a good mechanic now and have already experienced the expensive repairs resulting from the “check engine” lights at the dealerships. I have learned to ignore the light and by pass the dealership to just my wonderful mechanic.

While all dealers can be expensive, it seems Volvo service departments take it to another level. Volvo maintenance and repair bills from Volvo dealers are routinely in the multi-thousand dollar range. Having found a good mechanic is a big step toward keeping the car. Volvo parts are pricey too. Someday you might face the major repair that tops the book value of the car. Until then, motor on.

If you continue to ignore an illuminated Check Engine Light (CEL), the one problem that might have caused it to light up in the first place could well become 3, or 5, or 8 problems over the weeks or months that you have decided to ignore it. Once the light is lit up, you will have no way of knowing how and when one problem begins to cascade into multiple problems.

Maintenance and repairs that are deferred are invariably more expensive repairs, and on a Volvo, you could wind up needing a Home Equity Loan to pay for those deferred repairs.

Don’t ignore the CEL!

thanks for the enthusiastic warning! :slight_smile: Should have stated that I do take it to my mechanic when I see the light. Last time it was for the oil-air mixture- when I took it to the dealership… (so I spend 500 dollars to figure out that I was burning more gas than I needed to). Given that I see my mechanic almost every other month I’m hoping to avoid further cascades… although I do agree that there is no way of knowing exactly what problem(s) the light is indicating… a new one or the existing one…

Keep your XC70 until it becomes too expensive to drive. It’s hard to tell when that might occur. If you don’t want to be caught off guard when something expensive breaks and you want a new car, look around for a replacement. Does your daughter care about the car, or does she just like to ride? Autism seems to have different levels of severity. You are a wonderful Mom to attend to her needs the way you do. I hope your Volvo lass 1,000,000 miles and then some.