How old a car would you trust

Is there a point beyond which you wouldn’t trust a car for a long trip based on mileage/age alone, even if the car was well-maintained and had no obvious issues? To put it in concrete terms, assume a 2013 Subaru Outback, 2.5, with about 173,000 miles on the odometer, maintained according to the manual, with no known mechanical issues. The transmission valve body was replaced at around 130,000 miles. Other than that, just minor repairs and normal maintenance. Mix of highway driving, city driving, and mountain driving. We take long road trips, and, in between, often go to remote trailheads where cell service is nonexistent, so reliability is, to say the least, important.

If it was mine and I new the history, I’d trust it.

My dad had a 69 GMC with well over 300K on it, It was driven from Seattle to San Diego all the time with no problems.

I’ve also known cars with less than 100K that I wouldn’t drive any farther than I felt like walking.


Thanks. I should add I’ve owned it since new.

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I start to get nervous about reliability when my well-maintained cars hit ten years and 100,000 miles, but I’m going to be on the low end of the answers that you get here.

You sound like a perfect candidate for a product like the Garmin inReach for both your drives and your hikes. They’re not cheap, but that would still be cheaper than replacing your car.


Had my Trailblazer, well maintained, rear ended around 200k miles, would still be driving it but wife did not like the seats. Needed it for boat dragging 500 miles from home. Had my 71 Nova and 72 F100 till 93.Both cars now 2017, no worries about either. Of course you might have to be prepared for things like changing a fuel pump in a NAPA parking lot at 18 degrees in a parking lot, Do you fell lucky? Any car can die at any time.


I drive a 2009 Dodge with 189K miles. I wouldn’t hesitate to drive it across the country, though with some extra oil, coolant, and things of that nature in the trunk.

Brand new cars can break down unexpectedly too.

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This is one of questions without a real answer . It all depends on the vehicle and the person’s trust in it.


My last daily driver before i quit driving a year ago, was a 62 Caddy with an indeterminate amount of mileage. I loved the car, and maintained it perfectly, but i knew that in the event of a breakdown, parts availability would be a problem. I never drove the car further than i was willing to get an Uber back home. My general rule for non-collectable cars is 10 years, 100,000 miles.

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I would trust just about any car which runs well and drives properly. New or old, low miles or high miles. What is important is that it doesn’t leak or consume oil/coolant/transmission fluid, that the engine starts easily and idles smoothly, that the engine never stalls/misses/overheats throughout the RPM range, the transmission doesn’t slip or shift harshly, and that the steering/suspension/brakes work ok.

I see plenty of very old cars here that are still in excellent condition and driving around. I also see plenty of relatively new cars sitting in junkyards, even with no significant body damage.

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There’s “ok to drive on the road” and there’s “ok to drive where a breakdown would be dangerous “. It sounds like the OP is closer to the latter. Do you have a backup plan if that happens, OP?

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How about timing belts? Many cars have them and many owners have no idea about replacement schedules. Does a cracked rubber coating lead to moisture ingress and belt failure? I have only had 1 belt failure and that was due to belt jumping a few teeth.

2013 Subaru 2.5 has timing chains.

CarComplaints calls the 2013 a ‘Clunker’, because of excess oil consumption complaints. There’s also a large number of transmission failures reported (it has the CVT, I think).

OP, how’s your oil consumption? Have you had the transmission fluid changed at the Subaru dealer?

2013 Subaru Outback Problems, Defects & Complaints (

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That is so true… I work for 7 years downtown Nashville right off the interstate, I’ve seen a lot of new and old cars break down while on road trips… Anything can break at any given time…
But it would be a good idea to have the vehicle looked at really good, brakes, steering and suspension, belts/hoses, filters, TIRES, exhaust, fluids and make sure maintenance is all caught up… And if you have a maintenance service coming up soon then have it done before hand…
Don’t wait till the last minute to have major work done, put a few miles on it between having serviced and going on long trip, don’t want to find out a new part replaced yesterday is defective 300 miles from home… lol
I have seen vehicles leave the dealer after having major service done and the brakes start grinding on the way home cause the dealer didn’t pull the wheels… So make sure everything is looked at… I have also seen cars leave a dealership and get to me in the middle of a trip with steal cords showing on the inner edge…
I’ve also seen people buy a vehicle with 200K mikes on it and go on a 10K mile adventure across the USA and back with very little issues…

Drive by most any new car dealer and look inside the service department, lots of new cars in for warranty repairs…

So just make sure everything has been checked out and maintenance is up to date, maybe even cross your fingers a little and go have fun…


It uses about a quart between oil changes. CVT fluid was changed once with the valve body and again at around 168,000 miles

If I’m hiking or backpacking I’m going to have food, water, and weather appropriate clothes, as well as a personal locator beacon I can use in real emergencies. Road tripping we’ll generally have clothing, snacks, and drinks, plus those will generally be on roads where someone will come by before too long. I always have jumper cables, 12 volt tire pump, spare tire/jack, and a quart of oil in the car

While neither of these are exact matches to your question, they may have some useful info:
Vehicles of a Certain Age Should Be Inspected Regularly - Car Talk
Well-maintained Taurus had a Good Run, Should Retire - Car Talk


The age of a vehicle means nothing.

We use to drive our 67 Galaxie 500 on long summer trips all the time and never had a problem.

It has more to do on how well maintained the vehicle is kept, which I was responsible for.

I wish I never sold that car.



390 or 428? One of our regular’s bought a ‘67 500 XL with 390 and a four speed. Had a friend with a 66 “7 Liter”, steering by Armstrong. Both very nice cars, but that 66 wore your arms out!

390, 2bbl, auto.


Age isn’t the factor. Condition and how it was maintained is far more important.