Keeping car until it drops

#1

I have a Saturn SL2. It has 254000 miles on it. The majority of the miles are highway miles. I want to continue to drive it for an additional 60000 or more miles, traveling a thousand miles a month. Will it make it? Will I be broken down on some highway? Please advise

#2

There is no way of knowing if it will make it without seeing the car. It all depends on how well it has been maintained.

#3

Any car with over 100,000 miles can break down on he highway; that’s why we carry AAA or other cards. High mileage, well maintained cars are just as reliable those with lower mileage. I drove a Chevy Impala over 300,000 miles with only 4 breakdowns over a 12 year period, and 10,000 or so trips!

If structural rust is not a problem, the car should easily go for another 60,000 miles if you keep replacing parts as they wear out.

We’ve had drivers on this forum with as mch as 600,000 trouble-free miles on ordinary cars that received good care.

I would start with an inspection by a good mechanic, not the dealer (who will want to restore the car to new condition or sell you a new one). The things normally replaced over a 300,000 mile life are: struts, brakes(several times), battery (several), all belts, several exhaust systems, radiator, water pump, fuel pump, all hoses (several times).

Unless you live in rural Alaska or Death Valley, there is no need to proactively replace things before they wear out. The engine’s timing belt, if it has one, is the only exception.

If the engine is OK, and the cooling system has been serviced regularly, any future repairs would be much less than making new car payments.

I don’t know the year of your Saturn, but many Saturns suffered from head gasket problems, that’s why regular cooling system servie is important on this car.

Good luck!

#4

“Any car with over 100,000 miles can break down on he highway; that’s why we carry AAA or other cards”

I think that’s exactly right except that I would drop the 5 zeros after the 1 in 100,000 miles.

No one has a crystal ball. The best one ever has is knowledge about how well it was maintained (as noted). But you still don’t know.

It is also the case that with the exception of structural frame damage from rust or accident you can keep most any car on the road as long as you want. Struts go? you can fix 'em. brakes? Obviously. Engine? Its pretty easy to get one or those too. Transmission? Sure.

You’ll have to be doing some repair & maintenance over the next 60K - at some point you’ll have to decide how much you’re willing to do.

#5

At this point in your cars life be gracious it start and runs everyday. Change the oil on a regular basis and check fluids and perform safety maintenance (brakes, muffler). Otherwise I would have no expectations. Carry a cell phone and get AAA or insurance backed roadside plan.

#6

I’m with the group on this one . . . get AAA and keep your cellphone with you. 245,000 miles is not that bad . . . my '89 Honda Accord just turned 488,000 and when I changed the oil over the holidays, I used less than 1/4 of a quart for a 3000 mile oil change. It starts every day and I got 30 mpg today when I filled-up. But I limit my trip length . . no more hundreds of miles one way . . . the car goes an hour or so one way, an hour back . . . driven mostly around town and has become the “soccer” car (I coach my Son’s teams Fall & Spring). I often wonder if the short trips will be worse on it . . . but I’m certain that maintenance and sensible driving will take your Saturn a long way, since you’ve gone so far without major problems. To answer your questions . . . Yes and Yes. Good luck. Rocketman

#7

Feel free, as you have done, to ask Car Talk people if your car will break; I would not want to discourage that but don’t ask me. I can’t even say when mine will break.

#8

You’re right in the range of getting a new one. You don’t get real money for selling it now so you could keep it. A car that old can be waiting to quit for lots of reasons; many which have nothing to do with engine or transmission. The brake system, bearings and even exhaust can break or malfunction in some ways that are called catastrophic, without actually causing a catastrophy. I think that you should plan for a new(er) car before this year is done. 60,000 miles is sort of reaching for the moon.