Too many miles! Trade in or keep?

Dear car enthusiasts,

I currently have a 2010 Prius IV. The current mileage on the car is 32,000 due to my commute to work (I drive about 400 miles a week) and I will have this commute for at least another 8 months.
The car was purchased for $32,000 and I currently still owe $11,000.

Does it make sense financially to keep my car OR try to trade it in for a 2011 Prius that has no miles (perhaps a lower model to save some money).

I know the Prius is a car that is meant to last. I’m just afraid by the time I pay off the car the miles will be so high and the car will not last much longer.

Thanks for your insight and advice!


It will take about 200,000 miles before this car will have miles so high that it “will not last much longer” I don’t think you are in danger of this.

Keep the car and drive it. This vehicle is has a long life ahead of it.

You have many, many miles left, the Prius is one of the most reliable vehicles out there. Keep it.

Yup, and highway miles are easier on a vehicle than city miles. You’re good for years to come.

Getting rid of a new car that quickly would be an expensive proposition. You’ll get killed in depreciation. Keep it.

@elemeneohp - what average mpgs have you been getting?

Thanks for all of your advice! I was hoping for that answer – but wasn’t entirely sure on the financial end.

MPG approximately 35-40

I’m a little late but thought I’d comment anyhow. A vehicle is a consumable item. As you drive it, you “use it up”, albeit slowly. Whether you buy a new one or not, you’re still going to be using up a vehicle. The financial aspect isn’t about how much the vehicle will be worth when you sell it; if you’re using up a newer vehicle this fast you’ll have the same issue. Personally, I drive my vehicles until the wheel fall off, metaphorically speaking. Not everyone’s like me but as long as the car is doing what you want it to do while looking the way you want it to look, that’s all you need.

Just my 2 cents.

Highway miles aren’t what hybrids are good for, they’re good for stop and go city driving; diesel cars excel at highway driving.
Some normal, non-hybrid sedans will give you 35~40 mpg these days, and I don’t know why you’re terrified of having 32k miles on your car already.
You’re worried it won’t last much longer? It’s barely broken in.

Financially speaking, the best thing to do is to pay it off as quickly as you can.

After eight more months of this commute, you will have around 46k miles on your Prius. That’s still pretty low miles in my book, and certainly not cause for concern about the vehicle being at the end of its useful life. The biggest investment I see in the not-too-distant future for this car is a new set of tires and maybe some brakes (frankly, with all highway commuting, you probably have another 50k miles left on your brakes). Certainly not the end of the world or enough to warrant trading in the vehicle. I have two vehicles, average age of 17 years (a '93 and a '95), both domestic brands (“unreliable” in many people’s opinions), with average odometer readings of about 200k miles (234k for one, 173k for the other), and I am not concerned about them getting too many miles on them or trading them in for something new. Cars are meant to be driven, and highway commuting is the easiest life a car can live. Drive on and don’t worry about it, unless you would rather spend $10k on a set of tires, which is basically what trading this vehicle in for a new one would be doing.

If you like it, at 60K or so re-evaluate and trade then if you want to. If you don’t trade under about 80K or so though, you most likely will need to keep it for the duration or take a bath on trade in.

 You are just the kind of driver many people look for when they need a car.   They have paid the cost of depreciation the most expensive part of a car's life. 

 I generally keep a car in the 200,000 miles range.  However as long as it runs well and is safe, I keep it.

I would trade only if the car no longer serves my needs or I lose trust in it. As most have said, cars are commodities meant to be used up and replaced. At this point, the next person in line would get the financial benefit. Why not you? We don’t know your past ownership history and you may be an early trader. Just realize you’ll take a hit for doing so.

The design life of your Prius is about 200K miles. Beyond that you can expect some major parts to fail. Up to 200K miles if you follow the Toyota maintenance schedule you will usually only have to deal with a few problems and repairs.

In the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year a new car depreciates the most regardless of how many miles you drive it. More miles adds more to the depreciation, but it depreciates no matter what you do. In most cases you are best off financially to use your new car as long as you can before replacing it. Getting a new car every two years means a high costs to own and drive the car. Keeping a new car about 10 years and 120 to 150K is likely about your best bet to get the most out of your new car for the money.

So, if you like your Prius figure to keep it several more years. If you are uncomfortable driving a car with a lot of miles, 100K or more, get a AAA membership. Expect a few more repairs bills and to replace tires and brakes several times before you trade in or sell the car.

Once the car is paid off, keep making the same monthly payment but make the payment to yourself and put the money into a “car account”. The car account will pay for repairs to the current car and give you a big down payment on the new car when it is time to replace it.

Your car is barely broken in! Just keep driving it and manitain it well and you’ll end up with about 350,000 miles of good service with the type of driving you do.

Happy motoring!!!

Next time around, look for a high mpg non-hybrid - you can easily get the mpg you’re reporting out of a non-hybrid. I know some people have had good luck with hybrids, but IMO, there is more to go wrong and no need to put up with that if you don’t have to

(for the record, a family member has a 2002 Prius that has been a reliability nightmare - its acting up again after having been in the shop for near two months nonstop two years ago and a solid week having $2000+ in repairs done this last winter)