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Toyota longevity

We’ve had discussions on car reliability, and whether it’s a ‘myth’ that Toyota’s are the most reliable. Here’s some hard data to back up that ‘myth’. This was an analysis of used car sales, where they calculated the fraction of cars sold by the original owner after having the car 15 years or more. Seems that folks hold on to their Toyotas for a LONG time:


I think Toyota buyers look at their vehicles as strictly transportation and tend not to trade a car in “because they are tired of it”. Toyota doesn’t attract drivers who are looking for excitement. The reliability of Toyota products does help. The Toyota owner reasons that if the vehicle still functions well, why trade it in.
We still own a 2003 Toyota 4Runner we purchased new. It runs well and isn’t rusted. We also have a 2017 Sienna. I had a 2011 Sienna which I would probably still be driving, but our son needed a better car and our granddaughter had just gotten her driver’s license, so we sold it to our son. That Sienna has gone about 150,000 miles.
I also think Toyota owners may be older than than the average car owner. Younger people don’t seem as interested in exciting cars as they were in my generation. I always had “geezer tastes” in cars. Ramblers and Mavericks suited me just fine. Now I see younger people with the same geezer tastes and the Toyota works for them.

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Not all Toyota drivers view their cars as appliances. :wink:

@texases one interesting thing I read several years ago to potentially explain Japanese car reliability reputations. That being that it’s possible that it’s a self-feeding reputation. People buy a Japanese car because they want it to last a long time. And because they want their car to last a long time, they maintain it well and so it does. Meanwhile people buy Chevys knowing their sub-par reliability reputation and therefore the car lasting a long time doesn’t matter much to them, so they neglect the car and, surprise! It doesn’t last as long as it could.

I don’t take that idea to mean that Japanese cars aren’t reliable. In general I think they are inherently reliable, but I do suspect that at least some of their owners help that reliability along by taking care of their cars.


Our 2008 Solara’s transmission died at about 28,000. Our 2003 4Runnner’s died at 32,000 miles. For no reason other than manufacturer defect. The 4Runner had so many problems that I traded it for a Dodge Durango in 2005. We still have the Solara. We keep it because it’s a very fun car. The Durango went 175,000 miles and we had a few issues, but none of them left me on the side of the road waiting for a tow, like both Toyotas. Our 1988 Ford Mustang left us stranded once only because of bad gas. Our 1994 Jeep Cherokee gave us 175,000 almost trouble free miles, never leaving us looking for a tow. No, Toyotas are no more reliable than any other brand.

Your amazing bad luck doesn’t mean Toyotas have problems. Every time somebody does a survey, Toyotas typically come out on top.


Interesting idea, but it doesn’t explain the much better reliability of all the parts that are unaffected by maintenance. Look at a CR reliability summary, and you’ll see ‘much better than average’ for most all areas, most of which have nothing to do with maintenance. And this idea assumes some kind of common behavior for hundreds of thousands of car buyers.

Nope, this is someone’s ‘idea’, unencumbered with ‘proof’.

The 2010 Prius that my mom’s owned since new hasn’t had the problems that car complaints would have you believe, it’s been maintained at least as well as the Mazda before that was owned for 19yrs. Toyota’s had to perform several recall’s on the car but otherwise it’s been oil changes and routine services.

I have a friend who’s Camry has over 300,000 miles on it but was one that Toyota replaced the pistons and ring’s on to fix the oil burning issue. She bought the car used but has put the majority of miles on the car and is going for another 100K before buying another one.

The Plymouth Grand Voyager that we ordered new in 1988 was driven until around 2011 but it mainly stayed around because it had finally decided to be a somewhat reliable vehicle, after thousands of dollars of repairs and too many breakdowns and tow’s to the mechanic.

It would help for the discussion of this subject if we didn’t just write anecdotal accounts of how wonderful or how poor such-and-such a car was. It would be more interesting if we discussed theories about why Toyota gets this reputation. For instance, what does Consumer Reports do right and what do they do wrong for their surveys? Are there results valid? Do their results exaggerate the difference between cars? Do some cars get bad results because their drivers are hot-rodders?

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That doesn’t happen as often as it used to. Other car companies saw how Toyota and a couple other car companies with stellar reliability reputations collected buyers, and decided that they wanted to do it too. Having the best reliability is a constantly moving target. It seems to me that most brands these days are far better than they used to be. The GM cars I bought over the last 23 years were quite reliable, for instance.

Agreed, there isn’t any evidence to support or disclaim the hypothesis. But there might be something to it. Even parts that have nothing to do with “maintenance” can conceivably have their life shortened by poor decisions on the part of their owners. Catching air over railroad crossings will shorten the life of the suspension, winding the car out to redline 3 seconds after startup on a winter day will shorten the life of engine components, etc.

It does make some amount of logical sense that if you care about car reliability you don’t buy unreliable cars. It also makes some amount of logical sense that if you don’t care about car reliability, you might not care about maintaining the thing either.

If true (and I am not saying it is), that wouldn’t explain the entire gap between Japanese cars and everyone else, but it might explain a small part of it.

Yeah, Consumer Reports says Toyotas are now all average or better. But Mazda is now #1, not Toyota. CR also says they have had transmission problems with their Rav4. My mechanic says several models have had engine sludging problems. I also have to note that Toyota owner satisfaction has slipped to #9, but still in top third of brands. And they have noted Toyota’s first year redesign reliability troubles in last 10 years. Toyota used to be the best in all these areas. They are slipping. Plus other brands have improved.

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Some cars don’t just die… Some owners kill them!

This statement came to mind many years ago when I’d hear someone say they bought the cheap tires/oil/battery or neglected routine maintenance because their car was getting up in miles. They didn’t want to “waste” money on their old car. Perception, then, becomes reality.

Truth! My dad was one of those owners. He was raised by depression-era parents and took the lessons to heart. He hated spending money. He was letting me drive his car on the weekends when I was in high school. I told him the temperature gauge kept creeping up toward overheat.

This, of course, would necessitate a visit to a mechanic to diagnose and fix, and that would cost money, and so was to be avoided. “Uh, yeah, old cars just do that, we’ll keep driving it.” A few weeks later, the engine overheated again and warped the head. Fortunately while he was driving it, not me, so I couldn’t be blamed. :wink:

So much for that car.


It seems to me that Carfax must have a lot of data on this subject. While it won’t give repair costs (or, can it?), it can still give information about which cars are kept on the road the longest. What % of each model is still on the road at year 20? Which models the highest % with 200,000+ miles?

One of my Consumer Reports complaints is their emphasis on new-car reliability. While getting warranty work is a pain, it is still free. To me, reliability always means long-term reliability.

I happen to work at the company where 3 or 4 guys made a copy-cat decision with early 2000 Dodge Intrepids. All were from new, all broke repeatedly within the first 2-3 years, in the same areas, mostly around faulty electronics and secondary convenience features, yet feeding the “myth” of unreliable domestics.

To be fair, one of happy owners had the car neglected to the point I was amazed how far the car would go with the oil-drain bolt stuck due to cross-threading at quick-lube place. He drove it for 3 more years or so only adding oil, never making a change, and yet he traded it moving on its own, although smoking a bit already.

I own a Corolla for 13 years and it works perfect. it has 400k km on the board

OK , why are you asking about a Honda CRV or if you should look at a German vehicle ( which you posted in another thread ). It seems that with that kind of service a Toyota would be at the top of your list.


It is a roll of the dice. Sure in 17 years of ownership of a 2003 Trailblazer I had 3 front wheel bearings, a bad starter motor tensioner, ac coil pinion seal and bearings, stablizer links, and some others I probably do not remember, I considered the car reliable. Maybe 3k in repairs over 17 years sounds fine to me. If our 2017s last 17 years with 3k in repairs I would consider them reliable.

When Mom donated her '90 Mazda to the local community college automotive program in late 2009 the instructor let her disclose everything she thought they’d need to know and he told her that the list seemed very light for 19yrs and 194,000mi. $200/yr was pretty typical for repairs on that car.

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