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What's the reliability with age, not miles?

my 2000 Toyota Avalon has only 55k miles. bought it new because it is a nice highway car (yes I know that sounds contradictory) even if slightly boring. We read a lot about how a car can be pushed to 200k miles; but I wonder about the effects of simple aging on reliability; I don’t want to be stranded on the highway with my wife out in the boonies. I like the car and am happy with it other than for the worry of a breakdown. Are there studies of car reliability in later years?

I have a 1993 Toyota with a lot more miles on it than you have. Age isn’t going to be a problem with your car for a very long time. It sounds like you’re running it fairly regularly. I assume you’re not just driving it 1 mile a week to the post office or something. So you should be fine.

The maintenance schedule that came with your car has suggested intervals based on miles OR TIME.

In your case, follow the TIME recommendation and forget the miles. If you do that you won’t have to worry about break-downs.

Both of my cars are older than yours and remain quite reliable. I drive both on 500 mile highway trips routinely with no problems.

Maintenance is the key.

Yes, it seems silly to replace the timing belt at less than 60K miles, but you should because it’s ten years old, and if it breaks you WILL be stranded.

Rubber components expecially are susceptible to age-related failure.

There is no car, even a brand new one, that can guarantee zero breakdowns on the road. Therefore you should travel with a cell phone and have a roadside assistance insurance policy either as part of your car insurance or AAA.

As any car ages breakdowns can be a higher statistical probability than the same car when new. But, still very unlikely in a well maintained car of any age. Rubber parts are most affected by age. So, replace all belts and hoses that show any signs of softness, fraying, or are due for replacement. Buy a new battery before yours fails. Make sure you have good tires with lots of tread depth. And keep the gas tank over 1/4 tank or higher.

Since most roadside calls are for broken belts, overheating due to ruptured hoses, dead batteries, and out of gas if you take care of these things you’ve eliminated about 95% of things that cause roadside breakdowns. Checking your oil level every month and daily when on a road trip will is good practice as is keeping up with transmission service.

If you want a new car, buy one. If your current car is properly cared for it should be almost, but not quite, as reliable as a new car. It so happens the Avalon is a very solid car. I’d trust a 10 year old properly maintained Avalon over many new cars as far as getting me to my destination with no worries.

If Not The Wife, Then Who Do You Want To Be Stranded With In The Boonies ? I Have Driven Many Cars Well Beyond 200,000 Miles And Have Never Been Stranded.

Regular maintenance is probably your best defense against a break-down. I always check Technical Service Bulletins (prior to purchase) for any car I buy to see if any weak links are present that may be worth looking at or steering clear.

That said, buying a 10 or 11 year-old car for reliability probably doesn’t make as much sense as buying a newer one. I’d at least put new belts on it and have the cooling system flushed if there’s no written documentaion that shows these being done recently.

Original battery ? Replace that ,too. Tires cracked ? Replace those, too.

It doesn’t appear to have an “interference engine”, but I’d replace the timing belt because of its age. It’s going to be expensive, but that is one thing that will leave you stranded without warning and no plan B. The Toyota will turn into a giant paper-weight.


If Not The Wife, Then Who Do You Want To Be Stranded With In The Boonies ?


Made my day! I’ll have to think about that.

All good suggestions. I neglected to say in my original post that I have maintained the car carefully, and have replaced about everything that can/should be, such as timing belts, trans flush, etc.

I typically bring my Toyotas beyond 200,000 miles before I need to start fixing anything. And then it’s typically a peripheral component, like an alternator, or something that doesn’t leave me stranded, like a rattling heat shield.

As long as it’s well maintained you have another 150,000 miles before you need even think about reliability concerns.

As everyone sorta said … in regard to break downs, a new car is perhaps slightly ahead of a older one.

A chassis basically has between 13-17 years of life built into the major components. That’s when stuff like pumps …racks …basically major system components begin to fail. Those with higher mileage didn’t retire the unit to secondary vehicle after the first few years.

There are, naturally, exceptions. That would be where some flawed design would show up before this typical time span.

I own a 1984 Toyota Corolla with more than 547,300 miles. I purchased the car new in May of 1984.

During my ownership of the car, I had two breakdowns in the mid-1980s (due to one chip that was on recall and an electrical problem, both repaired at no cost to me), but I had only one breakdown in the 2000s (June 2005 at 479,000 miles), when the inner socket of the transmission stripped.

With regard to common repairs, I replaced three hoses over a 3-month period in the late 1990s and two water pumps in the 1990s, but water pumps and brake linings now last much longer, so few common repairs/replacements have been needed in the 2000s.

In summary, I was surprised (maybe amazed) by the few repairs required in the 1980s (especially after owning GM products); however, my car today seems to be as reliable as, if not more reliable than, in the 1980s.

Consequently, I have found no reduction in reliability or increased likelihood of a breakdown with the aging of my Toyota Corolla, and I regularly take 100-to-200-mile trips with the car on the highways and interstates.

Um, folks, this thread is 4 months old.

Rust and rot will turn a car to dust eventually, faster in Tallahasee than drier cooler locations. If the car is parked in a garage many years will be added to its life.

I have a 1995 Avalon (1MZFE engine) with 182,000 miles. I’ve done maintenance by the book
(myself, with exception of timing belt-done at dealer). The only problem I’ve had was with the power antenna mast, and a power window regulator.

You should be OK.