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Everyday Cheapskate: Simple Tips to Persuade Your Car Keep Going for 200,000 Miles or Longer

Mary Hunt on

With new and used cars still painfully expensive, it seems that Americans are holding on to their vehicles longer. The average age of a passenger vehicle on the road has just hit a record 12.5 years. And no wonder now that the average monthly car payment for new vehicles hit $725 in the first quarter of 2023. Suddenly, for many, taking on that kind of new debt feels a lot worse than driving a new car feels good.

The useful life of cars is very subjective, but in general it keeps getting longer. A truck from the '90s that's been well maintained is going to be a lot more usefu lnow than a truck from the '60s was in the '90s. As vehicles get better, their useful life gets longer. Still, wringing 12.5 years out of a car is no small feat.

Most cars and trucks are built to last far longer than we can imagine. And when all is said and done, the difference between a clunker and a cream puff is mainly the difference between how the owner has cared for it.

Want to improve your ability to squeeze every last mile out of that beauty sitting in your driveway, while you scrimp and save to have the money available to replace it when it's taken its final mile? Treat that car like an investment.


Research by major car manufacturers reveals that neglect of routine service and maintenance is the No. 1 reason for major car repairs. Routine maintenance doesn't cost; it saves money, aggravation, frustration and lives. Pay attention. Anticipate maintenance so you don't have to pay for repairs.



When you need a major repair, if at all possible, get three estimates before you proceed. Don't only judge by the lowest price but judge by competence, ability, experience, equipment, and after-service care.


When you find a good mechanic you trust, stick with him or her even if the prices are a bit higher. All things being equal, you'll save time, money and aggravation in the long run. Plus, your mechanic will get to know your car more intimately.


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