Car mileages

telstarbox

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What sort of mileages can modern cars achieve before the maintenance turns into diminishing returns?

Has anyone clocked up six figures for example?
 
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cactustwirly

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What sort of mileages can modern cars achieve before the maintenance turns into diminishing returns?

Has anyone clocked up six figures for example?

Depends on the car and how well they are looked after.
I know of some Volvo's that have done over 200k miles
 

aar0

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My car cleared 198,000 yesterday. Needs a little extra attention on non-service items, but still much cheaper than a new or nearly new car.
 

beermaddavep

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My old 1998 Passat B5 1.9TDi- 280000 miles before it bust a driveshaft. The engine was still smooth as silk, smoke free, a 1st time starter and would easily do around 60mpg, the gearbox was silent and smooth and it was on it's original clutch. Unfortunately at the time it was due lots of renewable parts replacing ie tyres, discs, pads, so fixing it was uneconomical or I'd have retested it. It now rusts in peace on my drive, I couldn't bring myself to scrap it! Maybe one day :)
 

LSWR Cavalier

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@beermaddavep
Very good, my 1984 Cavalier had 250 000 km, ran very well. I think the engine loosens up over high mileages.
Do modern cars reach high mileages before the complicated electrics go, or before they are traded in for a "bonus" and scrapped despite being perfectly serviceable?
 

36270k

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Cars vary a lot. If well maintained they can attain a high mileage. My Toyota on 130,000 is fine.
Citroens and Renaults usually die from rust or electrical failures.
Although older ones were very good, newer BMW's have a lot of poor quality plastic parts that fail in the engine bay. Also expensive to maintain due to inaccessibility of components.
 

Polarbear

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I owned a 1.6 Vauxhall Astra (52 reg) that I managed to get to 202000 miles before it gave up the ghost. Had the car from new & adhered to the maintenance schedule.

In retrospect, it started to cost lots to make do & mend at about 180000 miles so would have been better to get shut then, but that’s hindsight talking.
 

Ediswan

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@beermaddavep
Very good, my 1984 Cavalier had 250 000 km, ran very well. I think the engine loosens up over high mileages.
Do modern cars reach high mileages before the complicated electrics go, or before they are traded in for a "bonus" and scrapped despite being perfectly serviceable?
02 plate Renault Laguna 2.2 DCi. It was so nice to drive that I forgave minor irritations such as the exhaust dropping off on the A120 through Takely and the "pulley moteur" disintegrating in northern France.

HOWEVER, when the driver's seat took to fully reclining and/or the sun roof fully opening, both uncommanded, something was definitely wrong. The final straw was when it stopped dead in the middle of a right turn into a minor road.
 

LSWR Cavalier

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I had trouble with a Renault, clutch cable broke twice, called it a Renault 13.

Actually one can hardly know yet. But volkswagen does have a winding hilly test track near Wolfsburg where shifts of people drive 24/7, the track is visible on Google earth. Driving 24h averaging 100 kmh say, one could soon get some results
 

Domh245

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But volkswagen does have a winding hilly test track near Wolfsburg where shifts of people drive 24/7, the track is visible on Google earth. Driving 24h averaging 100 kmh say, one could soon get some results

Many (most?) manufacturers will use test rigs and dynos nowadays - engines can be run to accumulate hundreds of thousands of miles long before being put in a car. Early prototype vehicles can be put on a 4 post rig to put a lifetime of suspension movement through the car without it ever leaving that room. No doubt there are some rigs which allow full-vehicle testing (drivetrain and suspension)
 

superjohn

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I would expect any car built in the last ten years to easily manage a six figure mileage unless it is excessively neglected or abused.

I used to have a 1987 Ford Granada that managed over 192,000. It was the ‘Cologne’ 2 litre model that had a reputation for longevity although the previous owner did have to replace all the injectors at one stage. The transmission was also pretty shot by the end and the differential whined like an electric train.

The highest mileages are usually achieved by cars that are in constant use and seldom started from cold. Taxis and police vehicles rack up huge mileages in short times but they tend to be replaced before they reach starship numbers.
 

bspahh

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I've had a Maestro that did 145k miles in 10 years, a MkII Fiesta that did 50k miles in 10 years when an elderly aunt owned it, and another 90k miles in 3 years for me after that. I replaced it with a brand new Focus, which I kept for 12 years and 215k miles, until someone drove into the back of it and it was written off and I got £500 for it. I bought my current Mondeo when it was 2 years old with 55k miles. Its now 9 years old and has done 170k miles.

The wear and tear on a car varies between components. When an engine first starts up, the oil is cold and doesn't flow very well. This causes a lot of wear and tear. Once the engine has warmed up, you can drive a lot of miles with very little extra wear. On a short journey, the exhaust does not get very hot. Then water vapour condenses in the exhaust and it causes rust. If you only drive on journeys where the engine gets warmed up, then the exhaust will be too hot for any of the water to condense. The original exhaust on my Focus lasted for 210k miles.

A lot of tyre wear comes from cornering, so driving on a motorway doesn't cause much wear. The suspension wears with every mile that you drive, but you get different types of wear from driving on a motorway to driving around town, where speed bumps cause a lot of broken springs.

Once a car goes over 100k miles, its second hand value is effectively close to zero. That means that you can keep driving it and not pay any more for depreciation. Servicing and wear and tear replacements costs a lot less than the depreciation on a replacement car. It also means that its likely to be written off by an insurer if its even a minor scrape.

With an older high mileage car, it really helps if its a common model, so that mechanics learn the common problems when someone else is paying for their time, and the spare parts are easily available. If you have an obscure make or model, you are the one who gets to pay when a mechanic fixes a problem for the first time. Replacement parts are unlikely to be in stock locally, and might not be available at all from a scrap dealer, as they are likely to crush the car, rather than dismantle it and hope that someone else tries to buy a part.
 

LSWR Cavalier

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Modern vehicles are in many ways worse than those made 30 years ago: heavy, complicated, impractical, styled to look attractive (? !) at the expense of luggage space.

I should not be surprised if they do not last as long as vehicles used to.
 

bramling

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What sort of mileages can modern cars achieve before the maintenance turns into diminishing returns?

Has anyone clocked up six figures for example?

100k easily. 200k more difficult but my no means impossible.

I have a 2000 BMW E39 that’s just passed 187,000 miles, and only just had its factory clutch replaced.

Absolutely not cheap to get that far though, and it can be the small things which are a nuisance to sort, as well as corrosion of course. Having a decent local specialist garage is worth its weight in gold.

The other issue is that spending money is weighted against the risk that if unfortunate enough to have a relatively minor accident, on such cars the insurance will barely pay out anything. So you could for example spend two or three thousand on something like a respray, have a minor shunt on the journey home from the workshop, and essentially have blown away the money. Classic car policies are okay for rare models, but don’t really help with something that’s common but old.

So why would anyone *want* to be involved with all these potential pitfalls? The answer is that many older cars simply drive much better than modern ones, in terms of feel and handling. My modern BMW whilst it’s nice from one angle, drives little better than a van, and on top of that many of the fixtures are distinctly flimsy. The old one is solid and robust, and bears up much better to abuse on something like a holiday.
 

Western Lord

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I would expect any car built in the last ten years to easily manage a six figure mileage unless it is excessively neglected or abused.

I used to have a 1987 Ford Granada that managed over 192,000. It was the ‘Cologne’ 2 litre model that had a reputation for longevity although the previous owner did have to replace all the injectors at one stage. The transmission was also pretty shot by the end and the differential whined like an electric train.

The highest mileages are usually achieved by cars that are in constant use and seldom started from cold. Taxis and police vehicles rack up huge mileages in short times but they tend to be replaced before they reach starship numbers.
I used to have contact with a chauffeur hire company that transported airline crews and tour company passengers around the country. They used mostly Mercedes E220 diesels and kept them for four years or so, by which time they had clocked up around 400,000 miles. I was told that the old high mileage cars ran sweet as a nut as everything was so nicely bedded in and they were more economical on fuel than newer ones.
 

Titfield

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A number of factors dictate the total mileage achievable:

1. The type of mileage driven: short stop start runs vs long motorway journeys.
2. The type of driving: harsh braking and acceleration, crunchy abrupt gear changes vs smooth as silk techniques.
3. The quality of the vehicle itself: low cost vs more expensive
4. The type of engine: diesels typically last longer than petrol engines
5. The maintenance regime: is the vehicle well looked after with preventative maintenance as per the manufacturers recommendations or only done as and when required. A key factor in engine life is ensuring that oil changes are carried out, coolant is up to spec including anti freeze etc.
6. Is the car kept clean with any paint chips / scratches etc attended to to prevent rust getting hold.
7. Are faults promptly attended to before they get worse?
 

Bald Rick

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To add to this, there’s plenty of Teslas out there with 150k miles on the clock, and still going strong (with decent battery life too). And they’ll cost you upwards of £20k to buy.
 

Titfield

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The real questions - very difficult to answer - are:
when should you dispose of an older higher mileage vehicle?
how much you should spend on a vehicle to "keep it going"?
 

Bald Rick

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when should you dispose of an older higher mileage vehicle?

Obviously - just before something expensive breaks! It’s a lottery.

My brother in law recently bought an 8 year old Discovery, and has had just about everything major go wrong with it in the following 6 months (exhaust, brakes, suspension, couple of wheel bearings, air con, etc.etc.) and has ended up spending more on repairs than he spent buying it.
 

thejuggler

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We live on a small island where high annual mileages are rare, we have mixed weather and throw roadsalt around for 4-6 months a year. This is bad for cars.

A car used a lot will generally be fine for 6 figures. My dad did 30-40,000 a year and none of his vehicles suffered a major failure over the three years he had them. Do 5,000 a year and at 20 years most cars will have suffered from going nowhere most of the time. 70% of engine wear happens at start up, bearings, brakes and suspension wear even if not used. Rust, rubber detrioration etc.

A few years ago a friend in Australia sold their 10 year old Subaru Forester with 500,000km on the clock (note sold, not scrapped), her replacement had 150,000km and it has now done 300,000km with no issues.
 

Eyersey468

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I've a 07 reg Focus 1.8tdci just about to click over 210k. Bought for £490 in October 2018 with just under 174k on the clock. In terms of running repairs, servicing etc it's cost about 8p a mile which I don't think is bad at all, certainly cheaper than the depreciation on a newer car. I intend to keep it running for as long as I can.
 

DelW

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Modern vehicles are in many ways worse than those made 30 years ago: heavy, complicated, impractical, styled to look attractive (? !) at the expense of luggage space.

I should not be surprised if they do not last as long as vehicles used to.
Although they are indeed much more complicated, I think current cars are generally more reliable than those of 30 years ago.
I sold my last car, a Focus 2 litre diesel, at over 131,000 miles, having owned it from new in 2012. Other than servicing and routine consumables like tyres and brake pads, it had only needed replacement of an exhaust temperature sensor and the horn. (The sensor had had its cable chewed through, probably by my local squirrels.) It always started first time, passed its MoTs first time, and averaged more than 62mpg over the time I owned it. Everything still worked properly and there were no squeaks or rattles, and it still looked and drove pretty much like new.
 

bramling

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The real questions - very difficult to answer - are:
when should you dispose of an older higher mileage vehicle?
how much you should spend on a vehicle to "keep it going"?

There’s no right or wrong answer to that question - it depends how much one is prepared to pay to keep it going, and to some extent how much one is prepared to risk writing-off that investment if the car gets a knock. If you like an old car then these values may well be quite high as sentiment is invaluable, and especially if older cars tend to drive better.

However, there’s two things to bear in mind. Firstly, it’s one thing spending out on a high-mileage car where you have owned it for many years and know the history, I wouldn’t consider buying a high-mileage car off someone else and attempt to keep it running.

Secondly, and this is perhaps the more important question rather than when keeping an old car going is no longer cost effective, there’s also the question of when does a high-mileage car become a safety liability, as in is there a viable risk that something could fail in it which could cause an accident. Even something freak like a seat shooting forward whilst the car is motion causing the driver to come down hard on a pedal, that sort of thing.
 

90019

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The highest mileages are usually achieved by cars that are in constant use and seldom started from cold. Taxis and police vehicles rack up huge mileages in short times but they tend to be replaced before they reach starship numbers.
Taxis depend on where they're being used, and the age of taxi - age limits vary depending on local authority, so some places will have cabs running around with massive mileages on them. I was in a TX1 recently that had done over 700k.

I currently have two decommissioned taxis, a 2001(51) TX1 and a 2009(59) TX4.

The TX4 is just shy of 420k miles and, other than a fantastically vague gearshift because of a worn linkage, still drives fine.

The TX1 I don't know the actual mileage - the dashboard claims 218k but that's a lie, and it's likely somewhere around 450-500k.
It still drives spot on, the only sign of its age being a bit of play in the steering.
It's all pretty basic and very industrial, the engine is a 2.7 non turbo diesel which only produces 80hp and being mated to a 3 speed auto (with overdrive :D) means its not fast or particularly economical, but it's fairly low stress and will go forever.
The engine used in the TX1 will easily do a million miles if looked after, but in most places it's usually rust that gets them before they reach that point.
 

Cowley

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My 2007 Audi A6 is nearing 145000 miles and seems to be fine. I’ve very rarely bought anything that’s done less than 100k. Actually I just sold my Merc Sprinter and that was on 265000.
 

bspahh

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The real questions - very difficult to answer - are:
when should you dispose of an older higher mileage vehicle?
how much you should spend on a vehicle to "keep it going"?

Definitely get rid of a car, if it stops doing what you need it to do - perhaps its too small or too big, you don't trust the reliability, or if it misses features that you need.

I don't like getting an old car if I don't know the history, to avoid cars that are being sold because they will soon need expensive repairs.

I don't begrudge paying for wear and tear stuff - routine servicing, tyres, brake pads and discs, or wheel bearings. They cost money, but they I can plan around them. It doesn't matter if they cost more than the resale value of the car. They are a running cost.

I don't like random failures, especially if they leave me stranded.

I like having a car where I don't need to bother repairing paint chips and scrapes.

Getting bored of your current car, and lusting after another one can be an expensive pastime.

I had a Maestro which had glitches from the engine management. It was a known problem, which meant that you couldn't rely on a replacement being any better. My Dad had had the car before me and he had been able to fix some dry solder joints with a microscope, a fine soldering iron and a steady hand. The symptoms were that the automatic choke would sometimes play up, and the engine temperature light would come on, even when the engine was cold. My fix for these was a manual choke conversion kit, and some insulating tape in front of the warning light. This worked for several years. Near the end of a long trip, the clutch failed. It got fixed and then 50 miles later the engine overheated on a motorway, and by the time I noticed, all the wiring on the engine block had melted insulation. Scrapping it there was an easy decision.

I bought a 3 year old Ford S-Max. It came with a 3 month warranty from the dealer. Then the powershift gearbox had to be replaced in this 3 month period. That would have cost £3000 if I had had to pay for it. It kept giving warning messages every so often, but even investigating these looked like they would cost a load. I part exchanged it for a Mondeo with a manual gearbox, which has been a lot less stressful to own. The S-Max is still going, so presumably someone worked out what was wrong with the gearbox.
 

EssexGonzo

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My 2007 Audi A6 is nearing 145000 miles and seems to be fine. I’ve very rarely bought anything that’s done less than 100k. Actually I just sold my Merc Sprinter and that was on 265000.

I got rid of a 2007 Audi A6 in 2015 that I’d had from new. It had done 135,000 miles with one major issue - failure of the oil pump hex shaft that cost me £2k to fix but not a new engine, thankfully. A well known fault with that engine.

In general, I reckon that lifespans of cars are shortening due to increased tech but if you want a longer life, go Japanese. We have a 3 yo Lexus, a 2 yo Golf and a 17 yo Honda Jazz in the household (in the family from new). The Golf is the one that feels the least solid of the three. The market has moved to bling, tech and style over the invisible, engineered-in quality that the Japanese do so well. But most status conscious new car buyers feel that the Germans and JLR suit their aspirations so well. I would absolutely never want a large modern SUV with 100k+ miles on the clock that was not Japanese. Especially a JLR product which are appalling for longevity.

Mind you, I would not want any sort of SUV, but I’m in the minority there.
 

PaulC1309

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Around 15 years ago I had a hand me down company 2000 W reg 1.8 Honda Accord. It had 70k miles on it when I got it and 3 years later i had put another 110k miles on it. Only ever needed normal service items and was still on original clutch and exhaust. It refused to start only once and was because the distributor cap was cracked and let water in. Great car only thing needing done at 180k was the shocks were getting a bit tired but apart from that it drove absolutely fine.
 

90019

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My brother in law recently bought an 8 year old Discovery, and has had just about everything major go wrong with it in the following 6 months (exhaust, brakes, suspension, couple of wheel bearings, air con, etc.etc.) and has ended up spending more on repairs than he spent buying it.
Has he had to do any of the body off jobs yet?
 

B7rleThrasher

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When I was living in the UK, I had a 2017 Passat GT Estate (2.0TDI) which I put 120,000 miles on over 30 months (averaging about 1040 miles a week) and it never missed a beat! Tried importing it into Ireland and the VRT+NOX Tax was more than the book value, so I got rid of it :(
 

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