With proper care, many of today's cars can last 200,000 miles or more, and owners seeking to limit repair costs by trading in their vehicle every three to five years may lose out on thousands of savings, says the October issue of Consumer Reports. And that's good news for technicians in the automotive aftermarket, who will be servicing these longer-running vehicles.
Consumer Reports 2007 Annual Auto Online Survey identified 6,769 readers with 200,000 miles or more on their vehicles' odometers. The report featured accounts that ran the gamut of make and model, including a '95 Honda Civic with 227,000 miles, a '90 Lexus LS400 with 332,000 miles and a West Virginia family's 1994 Ford Ranger pickup with an impressive 488,000 miles.
When comparing the costs of buying and keeping a car for 225,000 miles over 15 years to buying and financing an identical model every five years, Consumer Reports found the savings could be more than the original purchase price of the vehicle — and even greater if the savings were invested.
For example, Consumer Reports estimated the popular Honda Civic EX, with an automatic transmission, could potentially save its owner as much as $20,500 if properly maintained over 15 years — $1,500 more than its purchase price.
In its analysis, Consumer Reports calculated the costs of purchase price including destination fees, depreciation, maintenance and repairs, finance and interest, fees and taxes, and insurance for 15 years against the same factors for purchasing a new model every five years.
Factoring in 3 percent inflation and an annual 5 percent interest rate, Consumer Reports estimated an additional $10,300 in investment savings. As a result, maintaining the Civic EX over 15 years would be approximately $30,800 less than the cost of buying a new Civic EX every five years. Consumer Reports found similar savings with other models.
Consumer Reports Names Good and Bad Bets
Good Bets have performed well in Consumer Reports tests and have better-than-average reliability scores for several model years. Bad Bets have multiple years of much worse than average reliability and more problems than other models overall. Reliability is based on the results of Consumer Reports Reliability Survey, and all have three or more model years of data.
Good Bets: Honda Civic, Honda CR-V, Honda Element, Lexus ES, Lexus LS, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Prius, Toyota RAV4
Bad Bets: BMW 7-Series, Infiniti QX56, Jaguar S-Type, Jaguar X-Type, Mercedes-Benz M-Class (V8), Mercedes Benz SL, Nissan Armada, Nissan Titan, Volkswagen Touareg, Volvo XC90 (6-cyl.)
For more Consumer Reports advice and insights from car owners on how to make a car last 200,000 miles, visit the Consumer Reports Web site.