Whether you are thinking about buying a car and trying to decide if the cost of a new car is worthwhile or are wondering how much money you should put into repairing your older vehicle, learning the average lifespan of a vehicle can help you with your decision. Of course, averages are not always accurate, and you may find that your car lives much longer or much shorter than the average, but an average can help you make an educated choice.
The Official Average
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, vehicles tend to last just over 13 years. Mileage also plays a role in how long a car, truck, or van will last, and the average final mileage for a vehicle is 145,000 miles. Half of all of the vehicles on the road today are 8 years old or older, with a third of them being at least 10 years old.
Thoughts for Buying Cars
If you are in the market for another vehicle, the decision about buying new or used is sometimes difficult. Of course, your budget may dictate that you shop for a used car, and used cars depreciate much less quickly than new ones, but you will probably get a longer lifespan out of a new vehicle. New vehicles come with warranties, which make maintenance and repair early in the vehicle’s life convenient. Also, you will not be buying someone else’s “problem” when you buy a new car. If there is a mechanical problem or recall on the car, it will probably be covered in the warranty.
Buying a used car does mean you can end up buying someone else’s problem. On the other hand, if the used car is less than 8 years old, you have a pretty good indication that it will last a while, based on national averages. You will also be able to afford more “extras” in a used car than in a new car for the same amount of money, provided you have enough for a new car to begin with.
Dealing with an Existing Vehicle
If you have an older car that is in need of some serious repair, such as a transmission job or a complete engine overhaul, understanding the lifespan of a vehicle will help you decide whether or not to put the money into the vehicle that is necessary for the repair. If the vehicle is almost 13 years old or has close to 145,000 miles, it is probably nearing its end. If you put a few thousand of dollars into a repair, and the vehicle only lasts a few more months or even another year, you will be in bad shape.
Instead, consider junking the car. The working parts, body, and even tires in some cases, can be salvaged and sold by the junkyard, and you can get some of that money upfront. You can use that money and the money you would have spent on repairs for a down payment on a more reliable used vehicle or even a new vehicle. Before you put money into the repairs, call the junkyard to see how much you can get, and consider using that money to purchase a better vehicle.