Average Vehicle Lifespan

When faced with the decision to either repair an older, used vehicle or purchase a new one, it is helpful to be armed with information about the average lifespan of a car, and the additional factors that generally affect vehicle lifespan. The U.S. Department of Transportation dictates that the average life of a vehicle is just over 13 years, by which point the average mileage accumulation is 145,000 miles. However, factors such as car purchase condition, mileage, and maintenance can make a substantial difference in how long your car survives.

If your primary concerns when making an auto purchase are vehicle lifespan and reliability, your best course of action may be to purchase a new vehicle. In addition to the likelihood that, with proper maintenance and care, your vehicle will last for roughly 13 years, brand-new cars come with comprehensive warranties that last much longer than the warranties that accompany used cars. On the other hand, if cost is your primary consideration, used cars can offer many benefits without necessarily sacrificing the life of a vehicle. Since new-car-purchasers generally trade in their vehicles at 55,000 miles-or every four years-that still leaves the remaining vehicle lifespan at roughly nine years and 90,000 miles for the average four-year-old car. Better still, many new-car leases are traded in every three years at 36,000 miles, leaving a projected used vehicle lifespan of 10 years and 110,000 miles. By paying cash-thereby avoiding high finance charges and new-car insurance fees-you can often purchase a used car that is more luxurious than any new car within your price range! Stick to cars less than eight years old, and prior to making a purchase, be sure to have the vehicle thoroughly inspected by a professional to ensure that you do not inherit a liability.

When faced with the unfortunate task of deciding whether to fix or dispose of a car that needs substantial repair work, comparing the car's age and mileage to the average life of a vehicle can save you money. For example: if your 12-year-old car with 140,000 miles on it needs a transmission job, it probably is not worth the thousands of dollars in repair work to fix a car that will likely only run for another year. If you find yourself in this situation, consider sending the car to a junkyard; its working parts can be sold, and the money you earn will offset the cost of your next vehicle.

Whether you opt to purchase a new or used vehicle, regular maintenance, protection from the elements, and safe driving will all lengthen your vehicle's lifespan-and lower your car insurance, for that matter. Be sure to have your car's mechanics checked by a professional on a regular basis (every 3 - 4 months), and have your oil changed at the intervals recommended by your mechanic.

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