The economy has improved a lot since 2010, but that hasn’t driven Americans out of money-saving mode. Five years ago, fewer than half (47%) of drivers reported driving vehicles with more than 100,000 miles on them, but high-mileage cars dominate the roads in 2015. Now, 64% drive cars with odometers in the triple digits, according to the AutoMD.com 2015 Vehicle Mileage Survey.
In this online survey of 3,000 drivers, 81% said the appropriate lifespan of a car is 10 years or more — or until the car dies. AutoMD.com asked the drivers with high-mileage cars (and those who indicated they plan to hold onto their cars once the odometer rolls past 99,999) why they’re planning on keeping the car for so long, and 42% said it’s a cost-saving strategy. Cost was the main motivator for only 33% of drivers in 2010 who said they’re driving high-mileage vehicles.
Keeping a vehicle for many years means you don’t have to go through the process of buying a new car or getting an auto loan, but regular maintenance plays a huge role in a vehicle’s longevity, and that isn’t cheap. Unexpected trips to a mechanic can get really pricey, so if you’re a car owner, you should prioritize building up an emergency fund to deal with these common and big-ticket expenses. (Actually, having an emergency fund is a great personal finance strategy for most people, because it can help you avoid debt in a time of crisis, allowing you to recover more quickly from overcoming unexpected obstacles.) As with most services, it’s a good idea to shop around for repair quotes, so you can get the best value on service when you need it.
In the event you need to get a new car sooner than you planned to, remember that auto loan financing relies heavily on your credit standing. If you want an affordable loan — not only in terms of a monthly payment but in terms of the long-term cost — keep an eye on your credit score (you can get two free credit scores on Credit.com) and work to keep it in good shape. You never know when you might need it (i.e. you total your vehicle and need a loan to buy a new one).
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