CONSUMER REPORTS FINDS MAINTAINING CARS FOR 200,000 MILES CAN SAVE OWNERS THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS
Jennifer and Fritz Kysar Kearneysville, W.Va.
1994 Ford Ranger pickup 488,000 miles
Advice: "If you're going to drive a vehicle for a long time, buy replacement parts with a lifetime warranty. I haven't paid for a set of brakes in eight or nine years," Fritz Kysar says.
YONKERS,NYWith proper care, many of todays 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 Consumer Reports October issue.
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 familys 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, CR found the savings could be more than the original purchase price of the vehicleand 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,CR 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 three percent inflation and an annual five 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:
Buying a car with a good track record is important in reaching the 200K Club. Consumer Reports identifies Good and Bad Bets for those shooting for 200,000 miles.
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 ofConsumer 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
For motorists looking to make their car reach 200,000 miles, the October issue of Consumer Reports offers complete advice on how to do it. Here are some of the highlights:
Go by the book. Follow the maintenance schedule in the vehicle owners manual and make necessary repairs promptly. If you think youre saving money by skipping an oil change, think again. Missing even one oil change can accelerate premature engine wear and cause engine damage. The manual contains a maintenance schedule.
Use the right stuff. When its time for maintenance or repairs, use only parts and fluids meeting manufacturer specifications. Using the wrong type of oil or transmission fluid, for example, could result in damage leading to expensive repairs.
Know what to look for. Problems can arise at any time and for inexplicable reasons. So it helps to get in the habit of opening the hood and looking, listening, and smelling whats happening in your engine bay. Look for fraying or cracks in belts, and cracks or bulges in hoses. Investing in a vehicle service manual, available at car dealerships and most auto-parts stores, will help show you what to look for and assist you with minor repairs.
Keep it clean. Get out the cleaning products periodically. Regular cleaning inside and out can make the car a more pleasant place to be as you roll up the miles, and washing and waxing can help preserve the paint and keep the sheet metal below it from rusting. Vacuuming sand and dirt out of carpets and seats can minimize premature wear that leads to tears and holes.
Buy a reliable, safe car. Buy a car with a good track record. Consumer Reports offers comprehensive reliability ratings in every April Autos issue and to ConsumerReports.org subscribers. Buy a car that has performed well in government and insurance-industry safety tests and has the latest safety equipment, like electronic stability control and curtain air bags. If youre going to live with a vehicle for a long time, you will want it to provide maximum safety protection.
For more Consumer Reports advice and insights from car owners on how to make a car last 200,000 miles, check out the Consumer Reports October issue, on sale September 4, or visit www.ConsumerReports.org