When you’re in the market for a second-hand car, there’s always one question that will inevitably come up: how many miles can this car last? Luckily, we’ve got the answer for you in this article. Having written almost 150 articles about how long specific car models last, we have a good idea of the answer:
39% of all cars sold in the United States last between 190,000 – 220,000 miles. However, 20.5% of models sold last between 160,000 – 190,000 miles and 16.7% of models sold last between 220,000 – 250,000 miles.
However, that certainly doesn’t tell us the whole story. Below, we’ll dive deeper into these numbers and explain how exactly we came up with them. We’ll divide the 156 models we analyzed into even more groups. Furthermore, we’ll look at the top 25 cars that last the longest, see what types of vehicles do best, and if it’s better to go for an Asian, American, or German-made vehicle. Read on!
How Many Miles Does A Car Last On Average?
To answer how many miles a car can last, we need to do research that includes most car models sold in the United States. Luckily, we’ve already written over a hundred articles about individual car models and how many miles they can last.
For this particular article, we analyzed a total of 156 car models that are sold in the United States. We did this by going to Autotrader.com and selecting the model we wanted to zoom in on. Then, we would see how many of the cars being sold had a mileage of 150,000 or higher, how many fell in the 100,000 – 150,000 miles category, how many were in the 50,000 – 100,000 miles, and how many had 0 – 50,000 miles.
Doing this for many months brought us an extensive database of which the results are displayed in the one simple image below. On the left side of the graph, you can see the number of cars within that category. On the bottom axis, you know what mileage category this is (e.g., 100,000 – 130,000 miles, etcetera).
By doing this type of analysis, we determined the average expected mileage for each model. After all, Autotrader typically had several thousand units for sale for each model we analyzed. This also meant that if a car had no models for purchase past a specific mileage, it’s safe to assume the model typically doesn’t last beyond that point.
Please note that we analyzed 23 different carmakers that are sold in the United States to derive this information. Furthermore, each carmaker is represented by at least five models. This way, we could ensure that the data isn’t heavily skewed to one particular carmaker.
Our General Conclusion
From this database, we can draw several conclusions. First of all, 39% of all cars sold in the United States last between 190,000 – 220,000 miles. Furthermore, 20.5% of models sold last between 160,000 – 190,000 miles and 16.7% of models sold last between 220,000 – 250,000 miles.
When we look at the cars that last the longest, we can conclude that 12.2% of all vehicles sold in the United States last longer than 250,000 miles. On the contrary, 9.6% of cars don’t last longer than 160,000 miles.
What Cars Last The Longest?
Now, we have to have a more in-depth look at what specific models and what brands last the longest. In this subheading, we’ll start with a ranking of the top 25 car models in the United States that can last the most amount of miles. In the following subheading, we’ll look at different car brands.
From the 156 models we analyzed, we pasted the top 25 of them in the table below. If you’re interested in the complete list of 156 models, you can download it here for free (no e-mail required).
In the table below, you’ll see the average miles we expect the top 25 cars to last. Not only that, but we also added a column that tells us how big of a percentage of the vehicles that we analyzed had crossed the 150,000 miles mark.
Typically, cars that last a long time also have a large percentage of them being sold with more than 150,000 miles, and it’s yet another indicator of the longevity of a particular model.
|Car Brand/Model||Average Expected Miles||% over 150,000 miles|
|Chevrolet Silverado 1500||310000||5.39%|
|GMC Sierra 1500||255000||6.44%|
From this data, we can conclude the following things.
- The longest-lasting truck is the Toyota Tacoma which lasts an average of 325,000 miles. Read more about its longevity here.
- The longest-lasting SUV is the Toyota 4Runner which lasts an average of 315,000 miles.
- The longest-lasting sedan is the Toyota Prius which lasts an average of 280,000 miles. Read more about its longevity here.
- The longest-lasting luxury vehicle is the BMW 5-series which lasts an average of 250,00 miles. Read more about its longevity here.
Another worthy thing to discuss is that Toyota has nine vehicles in the top 25 longest-lasting vehicles. Therefore, this seems to be the brand that lasts the longest overall (more on that in a moment).
Secondly, and unsurprisingly, many vehicles on the list are either trucks or SUVs. This is not that strange because these are the two most sold categories of cars in the United States. Not only that but these vehicles are designed to withstand more rough use than the average hatchback of sedans ever will.
One final thing worth mentioning is that we left out heavy-duty vehicles such as the F250/350, RAM 2500/3500, and Sierra 2500/3500. Including these would have been unfair since these are mainly commercial vehicles. For example, the F250 lasts an average of 320,000 miles, and the F350 tops the chart at 340,000 miles.
What Car Brands Last The Longest Overall?
We already have a pretty good understanding that Toyota seems to be the longest-lasting brand sold in the United States. However, how much better are they compared to all other carmakers? And how do other car makers compare to each other?
With the information that we gathered, we were able to create a graph that gives us an understanding of the average expected miles per carmaker. For this, we took all the car models of a particular brand, combined their expected mileages, and divided it by the number of models we were analyzing.
For each carmaker, we used at least five models; for others (Ford, for example), we analyzed a total of 14 models. The only car maker for which we didn’t analyze five models was RAM because they only sell the RAM 1500, and their other vehicles are heavy-duty.
What we can conclude from this data is the following:
- Toyota is the longest-lasting car brand, with its models lasting an average of 269,167 miles.
- Honda is the second longest-lasting carmaker (248,333 miles on average), whereas Chevy is the third longest-lasting carmaker (234,167 miles on average).
- Audis last the least number of miles; from the ten models we analyzed, we found an average of 169,500 miles. BMW is the runner-up with an average of 172,692 miles, and Volkswagen does slightly better with an average of 181,000 expected miles.
How Many Miles On A Used Car Is Too Much?
Finally, we have to answer the question of how many miles is too much on a used car. If you’re reading this article, it’s very likely you’re in the market for a second-hand car and are trying to find the sweet spot between price and longevity.
As you already read, how many miles is too much will differ strongly between brands. Not only that, but it also varies enormously from model to model. However, to keep things simple, we will make two broad distinctions that will help you in your journey toward the perfect used car. These distinctions are where the vehicle is made/designed and if it’s a standard, upper-range, or luxury vehicle.
Where’s The Carmaker Based?
First, there’s the place where the car is made/designed, or better said, the region or country the brand is from. From experience, we know that these points make a difference in reliability and longevity. We split our dataset up into three categories: American-made (Ford, GMC, Chevy, Cadillac, etc.), Asian-made (Acura, Honda, Lexus, Infiniti, Nissan, etc.), and German-made (Audi, BMW, Volkswagen).
We see in the table below that American and Asian carmakers, as a whole, have a similar expected number of miles. On average, we expect an Asian car brand to last 218,000 miles, whereas an American car brand can typically last 212,000 miles. German cars sold in the United States only have a life expectancy of 174,000 miles.
Is It A Luxury Brand Or Not?
Things become even more evident when we divide the carmakers by what kinds of cars they produce. Again, we went with a simple three-category system: non-luxury vehicles (Toyota, Honda, Ford, Dodge, Chevy, etc.), upper-range cars (Lexus, Acura, Infiniti, Volkswagen, etc.), and luxury vehicles (Audi, BMW, Lincoln).
What we see in the image below is most likely one of the most important distinctions we can make here. That’s that luxury vehicles last the least number of miles (177,000 miles), upper-range cars are better than luxury vehicles (195,000 miles), but non-luxury cars last the longest of them all (224,000 miles).
Why is there such a significant difference between these types of vehicles? Wouldn’t we expect luxury vehicles to last longer than non-luxury vehicles, given their price tag?
The reason for this difference is that luxury vehicles are built to give their drivers the best of the best in terms of comfort, performance, and technology. However, this also means luxury vehicles use expensive parts that haven’t been tested on the roads for decades.
On the other hand, non-luxury vehicles use cheaper parts that are built to last and have been on the road for many years already. Furthermore, non-luxury cars are mainly designed for reliability and low-maintenance costs.
So, How Many Miles Is Too Much?
That depends on how long you want the car to last and how many miles per year you drive. On average, Americans drive 14,263 miles per year. Let’s say you want the car you buy to last at least another five years (roughly 70,000 miles). In that case, the guidelines are as follows:
American or Asian, non-luxury cars: look for a vehicle that has a maximum of 150,000 miles on the odometer. Buying a car with 175,000 miles or more is pointless since this will only last you two years.
American or Asian, upper range vehicles: look for a car with a maximum of 125,000 miles on the odometer. Buying a car with more than 150,000 miles or more means it will run out in three years and is therefore too high of a mileage.
Luxury vehicles in general: look for a car with a maximum of 100,000 miles on the odometer. Buying a luxury vehicle with more than 125,000 miles means it will run out in three years. Purchasing a luxury vehicle with more than 150,000 miles means it’s already very close to the end of its lifespan.