Cars that can run for over 200,000 miles
MORE AT FORBES.COM
Trivia buffs know the Volvo 1800 S as Roger Moore’s ride of choice as adventurer Simon Templar in the TV series “The Saint” back when the car was new, but you don’t need divine intervention to wring the most miles possible out of your automotive investment. With proper maintenance and timely replacement of worn parts just about any of today’s cars and trucks can stay on the road for 200,000 miles or more. This is enabling American motorists to hold onto their rides for longer than ever – the average passenger vehicle on the road today is 10.6 years old, according to the Car Care Council.
For those with an eye on owning a car or truck for the long run, we’ve identified a list of 14 model-year 2012 vehicles that are statistically among the least likely to encounter major mechanical problems in at least the first several years of ownership. Our list consists of 14 cars and trucks that received top scores in both the most-recent Consumer Reports Car Reliability survey, based on problems reported by 1.3 million owners of model-year 2005-2010 vehicles, and the J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Vehicles Dependability Study based on responses from more than 43,700 original owners of 2008 model-year vehicles.
We also consulted repair-cost predictions from Intellichoice.com to ensure that any of the cars and trucks in our “200,000 mile club” would not become prohibitively costly to keep running once parts needed replacing. And at that, we chose models that, for the most part, “keep it simple,” and (at least in their base models) eschew complex gadgetry that could require expensive repair or replacement down the road.
Our picks include budget-minded small cars like the Honda Fit and Scion xB, stalwart sedans including the Acura RL and Lincoln MKZ, sporty cars like the Ford Mustang and Mazda MX-5 Miata, purposeful people-movers such as the Subaru Forester and Toyota Highlander and tough trucks including the Toyota4Runner and Tundra models. While most of the models on our list are from Asian automakers, based on past model-year performance, we expect additional domestic models to make CR and J.D. Power’s most-reliable lists in the years to come.
Of course, no matter which model a motorist ultimately chooses, only a well-maintained car or truck will last long enough to go the distance. The road to 200,000 miles begins with following the automaker’s maintenance schedule to the letter, particularly during the first few years of ownership to prevent voiding the vehicle’s warranty. Have the oil and filter changed according to the automaker’s so-called “severe use” schedule, which by definition applies to those who frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic, live in extremely hot or cold climates or dusty areas or who tow a trailer (which accounts for the majority of motorists).
What’s more, astute owners need to take a proactive attitude toward car care that reaches beyond the occasional trip to the shop. This means opening the hood and perhaps even getting your hands dirty from time to time. For starters, check all of the vehicle fluids regularly – including engine oil, coolant and brake, power steering and transmission fluids – and top them off as necessary. Your car’s owner’s manual will show where and how to check them. If any fluid levels are chronically low, have the car examined by a technician.
Inspect the hoses and belts regularly. Have them replaced whenever they appear cracked, brittle, frayed, become loose or show signs of excessive wear. Check the level of fluid in the battery at least once a month; it typically resides under a removable plastic cover to the left or right of the engine. Either remove the battery caps or look through the small “window” provided for this purpose. If the fluid level is low, top it off only with distilled water. Keep the terminals clear of corrosion to ensure a good connection using a soft wire brush dipped in ammonia or baking soda, then flush with clear water.