Maintaining a Car Past 100,000 Miles

I was having a tough day yesterday, but one thing made me smile: my car hit the 100,000 mile mark. I actually missed seeing the odometer turn over by 4 miles, so no cool video or picture to show you. None the less, we’ve owned the car since early 2005. It’s a 2003 Honda we purchased used with about 40,000 miles on it. And it’s nice to see it last this long.

Maintaining Your Car Past 100000 MilesI know this is chump change for some of you. But this is the first car that I’ve owned free and clear for some time and also seen go past the 100K mark. What’s even more exciting is that I don’t really feel like the car is old or that it will need much in repair anytime soon. In fact, I just spoke with my brother-in-law (mechanic) and he said he sees this model in his shop all the time with 200k (even 300K) miles on it.

Here’s something really impressive. A man in Wisconsin was able to get his 1989 Saab to over 1 million miles:

“Gilbert bought the Saab for $29,000. It was his treat after a divorce, and he took meticulous care of it. He used premium, synthetic oil in oil changes, changed the tires every 45,000 miles and strictly followed the maintenance schedule.”

Just think about how much money this has saved Gilbert. No car payment for at least 15 years. I’ve kept decent care of our Honda, with timely oil changes and maintenance. One thing I could do a better job of is rotating the tires and keeping them properly inflated. Here’s ten tips from MSN to make your car last longer:

  • Regularly Change the Air Filter
  • Maintain Proper Coolant Levels
  • Keep Tires Inflated Properly
  • Pay Attention to Dashboard Warning Lights
  • Find a Reliable, Regular Mechanic (easier said than done, right?)
  • Look for Warning Signs
  • Set a Maintenance Schedule
  • Be a Good Driver
  • Keep it Clean Inside and Out
  • Keep it Covered Up

I’ll add one: make sure you maintain affordable auto insurance and an adequately funded emergency fund. Having a good policy and cash on hand to handle your deductible will allow you to take care of your car properly when something goes wrong.

How many miles do you have on your vehicle(s)? Did you do anything special when you hit 100K?

photo by Danilo Prates

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About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon. He created this website back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence. He uses Personal Capital to track his wealth. All the content on this blog is original and created or edited by PT.


  1. Thanks, biddy!

  2. Hi PT, Mrs PT and baby PT,

    My 1990 Suburu Legacy now has 220K on it. It goes well – provided the key is
    in the ignition 🙂 I kiss her every morning and thank her every night. The biggest
    problem is putting air in the tires as my hands are not (big) strong enough……..
    In the land where I grew up there was a much easier system……..never mind – I
    check by kicking the tires the way my brothers taught me to do…..seems to work 🙂

    Give Mrs PT and toddler PT a big hug and get one back……..

  3. Maybe the Silver Bullet could use a celebratory car wash now that she’s over 100K? 🙂

  4. @Doug – Great way to break it down. I find that as I age, I care less and less about cars. They’re just a thing to get me around town…an expensive version of my own two feet. So I think there’s a sliding scale to most everyone’s purchasing history. They own cars for shorter period at the beginning of their life, and then trend towards longer ownership throughout their life. I guess the key is learning to be content at an earlier stage. Of course, I’ve got no problems with people owning several cars. If that’s what they want to spend money on vs a house or other stuff (that I like, for instance), then that’s their prerogative.

    @Adam – Awesome, man. Congrats on keeping the ride to 115k!

  5. Congrats on hitting the 100K mark, owning your car free and clear, and keeping that 2003 model running!

    I got my car (with some help from my parents) back in 07. Bought a 1999 model with 75k miles on it, and just recently paid it off. It’s now at 115k miles, and still kicking! Definitely the most important things are regular oil changes and regular maintenance. Baby your car, and it will be good to you.

  6. Doug Warshauer says

    This is really important – keeping your car longer can save a huge amount of money over your lifetime. Let’s say you’ll be owning a car for 60 years (say from 21 to 81 years of age). If you keep each car for five years, you need to buy 12 cars. If you keep each car for ten years, you only need to buy 6 cars. At $20,000/car, that’s $120,000 saved over your lifetime. There aren’t many opportunities for saving that kind of money.

  7. @Kris – You know I have this weird desire to try and hold on to my current ride till my 17 month old is 16. Seems a bit of a stretch, but I think I could do it. I’m sure she’d love it. 😉
    @Stu – I love the name. Strange how our pride in a car switches from good looking to paid off.

  8. Stu @ Pennywise2Pennyworth says

    Thanks for the post Phil,
    I have a 1995 Honda Civic. The odometer says 136,000 miles, but has stopped working so I am not sure how many miles are on it at this point. I call it my “Dave Ramsey Get Out of Debt Car” I have never been the type to maintain my car on a regular schedule, but after two blown engines and the fact that I am now trying to get out of debt I am paying a lot more attention. Maintaining is definitely cheaper than fixing or replacing.

    I am looking forward to the 200,000 mile update…

  9. Just gave my 96 Honda Civic with 230,000 miles to my 18 year old son. Before he got it the car was “cool”. He put in a nice stereo and some other cosmetic changes. Then he gets the car and calls it a piece of junk! I’m trying to teach him why driving this car is a great idea financially, but he’s 17 and lessons are hard to teach!

  10. Thanks, Liane. I’m impressed with your mini-van. Who knew they were built for that kind of mileage.

  11. Congratulations!! There is satisfaction in knowing that you have a dependable vehicle that will take you anywhere you need to go. All it needs is a little TLC here and there. I have a 1994 minivan that has 211,000 miles on it and I’m looking to downsize only because I don’t have any passengers anymore……