Survey: 100,000 Miles No Longer Kiss of Death for Cars

Scientific or not, conventional wisdom once deemed 100,000 miles on the odometer the magic number when you knew it was time to send your car to that same unspecified "farm" where you sent your kids' elderly dog. Although Fido will still be headed off to that mythical place, chances are you'll have quite a bit more time with your car. That's according to a new survey by automotive-repair website showing that two-thirds of the 3,000 respondents are driving cars with odometers that have turned over at least once — a 36 percent increase compared with five years ago.

Related: Average Age of Cars on Road Reaches Record High

It's nothing new that roads are populated by older and older cars; a recent study put the average age of American cars on the road at an all-time high of 11.5 years. AutoMD's mileage survey reinforces that trend. Asked how many miles were on their primary vehicle, more than a third reported 100,000 to 200,000 miles, and just less than a third reported more than 150,000 miles. In 2010, less than half reported exceeding 100,000.

Reasons respondents gave for keeping their vehicles past 100,000 miles included:

  • Vigilance in repairs and services will keep their cars in good condition, reported by 53 percent.
  • They'd rather enjoy savings and spend their money on something else, 42 percent.
  • Working on their cars themselves will keep them running, 26 percent.
  • Cars are built so much better today, 18 percent.
  • It's environmentally unfriendly to continually buy new vehicles, 9 percent.

While it would seem logical that improvements to the U.S. economy since the last time the survey was conducted would have reduced the length of car ownership — much like the glut of cheap gas of late has increased the sales of pickups and SUVs while reducing sales of hybrids — this has not been the case. AutoMD said this is likely due in part to increased consumer confidence that they will not be overcharged for auto repairs, as indicated by a 10 percent dip in such skepticism and attributed to the use of online comparative resources.

All of this, AutoMD concluded, points to long-term vehicle ownership becoming the "new normal."

"Consistent with AutoMD mileage surveys over the past three years, the last nail appears to be firmly in the coffin of the two- to three-year vehicle life cycle," the site stated. "Eighty-one percent of respondents think the appropriate lifespan of a vehicle is 10-plus years or until the car dies, with 73 percent saying that the two- to three-year purchase cycle is a thing of the past."

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