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How to go the distance and save big bucks on car ownership

Consumer Reports News: August 09, 2012 02:08 PM

One way to save money on car costs is by getting out of the habit of trading your wheels for new ones every few years. Our number crunching shows that the payoff can be as much as $30,000 or more if you hang on to your car for at least 200,000 miles, rather than trade it after five years. That's enough to pay for many new models in cash, as well as avoiding expensive finance charges down the road.

Thanks to developments in powertrain technology, rust proofing, and motor oil and other lubricants, most modern cars can far outlast their payments and allow you to stash that cash for other uses.

The key is to choose a safe, reliable model to begin with, and take care of it. Based on our research, and talking with numerous consumers who have gone the distance, keeping a good car for 200,000 miles or more boils down to these basic pointers:

  • Follow the maintenance schedule in your owner's manual.

  • Keep your car clean inside and out.

  • Take care of small problems as they come up.

  • Know when to give it up if the car is unsafe or unreliable.

For more detailed advice, and a list of recommended cars, see our complete report on how to make your car last 200,000 miles.

If you're already a member of the 200,000-mile club, we'd love to hear from you with your own tips. Post in the comments below, or check out our free 200,000-mile club forum.

Jim Travers

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