How Your Car Can Save You $30,000

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(Memphis)   What would you do with an extra $30,000?  That's how much Consumer Reports estimates you can save by keeping your car going past 200,000 miles.

We met some folks right here in the MidSouth who've done just that, and we're sharing their secrets for keeping your ride on the road a little longer.

"This is my GMC Suburban 1998, and nickname Brownie, says Bethann Williams, and oh, how sweet it is! "No payments, runs great. Brownie has 204,000 miles."

Richard Towns' '98, F-150 is just the latest he drove past 200,000 miles.  His truck has 290,292 to be exact. "I've had three vehicles, I've gotten over 200, 250, 300,000 miles out of," explains Towns.

It's somewhat of an exclusive club, but one more drivers are trying to join. "People are more prone to repair what they've got now, than to try to replace it," says Cecil's Automotive Manager Neal Poppenheimer

A move that saves more money in the long run. Consumer Reports did the math and estimates you can save around $30,000 by keeping a car for 15 years versus buying a new one every five.

So, what's the key to pushing your car past the 200,000 mile mark?

Experts say it actually starts with your selection. If you're buying a car, invest in one with a record of reliability.

The same is true even if it's used.

"If the carpet looks worn, if the seats have rips in them, if it just looks like its been neglected where you can see it, chances are, it hasn't been maintained as well on the inside, the engine," says Consumer Reports Autos Associate Editor Jim Travers.

Travers adds you should always have a mechanic check it out before you buy it.
Another one we heard over and over from both the experts and high mileage car owners was preventive maintenance.

Poppenheimer says while cars these days are built to last longer, "Engine's stronger, they can handle more damage but it's still good to keep on top of it and follow what the manufacturer says."

Yep, that's right. You may not want to hear it or believe it, but experts say it's best to go by the scheduled maintenance plan in the owner's manual.
"If they call for the timing belt at 90,000 miles on your car, you look down and you've got 120,000 you're riding on borrowed time," adds Poppenheimer.

He says most important though, "Check the air, keep your tires rotated and just check your fluids."

Williams saves money on maintenance with her husband doing most of the work, and in the 12 years, they've had Brownie, she hasn't required any major repairs.

"In the long run, it just frees up so much time and money, just time and money, who can't have enough of that!"

DIY repairs is one of Towns' secrets too. "I learned also you keep minimal mechanics," adds Towns.   He's selective about who gets under the hood and in the driver's seat. "I don't let just any and everybody drive my vehicle." 

Towns is also particular about cleaning his truck.   He even washes the engine.
"None of this is rocket science, it's pretty simple," adds Travers.

"I feel like my car is like my health," says Verlene Tyson. You take care of it,  "So it can take care of you," says Poppenheimer.

Experts also say it's important to be in tune with your car.  If you feel or see something odd, get it checked out.

A long-term investment pays off

Keeping a car for 15 years will save you thousands compared with buying a new car every five years, possibly more than the price of a car. We compared both scenarios using a family sedan and a small SUV, and chose reliable models. Depreciation, or the vehicle’s loss in value, is the largest cost factor by far, accounting for about half of ownership costs over five years. Our calculations were based on driving 15,000 miles per year.

Read MORE from Consumer Reports


Honda CR-V EX (4WD), $26,455

Toyota Camry LE (4-cyl.), $23,830


Owner costs        

Keep for 15 years

New car every 5 years

Keep for 15 years

New car every 5 years






Maintenance and repairs





Loan interest (5.32%, 15% down)





Sales taxes (5% average)










Total cost






$31,723 $28,438