What is the life expectancy of a motor?

Sources like this one say that a well-kept motor can be all but expected to run up to 200,000 miles. Newer vehicles are expected to run longer than older ones because engineering has improved over the decades. The added complexity of vehicles (like the addition of electronics) means there’s more complexity and more parts that can fail, but it also increases the life span of vehicles. In recent years, we’ve even seen it extend the life of warranties.

Newer players in the auto market, like Hyundai and Kia, are offering a 60,000 mile basic warranty and 100,000 warranty on their drive trains. Nissan is also offering a 5 year, 100,000 mile warranty on select2021 models.

Warranty coverage is not the same as vehicle life expectancy, but the fact that warranties are getting longer is a good sign that newer cars are expected to run longer. Kia and Hyundai have used long warranties as a way to get a foothold in a competitive market and build credibility as a reliable brand. They’re testing the limits of the industry, and you can see that the strategy is working. Just look at the prominence of these brands on American roads in 2021.

This goes to show that it’s profitable for an auto manufacturer to sell cars with coverage up to 100,000miles. When parts fail, the manufacturer has to cover the cost. This is, essentially, them betting that their vehicles are reliable enough to not bankrupt them in maintenance costs.

Cars often run longer than the numbers above. Honda and Toyota are notorious for making vehicles that run well over 200,000. There are many specimens from the 1990’s that are still on the road. Legends abide about some motors that have run far longer. Here

What about your car?

How long your motor will run depends on how well-kept it is, the driving conditions, driving style, and, of course, the make. Keep in mind that none of these are absolutes. There are outliers from every manufacturer, and there are manufacturers that are outliers, themselves.

Based on make here are some notes about the life expectancy of different makes

How to maximize the life of your motor

1. Proper maintenance. The service intervals recommended by the manufacturer are a good rule to follow. Additionally, you can check the under-hood fluids frequently (say, whenever you fuel up),make sure the tires are kept at the proper PSI, and get your check engine light scanned as soon as it comes on.

2. Know your car. Be familiar with your car, so that you know when something’s amiss. Catching problems early is the key to preventing real damage.

3. Be kind to your car. Obviously, if you have to drive over mountain passes or commute in traffic, there’s nothing you can do about it. We don’t want you to worry about what you’re putting your car through. We just want you to be conscientious about it.

Aggressive driving, for instance, is 100% optional. It also puts unnecessary strain on your motor, transmission and other components. If this is a frequent thing, it have an accumulative effect.

Another thing (which often can’t be helped) that puts strain on your motor is short trips (E.g. four miles or less). One of the major stresses a motor experiences is heating up and cooling down, as this causes components to expand and contract. So if you’re racking up your mileage on four-mile trips, it may not run as many miles as a similar motor that drives 30 miles to work each way.

4. Have a reliable mechanic. If you don’t know cars inside and out, you need somebody who does. Not every mechanic is reliable. A few things to look for when evaluating a mechanic are cleanliness, professionalism, communication, and transparency. Do they listen to what you have to say about your car? Do they put in the effort to make sure you understand why maintenance and repairs need to be done?


If you’re in the Des Moines area and need the services of experienced mechanics, you can reach out toABC Repair Center. Contact us through our online contact form

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