How To Keep Your Car Engine Out The Junk Yard – Engine Lifespan Explained

If you just bought a used car and are wondering what is the average life of a car engine, check this guide out.

Well, the average life of a car engine is 8-10 years but a diesel engine may last longer (30+ years). 

The length of time it lasts depends on a range of factors, namely, the vehicle’s age, the material used to make it, maintenance, terrain, and climate. 

Read on to learn more.

How many miles does a car engine last? 

The average engine lifespan is 150,000-200,000 miles but diesel engines can run for 1,000,000-1,500,000 miles

Most standard cars can run up to 200,000 miles. But, electric engines can last longer sometimes, up to 300,000 miles. 

For a while, the average lifespan of a car engine was 150,000 miles (eight years), but with better technology and improved service standards, the average life expectancy of an engine has increased.

This means a three or four-year-old car will have an average mileage of 30,000-40,000 miles.

What contributes to engine longevity?

Different factors contribute to an engine’s longevity. They include:

Construction material

Car engines are made from different metals, but the most common are aluminum and iron. 

Iron is the better of the two as it can withstand the engine’s heat, and higher pressures and handle more power than aluminum engine blocks. 

On the other hand, aluminum engine blocks are handy for vehicles that need to move more weight around the car. 

That’s because aluminum is lighter (nearly half the weight of iron), giving your car better speed, gas mileage, and acceleration.

Driving habits

Working the engine extremely hard when driving is likely to reduce the engine’s lifespan. 

An engine also wears out when you accelerate the car quickly, go downhill, or on rough terrain frequently while dragging the brakes. 

Such driving habits mount more stress on the brakes and the engine. 

A good rule of thumb when driving up or down a hill is to apply the brakes lightly and then release the pedal to cool it down. 


In addition to increasing gas emissions, speed causes a vehicle’s engine to work harder to pump more fuel. A speed of 50-55 miles per hour is the best if you want the engine to last.  

Higher speeds of 70+ miles an hour mean the car needs more horsepower, and the engine has to work harder to put out that kind of power. 


People living in areas with freezing temperatures need to heat the engine for some minutes before driving. 

Cold weather takes a toll on an engine because the battery has a low charge, and the oil is cold and thick. 

This makes it challenging for the moving parts to operate and for gasoline to burn. As such, you need to turn the engine for 30 seconds to a minute before driving to allow it to warm up

If the temperature is below freezing point, you may have to warm it up for up to 5 or 10 minutes.

How many miles is too many on an engine?

An engine has too many miles when it exceeds the average annual life. Since it has a lifespan of 10,000- 20,000 miles a year, it’s considered high mileage if it exceeds this range.

How do you make your engine last longer?

Now that you know the factors affecting an engine’s longevity, you could wonder how long engines last. Here are some tips:

Go for regular maintenance

Routine maintenance plays a critical role in extending an engine’s longevity. Typically, engines are serviced after a year. 

But, you must keep an eye out for any alerts notifying you about engine servicing (or check the owner’s manual if you’re not sure). 

You don’t want to wait until the engine develops strange noises to go for car servicing. 

Be gentle after the break-in period

The break-in period refers to the period after driving the first 1000 miles

You want to be gentle when driving a car after this period to extend an engine’s life after this period. 

You do it by maintaining a lower RPM range and varying the speed occasionally, i.e., not sticking to one gear or speed but utilizing the entire range of the vehicle’s performance.

Shift gears gently

If you’re driving a vehicle with a manual transmission and want your engine to have a long lifespan, you must be careful when shifting the gears. 

Driving at a high gear, speed, and RPM makes the car lug (move slowly and shake). 

Lugging strains the engine and can damage the cylinder heads, causing it to wear out quickly. As such, it’s essential to avoid driving at high speeds. 

Change oil regularly

Oil changes are critical to maintaining the health of an engine and making a car last longer. It rids off the excess dirt that builds up in the engine allowing the more efficient running of the engine. 

Drive regularly

Contrary to popular belief, driving a car less frequently renders the engine ineffective and prone to wear.

Engines function better when active because the car develops a routine that ensures all the engine parts are lubricated.

Can a car last 500 000 miles?

A car can last 500,000 miles or longer with proper care and maintenance. Other factors like usage, brand, wear, and tear play a critical role in extending a car’s lifespan. 

Brands like Mazda, Honda, Ford, and Toyota can attain the 500,000-mile mark and more. 

If you’re wondering how to extend your car’s mileage, here are some tips:

  • Wash the car regularly: Dirt and debris can wear out a car rapidly hence the need to wash it off regularly. Handwashing is the best way to wash a car, but if you prefer drive-through car washes, avoid those using abrasive brushes
  • Take the car for routine servicing: Car servicing should be done every year or after every 10,000 miles to avoid costly repairs and engine failure. If driving an electric car or a foreign car check the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule to find out the ideal time for car servicing
  • Find a reliable mechanic: Car maintenance is costly, especially if it needs some parts repaired or replaced. Working with master technicians goes a long way in keeping the vehicle in top condition, clocking the high 500,000 miles. 

At what mileage should I replace my engine?

On average, the best time to replace an engine is after 200,000 miles or 10 years. In addition to the miles driven, the car is likely to develop other problems indicating the need for a new engine. 

They include:

  • Overheating: Sometimes the engine develops a cracked engine block which causes the engine to overheat. Since such damage can’t be repaired, you need to replace the engine
  • Power loss: If the engine isn’t powering up like it used to, it could be time to replace the engine
  • Frequent knocking: If the engine is frequently knocking, it shows the rod bearings are worn out and must be replaced. This is only possible through a whole engine replacement

What fails on high-mileage engines?

Although high-mileage engines come cheap, they’re wrought with many problems. 

The engine is likely to be worn out causing seals to leak and oil to burn too quickly. 

That’s why the first step when buying a used car is to check the oil’s quality, level, and color.


On average, a car engine lasts anywhere between 8 and 10 years with the diesel variants offering better engine longevity. 

However, this average lifespan can vary depending on the car owner’s driving habits, climate, and the engine’s construction materials. 


Dean Alvarez, TireForge Head Author

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