How many miles does a car engine last?

In today’s article we will try to answer this question, respectively how many miles does an internal combustion engine on gasoline lasts and how much an internal combustion engine on diesel lasts.

The answer will be a little more complex because there are a few things we need to consider to understand.

In short, the answer is that an internal combustion engine on petrol or diesel oil withstands more than 1,000,000 kilometers/miles if it is properly taken care of in good time, with quality spare parts and quality oil, especially oil that is the engine’s life and it is the most important component for the engine. If you drive the car without oil in the engine, in a few minutes the engine will block, the pistons will block too.

So maintenance matters a lot, the time intervals for its care, but also the driving style of the man behind the steering wheel.

About choosing a quality oil we will make a separate article because I want to consider several aspects.

For example, diesel engines have those vibrations that we do not find in the petrol engines, at least not at the same intensity because they are different. The way you drive the car plays an important role here as I said earlier, in the sense that you start the engine, it’s cold outside, you don’t let the engine to heat up for a few minutes, and you leave immediately and go with the RPM up to the red line, this time we are dealing with an aggressive driving that will definitely damage the engine in the long run, especially if you do this when the engine is cold.

It is not a bad thing to pus hard the acceleration pedal, but do not do this when the engine is not properly lubricated, because, in the long run, the engine will suffer.

It matters if you make changes to the car, the engine, in particular, it matters the quality of the fuel used if you use the fuel recommended by the manufacturer or even better fuel than the one recommended. Regarding the engines that last the most, the fight is between petrol and diesel engines

Which engine lasts more? The petrol engine or diesel engine?

I’ll start by answering from my point of view. So, in principle, the petrol engine should last more than a diesel, but it seems that it is not quite, there are diesel engines that last over a million miles and here I am referring to the normal diesel engines on a regular car.

We do not include diesel engines on trucks that withstand even more than 1,600,000 miles because they have low speed, high torque, large displacements, they have a regime of 1500 rpm to 2500 rpm and are used for towing and they are running on long distances.

What hurts the engine a lot are short distances in crowded streets, cold starts, frequent stops, non-lubrication, especially when you start the car because you have no lubrication for several fractions of a second. All these details contribute to long-term engine wear.

An interesting example I want to share with you was a few years ago when I was in a workshop that belongs to a friend of mine in Germany, and just then a gentleman who bought a 2016 Volkswagen Passat, equipped with a simple 2.0 Common-rail diesel engine.

Being in the area I noticed that the car had some signs of wear and, being curious, I asked the owner the number of km that the car had. He told me that the car had 800,000 km (~ 500.000 miles) and that the car was owned by the German police force for 3 years, then he bought it, obviously, at a very good price.

What I want to point out from the above example is that the car, being in the police force for 3 years, had functioned for a long time almost 24/7. So here are two simple conclusions:

  • The car engine that runs continuously lasts longer,
  • The engine of a car that is driven on long distances has a longer life.

These two aspects mentioned above are of particular importance, together with starts especially at cold where the engine suffers a lot, how you drive the car, what oil you put in the engine and, of course, its proper periodic technical inspections.

I saw many engines that exceeded the threshold of one million km and one million miles and if I were to balance all the engines I saw reaching the threshold above or at least very close, the conclusion I reach will be that modern diesel engines last more miles than modern gasoline engines, especially since we now have small, undersized (downsizing) and turbocharged gasoline engines.

Unfortunately, both modern petrol and diesel engines are no longer what they used to be, the old engines lasted more to aggressive driving and poor maintenance because they were made different with reliability as an important goal.

Nowadays, car manufacturers have lowered the engine’s reliability, lowered their tolerances, reduced their manufacturing accuracy, lowered their manufacturing costs, they put more of poor quality materials, so now new cars are no longer as expensive as new cars were in the past, so the manufacturers offered more affordable cars by reducing the above things.

But I think that if they would like to restore those very reliable engines of the past I am convinced that it could be done at any time and very easily, but the producers have adapted to the demand of the population, requirements such as small engines, low consumption, more equipment, more comfort, and low prices.


Car engines last depending on the way they are cared for, you can have a durable engine, it doesn’t matter if it is diesel or petrol if you put a quality oil in it, you change its consumables on time, you do its technical inspections on time, you do not have an aggressive driving in a bad way, do not start and stop often (especially in the cold).

There are always pros and cons for engines produced by different manufacturers, these are normal stuff and will still exist in the future maybe for electric motors this time, but also the driver is responsible for how many miles a motor lasts because he takes the decisions.

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