This Lady Has Had 3 Toyotas That Each Went over 300,000 Miles

Dethra U. Giles’ current Avalon is closing in on a half million miles.

dethra giles half million mile toyota
Dethra Giles

A couple weeks ago we told you about a study that ranked cars by their likelihood to clear 250,000 miles on the odometer. Of those, Toyotas made up six of the Top 10 and 10 of the Top 20. Well, a lady in Atlanta wrote to say she has had three Toyotas so far that have all gone over 300,000 miles, and that her current car, a Toyota Avalon, is only a few miles shy of the half-million-mile mark. Can you beat that?

Dethra U. Giles is a proud lifelong Toyota owner, starting with the 1985 Tercel her mother bought her new on her 16th birthday. That car went 350,000 miles before being donated to a worthy cause. It was followed by a 1999 Corolla, also bought new, that went a mere 300,000 miles before being donated to a charity. In 2007 she bought a new Avalon that she is still driving. When we spoke to her last week the Avalon odo read 496,242.

What’s the secret? Dealer service, she said.

“Keeping up with the maintenance and taking it to the dealer,” she said. “Most of my life, people have laughed at me like, ‘I can’t believe you take your car to Toyota. It costs so much money to do that.’ I’m like, ‘Hold on, guys. My cars have consistently gotten over 200,000 miles. So you tell me, I’m doing something wrong, but you’re the one buying the car every five years.”

toyota avalon
This is the new Avalon. Giles has a 2007.

And it’s not just changing oil, though that’s part of it (synthetic oil, she says).

“I do exactly what they say to do when they say to do it. Whatever they say the recommended thing to do at that point in the maintenance process is exactly what I did.”

And the mileage doesn’t include rebuilt blocks or heads, either.

“All of my cars have the original engine with no major overhauls. Like, I haven’t had to get the transmission changed, it’s the original engine. And I think that’s what really shocks people the most. ‘To get a car to that much mileage you just do all this engine rebuild,’ and I’m like, ‘Nope, this is everything original.”

She’s going to hang on to the Avalon until it passes the 500,000-mile mark then get something else, probably another Toyota. Giles founded and runs an HR consulting firm. So shouldn’t a successful professional like her be in a Lexus?

“I thought about it, and, just coming from the insurance price point of view, I’m like, what’s the major difference here? I’ll pay a major price difference and not get a major upgrade from the car. So I was like, ‘Hey, let’s stick with Toyota as long as we can.’ But that was the biggest thing. You know, I can do what I want. And I just love my Toyota.”

Hello, Lexus marketing?

“One of my friends, a broker, he’s like, ‘It’s time for you to upgrade, you’re running in different circles now.’ You have that pressure of lifestyle, you start doing certain things, and you start hanging with certain people, and you start being noticed in certain environments, and everybody expects your car to, quote unquote, fit that. And I’m just like, ‘No, I’m not a car person. That’s not where my money goes. That’s a depreciating asset.’ And so why would I just dump a bunch of money into it?”

“Whatever the recommended thing at that point in the maintenance process is exactly what I did.”

What advice does she have for those who want to get more miles from their cars?

“Spend the money to take care of your car. So many people do what I call ‘stepping over dollars to get two dimes.’ ‘I don’t need that maintenance right now.’ And they let it go further than the recommended mileage to take care of it. And you can’t figure out why you can’t get 150,000 miles out of a car? It is because you won’t pay for the maintenance. I say sacrifice a little bit now and pay for the maintenance over the long haul, it will be amazingly, financially rewarding.”

One time she was told a certain maintenance item would be $1000 and she balked.

“I was like, ‘$1,000?’ And my husband said, ‘Are you kidding me? You haven’t had a car payment in a decade!”

Next up for Giles? It would have been another Avalon, but Toyota has discontinued that model. So she’s looking at a Camry. I hear they’re reliable.

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