Tips, Tricks & Trends

Jay Leno Says This Is the Main Reason People Ditch Their Cars and Why It’s Wrong

Jay Leno knows and loves cars. And he owns lots of them. The former host of The Tonight Show owned a total of 341 vehicles, 181 of which are cars and 160 are motorcycles, according to a December 2019 post in the duPont Registry’s blog. His collection seems to be growing from our last count in July of 286 vehicles, and the estimated value of his collection is now well over $50 million.

No matter how many vehicles Leno actually owns any given month, he’s an old hand at buying cars. He offered used car buyers some sage advice on CNBC.com.

Jay Leno’s pointers for buying used cars

The host of Jay Leno’s Garage on CNBC has three key tips for people who want to buy used cars. 

First, be prepared by learning as much as you can about the car you want to buy. There’s no special blueprint to doing this, says Leno. For a collectible, his criteria are whether the car has historical or technical significance and also whether its style is appealing or unusual. Another essential factor is, of course, whether the car is fun to drive.

Even if you’re not buying a collectible, you still need to do research to have an idea of the car you’re thinking about costs. To learn more, check out Edmunds.com or Kelley Blue Book to get the specs on different models, read reviews, or compare models side-by-side.

The second recommendation Leno makes is to carefully check the car you’re considering for damage. Ideally, you’d want to buy a car that’s been well-maintained. But if you find minor defects that don’t take a sizable amount of cash to repair, they may help you to negotiate a lower price.

Last, always pull a Carfax report, says Leno. To get one, you’ll need the car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number or VIN. For $40, this report will give you the car’s vehicle registration, accident history, and service and repair information.

A huge takeaway from the advice

After Leno discusses pulling a vehicle report in the CNBC video, he talks about the main reason why people sell their cars. He claims sellers simply get bored with their cars. They decide they want to move on from their current vehicles and jump on the latest car trend.

Besides owner boredom, Leno says there’s a general misconception that, after 70,000 or 80,000 miles, a car is worn out. People tend to want to sell their cars once they reach that kind of mileage.

The country’s biggest car collector tells us that this notion is far from the truth. If you change the oil and maintain your car regularly, your car could last you as long as the rest of your life. Rarely, he says do modern cars break down before 200,000 or even 300,000 miles.

Proof that Jay Leno practices what he preaches

In the video, Leno mentions that he has a 1968 Mercedes that has 326,000 miles on it. It’s clear from his current show that his cars are well-taken-of. Car maintenance, in addition to rebuilds and restoration, is an ongoing activity on his current show.

And Leno walks his talk because he does have some amazing high-mileage cars. For example, his 1931 hand-built, three-wheel Shotwell has 150,000 miles that had been put on it by its 17-year-old original owner, Bob Shotwell. This vehicle is powered by a four-cylinder, air-cooled Indian motorcycle engine.

Then there’s the immaculate 1962 Maserati 3500 GTi that Leno discovered in a storage locker. It had nearly 100,000 miles on it. But it’s V6 engine was in such good shape that it didn’t need to be rebuilt.

The sleek 1969 Lamborghini Espada, was at one point in Leno’s life his only car. (No, we can’t imagine that, either.) Now, though, the Lambo has north of 100,000 miles on its odometer.

Leno has some extreme oldies but goodies like the 1915 Hispano Suiza and the 1918 Cadillac Type 57 Victoria. But it’s hard to say how much mileage they have on them. Rest assured that Leno and his crew baby these cars just as they do the other 338 vehicles.

So, Leno’s advice makes a lot of sense. A used car can be a great ride if you do the legwork before buying it. And doing regular oil changes and performing periodic maintenance will pay off, regardless of whether you have an older car or a new one.