While the material an engine is made out of, how well it's built and how it's driven all affect how long the engine will last, engine longevity usually comes down to one thing: maintenance.
Any source of car part information will tell you that preventative maintenance is critical to the lifespan of any car part. Auto parts aren't built to last forever, but by applying the correct auto part information to maintaining your car parts -- especially the engine -- you can make sure the parts last a good long time.
While auto part longevity differs from component to component -- tires, for example, no matter how well maintained, won't last as long as a typical exhaust pipe because rubber brakes down much faster than metal -- with proper care, automotive engines can last a really long time.
One of the most important aspects of engine maintenance is keeping the fluids the engine requires clean and fresh. The engine is the heart of the car, and its fluids are its blood. In your own body, your blood has kidneys and a liver to keep the blood clean -- aside from the oil filter, a car engine can't clean its own fluids. That's why it's important to change an engine's oil regularly, and to make sure that change happens before the oil gets too dirty. Dirty oil in the engine is like dirty blood in your bloodstream. Things may go fine for a while, but eventually it will lead to disaster. Even small amounts of dirty buildup over time can lesson an engine's lifespan.
The engine's breathing also affects how long it lasts, because if an engine can't breathe well, it has to work a lot harder. To make sure your engine can breathe properly, you need to make sure your air filter is clean. A hot engine is also something you want to avoid -- the heat wears down vital engine components -- so make sure your engine's cooling system is working well, too.
Finally, pay attention to what your engine is telling you. If your car's gauges say the engine is getting too hot, the oil pressure is low, or if your check engine light is on, don't wait. Take it to a mechanic you trust.