It wasn’t so long ago that people would laugh at the idea of keeping a car running through 200,000 miles and beyond. However, major improvements in automotive technology, lubricants, rust prevention and so on have made vehicles much more reliable and durable. Now-a-days it isn’t uncommon for a car to age well into the six-figure territory, so long as it receives the proper care and maintenance.
According to Polk research, today the average age of all cars on the roads is around 11 years, which is up from about 8 years back in 1995. Research done by Consumer Reports shows that there are long-term financial benefits in keeping a car for over 200,000 miles. They state that reaching that milestone (which would take the average motorist about 15 years) could result in savings of $30,000 or more.
Whether you hang on to your vehicle for financial or sentimental reasons, these seven tips will help you properly care for it so that it will make it to the 200,000-mile mark and beyond:
- Follow the Recommended Maintenance Schedule
Your owner’s manual is your vehicles best friend. It outlines the best times to maintenance your vehicle to keep it running as long as possible and in as good condition as possible. Keeping up with the recommended maintenance tasks will lengthen your vehicles life, and help protect your wallet from costly repairs.
- Always Change Your Oil On Time
This kind of falls under the following the maintenance schedule point, but the oil on its own is one of the most important points of vehicle maintenance and is often one that is neglected. The oil lubricates your engine and helps keep everything running smoothly. Poor oil care can cause costly damage to your engine in the long run. Making sure you change the oil on time every time will greatly help to extend the life of your vehicle. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended type of oil you should use as well as how often you should be changing it. Once you reach 6-digit plus mileage, ask a repair tech if you should consider switching to an oil made specifically for cars with high mileage.
- Buy the Right Parts
When you try and save money by buying cheaper parts and fluids, it could end up costing you more later on. For example, when you use the wrong type of transmission fluid you can cause damage to your vehicle that will lead to costly repairs, diminish the long-term reliability of the parts, and even void your warranty if you have one. When you use cheap “no-name” hoses and belts they may not wear as well as those that come from name-brand suppliers, which means you would have to replace them more frequently. Play it safe and only buy parts and fluids that meet the manufacturer specifications found in your owner’s manual.
- Use the Proper Grade of Gas
Your owner’s manual comes into play again and will let you know which fuel is best for your specific vehicle. If the manual says premium fuel is required, then that is what you should be using in order to get the best mileage from your vehicle. In some engines, using the wrong fuel grade could cause damage to your vehicle. If the manual says premium fuel is recommended – but not required- you will be safe using a lower-octane gasoline as the engine-control system will have sensors that will make up for the difference. Using a premium fuel in a car that is designed for regular gas makes no difference. It will not improve fuel economy, or performance, so save your money and stick to the regular stuff.
- Shut it Off
If you are stopped for any period of a time (apart from traffic lights or drive-thru’s) you should shut the engine down. Running the engine when you are not driving it puts a lot of unnecessary stress on the engine components which could cause them to break down much more quickly than they would otherwise.
- Follow Proper Tire Maintenance Protocols
Over the course of your journey to 200,000 miles you will have to replace your tires several times. However, you should take good care of each set when they are on your car. Help protect your tires and more importantly the parts of the car they are attached to by keeping the wheels aligned, checking the tire tread, and rotating your tires regularly.
- Listen to Your Vehicle
You know your vehicle better than anyone. You know what sounds, smells, and movements are normal, and what is not. When something seems off, don’t hesitate to have your car looked over. If there is a problem, catching it early on can save you a lot of time, stress, and money- waiting to repair a vehicle in need could potentially cause further and even more costly damage.