How to get 200,000+ miles out of your car
Not so long ago, American cars weren’t engineered to run for 200,000 or more miles. If fact, they were engineered for a maximum of 100,000. Honestly, they were lucky to run that long under the best of circumstances. Today’s cars, both foreign and American are far better engineered and designed to last 200,000 or more miles. In some cases even much much more.
Of course to keep a car running this long requires keeping it well maintained. Not to mention keeping good tires on it, paying for oil changes, fixing things when they break, replacing the shocks, and who knows how many windshield wiper blades. With all of that maintenance cost, they may run for 200,00 or more miles, but is it really worth the cost?
According to Consumer Reports, keeping a car for 225,000 miles over the course of 15 years can save more money than the purchase price of the vehicle itself.
Here’s the recommendations from Consumer Reports for making your car last the long haul:
Buy cars with a high reliability rating. Both Consumer Reports and Edmunds.com provide comprehensive reliability ratings on cars. Purchasing a a car that has a high safety rating based on performance in government and insurance safety tests is also an important consideration.
Don’t Skimp on Maintenance
While it may seem to make financial sense to skip every other oil change, skipping even one oil change can result in engine wear. Engine wear ultimately leads to less lifetime. So keep those fluids changed, tires rotated and filters clean. One word of caution, do not rely on your local dealership of mechanic to provide maintenance intervals and recommended services. Consult your owners manual for required maintenance items.
Pop the hood
I know, some of you are cringing at this point…trust me, it’s not that bad. Consumer Reports encourages people to open their hoods and check for any unusual sounds, sights, or even worse smells. These are generally early warning signs for potentially big problems. Look for things like cracked hoses, exposed wires, cracked belts, liquid leaks, and insure the battery is clean and the terminals aren’t corroded. For the most part your engine will be dirty, but it shouldn’t be caked in oil or have pools of anti-freeze anywhere. If you see lots of oil on the engine, under your hood, or elsewhere, you should get the vehicle serviced.
Items like fan belts, cracked hoses and fluid refills are relatively easy to do. If you are mechanically inclined, you can save money doing these minor repairs yourself.
Don’t skimp on parts
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is purchasing low quality, off-brand, or even used parts. The cost of doing so could be much worse in the long run. Now I’m not saying that these are bad options in all cases, but just do your research. You certainly don’t want to save $100 on a part just to turn around and pay $1000 due to the damage the failed part caused.
Keep it Clean
The best way to avoid buying that shiny new car is to clean yours. Spend an afternoon really giving it a good wash and wax. Clean out the inside, shine the tires. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel about it. Not to mention keeping your car clean will keep it running longer and make the paint last longer.
I drive a 2001 Nissan Sentra with 120,000 miles. I love my little car, and am very curious to see how long it will run. Any guesses?
Do any of you drive cars with more than 100,000 miles on them? How about 200,00? What tips do you have for keeping your car running so long?