Regular maintenance of your vehicle will extend its life perhaps well beyond what you or others may think is its normal lifespan. Today’s cars can easily top the 100,000 mile mark with many cars on the road exceeding 150,000, 200,000, even 250,000 miles. Ask owners of high mileage cars how they got to that point and most will point to their own rigorous and disciplined maintenance schedules as being the chief factor. By carefully and diligently following a maintenance schedule, you can extend your vehicle’s life too. Let’s take a look at several important maintenance steps you must take in order to avoid costly repairs and to help you hold onto your vehicle longer.
Regular oil changes – The 30 minute oil change specialists recommend that you change your oil every 3,000 miles or three months, while some manufacturers state you only need to change your oil once every 7,500 miles or six months. Opt for more frequent changes than lengthy manufacturer recommended intervals, but change your oil [and oil filter] every 3,000 miles if your car is subject to hard driving.
Change your air filter – Your engine will run better and cleaner if you change your air filter at least once per year; more so if you do a lot of “stop and go” driving or put on many more miles per year than average.
Rotate your tires – Evenly wearing tires will help ensure that your car stops properly and stays on the road. Have your brakes and shocks inspected too to avoid potential handling and control issues.
Transmission fluid – Your transmission isn’t guaranteed to run forever. Change your fluid at manufacturer recommended intervals, generally once every 30 or 60 thousand miles. Neglect it and face costly repairs and potentially fatal [to the car] consequences.
Drain the radiator – Periodically draining the radiator and replacing the antifreeze will help flush out rust and dirt particles that can clog up your cooling system. When the coolant’s rust inhibitors get used up then corrosion will show up within the radiator as well as in the engine block
Change the spark plugs – Some manufacturers have installed long life spark plugs meaning that changing spark plugs once every 60 or even 90 thousand miles or more is a possibility. Keep in mind that the longer your spark plugs sit in place, the more difficult it may be to remove them later. Optimally, replacing your spark plugs once every 30 thousand miles is ideal.
Examine your exhaust system – Your muffler, catalytic converter, and remaining exhaust system parts can wear out. A poorly functioning exhaust system saps your engine of needed power.
Wash and wax – Yes, your car may mechanically run well, but if the body falls apart, then what do you have left? Regular washings and a once a year wax job should do the trick.
Other stuff – Replace your battery, fuel filter, PCV valve, belts, and hoses as needed and every other part that wears out. Sensors come and sensors go; usually you will only have to replace your knock or oxygen sensors if and when a problem arises.
Ultimately, refer to your manufacturer’s repair book for guidelines as to when to perform maintenance. The key to extending your vehicle’s life is in doing the maintenance when needed to head off costly repair bills. Otherwise you will be neglecting your car to the point where it “dies” prematurely.
You can extend the life of your vehicle. If you aren’t up to the task, hire a qualified mechanic to service your vehicle regularly.
Matt Keegan writes for The Parts Bin, a retailer of high quality K&N filters , EBC brakes , and Husky floor mats available to you at deeply discounted prices.