It was once a huge red flag: When a car’s odometer would hit 100,000 miles, but thanks to improvements in car design and maintenance, the milestone of 100,000 miles now means something very different.
Although some cars are ready for trade-in at that threshold, many others can travel twice as far without major repairs.
What allows one car to pass the 100,000-mile barrier with few repair bills, while another is ready for the junkyard? It’s all about preventive medicine.
“It’s just like when you get to be 70 and everyone tells you the same thing: exercise, eat right, take care of yourself,” says Lauren Fix, author of “Lauren Fix’s Guide to Loving Your Car” (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2008).
Feeding your car the right things and taking it for regular checkups will make all the difference.
Open the book
The key to keeping your car running smoothly is probably tucked at the bottom of your glove compartment, under the spare napkins and ketchup packets. It’s the owner’s manual, which most people ignore at their peril.
“There is a schedule in the manual that runs well over 100,000 miles,” says Fix, and it lists when to replace parts likely to be wearing out. The list will vary for different cars, so check yours and follow it.
Newer cars may have the maintenance schedule built into an internal computer. A blinking light or a beep will announce that it’s time to replace certain parts, says autoeducation.com founder Kevin Schappell.
“Things like the water pump and timing belt should be changed before you notice a problem,” Schappell says. Replacing them won’t be hugely expensive, but “if that belt breaks, it can cause internal damage to the engine, or if the water pump fails, you can overheat the engine and warp the cylinder head.”
That’s when things get expensive.
“Typically, around 100,000 or 120,000 miles there are some major preventative maintenance things that need to be done,” Schappell says, so it’s a great time to catch up if you’ve been lax until now.
Get fluent about fluids
The liquids that go into your car (gas, oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, etc.) are crucial to its survival. To extend the life of your car beyond 100,000 miles, these experts suggest frequent oil changes and fluid checks done at dealerships or full-service auto centers.
Find the right shop
Ask friends and neighbors, and search online for reviews of repair shops. Once you’ve chosen one, get to know the staff and ask questions. Sticking with your car’s dealer can be a safe choice, because the staff will be trained to work on your car.
The type of miles matter
It may seem surprising, but highway driving puts less stress on a car that tooling around locally. It requires less quick braking and acceleration, and moisture under the hood has a chance to evaporate. Local driving in colder climates can also cause buildup of ice and snow under the car, which may contain corrosive chemicals.
These small investments will add years to the life of your car.
Have questions about the maintenance on your vehicle, give our service department a call at 609-448-1411.