Nine Ways to Get Your Car to 200,000 Miles
You always hear old guys saying, "They don't make cars like they used to." True, but it's because they make them BETTER now. Now every car has a chance to get to 200,000 miles, and here's nine ways you can get yours there.
1. Follow the maintenance schedule. As in, down to the day. Don't skip any scheduled maintenance. And if the manufacturer's schedule stops at 150,000 miles, consult your mechanic and write your own.
2. Do a regular visual inspection. Like the preflight inspection that pilots do every time they fly. Walk around the car, look underneath, check all the lights. And when you drive away, look for fresh fluids left on the ground.
3. Listen and feel while you're driving. Weird sounds are one of the best ways to catch a problem before it gets serious. Listen for sounds, and feel for shakes and knocks . . . and remember the driving conditions and how fast you were going.
4. Sniff the dipsticks. When you check your oil level, smell the oil from the engine. If it smells burnt, your engine is running lean. You could be in for a full rebuild later on, if you don't take care of it. Also smell the transmission fluid, if there's a dipstick for that.
5. Don't take short trips. Meaning a trip less than five miles. Seriously, that's what they say. Ten miles, if it's below freezing outside. It's because a trip that short doesn't let the engine reach its operating temperature.
And it NEEDS to get there, to take care of the water and unburned fuel that naturally gets into the motor oil. Water's produced when the engine burns fuel, and some gets into the oil and exhaust system, which is normal.
On long drives, the engine gets hot enough to boil it off. But on short drives, the water stays in the oil, and over time it'll cause sludge to build up.
6. Use synthetic oil. No one agrees on the right brand to buy. But everyone agrees that synthetic oil is much better for an engine than the natural kind.
7. Change the transmission fluid. Sometimes nowadays they tell you the transmission fluid is supposed to last for the life of the car. Don't believe it. Change it at least once every 100,000 miles . . . and if you're flushing the system, put in a new filter first.
8. Replace bearings and bushings. These are parts that wear just like brake pads, belts, and tires. They don't need to be switched out very often. But once or twice before you hit 200,000 miles is good.
9. Wash the car, by hand. Keeping the exterior clean will preserve the paint job and prevent rust. That goes for the undercarriage too. And it's better if you do it yourself, because you'll notice little things before they develop into big problems.