We've all heard stories of cars and trucks lasting anywhere from 200,000 to even 500,000 miles.
But how? Three simple words: maintenance, maintenance, maintenance.
Here are some of the top maintenance tips to help make the engine, transmission and other parts of your vehicle last even longer.
1. Check the oil: The easiest task you can do to increase the longevity of your vehicle is to keep the proper amount of oil in the engine. Also, change the oil and filter as recommended in the manufacturers owner’s manual, or every 3000 miles to be safe.
2. Check power steering fluid: Most older vehicles and even some new models have a hydraulic power steering pump that requires power steering fluid. These pumps have a screw-type cap that lifts off, so the fluid level can easily be checked.
3. Transmission fluid replacement: Having the correct amount of transmission fluid is important because it cools the transmission, lubricates its moving parts, and makes shifting gears smoother. But of course this fluid deteriorates over time. Frequent stop-and-go driving or anything that puts stress on the transmission, such as towing a trailer, accelerates this deterioration. Under these type of conditions the transmission’s operating temperature rises, which puts a strain on the components and the fluid. Automakers recommend you change the fluid more under those conditions. Of course you can check the owner’s manual for more details.
4. Radiator coolant flushing: Coolant has rust inhibitors that break down over time. Rust and corrosion can harm the engine, plug up a thermostat, and damage the water pump. Some automakers recommend changing the coolant every 30,000 miles, while some suggest 100,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual to be sure.
5. Top off brake fluid: While you are checking all of your other fluids, it’s a good idea to check the brake fluid level as well. Put your vehicle on a level surface, then remove the reservoir cap. Make sure the brake fluid level is between the minimum and maximum marks on the fluid reservoir. Use the recommended fluid (DOT3, DOT4, etc.) and fill to the proper level.
6. Rotate your tires: Tires aren't cheap, so you want to make them last. Almost all tires should be rotated every 5000 to 6000 miles and alignment checked every 10,000 to 15,000. Also, it is very important to maintain the proper air pressure in each tire. A sticker on the driver’s door frame lists the proper tire pressures for the front and rear tires.
7. Have a clean engine air filter: A clean air filer can help increase your miles per gallon, help engine performance, and contribute to lower engine emissions.
No maintenance required
There are some components on cars that at one time required regular maintenance, but because of technological advances, there’s no need anymore. Ball joints and steering linkage which at one time required lubrication, no longer require it; new spark plugs may last 150,000 miles and at one time vehicle batteries (which are now sealed for lift) needed the water level in the electrolyte periodically checked.