Despite a slow but steady economic recovery, families haven’t loosened their tight wallets, which can mean putting off the purchase of a new car. If that’s the case, then your vehicle is likely to reach the 200,000-mile mark and quite possibly beyond.
Maximize the miles of your family’s sedan, minivan or SUV with regular maintenance. The following tips and tricks can keep your car humming well past 200,000 miles.
Fewer Trade-Ins & Older Fleets
America’s vehicle fleet isn’t getting any younger. Market research firm R.L. Polk recently found that the average age of vehicles on America’s roads currently stands at an all-time high of 11.4 years. Polk also expects the number of cars older than 12 years to grow by more than 20 percent in 2018. Drivers choose to hold onto their vehicles instead of trading in because of tighter budgets. Today’s cars are built to be more reliable and dependable, and owners can squeeze more miles out of them than ever before.
This is good news for car repair facilities and auto parts retailers. According to CarMD, the average car repair cost rose to an average of $367.84 in 2012, up from $333.93 in 2011. More people are taking into account the cost of repair when purchasing a video and investing in an extended auto warranty with companies like Carchex, a warranty source partnered with Carfax. Although today’s cars are more reliable, the likelihood of vehicles in need of major component repairs and replacements also rises with age and wear and tear, hence the higher costs of parts and labor.
Tips for 200,000
Use the following tips to keep your car looking and driving at its best. When you eventually sell your car or trade it in, it may just be in the right condition to take on another 200,000 miles:
- Don’t just use common sense – use your senses as well. Rely on your sight to give your vehicle a thorough visual inspection before setting off on a trip. Listen carefully for any squeaks, rattles, knocking, and unusual noises. Use your nose for checking engine oil and transmission fluid. If either smells burnt, a trip to the repair shop is in your future. If you feel bits of metal in your transmission fluid, you’ll definitely need a new or rebuilt tranny soon.
- Always change your fluids according to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Edmunds says the old standard used to be every 3,000 miles, but changes in vehicle and oil technology have pushed oil change intervals to be as high as 15,000 miles.
- Ditch the short trips. The engine won’t have time to warm up and boil off excess water. Unburned fuel that naturally makes its way into the engine oil eventually causes slush to build up on short trips.
- Keep your car pristine with a hand wash and thorough interior detailing. Washing the exterior prevents rust and preserves your car’s finish. A clean interior also helps your car look much younger than its 200,000 or so miles. Don’t forget to keep the undercarriage clean as well.
- Consider switching to synthetic oil. Not only does it last longer, it’s also better for your engine.
- Change your transmission fluid at least once every 100,000. Remember – there’s no such thing as “lifetime” transmission fluid, even if your manufacturer claims there is. All fluids eventually wear out.