How to Keep Your High-Mileage Vehicle Going Strong

car odometer with high mileage

The knights in shining armor of fairy tale fame wouldn’t be so brilliant without their noble steeds. The same can be said for today’s road warriors, whether commuting or vacation-bound.

Motorists are getting the most out of their car-buying dollar, when you consider that the average age of cars on the road today is 11.4 years, according to IHS Automotive. This means that drivers are waiting more than a decade before turning their vehicles in for a new ride.

It’s not just that they’re owning them longer; they’re also accumulating more miles. In fact, according to The New York Times, 200,000 miler vehicles are the new normal, replacing the 100,000 milers that were once considered to be the industry standard for high mileage cars. While today’s lineup of vehicles are built more sturdily, thanks to the advances in manufacturing, cars don’t reach these lofty mileage totals without some elbow grease.

Should I purchase a high mileage vehicle?

Most automobiles nowadays are designed to travel long beyond 100,000 miles, so buying a car with a high mileage can save you money. A large number on the odometer isn’t always a red flag. Automobile manufacturers such as Toyota and Honda are recognized for developing vehicles that may survive for hundreds of thousands of miles with proper care and use.

Start before you’re there – choose a car known for its long life

Purchase a reliable vehicle that will last a long time; pay it off as quickly as possible; and then enjoy the benefits of automobile ownership for years (decades?) to come.  Of course, the first step is to select a long-lasting vehicle, and we’ve got you covered there. Here are some tried and true cars that will last you years if you treat them right:

  • Toyota Camry
  • Honda Accord
  • Toyota Prius
  • Honda Civic
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Lexus ES
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Buick LaCrosse
  • Kia Rio

The following are a few maintenance techniques that can help you keep your car going, and going, and going, as if it were the Energizer Bunny:

Be timely about oil changes

Experts use to advise car owners to change their oil every 3,000 miles. With advances in technology, most modern oil can now be changed anywhere between 5,000 and 7,500 miles. However, if you procrastinate and allow overused oil to fester, it can diminish your vehicle’s lifespan. Make a note of the last time you changed the oil so you can know exactly when the next one should be scheduled.

Tire maintenance is extra important

If you look after your tires, they will look after you. Make sure to rotate the tires on a regular basis, keep them filled to the proper pressure, and replace them as needed. When your tires are in good condition, they impose less stress on the rest of the car and can help your suspension last longer. Newer, properly inflated tires also provide you a higher chance of avoiding an accident.

Care for your battery

You can do all sorts of maintenance on your high-mileage vehicle, but if the battery fails, your car won’t start and you won’t be able to get anywhere. With a high-mileage automobile, you may go through a few batteries, so it’s a good idea to take excellent care of them so you get the most out of each one. If you haven’t cleaned your battery in a while, take the following procedures to do so:

  • Remove any rust from the battery’s top and the wires. Dip a non-metallic brush in a mixture of baking soda and water to achieve this.
  • Disconnect the cables and remove any extra corrosion that has accumulated around the cables or terminals using a post cleaner.
  • The electrolyte level should then be checked. Make sure the electrolyte solution is about half an inch deep in the battery cells by opening the cap and adding distilled water if required. Test electrolyte levels with a hydrometer.
  • If you won’t be using your car for a long, invest in a battery maintainer that will check the battery’s voltage and replenish charge as needed. If you don’t charge the battery every six weeks or so by driving or using a battery charger, the car may not start when you need it to.

If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, find a mechanic you can trust. 

Check the fluids regularly

If you are able to check your vehicle’s fluid once a week that’s great! However, that’s not always possible if your schedule is jam packed. The rule of thumb is to check your car’s fluids at least once a month to be sure nothing needs to be changed or refilled.

Clean the fuel system

Cleaning the fuel system in high-mileage vehicles is an important maintenance task that should not be overlooked. Your car’s fuel injectors are one of the most vital components, and they’ve undoubtedly helped it endure this long. However, if those fuel injectors get clogged with debris, they will be unable to provide the right fuel and air mix to your engine, resulting in increased engine stress and lower performance. The correct fuel injector cleaning may remove those undesirable deposits, allowing your fuel injectors to function properly. If you reside in a region where you have to switch between summer and winter gas, the performance of your fuel injectors will suffer.

Keep an eye on filters and belts

A clogged filter may harm your automobile just as much as low or contaminated fluids. Check your filters on a regular basis and replace any that are too filthy or outdated. While you’re at it, check for any evident belts, hoses, or clamps that need to be changed, and replace any that are.

Keep your car clean, inside and out

While frequent waxing and washing may appear to be a trivial approach to keep a high-mileage automobile in good shape, there are several compelling reasons to do so. Waxing, for example, helps prevent corrosion, which is a constant threat with older automobiles. Getting a complete detailing on your automobile every couple of years is literally worth its weight in gold, as it will keep it looking like new for many years. Washes, waxes, and protective polymers have gone a long way in appearance technology.

Fix any small issues immediately

Basic maintenance, such as changing brake pads, buying new filters, replacing hoses, belts, and the battery, is something that everyone knows about, but it’s easy to put off. Any little maintenance issue, on the other hand, might soon escalate into a major repair task. Find a reputable auto shop where professionals can inspect your vehicle on a regular basis for any issues that need to be addressed before they become more serious.

Choose high quality replacement parts

You usually get what you pay for when it comes to vehicle parts. Replace any worn-out parts with high-quality alternatives if you want to keep your automobile on the road.

Make fewer, shorter drives

Shorter excursions are worse on a car because they enable water to accumulate in the engine and exhaust system, according to Car Talk. Rust may develop as a result of this. Quick excursions, according to Kiplinger, can cause engine sludge since the engine never gets hot enough to burn off the gasoline in the oil, engine, and exhaust system. While a trip to the convenience store or to pick up your dry cleaning is necessary, Kiplinger recommends scheduling some longer journeys or combining all of your errands so that your car can reach its ideal operating temperature.

Follow advice in owner’s manual

The owner’s manual may be the most infrequently read book out there that ought to be. In the table of contents, you’ll find a comprehensive listing of everything you need to do to keep your car running full steam ahead for as long as possible. Give it a read through and you may be surprised by what you’ll discover.

Take it easy

The late great Glenn Frey of The Eagles fame perhaps said it best: Take it easy when you’re driving, especially if you’ve had your car for several years now. Your ride isn’t exactly a spring chicken anymore, so it deserves some tender loving care. Some ways to take it easy on your vehicle include:

  • Don’t warm your car up in the winter before you’re ready to go.
  • Slow down
  • Avoid slamming on the breaks
  • Never drive on an empty gas tank
  • Don’t carry extra weight in your car by lugging around unnecessary items
  • Use a sunshade
  • Drive as safely as possible

Store in enclosed environment

The everyday wear-and-tear of driving is unavoidable, and is the reason why vehicles age the way they do. The weather plays a role as well, as the scorching heat of summer and bone-chilling cold of winter may cause some damage. If available, park your vehicle in a garage to keep it out of the harsh elements.

Taking care of your car can feel like a full time job. Why not get some help? At Elephant insurance we take protection seriously. Ensure you have the insurance coverage that’s right for you, Get a quote today.

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