If you have an older vehicle with more than 100k miles on it, you are far from alone. In fact, more and more often, drivers are using these high-quality, long-lasting vehicles on the roads. Luckily, keeping your ride in good working order doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time or money.
By keeping up with routine car maintenance, you’ll save yourself a lot of money in the long run and help keep the chances of a larger issue at bay. Whether you’re the kind of driver who likes to do it yourself as much as possible or whether you depend on the experts to keep your vehicle running smoothly, take these eight tips into consideration when it comes to smart car maintenance for high-mileage vehicles.
Here’s what you can expect as your vehicle ages and a 100k mile maintenance checklist that can help keep your car running smoothly for miles to come.
What Happens as Cars Age?
Is 100k miles a lot for a car? Not if it’s been properly maintained. Today’s cars are designed to last longer and with excellent care can even have a lifespan in excess of 200,000 miles.
First: It’s important to note that age is nothing but a number when it comes to cars. Instead, focus on the mileage. Racking up the miles tends to wear down your vehicle, whether it’s three years old or 23 years old. Therefore, mileage is often a better indicator of “age” than your vehicle’s manufacture year.
Also, keep in mind that your car’s components wear out or age at different rates. There are parts that degrade rapidly with frequent use, like some gaskets, hoses, and filters. Other vehicle components, such as your car’s body and engine, can weather the additional mileage provided you stick to a regular, proper maintenance schedule.
Higher mileage vehicles are likely to require extensive (and expensive) repairs when ‘minor’ issues go unchecked. Common problems that high-mileage cars face include transmission failure, oil leaks, timing belt failures, water pump leaks, and rust. Therefore, it’s important to check in on your vehicle as its mileage climbs.
But, no matter your age or mileage, you should always be on the lookout for signs something’s gone awry under the hood. Look for leaks, listen for racketing sounds, and be aware of any other telltale signs that something isn’t quite right.
100k mile maintenance checklist
So, your car’s reached the 100k mile mark! Wondering how to best take care of your vehicle? Of course, follow the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule. Additionally, here’s our 100k mile maintenance checklist to help keep everything in working order.
How about a timing belt inspection? Did you know that if your timing belt is wearing down, after a while, it could break and cause severe problems for your engine?
Have a professional mechanic check your timing belt at your 100,000-mile tune-up and replace it if it’s worn. It can help avoid a damaged cylinder head and a costly repair bill.
And while you’re at it, you will want to have your water pump replaced in addition to your car’s fluids like your oil, transmission fluid, brake and power steering fluid, and your coolant.
We can’t overstate the importance of maintaining proper fluid levels. They play a vital role in almost every function of your car, especially when it comes to fuel efficiency and longevity.
If your car reached 100,000 miles, then it is safe to assume that you’ve had to replace your brakes along the way. Even so, it is a good idea to have them checked during your 100,000-mile maintenance. If you have disk brakes, your rotors might need to be turned if the rotors are worn.
Next are your tires. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), cars with underinflated tires by more than 25 percent are three times more likely to be involved in a collision. Note that underinflated tires cause 660 highway deaths and 33,000 injuries annually.
If you’ve been meticulous about caring for your tires checking air pressure, tread, and having them rotated a few times a year then they may still be in good driving condition.
But if not, it is probably time to have your four tires or at least two replaced. If you notice your car is veering to one side or the other, it could be an indication that you need a wheel alignment.
Here is a breakdown of the main parts that should be inspected as part of your car’s 100,000 mile tune up:
- Brakes, brake lines, hoses & connections
- Rotate tires and check the air pressure
- Exhaust system
- All fluid levels
- Boots, drive belts, seals and drive shaft
- Fuel lines, hoses & connections
- Steering, suspension, tie rods end.
Steering and suspension problems not only cause steering problems, but they also accelerate the wear of your tires. Avoid these problems by ensuring your steering fluid is changed and that your shocks are inspected by a professional.
- Parking brake
- Water pump
- Spark plugs
- Air filters
In all likelihood, your transmission fluid, oil, coolant, power steering fluid, and brake fluid will all require to be replaced during your 100,000-mile maintenance appointment.
Remember, first things first: start by consulting your car’s service manual, which was prepared by the folks who designed and built your vehicle. Recommended intervals for your 100k mile service will be indicated.
Bring your car into your local auto repair shop, so a highly trained and trusted mechanic can conduct a thorough inspection.
And be sure to continue with regular car maintenance after 100 000 miles – and, who knows, your car could last very well for another 100,000 miles.
Eight Car Maintenance Tips for Vehicles with Over 100k Miles
1. Use High-Mileage Oil
Special additives in high-mileage oil are designed to give extra support to older engines, which often suffer from breakdown causes such as leaks, deposits, friction, and sludge.
Many of today’s high-mileage oils contain substances such as anti-wear or friction-reducing agents that lessen engine wear. These additives are designed to boost performance and provide protection.
2. Schedule Frequent Oil Changes
Over time, dirt accumulates in your oil, which can clog the filters of your car and eventually cause more wear. In addition, all of the helpful additives in oil – friction-reducing agents, rust fighters, and more – will eventually wear down, meaning that your oil won’t lubricate the engine as well as it should.
To make sure that your oil is doing its job properly, schedule an oil change every 3 months or every 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.
3. Give Your Fuel a Boost
Fuel injector cleaner liquid is both affordable and easy to use. Simply pour a bottle into your gas tank approximately every 3,000-5,000 miles to keep the system clean and efficient.
4. Get Fresh Brake Fluid
Most car maintenance experts recommend a brake system flush approximately every 60,000 miles. This service clears out the brake fluid, which, like oil, accumulates dirt and other contaminants over time.
These accumulations reduce braking efficiency, so take your car to an expert for a brake system flush to remove older fluid and replace it with clean, new fluid.
5. Rotate the Tires
It’s smart to do a tire rotation every 10,000 miles in order to promote even wear and get the most out of your tires.
6. Check Transmission Fluid
Designed to be high-performance, transmission fluid is used to lubricate the gears and transmission of your car.
Many models can make it to 80,000-100,000 miles with few concerns, but every vehicle has different needs, and this figure can change depending on your driving habits.
Once you hit the six-figure mark, check the fluid at least every 30,000 miles and replace it when recommended by your mechanic.
7. Get an Alignment
A front-end alignment will not only make for a better ride but also help ensure normal wear and tear of many of your vehicle’s key parts. Experts recommend that you have your alignment checked with every other oil change.
8. Conduct Three Monthly Routine Inspections at Home
Finally, don’t forget to check three key factors on your vehicle each month: coolant level, tire pressure, and oil level.
Markings on the side of the coolant and oil tanks will show you when the fluid levels are low, and you can use a tire pressure gauge to ensure that your tire pressure is standard for your vehicle, though most experts recommend that passenger car tire pressure be between 32 and 35 PSI (pounds per square inch).
If any of the three is low, simply pour in a little extra liquid or swing by the gas station air pump. Your vehicle will thank you for the monthly check-up!