Many people believe that once their odometer reaches 100,000 miles, their car is on its last legs and it’s time to consider purchasing a new one. That’s only true if you’re tired of your car or just have to have that beautiful, new model being promoted in the media. But if you love your car and don’t look forward to monthly car payments or higher insurance and registration fees, you can keep it for up to 200,000 miles and beyond. It’s all in the maintenance. There are two important areas of concern you can influence regarding your car’s health:
1. Keeping the car looking good
2. Keeping the car mechanically fit
The best way to maintain your paint job is to keep your car clean. The debris that accumulates on the exterior causes the finish to deteriorate (especially bird droppings, which are acidic and chemically damage the paint). The longer debris is left on the finish of the vehicle, the more damage is done.
Since it is not always convenient to wash the car yourself and not the best for the environment to wash a car in the street (wash water flows down the sewer and into the Bay), taking your vehicle to a professional car wash is a good alternative. They recycle and clean the wash water before it goes into the sewer system.
The interior of your vehicle also requires some ongoing attention. Placing mats on the floor to protect the carpets and being careful with food and drink in the car is important. We also recommend a professional detail once a year to keep the appearance (both inside and out) like new.
There are a number of areas that need attention to keep your vehicle in good running condition.
The best place to start is to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. Again, this is a place to “start”. Following only the manufacturer’s recommendations simply guarantees to get you to the end of the factory warranty period. To take your car down the road another 5 – 10 years requires more attention to the details. For example, so-called life-time fluids will lead to shorter component life times if the fluids are not changed as needed. Transmissions can last many times longer if the fluid is changed at 60,000 miles (sometimes sooner depending upon the application).
Engine coolant deteriorates and should be tested for acidity or pH so that the old coolant does not damage the engine metals and cooling system. This can lead to engine head gasket failures, radiator failures, coolant hose failures, etc.
The brake system fluid also deteriorates and needs to be tested to determine when it should be changed. Old brake system fluid can cause premature brake component failures or can lower the system fluid boiling point. This can cause brakes to fail under heavy usage.
Power steering fluid needs to be tested and changed when needed. Old power steering fluid will lead to premature failure of power steering system components.
Most car owners are aware of the need to change engine oil and filters. There is an alternative to the tried and true petroleum based oils: synthetic engine oils. The synthetics can go longer between changing, resulting in less waste added to the environment. The other advantage is less wear and tear on engine parts, lower heat and lower or no deposit build-up on the engine. This will mean longer engine life with fewer repairs.
Just as with taking care of our bodies, investing a little time to pay attention to the details will result in your car living a long life for multiple 100’s of thousands of miles. Of course, the chances for success are greater if this car regimen begins when your car is new, but starting now is better than not starting at all!
Mountain View Auto Repair