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5 High-Mileage Vehicle Maintenance Tips for the 200,000 Club

A 1973 Citroën SM classic car parked on a city street in the rain.

Americans are keeping their vehicles longer. In fact, the average age of cars presently on the road is 12.9 years, according to IHS Markit. If you own a vehicle that’s hit the 200,000-mile mark and wonder whether reaching 300,000 miles is possible, it is — provided you employ the following high-mileage vehicle maintenance strategies.

1. Assess What You’ve Done So Far

How did you get to 200,000 miles in the first place? If you bought the car with many miles on it already, it’s likely that a combination of careful service by you and the previous owner brought you this far. A savvy car owner knows that following the owner’s manual is one of the best strategies for keeping their car running for many miles.

On display at the classic car show at Lakefair 2008, on the shore of Capitol Lake in Olympia, Washington2. Keep Those Oil Changes Coming

Regular oil changes are essential to help avert engine breakdown. You should switch to a high-mileage motor oil when your vehicle reaches around 75,000 miles and continue using it for the life of the vehicle. A motor oil designed for high-mileage vehicles contains extra detergents to help keep older engines clean and supplies extra protection to prevent future engine wear. Such oils also contain seal conditioners to rejuvenate aging engine seals, which help prevent and halt oil leaks.

3. Rotate and Replace Tires as Needed

Tires are what separate your car from the road. If they’re in good shape, you’ll reduce the chance of an accident and keep the suspension from wearing as fast. Rotate the tires at the intervals listed in the owner’s manual, typically twice each year. If you live where wintry conditions are common, weave in winter tires for the cold months. Winter tires do a better job than all-season tires in supplying the traction you need to avoid an accident.

4. Wash and Wax Your Car Regularly

The chassis and drivetrain may be in top shape, but if body panels or the floorboard rust away, you could lose your car. Wash your vehicle on a regular basis, especially after a snowstorm. Apply wax quarterly and repair scratches and dents as they occur. A high-mileage vehicle doesn’t have to reveal its wear and tear. If possible, store your car in a safe place, such as a garage or carport. A car cover is another option, especially if you park your vehicle for prolonged periods.

5. Address Little Problems Before They Become Big Ones

You know to change the brake pads and calipers; swap out filters; replace hoses, belts and the car battery; flush the radiator and transmission; and perform other scheduled maintenance. What often sends vehicles to the junkyard, though, are those small problems that become big ones, especially in regard to components like the engine or transmission.

Left unaddressed, small engine problems can lead to serious repair jobs like head gasket or camshaft replacement. If you hear an odd noise or experience an unusual sensation, don’t ignore it.

Reaching 300,000 miles or more on many vehicles is possible, especially if you stay on top of repairs and high-mileage vehicle maintenance.

Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on high-mileage vehicles, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.


Matthew C. Keegan View All

Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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