If purchasing a new car isn’t an option, maintaining the car you have the way to keep it safe and trustworthy. Maintaining your vehicle at 100,000 miles (160,000 km) and beyond is easy if you perform periodic maintenance. General tune-ups are relatively inexpensive and can protect the investment you’ve made into your vehicle.
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Read the owner’s manual and take its recommendations to heart. Take a more conservative approach to the car’s maintenance schedule if your car is over 100,000 miles (160,000 km).
Take a look under the hood yourself.
Locate the coolant tank. If the coolant level is too high, visit a service technician. If it’s too low, add coolant when the engine is cool. You’ll also want to check the coolant’s color. It should be either a bright orange or green, depending on the brand. If it looks more like rust, have that looked at as well.
Check the oil to make sure it’s never too low.
Adhere to a service schedule.
Examine tire pressure and check that your lights are working correctly every month. You should check tire pressure with a quality pressure gauge, particularly before you go on a long trip.
Change the oil every 3,000 to 4,000 miles (4,800 to 6,400 km), or even every three to four months. Use a high-mileage oil, which will help an aging engine.
While getting the oil changed, ask the technician to inspect belts and hoses. It’s important to be current with belt maintenance as they do not give notice before they fail and possibly destroy your engine. Hoses should be carefully inspected for any breaks or wear and replaced immediately when a problem is detected.
If you haven’t already done so, replace the engine timing belt. You should do this every 60,000 and 100,000 mile (97,000 and 161,000 km) or between five and eight years.
Every other oil change, or every 6,000 miles (9,700 km), have the tires rotated, the wheels balanced and the brakes examined. Make sure the car’s wheel bearings are checked regularly and replaced as they wear.
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Replace both fuel and air filters if you have not already done so. You should do this between 24,000 and 100,000 miles (39,000 and 161,000 km).
Have your vehicle’s cooling system flushed and refilled maintenance that should occur between 40,000 and 100,000 miles (64,000 and 161,000 km). Some professionals say that coolant should be changed every two years because the coolant loses its effectiveness over time.
Have your mechanic check the car’s engine compression routinely. A compression check can indicate problems with piston rings or valves. If the engine’s compression is too high, it can result in engine damage.
Run a heater and air conditioner check annually.
Test your battery quarterly, as a wearing battery can cause other damage–to the alternator or starter–and result in extensive repairs. Replace your battery every five or six years and keep an eye on it when the warranty period ends.
Keep an ear out for troubling noises. Most of the time, you’ll be able to hear when your car isn’t running well. Be in tune with your car’s normal sounds and alert a mechanic to anything out of the ordinary.