Car Maintenance Tips for High-Mileage Vehicles

Michael J. O'Connor
November 8, 2023

No matter what kind of car you own, keeping it running and caring for it should be a big part of your day-to-day life. A well-maintained vehicle will give you many more years of reliable service and be a lot cheaper in the long run. Cars that get regular maintenance have fewer serious issues, which almost always translates into less money spent at the shop. This is especially true as your car gets older and you put more miles on the odometer. 

High-mileage cars are much more likely to develop problems that are expensive to repair. The engine, transmission, electrical system, and fuel system will all start to wear down and they can be incredibly costly to fix. However, if you take the time to treat your high-mileage vehicle well and do some important maintenance on a regular schedule, you can ward off some of these issues. Knowing some car maintenance tips that are specifically meant for high-mileage cars can help you keep your vehicle running smoothly, even as it ages. 

Use a High-Mileage Oil

Once your vehicle gets past the 100,000-mile mark, it is even more important to get regularly-scheduled oil changes as a part of your car maintenance. Your car’s oil is its lifeblood and if it sits in the engine too long without being changed, it can become gummy and cause friction in the engine’s components. Most people get their oil changed every 5,000 miles or so but as your car gets older, you should be getting it changed every 3,000 miles. You should also use a specially-formulated high-mileage oil when you change it out. 

High-mileage oil includes additives like seal conditioners that prevent gaskets from drying out. Some also include additives that create swelling in rubber parts like o-rings to prevent leaks and keep a tight seal in the engine. A high-mileage oil will also include select detergents that can help clean out the engine’s inner workings and stop deterioration. While these oils are slightly more expensive, this car maintenance will be well worth it if you don’t end up having to replace gaskets or fix leaks. 

Regularly Check Transmission Fluid 

The transmission is one of the most expensive components of your vehicle to repair when something goes wrong. It is an incredibly complex piece of machinery and even a small issue can cost thousands of dollars to fix. Your transmission relies on transmission fluid to keep it lubricated and keep the gears from grinding together as they shift. If this fluid gets too low, the gears will have too much friction and will start to release metal shavings into the housing, which can be disastrous. 

If you have a high-mileage vehicle, checking the transmission fluid level regularly is an important part of car maintenance. Your car has a dipstick located toward the back of the engine that you can use to check the level and condition of the transmission fluid. Make sure that the level is somewhere between the “low” and “full” mark and top it off as needed. The fluid should also be a pinkish-red color and if it is any darker, it is probably a good idea to get it changed. This will keep your transmission running smoothly and prevent any serious repairs or replacements.

Respond to Changes Quickly 

As you drive your high-mileage car, pay close attention to any changes in its performance. If, for example, you are noticing that it takes a little longer to get up to speed or that it shudders as it accelerates, it is important to get it looked at as soon as possible. Proper monitoring is an essential part of high-mileage car maintenance. Unusual sights, smells, and sounds can all be indications that something is happening with your vehicle that needs attention. 

One of the worst things you can do for your vehicle is ignore problems that pop up. Car issues tend to have a domino effect, which means that a small problem can quickly escalate into a big one. Almost invariably, the sooner you can get your vehicle to a shop when something changes, the cheaper it will be to fix. With quick action and regular car maintenance, you can keep your repair bills relatively low. 

Use a Fuel Injector Cleaner 

The components in your high-mileage vehicle that are the most susceptible to wear and tear are the ignition components. These are things like the spark plugs, ignition coil packs, and fuel injectors. Because they get so much use and are constantly working when the engine is running, you may find that they wear out the fastest. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep them in good shape and keep your engine running. 

Using a fuel injector cleaner as a regular part of your car maintenance is a great way to ensure that your ignition system works properly and doesn’t get gummed up. These cleaners can be added to your gas tank and will clean out the fuel injectors so they don’t get stuck and cause problems with the air/fuel mixture that is being pumped into the engine. Fuel injectors are very expensive to replace, so keeping them clean will prevent costly replacements and give your engine the best chance of staying in good condition for many more miles. 

Replace Filters and Belts

While it is important to make sure the major components of your high-mileage car stay in good shape, it is even more essential to regularly replace the items that are meant to wear out. Small components like filters and belts are designed to deteriorate and will need to be replaced as a part of your routine car maintenance. Oil filters and air filters are designed to catch contaminants before they have a chance to get into your engine and cause serious problems. Making sure that you have clean ones in your vehicle will keep the rest of your vehicle pristine. 

Belts like the timing belt and serpentine belt will become loose as they stretch and begin to wear out. This is especially true for high-mileage cars that run hotter and have a slightly rougher operation. If you notice any squeaking or chirping, a loose belt is most likely the culprit. Replacing belts as a part of your regular car maintenance is a great way to keep the rest of the engine running well and prevent problems with temperature regulation and ignition timing. 

Get the Best Car Maintenance for Your High-Mileage Vehicle

Keeping up on car maintenance can do a lot of good for your car and becomes even more important as you put more miles on it. Beyond the usual oil changes and tire rotations, replacing components that wear out quickly and keeping an eye on how your vehicle is performing can protect it and give you peace of mind whenever you are on the road. With a little bit of extra care, you can keep your high-mileage vehicle running smoothly for many years. 

If you need help with your high-mileage car maintenance, ServiceUp is here for you. With one easy-to-use dashboard to help you manage your maintenance, collision, and mechanical repair needs, it has never been easier to get your vehicle fixed by qualified, experienced technicians. Whether you need simple oil changes or major body work, ServiceUp will take care of everything and get you back on the road. Get an estimate today to find out how ServiceUp can help!

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