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Auto Care and Safety

How to Make Your Vehicle Last 300,000 Miles

Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Furtney

Tony Molla

Vice President, Automotive Service Association (ASA)

It’s not at all unusual to see cars, trucks, and SUVs with over 100,000 miles on their odometers in service shops these days. Modern vehicles are built better, last longer, and offer reliable transportation more than ever before, as long as their owners do one simple thing: read the owner’s manual.

The key to making your vehicle last 300,000 miles or more is regular maintenance. That means changing your oil at the recommended intervals and following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. It’s all there in that extremely valuable but underutilized piece of literature in your glove box.

On schedule

Cars are machines and machines need maintenance, no matter how sophisticated they become. While the growth of onboard computer control systems has improved fuel economy, performance, and efficiency, these computers ultimately control moving parts. Moving parts eventually wear out and have to be replaced. The trick is to do this before a minor repair turns into a major one, which is where the maintenance schedule can offer assistance.

Typical maintenance schedules are laid out in a grid and are generally mileage-based. The ranges vary based on the type of driving you do but, believe it or not, most of us drive under what are considered severe driving conditions. 

The most important thing you can do is change your car’s oil and filter. If your vehicle uses conventional motor oil, you should do this every 4,000-7,500 miles. If your vehicle uses synthetic motor oil, those intervals can be 10,000 miles or more. How do you know what your vehicle uses? It’s in the owner’s manual.

At the very least, you should have your vehicle serviced and inspected by a professional service shop at least twice a year. Spring and fall are good times for this to get ready for summer and winter driving.

If you live in a state that doesn’t require periodic safety checks, have your technician look over the brakes, suspension, steering, and exhaust systems to check for obvious wear or damage. That way, you’ll catch worn items like brakes before they turn into a major expense. 

Remember, if you follow the vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, it’s entirely likely you’ll be driving that vehicle for 300,000 miles or more!

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