Quick Summary of How To Make Your Car Last Forever:

  1. Choose The Right Model
  2. Follow The Maintenance Schedule
  3. Don’t Always Go With The Cheapest Auto Products
  4. Get In The Habit Of Being Aware
  5. Cleanliness Will Take You Far

Did you know that 11 years is the average age of all the cars driving on American roads today? If you ask us, that’s pretty cool! Only a couple of decades ago, that would have been very unlikely. But modern auto technology has improved lubricants, rust prevention, powertrain tech, and more. All of this has drastically increased the durability and reliability of cars and trucks across the board. With proper care, most vehicles can make it to the 200,000 mark.

However, the key phrase here is proper care. A car’s longevity is less about the year, make, and model and more about your responsibility as a car owner.

Do You Like Saving Money?

This article isn’t just for the “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of person. It’s for anyone who wants to spend the least amount of maintenance dollars on their car as possible. Everyone likes to save money! And if you’re reading this, we venture to guess that you drive a car.

Cars can get expensive, even after you buy them. The truth is that most maintenance dollars people spend on their cards could have been avoided with relative ease. It’s all about educating yourself and being responsible. But mostly, it’s about being responsible. Data suggests that car owners who reach 200,000 miles save over $30,000 over the course of approximately 15 years. And trust us. That doesn’t happen by chance. It’s a direct result of smart choices.

Here’s how to make your car last forever (or past 200,000 miles).

1. Choose The Right Model

We didn’t say vehicle longevity has nothing to do with the year, make and model. We said it has less to do with it compared to how you treat the car. But the car you choose definitely plays a role in how long it’s going to last. The truth is that with enough money and patience, any car could make it past 200,000 miles. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We want your car to last that long without forking out needless dollars.

Do research. Check Consumer Reports. Ask people you trust. Know which cars are known to be reliable. When you whittle down your choices, let your personal preferences have a say, too. It’s important that you like your car – at least a little bit. Pick a reliable car that you can see yourself having for over a decade. Make sure you’re smart with your decision. When it comes to size, utility, etc, don’t buy more or less than you actually need. Consider your lifestyle and future and pick a car accordingly. But pick a reliable vehicle!

What Else To Think About When Choosing A Car

Only look at ones with the most up-to-date safety features. Things like blind spot warning, forward collision warning, and ABS. If you prefer an older vehicle, don’t go too old. It should have a rear camera and ESC (electronic stability control). You don’t want to get something that’s so old that it doesn’t have all the standard features – particularly safety features. Check out how the car did during official safety tests.

What If You Want A Used Car?

Obviously there’s more risk involved with buying a used car, particularly if you want it to live past 200,000. But if you go used, one of the most important things to check for are signs of abuse and neglect. Check fluids so you can spot any leaks, if there are any. (Damp areas under the hood also give leaks away). Grease and corrosion under the hood is not a good sign. Spot water damage by noticing any trunk silt, carpet discoloration, or bad odors (mildew, in particular).

The interior should look really good – components and upholstery. And if you look closely you can spot repair work giveaways. Evidence of over-sprayed paint is almost a sure sign of repair work, which should make you suspicious. And obvious things like body panels that don’t match, rust, and dents should put up red flags for you.

To be really thorough, you can take the used vehicle to a mechanic and have it inspected and diagnosed. We’d be happy to help you with this. We can spot issues that you may not notice. A service like this will cost around $100-$150.

2. Follow The Maintenance Schedule

Have you ever known someone who actually read the owner’s manual in their glovebox? You need to be that person. In that booklet, you’ll learn the recommended maintenance schedule of that particular year, make, and model. Don’t let Jiffy Lube (no offense) determine when you should have services performed. Know this information yourself straight from the owner’s manual.

It’ll tell you when you should get the timing belt replaced, tires rotated, filter changed, oil changed, etc. This is not rocket science. Simply follow what it says. If you want your car to have a long life and maintain maximum reliability, this is the #1 thing to do. Follow the maintenance schedule. And compared to the recent past, all of this is so much easier. This is because fluids and components last so much longer than they used to. Most modern cars don’t even need an oil change until they’ve reached a ten thousand-mile interval. And most spark plugs today last 10x that long!

Go The Extra Mile

If you really want to ensure the longest life possible for your vehicle, follow a severe-use maintenance schedule. This means the interval between services is smaller. Even if you know your car won’t get “severe use”, following a rigorous schedule will all but guarantee 200,000+ miles.

Definitely go with this plan if you know you’ll be doing any of the following: driving a lot. Making tons of short trips. Regularly towing a trailer. Regularly driving over dusty roads. Driving in a very cold or hot climate. And if you’ll be driving in really cold or hot climates, or in the mountains regularly. This list encompasses a large portion of car owners in America. So the severe-use maintenance plan should be applied by most people, in all honesty.

Use The Monitoring Technology In Your Vehicle

These days, cars have many different features to help owners know the status of their vehicles. Cars track things like engine temperature, what your average speed is, how often you speed, and of course mileage.

Mileage counters have been in cars for decades. But now these sensors are smarter and can pick up your habits as a driver. Some cars keep track of how hard you push on your breaks or how stop-and-go you are. The car’s computer system considers your driving habits and suggest personalized maintenance intervals. It can tell you the speed at which your oil is breaking down and other helpful pieces of information.

Do Not Over-Maintain Your Vehicle

All this talk of going the extra mile with vehicle maintenance may have you thinking how this is saving money. Sounds like we’re telling you to spend more than you otherwise would. The thing is: we’re not. One extra oil change per year, for example, over the course of 10 years could save you thousands of dollars. And the more you know your maintenance manual, the better you’ll be able to spot auto shop dishonesty. If a mechanic recommends a service that you know isn’t necessary (because you’ve read the manual), you save money.

Is It Too Late To Start Following The Maintenance Schedule On Your Existing Vehicle?

Definitely not. It’s never too late! Get your car to a mechanic and have it inspected. If you’ve had the car for a while and haven’t been following recommended protocol, have them fix all issues. Even the small ones. After that, familiarize yourself with your car’s owner’s manual and get on track. Depending on the status of your existing vehicle, you may not make it to 200,000 miles. But you’ll certainly stretch its life out a lot longer than it would have been.

Don’t Always Go With The Cheapest Auto Parts

Don’t worry. This article is still about how to make your car last forever and save a bunch of money. But you’ll be doing yourself a disfavor by always going with the cheapest stuff for your vehicle. Bad quality fluids and auto parts are almost always the most inexpensive ones. Suboptimal transmission fluid and engine oil are definitely out there. And if that’s what you’re putting into your vehicle on a regular basis, it can cause damage. Off-brand timing belts and cheap hoses aren’t made as well as trusted brands. These products often lead to more money spent in the long run.

Sometimes, info about factory-recommended auto products can be found in the owner’s manual. You want to make sure that everything you’re putting into and onto your car meet manufacturer specifications. Some vehicles need premium fuel, for example. If you always put the mid-grade stuff in, you vehicle won’t last as long as you want it to. Also, decisions like buying used tires instead of new ones is not recommended.

This section of the article is a good place to mention something else. Don’t perform invasive maintenance on your own vehicle unless you know exactly what you’re doing. In our experience, it’s better to have a lube shop do your oil change rather than you doing it yourself, for example. Having professionals work on your car eliminates so much risk.

Get In The Habit Of Being Aware

Stuff happens. Even if you’ve done everything right, somehow issues can still arise. It’s just how it is. This is why you need to get in the habit of being aware. You should know the status of your car at all times. When you walk out your front door to your driveway, take a quick look at the tires. Make sure you don’t have an unexpected flat. Open the hood every so often and look for anything out of the ordinary. Things like climate and location have big affects on vehicles. You never know what can happen or what could have happened with you realizing it.

Look at the belts under the hood and take notice of any cracks or frays. Glance at the hoses and take notice of any bulges and cracks. Look for leaks. Check all your fluid levels. Notice smells that are out of the ordinary. When you’re driving, keep your ears and nose open for anything unusual emanating from you vehicle. If you’re paying attention, cars usually tell you what they need with smells and sounds. If you’re check-engine light comes on, don’t procrastinate.

Get in the habit of doing these things all the time. It only takes seconds. Catching something early can save you loads of headache and lots of money. Not to mention extending the life of your car.

Cleanliness Will Take You Far

If you’re already a clean person, this tip won’t be difficult for you. But not everyone is. If you’re not, time to change your ways. The cleaner you keep your car, the better you’ll take care of it in general. We see evidence of this all the time. Plus, the cleaner you keep it, the more you’ll continue to enjoy spending time in there as the years advance. Wash the car regularly, of course, but also wax it regularly. This fends off rust and makes the paint last longer. Vacuum the inside often so that dirt and sand don’t do a number on the upholstery over time.

How To Make Your Car Last Forever (Or At Least Past 200,000 Miles) – Conclusion

Eventually every vehicle will go the way of the earth, no matter how well you take care of it. How do you know when it’s time to say goodbye? If the cost of a necessary repair exceeds the vehicle’s worth. Or if the amount of accumulated rust is comprising safety. Also, if your vehicle is in a serious accident or a flood, it may not be worth putting effort into.

Huntington, WV Collision Repair Services

East End Body Shop services the the vehicle repair needs of WV, Ohio and Kentucky. Ona, Milton, Huntington, Barboursville, Culloden, Catlettsburg, Hurricane / Teays Valley Ceredo, South Point, Kenova, Lavalette, Wayne, Proctorville, Chesapeake, Ironton and Ashland.

Here are just a few of the services we offer to the community:

  • Free walk-in estimates. No appointment necessary
  • Paintless Dent Repair
  • Online Vehicle Status
  • Windshield and Glass Replacement
  • Custom Paint
  • Auto Body Work
  • Paint Jobs
  • Collision Repair
  • Detailing

If you find yourself in need of collision repair estimates due to an accident, or simply wanting to improve the appearance of your car, we hope you think of East End Body Shop in Huntington, WV.  Give us a call to set up an appointment (304) 525-5361