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Top 5 Tips for Maintaining High-Mileage Vehicles, Plus Five Things to Check Before Buying One

CARSON, Calif. July 27, 2011

So, what should owners of these increasingly aged, high-mileage vehicles do to make sure those vehicles continue to run smoothly and last longer?  And, for those jumping into the used market, what should they look for BEFORE they purchase to make sure that high-miler will give them plenty more miles?’s team of automotive experts have put together tips to help consumers keep their elderly vehicles spry and energetic, and to help buyers of more mature, high-mileage vehicles know what to look out for before purchasing.’s Top Five Maintenance Tips for the Over-75,000 miler

1. Keep Up With Service


How to Change Your Oil

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2. Looks Are Still Important! Even After 75

As your vehicle ages, the paint/ finish becomes more vulnerable to the elements, which could lead to rust, so, if you can, keep your vehicle in the garage to protect it from the elements or consider a cover if you don’t have a garage. And, to prolong the quality of its interior, remember the surgeon general’s warning: smoking is hazardous to your vehicle interior’s health…and it will make your vehicle smell. Be sure to be vigilant about cleaning and treating your leather upholstery and cleaning and protecting the carpet and upholstery.

3. Timing is Everything: Replace That Belt

If your vehicle has a timing belt, it’s very important to replace it at the recommended interval (60,000 miles or more). A stretched timing belt affects engine performance, and a broken belt can leave you stranded.  If you have an interference engine, a broken belt will also cause engine damage!

How to replace a timing belt

4. Take It Easy When You Drive  

Cars that are driven easy last longer. Avoid driving habits that put stress and strain on your vehicle, such as fast driving, hitting curbs, off-roading, and trailer towing.  

5 Support those Tires

Maintaining your tires is critical to how your vehicle rides … and vehicle safety. If tires are unevenly worn or out of balance, your car may pull or shake when you drive, potentially damaging other components. So, be sure to keep your tires properly inflated; rotate and balance them every other oil change; routinely check for uneven wear and be sure to keep them clean, and cover them if you leave your vehicle stored for long periods of time.

How to check tire pressure

How to rotate tires

How to balance tires’s Top Five Things to Look for Before Purchasing a High-Mileage Vehicle

1. Know the Owner

Make sure you assess the owner when purchasing and how long the owner has owned the vehicle. Is the owner the type of person who would drive carefully and slowly, or the type of person to ride over rough roads, speed, subject the vehicle to rapid starts and stops? Also, where is that owner located? By the beach? Then check for rust. In the hills? Then check for smooth shifting and excessive brake wear.

2. Follow the Paper Trail

Make sure that the vehicle has comprehensive service records and examine all work/service documents. Important items to look for are major services like the timing belt replacement.  And, while you are looking for a paper trail, go online to research average cost of ownership of that make/model and check out online resources and forums to see what people are saying about the longevity of the brand you are considering is and what some of the key issues with that vehicle are. Make sure all recalls have been fixed!

3. Looks Count!

Make sure you do a thorough examination of the exterior of the vehicle, looking for body damage that could indicate vehicle history and future problems.  For example, curb rash (scraping of the wheels) could indicate a lot of city driving, a rusted body means excessive contact with salt or water, different colored paint and fender misalignment could indicate the vehicle has been in an accident. While you are doing a walk around, check the tire condition and tread depth (coin test). The tire wear should be even and the tread depth should cover part of Abe’s head on a penny! If the vehicle has a tow hitch, check for signs of heavy use like a rusted hitch.  Check under the vehicle for fluid leaks from the engine and drive train.

4. Get Under the Hood

It is important to check all the fluid levels, and the condition of the belts and hoses. Check the transmission fluid color to make sure it’s not dark or burnt which could indicate future transmission problems.  Low fluid level in the brake master cylinder could indicate worn brake pads. Check the date code on the battery and the condition of the battery cables.  An old battery may fail soon, and corroded cables can cause electrical problems.

How to check automatic transmission fluid level

How to check the brake fluid level

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5. Road Test

Of course, it is important to take a test drive, to make sure the engine runs smoothly, that the brakes are solid and the steering stable – and that you are comfortable in the vehicle.  Also, while you have the engine running, check to see if there is any tailpipe smoke, which could indicate a worn engine.  But don’t just leave it at a drive – before you get on the road, get inside and check the operation of all components, especially A/C, lights, windows, and radio. And of course, check the mileage, the higher the mileage, the lower the price should be.

(1) Car owners continue to hold onto their vehicles longer, planning to put more miles on them than in previous years, according to a survey of car owners conducted by

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Media Contacts

Melanie Webber [email protected]
Angela Jacobson [email protected]

SOURCE U.S. Auto Parts Network, Inc.

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