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The checkered flag used to wave when a car hit 100,000 miles. These days cars can roar past 150,000 to even 250,000 miles or more with regular love and attention. Give the old racer the car maintenance it needs, and you can keep the wheels turning for another lap.

Did You Know?

11 YRS The average age of an American passenger vehicle
64% Percentage of respondents to a recent survey who owned a car or truck with 100K+ miles on the odometer

1. Swap Fluids Frequently The right fluids can make or break those last few miles. Change the coolant regularly (check your owner’s manual for specific guidelines). When you’re past 100,000 miles, consider semi-synthetic or high-mileage oil. Those lubricate an older engine better. And, when you’re checking the oil, give it a sniff. If the fluid smells burnt, that could be a sign that your engine is running “too lean” — not using enough fuel — and you should pay your mechanic a visit.

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2. Check the Hoses Hoses carry high-pressure fluids that can exceed 240 degrees. They age and crack, so have them checked regularly, especially if they begin to emit a syrupy odor or to leak green fluid. Ignore them, and the engine could overheat.

3. Have the Brakes Bled If you’ve inherited or bought a car with more than 100,000 miles on it, ask your mechanic to check the brake fluid. If it’s a clear, amber color, the system likely has been recently rebuilt and well maintained. If it’s black or littered with bits of rubber and rust, a complete brake overhaul is your first priority. Keep things safe and fresh by replacing the fluid every two years or 20,000 miles.

4. Tighten That Belt Many cars need to have the timing belt replaced after every 60,000 to 90,000 miles (the timing belt, a crucial part of your car’s engine, opens and closes the intake valve). The replacement may set you back about $300, but a stretched belt can cost you the whole engine, so talk to your mechanic about when you might need to replace it.

Tip
Never forget another oil change, with the help of Allstate’s Maintenance Reminder.

5. Find Road Romance In a rut? Trips in stop-and-go traffic are tough on you and your car. Highway miles help burn out the gunk that can build up in an older car’s engine if it spends most of its time being driven around town and never heats up enough. A run to somewhere fun every few weeks will give your engine an open-road workout.

6. Go on a Detail Date OK, so a fresh coat of paint won’t change how your car runs. But a detail job won’t break the bank and can make you feel more committed to making your vehicle run longer. Old tires can look like new for as little as $5 — or less, if you shine them up with cooking oil like some drivers do.

THREE WRENCHING QUESTIONS

Old cars spend more time with a mechanic. These questions will help the visit go smoothly.

  • 1
    CAN YOU THROW THIS UP ON THE LIFT?

    This will allow your mechanic to check for leaking fluids or rust — a major issue with older cars.
  • 2
    DO YOU HAVE HIGH-MILEAGE OIL?

    It may cost more, but it will ensure better performance and protection for an older engine.
  • 3
    DO YOU HAVE ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT OR EQUIVALENT REPLACEMENT PARTS?

    An older vehicle is as good as its parts. Manufacturer quality is critical.