How To Make 100,000 Mile Cars Feel New Again

Necessary maintenance on a 100,00 mile car

Necessary maintenance on a 100,00 mile car

How to make a car with 100,000 miles on it feel new again may seem like a daunting task but as we’ll see, 100,000 miles doesn’t mean the same thing as it used to decades ago. Many cars are becoming 100,000 mile cars.

If you have a car with over 100,000 miles on it, chances are you’re becoming concerned that things may begin going wrong with it. For many people, the 100K mark seems to be the the bottom rung of the ladder and somehow means certain death for vehicles. While that may have been true 30 years ago, it is certainly not the case in today’s world. Cars and trucks are designed and built far better with better materials than ever before. Depending on how well you take care of your car, it could easily see 200,000 miles or more and, by taking care of it  we mean properly maintaining it,

How to make 100,000 mile cars feel new again

High mileage odometer

Properly maintained engines can easily deliver high mileage while maintaining safety and reliability allowing many cars to become 100,000 mile cars

Regardless of make, model, or year, your automobile is a machine. They have many moving parts, and provided those moving parts are kept clean, well lubricated, and cool, they will last many years, even decades. Beginning in 1996, electronic operating systems on virtually all cars built in North America were advanced significantly. On-board vehicle computers became far more sophisticated and were able to control things like fuel delivery and engine operation much more effectively. The result was cleaner operation and longer lasting components. Here we are well into the 21st century and the improvements continue to come not only in the area of electronics, but also with structural engine and transmission designs. All this improvement means longer life cycles but, longer life cycles depend on regular routine maintenance.

Maintenance Schedule For 100,000 Mile Cars

Our favorite recommendation is to inspect the 7 vital systems twice per year. An easy way to remember to do that is plan on dropping the vehicle for service when the clocks change (Spring and Fall). For those that may not have a preferred service center, always seek out an AAA service center when possible with ASE Certified Technicians and always insist on speaking to the technician that will be servicing your vehicle.

ASE Master tech logo

ASE technicians increase the likelihood your car will become one of the 100,000 mile cars

The seven vital systems are:
* Brake System
* Engine
* Transmission
* Cooling System
* Power Steering
* Differential
* Fuel System

Systems Often Overlooked

One of the most frequently overlooked systems is the power steering.  Chances are, you didn’t even know that routine service was supposed to be done on this system. Power steering fluid breaks down and loses it’s effectiveness over time. Power Steering parts include hoses, the pump, steering gear, and other metal and rubber parts, all of which depend on lubrication from the power steering fluid. Inspect and/or service the power steering system annually and consider using high quality friction modifier additives such as Lucas Power Steering Tune-Up, to give your older system a fresh start.

Today’s braking systems are sophisticated and complex. Contaminated brake fluid can and will cause premature failure in these systems.

Brake fluid is another often overlooked system. Hydraulic Brake Fluid is hygroscopic which means it’s designed to absorb moisture. As moisture increases, the boiling point decreases. New brake fluid is designed to boil at somewhere near 400 degrees F. Every 1% moisture content will reduce the boiling point by approximately 60 degrees F. Brakes are the things that prevent you from crashing into things and brake fluid is cheap! Most service centers will perform a complete brake fluid flush for $80.00 to $100.00 so consider doing your brakes a favor once a year and get new fluid.

The other systems you probably already know about – motor oil,  transmission fluid, coolant, differential fluid and fuel systems. Many of you have been regular and mindful about service and maintenance of these areas, but you’ll definitely want to pay attention to your intervals even more closely once your car becomes one of the 100,000 mile cars.

Automotive Lubricant Improvements


Synthetic oils perform far better than conventional lubricants for 100,000 mile cars

With today’s advancements in automotive systems, metallurgy, and fluid and lubricant improvements there’s no reason you can’t own a 100,000 mile car that surpasses 250,000 or more miles. We have a vehicle in our Horsepower for an Hour fleet with just under 300,000 miles on it and it runs and performs excellent.

Maintenance is the key to success and that’s true for most things. If you take care of it, it will take care of you. Get the most out of your vehicle by maintaining it mindfully and see your odometer reach heights you never thought possible.

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About Author

Donny is a Southern California specialty shop owner with primary emphasis on transmission and differential systems. He is an automotive technology graduate with over 30 years of experience. He and his wife own DMC Transmission outside of Los Angeles and were awarded “Shop of the Year” honors in 2010 and 2011.

Email Donny

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