Keeping Your Car Running for One Million Miles

If you’re like us and looking for ways to save money on your car, we have some great tips for you!  One of our customers, Bobby Newton, just crossed the million mile mark in his 1995 Toyota Camry. “The best part about having this car so long is thinking about how much money its saved me in the long run.  I’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars by keeping the same car over the years, and it’s not as hard as you’d think to keep your car running for a long time.”

So what’s the secret to keeping a car healthy and alive for over a million miles?

It’s probably not as difficult as you’d imagine!  

We’ve compiled some of the top tips for keeping your car running as long as possible.  If you follow these simple tips, you too may be able to to keep your car on the road for one million miles or more!

1.Follow Regular Maintenance for Your Car

Bobby shared that “One of the most important things that I’ve done to keep my car running so long is being very attentive about getting my car regularly maintained according to my manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.”  While getting your car serviced every 3,000 or 5,000 miles sound expensive, it WILL save you money in the long run. Getting regular maintenance is one of the best ways to prevent catastrophic failures from occurring in the future.

One of the most common maintenance items is getting your oil changed.  While you may hear some mechanics tell you that you need to get an oil change every 3,000 miles, that may not necessarily be true.  Check your owner’s manual in the glovebox to see the actual recommended mileage interval you should drive before getting your oil changed.  It could be 3,000 miles, but it could also be up to 7,500 miles.

If you have the FIXD app, you can check the ‘Maintenance Timeline’ to get an easy-to-use view of your vehicle’s manufacturer recommended maintenance interval.  You can easily see what maintenance tasks are required for all upcoming intervals so you can plan for them in advance.  

2.Don’t Let Your Gas Fall Below a Quarter Tank

We understand the feeling of dread of paying $50 to fill up your tank of gas, but it may cost less in the long run to keep your car’s gas tank full rather than leaving it on empty.  Over 20% of drivers on the road currently have a ‘low fuel light’ on in their car, and hundreds of thousands of drivers each year run out of fuel and get stranded on the side of the road.  Most drivers who continuously drive around with low fuel levels say that they do so because they hope they can find cheaper gas elsewhere.  

Unfortunately, this habit is one of the most likely causes of several types of vehicle failures.  And experts agree – driving around with an empty (or close to empty) tank of gas is a bad idea. Two very expensive things that happen over time with low fuel include damage to the catalytic converter and damage to the electric-fuel pump motor.  Failure of either of these two items will result in repair bills in the hundreds or thousands of dollars!

So follow our advice and keep your fuel level above a quarter-tank.  Your car will last MUCH longer by doing this simple preventative step.

3.Don’t Top Off Your Gas

On the other end of the spectrum from the tips above, it’s also a bad idea to constantly ‘top off’ your gas tank.  Brent Statham of Statham Automotive in Chicago told us that “topping off your fuel tank can put stress on your car’s evaporative system and may cause a failure or leak in the system.”  

By putting too much gas in the tank, you can cause pressure to build in the fuel tank and flood into the carbon filter collection system (which is only meant for vapor). What does this mean for you?  It means that this could impact your car’s performance and may damage the engine long term.   

Damaging the carbon filter canister could cost from several hundred dollars up to $1,500.  If the damage is bad enough, you may also be looking at replacing the entire engine. 

4.Try to Avoid Extreme Driving Conditions

In the automotive industry, there are several driving conditions which are known as ‘extreme driving conditions.’  Driving regularly in these conditions will accelerate the wear to your vehicle and will cause more frequent failures and will require you to get your vehicle maintained more regularly.  

  • Driving on short trips of less than five miles in normal temperatures or less than 10 miles in freezing temperatures.
  • Driving in hot weather stop-and-go traffic.
  • Driving at low speeds of less than 50 miles per hour for long distances.
  • Driving on roads that are dusty, muddy or have salt, sand or gravel spread on the surface.
  • Towing a trailer, carrying a camper (if a pickup truck) or transport items on a roof rack or in a car-top carrier.
  • Accelerating and braking fast at stop lights or in traffic.

While we realize that you may not be able to completely avoid all the above, its best for the longevity of your vehicle to stay out of these conditions whenever you can. 

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