Car Care

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. 

FIXD Research Team

At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

FIXD Research Team
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.

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  1. I learn I lot of new things…Thank you so much! Please keep it up and let sending me

  2. Most of these I already practice but didn’t know topping off the Gas could do damage,thks

    1. Same here, Darryl. I always top off, but I won’t any more. And I never let the level of gas get below 1/3 of a tank.

    2. I always try to run on the top half of my tank and never thought topping off could be bad.

  3. I always try to do the recommendations.

  4. I have a FIXD in both of my vehicles but I still enjoyed the information you wrote about and I’ll check my automobile booklets to see how often I’m supposed to change the oil. Thanks

    1. I never let my gas tank get below half tank. But I didn’t know about topping off your fuel. Good to know.

  5. I wish the Fixapp would relate to non-engine items also. Example: I have a Ford van with over 177,000 miles on it that runs great(due to my attention to maintance). The brake light has been on for 10+ years. Even though I’ve had brake work done, it’s still on. I’d like to get rid of it. Your devise let’s one do that for engine items.

    1. Thank you for the information. I was reminded about the gas topping off error. I like reminders. Thank you

    2. @Clark Mefford. Is that the brake wear, brake replacement light? Or the brake light that comes on at the rear of the vehicle when you depress the brake pedal?

      If it is the break wear light, the fix is easy. Some pads have a wire in them, when the pad wears down to the wire the light comes on as it completed the circuit to the light. Some pads don’t have this wire, so if the mechanic puts these pads on, he has to do something with the wire on the vehicle. My guess is that he either taped it up somewhere and it is touching metal, or he taped it up on a suspension strut and the insulation has rubbed through and completed the circuit.

      If it is the normal brake light at the rear of the car, there is either an electronic pressure switch on the master cylinder or a physical switch on the pedal itself. You can test these with a meter.

      1. I had that problem and it was the brake fluid sensor.

      2. Bought two fixd devices, one for my 99 Corolla and the other for my 98 Silverado. 250K miles on the Toyota and zero issues. 200K on the Chevy with a cam sensor and MAP sensor faults. Replaced the entire distributor with a new cam sensor and cleared that fault. New MAP sensor, but still have low voltage warning. Will check that soon.

        So glad I have your devices! Between fixd telling me what’s wrong and the occasional YouTube video to find where to look, I’m gonna save a fortune!

    3. The button above your brake pedal is probably stuck closed. It’s located under the dash and is depressed when you push on the brake pedal. Most people don’t know it’s there.

    4. Try you brake switch on the brake pedal as the switch plunger sometimes sticks and your brake lights will stay on

  6. Thanks for the information regarding the use of your device.

  7. Manufacturers should design it so tank won’t top up or gas won’t flood into the carbon filter.

  8. Unfortunately we have no control over the weather so I am not able to practise some of your recommendations. I must admit that one I will certainly follow is not to “overfill” the gas tank.
    Thanks for the tips!

  9. All good advice. Can I mention an issue with the device and app. I got my car serviced last week and checked to make sure the dealership had not removed the device. I checked the app and it told me my oil was due for a change. As I had just had it done, I tried to pt in the mileage that the car was now. It wouldn’t accept it and gave a message that is must be in the past. I changed it to a few miles previous and it wouldn’t accept that either. It should take the mileage of your current oil change that then remind you at the interval you set as the change interval. Thanks, it is a great device.

    1. You guys are the angel of drivers, who care and want the long life span, of an owned vehicle.

  10. Is adding automatic transmission fluid still considered life-extending for the engine?

  11. Is it ok to top off the fuel tank by waiting for the nozzle to stop pumping, and simply not trying to pump any more than that?

  12. I had a 1987 Toyota celica which I kept for 22 years. I practiced most of these ideas and the car ran very well. The only reason I replaced it was it was rusting in more and more spots which led to leaking inside the car. But, yes, these are great ideas to live by if you want your car for a long time.

  13. More engines fail due to cooling issues than any other issue. Flush your cooling system, use the correct oil and change it regularly. Oh, no mention on suspension tires, or rust, fix those when needed.

  14. On new cars the engine shuts off when you stop and starts up when you take your foot off the brake. Is this good for your engine ?

  15. I think your math is off when saying you could drive to the moon in 30 days at 60mph…

  16. Su consejo es muy bueno yo llenaba mi tanque hasta que salia
    pero de ahora en adelante lo dejare hasta donde la manguera se dispara
    gracias son muy amables Dios los bendiga

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