Make it worth the drive: How to extend your car's life

Service vehicle at appropriate times

By Marilyn Moritz - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - It takes a driver about 15 years to reach 200,000 miles on his or her car, and nowadays, with big improvements to technology and rust prevention, people may be able to drive even further than that.

The secret to making your car last more than 200,000 miles is to stay on top of maintenance.

Drivers with newer cars should not ignore service indicators, and those with older cars should check the maintenance schedule in their owner’s manual.

“Following the schedule is key to getting your care to 200,000 miles. Don’t delay routine oil and filter changes, belt replacements or tire rotations,” said Jon Linkov, Consumer Reports’ auto editor.

Linkov said how often you service your car can depend on climate and other factors. Extreme heat can take a toll, and if you drive to the coast a lot, shorter services intervals may be necessary.

“That might mean, for example, changing your oil more regularly — sometimes twice as often. But in the long run, it’s worth it,” he said.

Linkov said drivers shouldn’t cheap out when it comes to their vehicle. The wrong oil or transmission fluid could cause big problems for the car or can even void its warranty.

He said people should buy genuine parts, such as belts and hoses, from brand name suppliers and should tackle rust early.

If anything smells, looks or sounds off, it’s probably something to look into right away, Linkov said.

Beware of shops that want to service your car more than the manual or service indicator tell you or you could end up wasting more money than needed.

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