The Maintenance Difference
We all know somebody with an older, high-mileage vehicle that keeps on running year after year—that crazy uncle in the high-mileage ride that keeps on going strong. So what’s the secret?
The secret is that there is no real secret to getting a vehicle to last a long time. The difference is maintenance. Regular fluid checks and an almost pious dedication to scheduled lubrication will keep the powertrain going strong. What kind of oil, brake fluid, and grease used is just as important as changing. The best oil in the world will do your engine no good if you never change it. Cleaning and protecting the finishes of the vehicle inside and out will keep things looking good. Paint, plastic, leather, and fabric need help survive the constant assault of the sun and elements.
Tip 1: Check and change the oil. No single step will help an engine last more than regular oil and filter changes will. Conversely, nothing will destroy an engine faster than neglecting oil-level checks or fresh-oil changes.
Tip 2: Flush the cooling system and change coolant once a year. A 50/50 mix of coolant and distilled water will keep the cooling system in good shape and prevent corrosion and deposits from building up inside the cooling system.
Tip 3: Change out transmission and differential oils. While not requiring frequent service, these fluids must be changed according to service intervals. Always use transmission fluid or gear oil of the recommended type and viscosity.
Tip 4: Keep it clean. While washing the outside of the vehicle is obvious, almost everything the vehicle ran over can also get stuck to the underside. Hosing off winter salt and road grime is a good idea.
Tip 5: Everything with moving parts needs grease to survive. This ball joint went into early retirement due to poor lubrication.
Tip 6: Nothing keeps paint looking good and protected like a coat of quality wax. Apply wax at least every six months.
Tip 7: Driveline components such as u-joints also require regular lubrication. The driveline may have to be removed to access the zerk grease fitting.
Tip 8: Protect the interior plastic by parking the vehicle in the shade, using a window deflector screen, and applying a UV protectant to prevent the plastic and vinyl from drying out.
Tip 9: Inspect, clean, and repack wheel bearings with wheel bearing grease according to service intervals. Wheel bearings and grease are inexpensive compared to spindle and hub replacement or liberated wheels rolling down the road ahead of you.
Tip 10: Brake fluid is hygroscopic. This means it is adept at attracting moisture. Moisture causes components to corrode and fail. Replace fluid and bleed system once a year. Brake fluid is cheap. Calipers, hoses, and sensors are expensive.