Not many people think about making a vehicle go a million miles unless their job requires them to travel many miles per day. A person who visits nursing homes in a certain region or over his or her home state may put hundreds of miles on the vehicle every day. A person who drives to several franchises to check them out may put hundreds of miles on their vehicle every day. For those people, it could be very easy to reach a million miles.
Oil Changes: The tolerances between moving metal parts in the engine are very small. The best thing you can do for your vehicle is to change the oil at least at the manufacturer’s recommended time frames; however, it may be better to change it earlier depending on your driving. If you put a lot of miles on your vehicle every day, drive over gravel roads, drive in the mountains every day, do a lot of highway driving or haul heavy loads, you should change the oil pursuant to the manufacturer’s “heavy driving” schedule.
Other Fluid Checks and Changes
Oil is one of the most important fluids that your vehicle uses; however, others are also important. Transmission fluid keeps the transmission lubricated and allows the hydraulics to work properly, when applicable; power steering fluid keeps the power steering working properly and keeps the rack and pinion lubricated; the brake fluid keep pressure in the system for the calipers; and the antifreeze, which not only keeps the engine from rusting, but keeps the cooling system from freezing during the winter.
If you add straight water to the radiator, you’ll dilute the antifreeze and eventually, you’ll have more water than antifreeze or 100 percent water. This leads to rust forming in the engine and any metal pipes used to transport water through the engine or around the engine. Should the water freeze in the winter, it could, at a minimum, pop the freeze plugs or at a maximum, crack the block. During the hot winter months, the antifreeze also helps the water stay cooler.
You should flush your vehicle’s cooling system and replace the antifreeze every three years unless your vehicle uses long-lasting antifreeze made for aluminum; in which case, you may be able to have the system flushed every five years. This depends on the brand of antifreeze and your driving habits.
Belts and Hoses
Checking the belts and hoses is one of the most important maintenance checks you can do on the vehicle. Vehicles feature a single serpentine belt, two or more V-belts or a combination of serpentine belts and V-belts. One large serpentine belt turns all of the accessories: the air compressor, power steering pump – if it’s not electric, the alternator, and, the water pump unless that is located under the timing cover.
Should the belt that drives the water pump break, your vehicle will start to overheat; and this decreases the life of your engine or may cause you to have to replace the head gasket. In some cases, an overheated engine could even warp aluminum heads.
The Timing Belt
Find out if your vehicle has a timing belt, a timing chain or gear drive. They all have different intervals for when you need to change them. The timing belt should be changed at 55,000 to 60,000 miles. Eventually, it will stretch too much – from age – and the tensioner won’t be able to keep it tight. Once the timing belt stretches or breaks, the valves could hit the pistons, especially if your vehicle’s engine is an interference engine. This could result in a bent valve.
Keep Up With Maintenance
You should be able to find your vehicle’s maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. If you cannot find your owner’s manual, ask your dealership for a copy of the maintenance schedule for your vehicle. Be ready to provide the year, make, model and VIN number for the vehicle. When you keep up with regular maintenance on your vehicle, you have a huge chance of getting it to a million miles.