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Keep 'ol reliable going


Last updated 2/14/2008 at Noon

Lots of drivers like to buy a new car every three or four years, while many more grow a little more proud with each passing mile on the odometer.

For the latter, caring for a vehicle as it approaches each mileage milestone doesn’t take a master mechanic. Instead, a little attention and some minor maintenance can keep a car running into the 150,000- to 200,000-mile range.

Car owners should pay more careful attention to their cars with each passing mile. If one parks his car in the same spot each night, he should check underneath for any signs of leaking fluids and take note of their color, if any.

Another approach is to cruise with the windows up and the radio or CD player off. Taking a silent drive will let a driver hear any noises that may or may not be coming from under the hood. The earlier one can catch a problem with his or her car, the less problematic it could become.

Taking a drive with the windows up will also cue one’s sense of smell if a car is emitting any odd odors. Certain smells are indicative of problems, so one should take note of any odors and report them to a mechanic as accurately as possible.

The older a car gets, the more closely its fluids should be monitored. Whereas vehicle manufacturers now typically suggest new cars have their oil changed once every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, the older a vehicle gets, the closer a driver should return to the more traditional schedule of once every 3,000 miles.

Other fluids, such as brake fluid, automatic transmission fluid and power steering fluid, should be changed as well. Drivers should have a professional do this for older cars because these fluids can become contaminated and offer signs of a potentially bigger problem to a trained eye.

An older car needs more time to warm up than a newer vehicle. If an older car has been sitting overnight or longer, it needs a chance to warm up by being driven slowly at first. This gives the vehicle’s lubricants and other fluid the chance to spread out under the hood, while allowing the oil to gain some temperature, making for a smoother drive.


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