Many of you participated today in giving us feedback on how many miles you've ever put on a car. I saw many comments with mileage- some as high as 365,000 miles on their vehicle. Some had over 200,000. Not that this was a competition, but it sure is great to see high numbers.
So- what does it take to have a car with hundreds of thousands of miles on it? It takes organization- remembering to properly maintain your car- cleanliness- to get rid of all the grime off your vehicle. Sometimes it just takes sheer luck- picking out a car that will have few issues and was built well.
I remember several years ago when working and I was astonished to read on a computer that a pickup in our shop that had 497,000 miles. I didn't think that number was correct so I went into the back and sure enough- nearly 500,000 miles on a late model (yes... a 2004 I believe) Chevy heavy duty diesel truck. I remember calculating it out to the owner averaging 25 miles of driving every hour since mid-2003 (a likely time for when he bought it). Astonishing! It was in great condition.
Let's get back to the ingredients to getting your car to half a million miles (or more!)
1) Know your car. Read the manual once or twice and follow those maintenance guidelines religiously. Manufacturers put time into calculating life of fluids and parts in your vehicle, and replacing them at recommended intervals will mean less likely chances of part failure.
2) Cleanliness. Cleaning the inside will keep the leather or cloth fresh, the floor clean and usable. Getting the outside washed will strip the grime and chemicals off that may attack your paint and body integrity. This step is especially important if you live in a climate with frequent snow. Often, these areas spread salt which can cause extensive rust if not cleaned off. There's no way to drive your car a million miles if the rust is eating through the body.
3) Don't over do it. Getting things replaced more often doesn't necessarily equate to the car lasting longer. Sometimes replacing parts more frequently can increase your chances of installing or driving on a defective part. Getting oil changes every 3,000 miles may be a waste unless your user manual specifies it. Using synthetic oil may be a good idea if you live in harsh conditions as it doesn't break down as easy as conventional oil.
4) Find out what other owners are saying. By communicating or searching on the internet for potential trouble spots, you can try to avoid those issues as soon as you hear about them instead of waiting. While situations like this are rare, manufacturers can and do discover problems years down the road. Make sure to stay on top of these problems by using the internet to sniff out complaints about certain parts and addressing them before they become trouble spots.
5) Drive a car that has adequate part support. Ten years ago if you bought a vehicle from a company you never heard of, chances are parts may not be readily available. If something breaks, you may have little chance of getting the part replaced, or if you do, it might cost many times what the same part on other vehicles sells for. It'll be easier and cheaper to get half a million miles driving brands that have been established and trusted for decades.
While these are important steps, I'm sure there are many more that will help you get half a million miles or even more. Treat your car well, and it will return the favor. If anything, clean the outside more often. If you forget to do maintenance, engine parts are more replaceable than the frame or body parts of your vehicle.