I want to drive to the moon.
Not literally, of course. The moon is about 240,000 miles away from Earth, and last I heard, the highway there hasn’t been completed yet. I do want my car to last at least that long, though.
We’ve shared stories over the last few weeks of readers who have managed to coax their cars past 200,000 miles and even a few who have approached a quarter-million and beyond.
I want to be one of those people.
My car is a 2008 Audi Q7 that I purchased with an 80,000-mile head start. I’ll hit 110,000 in the next week or two. Earlier this week I brought the SUV to the local Audi dealer for an oil change and discovered that I need new brakes and new tires, but the rest of the rig is in tip-top shape.
That’s encouraging, because I plan on going at least another 90,000 miles. Here’s how I’ll do it, and what I’ll avoid.
Follow the recommended service schedule
I tend to be the kind of guy who procrastinates on service or only does the bare minimum. That works fine on younger cars, but now that mine is middle-aged, it needs some extra love. If Audi says I need to change the spark plugs at 115,000 miles, that’s what’s going to happen.
Buy original/quality parts
I like to save money, and if a generic part is available, I’ll usually opt for that instead of a more-expensive OEM replacement. To keep my car running as long as possible, I’ll use only OEM or name-brand top-quality parts.
Make minor repairs right away
Ignoring the bumps and clunks and scraping sounds that inevitably crop up will only lead to more expensive repairs in the future. If my car starts making a noise that I don’t recognize, it’ll head to the shop for a diagnosis and, with luck, an easy fix.
Keep it clean
Rust is one of the top killers of cars. Once a vehicle has rust in the body, its structural integrity is compromised, and the car might not perform as intended in a crash. I’ll make my car last by giving it regular washes and waxing it to make sure any small scratches or rock chips don’t turn into big problems later.
Use synthetic oil
This one’s simple: Synthetic oil lasts longer and protects better than the stuff that comes out of the earth.
Of course, there are lots of things to avoid on the journey toward 200,000 miles, too.
My car requires high-octane fuel, and using anything less can damage the engine. I’ll stick to the top-tier, 92-octane stuff.
Unnecessary quick acceleration
I’ll reserve putting the pedal to the metal for emergencies and ease away from stoplights at a pace that won’t put undo stress on the engine.
Lots of short trips
Starting and stopping a cold engine will shorten its life. It’s best to avoid trips of fewer than 5 miles so the engine has time to get up to operating temperature and burn off any water and gas that might accumulate in the oil. That’s the stuff that turns to sludge and can kill an engine dead.
I’ll check with the manufacturer periodically to make sure I’m not missing out on any potentially important recalls. These are free and easy to have addressed, but can easily be forgotten.
Forgetting about the tires
I’ll keep an air-pressure gauge in the car at all times and check once per month to make sure the pressure is correct. I’ll also rotate them on a regular basis. Low pressure can result in more engine stress, and uneven wear can lead to suspension problems.
Unless something catastrophic and unpreventable happens, I’m sure I can drive my car all the way to the moon, and probably back.
What will you do to try to make your car last 200,000 miles or more?