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What happens when your car hits 100000 miles?

What happens when your car hits 100000 miles?

Let’s talk about five maintenance items your car needs at 100k miles. Although this varies between year, make and model, we’ll touch on five things worth replacing if they’re still original equipment when an old ride reaches 100,000 miles.

This article becomes even more important for those that buy an automobile with an unknown maintenance history.

When people are looking for affordable transportation the cars they have to choose from, often fall in the 10 year old category.

Vehicles from this age bracket often come with extended life fluids and maintenance items designed for scheduled replacement at this point in the automobiles life cycle.

However, in some cases you might find a seller decided to bail out of the car before performing these needed services.

If your goal is to get another 10 years, 100,000 miles behind the wheel of this ride, take a look at these items. Then compare them to service intervals in the vehicle specific factory issued owner’s manual.

Sidebar: Test your auto repair and maintenance knowledge with this quick 5 question car repair quiz. Not only is it fun, but you might learn something at the same time.

odometer showing 100k miles

Odometer Showing 100k Miles

Extended Life Automotive Fluids

Auto mechanics and car manufacturers use the term extended life automotive fluids in comparison to how long they lasted 20 or 30 years ago.

Back in the days of green engine coolant this radiator fluid needed draining and refilling with fresh antifreeze every three years or 35,000 miles.

Failure to do so would allow the coolant to turn acidic and slowly damage the insides of the radiator, engine cooling passages and the heater core. If you let this fluid go long enough, it would eventually eat away at the metal parts and start to leak.

They designed extended life antifreeze like dex-cool to last much longer. In fact, if we take a 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier as an example, the original antifreeze installed from the factory lasted 10 years 100,000 miles.

This is pretty impressive unless you just bought the car and it still has the original engine coolant. A car still circulating this old antifreeze will experience accelerated failure of cooling system components.

You might find yourself replacing the water pump, radiator and heater core as a result. If you’re not sure how old this important fluid is in the automobile you just purchased, you should probably play it safe and perform a drain, flush and refill on the cooling system.

When to Change Old Hydraulic Oil

We find hydraulic oil in several places throughout the automobile. The big three include brake fluid, power steering fluid and transmission oil. First let’s talk about transmission fluid a little bit.

I put this in a different category, because servicing this red colored hydraulic oil is a different animal.

If your automobile has 100,000 miles on it, with the original transmission fluid, my personal recommendation is to leave it alone.

If the previous owners serviced it as per manufacturer’s guidelines, then I would continue those service intervals.

power steering fluid reservoir

Power Steering Fluid Reservoir

The main reason for my recommendation is I’ve seen transmissions fail after draining the original or very old fluid with excessive miles on it.

The fresh fluid contains strong detergents that might start to eat away at the weekend internal seals and cause pressure related problems.

As an example, transmission slipping, delayed engagement or flare-up between gear changes can result. Consult your owner’s manual for the factory recommendation about servicing the transmission and compared this to the vehicle’s maintenance history.

Next we’ll move onto the brake fluid. I own an old Infiniti. My owner’s manual is very old-school about service intervals for the Dot 3 hydraulic oil installed on the assembly line. In fact, they recommend a complete change every three years regardless of mileage.

This seems a little overkill and I only service it when I see a color change in the reservoir. Brake fluid should be clear and honey colored.

If it begins to darken it’s a sign of moisture intrusion or oil that’s become acidic and is starting to eat away at the internal rubber seals.

The dark fluid might also come from extreme brake temperatures on abused automobiles. I have one final note about brake fluid changes.

Some automobiles from the late 90s and early 2000 use synthetic brake fluid or DOT 5 grade. Just like with synthetic engine oil, these fluids last longer.

With that said, whatever the factory recommends is what you should remove and then reinstall. As for the power steering fluid it’s not usually a recommendation I put forward to my customers.

However, on automobiles that are 10 to 15 years old you should at least check the color of the power steering fluid. Modern rack and pinion steering systems have internal seals that can degrade and darken the hydraulic steering oil.

You can loosen the pressure line at the bottom of the reservoir and drain the fluid. You can also suck it out with a turkey baster.

In a nutshell, if you bought a vehicle with 100,000 miles put these maintenance items on your checklist. If you’re shopping for a ride, put these items on the used car inspection worksheet.

Replacing the Engine Spark Plugs at 100,000 Miles

2002 Toyota VVT-I 16 valve 4 cylinder engine

Toyota VVT-i 16 Valve 4 Cylinder Engine

This is another item I would like to compare to the old days. Just 20 years ago spark plugs in all cars carried a maintenance interval of 3 years or 35,000 miles.

This was because of the soft metal the electrode used to generate the spark. By the time we got to 1995 car manufacturers started using harder metals on the electrode tip.

General Motors started installing platinum spark plugs on all models by the 1996 model year. These spark plugs came with a recommendation of 60,000 miles before replacement.

You might have to replace the ignition module before the plugs? On the v6 GM engines you could need an ignition coil as well.

By the time we pushed into the 2000 model year, car manufacturers started using iridium spark plugs in many automobiles. These plugs could go 100,000 miles between replacements.

A good example of 100,000 mile spark plugs is the 2002 Toyota Corolla with the 1.8 L VVT (Variable Valve Timing) engine.

I’ve seen these engines go even further before they started having car computer and sensor problems resulting from setting misfire codes due to worn out spark plugs.

In the early 2000’s the Ford Motor Company found themselves doubling down on the platinum spark plugs instead of switching to iridium like some of the foreign car manufacturers.

We called these spark plugs double platinum or even triple platinum. They can also go up to 100,000 miles before needing replacement.

In the end, if you just bought a used car with 100,000 miles you need to find out if the spark plugs were ever replaced. In many cases the vehicle manufacturers will put a spot of paint somewhere on the spark plug.

They did this to notify dealership level technicians these were installed on the assembly line. This gives the technicians a point of reference about the age without having to pull them out.

If you don’t see a spot of paint on the plugs they might have been replaced, but you can take one further step to get an idea of how worn out they are. Remove a plug and check the gap between the ground straps and the electrode.

Compare this measurement to the specification. If it’s close then you’re probably okay. If there’s a much larger gap over the factory specification then go ahead and replace all the spark plugs.

Final Thoughts about High Mileage Maintenance Items

We decided to leave rubber parts out of this list of five maintenance items your car needs at 100k miles. The reason is the quality of rubber components installed from the factory varies between years, make and model automobiles.

With that said, this is no reason to assume that all these components are good on the old car you bought. If your car has 100,000 miles and is 10 years old there’s no way it should have the original serpentine drive belt. It shouldn’t have the original engine timing belt either if equipped with one.

Other rubber items like upper and lower radiator hoses and heater hoses will also need inspection on an individual basis. One thing to consider when we talk about coolant hoses is the health of the fluid that flows through it.

If the engine coolant was maintained as per manufacturer’s guidelines the hoses will last longer. If the antifreeze was ignored by the previous owner then put these hoses on your replacement to do list.

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At what mileage should I sell my car?

Mileage is one of the most important metrics to think about if you’re considering selling your car. You’ll often find that this is one of the first things that a buyer will ask about when they’re thinking about buying a car.

Why is mileage important?

Even though most cars will last well past the 100,000 mark, depreciation is constant with our cars, and no doubt the price will drop the more miles you begin to rack up. Essentially, the amount of miles on your car is a good indicator to any potential buyers as to how much your car has been used.

For example, let’s say you had two cars that were identical, but the only thing separating them was their mileage and can make one worth more than the other. A car with more mileage has worked that little bit more and might need more servicing done to it than one that has barely covered much ground.

Should I sell my car before 100,000 miles?

The threshold is usually around 10,000 miles where people start asking the question of whether they should sell their car. Mileage is just one aspect of your car’s valuation and some would consider this figure to be quite high. High mileage isn’t the end of the world, but the higher your mileage total becomes, the lower your car’s overall value becomes.

You might want to think about selling your car before 100,000, but how will that affect the price you could receive?

0-30,000 miles

New cars suffer their biggest drop in value within their first year of ownership and continue to lose value sharply until their warranties run out, which is normally at around 36,000 miles or in their third year – whichever comes soonest.

If your car’s still young with low mileage, you should only think about replacing it if your goal is to own the latest models, rather than getting value out of each individual car. The cost of selling up to buy a new car every two or three years is higher than the cost of buying one car and keeping it for ten years, even if you get barely anything in return for it at the end of that time.

However, if you sell your car at this mileage you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a buyer and, in terms of a lump sum, you’ll get more back for the car than you would at any other time. If you’re into new cars and want to be able to have the latest model fairly regularly, sell up as early as you think you’re able to in order to recoup the most money.

car mileage dashboard

30,000-60,000 miles

We’re heading into the bigger numbers now. If you’ve got to this stage, your car will more than likely have had its first service and could have run into some minor issues, hopefully, nothing too trivial.

Did you go all out with a decent manufacturer? If so, then it’s unlikely that you’ll need any expensive repairs at this time, unless you’ve ruined it already. Value-wise, of course, it’s going to keep declining but what do you expect? The only thing you can hope for is that it will be at a much slower rate than in the earlier years of its life.

So you’ve hit 60,000 miles! Hats of to you and if you want to sell now, go for it. Think about the repairs and replacement of parts that could be to come. Your car is probably at its prime at this stage and you’ll more than likely be able to still get a bit of money for it, which is what all of us want at the end of the day. You could have the best of both worlds, sell your car and get some cash for it and be able to upgrade to a newer model too on a regular basis, who doesn’t want that?

60,000-100,000 miles

If you’re looking to get as much out of your car as possible and something in return for selling it too, then it’s around this mileage that it might be a good time to get rid. By this point, you’ve probably found that you’ve had one or two repairs that your car has needed to keep it going, but you could be nervous at the same time that it might give up on you at some point if you don’t service it regularly.

No doubt your car has been used and taken for a spin more often than not, so if you were thinking of selling up and looking for something fresher, we’ll be right there with you.


The value of a car generally tends to take a final, sharp drop at the 100,000-mile mark. Cars with more than 100,000 miles on the clock are perceived as less desirable by consumers, even if they actually run just fine. Consumers who look for used cars online tend to filter out models with over 100,000 miles, which means that it will be very hard to sell privately. Dealers and online car buyers could also offer you less as it will be harder for them to sell the car.

While some cars can continue to run perfectly well after 100,000 miles, consumers avoid them for good reason. It’s much more likely that they’ll need expensive repairs beyond this point, which makes them a risky investment.

Modern cars are designed to stop running completely at around 150,000. At this point, they can be sold for scrap and not much else. If you ever managed to reach the high mileage point of 200,000, then give yourself a pat on the back. This is a huge achievement and for some cars that are ridiculously reliable, this is just their halfway point.

If you want to see how much you could get for your old motor, enter your registration number to get instant quotes online.

Your car is at 100,000 miles. Now what?

Thanks to improvements in car design and maintenance, the milestone of 100,000 miles now means something very different.


Typical passenger cars are now surpassing 150,000 miles, while most pickups, sport utility vehicles and vans are crossing the 180,000-mile barrier. MIKE MUSIELSKI / AP

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Sept. 16, 2010, 11:37 AM UTC / Source : The Associated Press

It was once a huge red flag: When a car’s odometer would hit 100,000 miles, «it was almost a magic threshold that meant the car was probably worn out,» says Kay Wynter, who runs an auto service center in Fort Myers, Fla., with her husband, Terry.

But thanks to improvements in car design and maintenance, the milestone of 100,000 miles now means something very different.

Although some cars are ready for trade-in at that threshold, many others can travel twice as far without major repairs.

What allows one car to pass the 100,000-mile barrier with few repair bills, while another is ready for the junkyard? It’s all about preventive medicine.

«It’s just like when you get to be 70 and everyone tells you the same thing: Exercise, eat right, take care of yourself,» says Lauren Fix, author of «Lauren Fix’s Guide to Loving Your Car» (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2008).

Feeding your car the right things and taking it for regular checkups will make all the difference.

Open the book
The key to keeping your car running smoothly is probably tucked at the bottom of your glove compartment, under the spare napkins and ketchup packets. It’s the owner’s manual, which most people ignore at their peril.

«There is a schedule in the manual that runs well over 100,000 miles,» says Fix, and it lists when to replace parts likely to be wearing out. The list will vary for different cars, so check yours and follow it.

Newer cars may have the maintenance schedule built into an internal computer. A blinking light or a beep will announce that it’s time to replace certain parts, says founder Kevin Schappell.

«Things like the water pump and timing belt should be changed before you notice a problem,» Schappell says. Replacing them won’t be hugely expensive, but «if that belt breaks, it can cause internal damage to the engine, or if the water pump fails, you can overheat the engine and warp the cylinder head.»

That’s when things get expensive.

«Typically, around 100,000 or 120,000 miles there are some major preventative maintenance things that need to be done,» Schappell says, so it’s a great time to catch up if you’ve been lax until now.

Get fluent about fluids
The liquids that go into your car (gas, oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, etc.) are crucial to its survival. To extend the life of your car beyond 100,000 miles, these experts suggest frequent oil changes and fluid checks done at dealerships or full-service auto centers.

The staff at a quick-change lube shop, Fix says, isn’t likely to have extensive training. Often, «they don’t have experience,» she says, «so they’ll top off long-life fluid with non-long-life or they’ll put power-steering fluid where the brake fluid ought to be.»

These mistakes cause damage, but the car owner doesn’t realize it until well after the discount oil-change was done.

In choosing oil, Fix advises buying full synthetics. They «actually will lube the engine better. It’s designed for longer life. There are less emissions, so it’s greener. There’s slightly better fuel economy and better performance,» she says. «There are no negatives except it costs a little more.»

Whichever oil you choose, Schappell says, be consistent over time. That way you won’t mix synthetics and blends, which can cause problems.

Gas also matters: Different cars benefit from different types, so check your manual. «For a Honda which runs really hot because of the compression, if it says run premium, then run premium,» Fix says. «But if it says there’s no benefit from premium gas,» you don’t need it.

Find the right shop
«Do your research,» says Terry Wynter, and choose the best people to extend the life of your car. Ask friends and neighbors, and search online for reviews of repair shops.

Once you’ve chosen one, get to know the staff and ask questions. «Consumers are smarter now than ever before» about their cars, Wynter says, but many still are uncomfortable asking for details about work that needs to be done.

Sticking with your car’s dealer can be a safe choice, because the staff will be trained to work on your car. But over the life of a high-mileage car, regular maintenance at a dealership can get pricey.

«Rates at an independent shop may be about $40 to $50 an hour,» Schappell says, «but you’re paying probably $60 to $90 an hour at a dealer.»

The cost of repairs can vary widely depending on the brand of car. Parts for some vehicles, including exotic cars and some German models, can be hard to get, driving up their cost. That can be a reason to trade in a car just before the 100,000-mile threshold.

At 100,000 miles, Fix says, «it is out of warranty and you’ve got to consider that.»

When you do replace parts, there are ways to save money: «A quick oil-change place will charge you $50 for an $18 air filter,» she says, because you’re mainly paying for labor.

But an auto-parts store will charge you only the $18 price tag, she says, and «you can buy it and say, I don’t know how to put this on. They’ll do it as a courtesy.»

Type of miles matter
It may seem surprising, but highway driving puts less stress on a car that tooling around locally. It requires less quick braking and acceleration, and moisture under the hood has a chance to evaporate.

«Cars that do a lot of short trips will require exhaust work a lot sooner than car that travels on the highway a lot,» Schappell says.

Fix agrees: With local driving, «if you sit in rush hour traffic, tow a trailer, idle outside a school, drive on dusty roads, that’s considered severe duty.»

Local driving in colder climates can also cause buildup of ice and snow under the car, which may contain corrosive chemicals. Fix suggests hosing it off on slightly warmer days. She also suggests waxing your car regularly.

Sound like a lot of work to keep a car zooming along past 100,000 miles?

«It’s your second most expensive investment. You want to take care of it,» says Fix.

«With your home, something needs fixing and you get on it,» she says. «With your car, especially one with a lot of miles you have to get on it right away too.»

These small investments will add years to the life of your car.

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