5 Problems with High-Mileage Cars

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Guest Post by Mike Jones

Are you in the market for a new car? With low prices and no shortage of certified dealerships, there are plenty of reasons to consider turning a used car into your new car. However, when you start doing research on the used cars that are out there, including their make, model, color, and safety features, — there’s one important thing to pay attention to — their mileage.

Purchasing a car with high mileage can cost you thousands of dollars in the long run and create maintenance problems for you down the road. Thankfully, technology has advanced greatly over the past decade or so, prolonging the lifespan of our vehicles. Some newer cars get as many as 200,000 miles. However, even while today’s cars no longer head to the scrapyard after 100,000 miles, there are still some issues to be aware of.

The engine’s burning oil

This is one of the most common issues with high-mileage cars. High mileage can wear out the piston rings that seal your engine’s combustion gases. If a car hasn’t been properly maintained or has used poor engine oil, it’s likely that the engine burns through oil more quickly than normal.

If you’re looking to purchase a used car, don’t forget to check the oil. Is the oil level low? Slide the dip stick between your fingers to check the oil quality. Does it appear dirty or gritty? Is the color clear or dark? Does it smell burnt? These are signs that there may be an issue under the hood.

Transmission fails

Once your vehicle reaches 100,000 miles, transmission failure becomes much more likely. It’s important that you keep up to date on the transmission’s maintenance to prevent premature failure.

Change the transmission fluid. Some cars only require this every 100,000 miles, while others may require it every 30,000.

If you hear any bangs or groans coming from your transmission, get it checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible. These noises could foreshadow a more serious problem.Try to keep towing heavy loads, like trailers, to a minimum. Heavy pulling can shorten the life of your transmission.

Sometimes, a transmission cannot be repaired. Instead, it has to be replaced — at a price tag of several thousand dollars.

Timing belt breaks

The timing belt is critical to your engine operating smoothly. If you hear a ticking noise as you drive, see leaking oil from the front of your motor, or experience engine misfires, it means your timing belt is failing. This usually happens between 60,000 and 100,000 miles.

If you suspect that your timing belt is failing, get it replaced before it breaks and causes serious damage to your engine. Mechanics recommend being proactive and getting your timing belt changed at least every 100,000 miles.

Water pump leaks

Any car with 60,000 to 90,000 miles has a risk of water pump leaks. The water pump is perhaps the most important element of your car’s cooling system. It circulates the engine coolant, which helps prevent the engine from overheating.

With high-mileage cars, it’s important to change your coolant and antifreeze regularly. Flushing your coolant system can also help prolong its life.

Look for steam rising from your radiator and water or rust under your hood. These are tell-tale signs of a leaking water pump.

Rust spreads

Any car that is driven as lovingly as a car with over 100,000 miles on it is bound to have rust, especially if the car was driven frequently in rain or snow. The problem with rust is that it spreads.

Surface rust in your vehicle’s paint is a relatively easy fix. You can sand off the rust, prime it, paint it, and buff it.

However, issues arise if surface rust is left untreated. Rust bubbles form. They can eat away at your vehicle’s metal, leaving gaping holes that only welding can repair.

Is a high-mileage vehicle safe to buy?

These problems may leave you wary when it comes to buying a used car; however, a used car is still a popular, practical, and cost-efficient option.

When looking at a car’s mileage, it’s important to note the difference between a high-mileage car that has been properly maintained and a high-mileage car that hasn’t. If the previous owner took their car to a mechanic for regular oil changes, inspections, and maintenance, you should have nothing to worry about, even if the vehicle has 100,000 miles on it. On the other hand, you probably shouldn’t buy a car that hasn’t been properly maintained, even if it only has 50,000 miles on it.

If you’re in the market for a used car, be sure to do the following:

  • Ask dealerships or sellers for background info on the vehicle, like its Carfax. This allows you to see whether the car’s been maintained or whether it has been in any accidents.
  • See if the vehicle has an extended vehicle warranty or vehicle protection plan attached to it. These plans can help cover the costs of unexpected repairs.
  • Take the car to a trusted mechanic before you purchase it. They can see whether there are any maintenance issues you should worry about.

Today’s high-mileage cars have a surprising amount of life left in them. They may just need a little extra care, consideration, and maintenance.

Mike Jones is the president and CEO of autopom!, a BBB Accredited A+ rated provider of vehicle protection plans for both new and used cars. Click here to learn more about autopom!


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