Monday, March 16, 2015

Cars that go the Distance

For many shoppers,  choosing a car that can go the distance is an important way to save money. Keeping a car running beyond the 200,000 mile mark is possible with the proper care. 

That is good news for drivers, who are keeping their cars longer than ever before. There are long-term financial benefits of keeping a car for 200,000 miles. Research shows that reaching that milestone could result in savings of $30,000 or more. 

1. Find a Mechanic You Can Trust - One of the best ways to ensure that your car will be well taken care of for the long haul is to find a mechanic you trust. Building a relationship with him will help you push your car towards a long life. 

Believe it or not, not all mechanics have your best interest at heart. For example, Sears, Roebuck & Company has often been been accused of defrauding customers by performing unnecessary car repairs. When I was a new driver I bought one of their "free brake pads for the life of your car" promotions. The only problem with that was every time I went in to get new brake pads, they told me I needed new rotors. Eventually, Sears ended up paying huge fines for this practice. 

My mechanic told me recently that the problem lies with companies who pay their employees minimum wage to work on automobiles. The place I normally get my oil changed once told me that many times they get cars driven in there fresh from an oil change at Walmart, some without oil and some without a filter. These employees may not always have your best interest at heart. You don't build a relationship with these employees like a mechanic you use regularly and who knows your car inside out. 

2. Regular Maintenance - A car that is serviced regularly will last much longer than one where regular maintenance has been ignored. 

3. Change the Oil Regularly In addition to lubricating vital engine parts, oil traps contaminants and prevents them from harming your engine. Changing the oil gets rid of all that trapped gnarly stuff. Oil also breaks down over time, so it’s necessary to replace it at regular intervals. 

4. Read Your owner's Manual - Included is a schedule of maintenance, which will help you and your car go the distance. 

5. Check, Check, Check - Check the coolant and power steering fluids on schedule. Also, check the filters, belts, brakes, and windshield wipers. Inspect them for any wear and tear that might help you avoid a breakdown. 

6. Pay attention to your vehicle

I could usually tell when something was wrong with my car due to the sound it would make. For example, just last week mine was making an odd whirring sound. I knew something was up and sure enough, a few days later the motor went out of my air conditioning/heater vent. 

Properly maintaining your car will keep it on the road longer and will get you a higher price when it’s time to sell it or trade it in. It’s a long way to 200,000 miles.

Not every vehicle will make it to that impressive milestone, but by being a responsible vehicle owner, you can increase the likelihood that yours will. 

My car, a 1998 Olds Cutlass, which I bought in January 2000, recently hit the 200,000 milestone. Because I kept the car so many years, based on what I paid for the car it cost me less than $1,000 to drive it each year. I was diligent about changing the oil and keeping it maintained. Last week I bought a new to me car, but I will be keeping my old one for various reasons, but it has been a good car for us. 

How about you? Do you have a car that has gone the distance for you?

Simply live by the rule of not spending money you don't have.
© Belinda & Frugal Workshop, 2011 - 2015.


  1. We basically keep cars until they fall apart(and can't be fixed)or cost more to fix than it is worth spending.
    The only exception was a used car we bought that had major hidden issues.....we ditched that one quicker.

  2. We are the same as slugmama. My last car was 12 years old and the only reason we got rid of it, was that it was costing us more and more money and the dealership still couldn't fix the problem. I drive a 2012 Ford Fiesta. It does me, is it the best car out there, no but as I said it does me!!

    Regular maintenance is a must and having the trust of a good mechanic is priceless.

    1. I'm with you, Gill. I don't need the best car out there, just one that will be reliable. :)

  3. Good dealing, Belinda.

    We bought our last car from a friend. It was 2 years old with 18,000 miles on it, got 28 mpg in city and 38 to 40 mpg on open road, and was a manual drive. After 9 years, we needed an automatic drive and gave our manual shift car to a friend in need. It had 200,000 miles on it and has had no major mechanical problems for friend. Never intended to trade the older car when we bought a newer car in 2010 but learned trade value was $500. Dealer would have resold it for $2500 to $3000.

    The bought-new car in 2010 is automatic shift and gets 26 mpg in city and 38 to 40 mpg on open road.

    Had we not needed an automatic shift, we still wouldl be driving the first car, but our friend drives our manual shift car daily without problems after 4 years.

    Maintenance does make all the difference. Great advice.

    1. Thank you. So great that your friend is still driving that car. And your new car gets good mileage, can't beat that. :)

  4. Friend who has our stick-shift car chould be driving it 2 to 3 more years. No reason for us to have given car to dealership for $500 in trade when dealership would have sold it for thousands more, especially when friend truly needed a car to make a living.

    1. Definitely. You made the right choice. Better to bless a friend in need than a dealership.

  5. Hi Belinda ! I don't own a car because, living in Paris, you don't really need one. Now that I've moved to the seaside though, I'm starting to realize that everything is situated ... far away, like the cheap supermarkets, the stores where you can buy cheap cloth and all that. The fact that, if you want to live frugally, you have to buy a car first, gets a bit on my nerves. If I wanted to buy one (and could I and furthermore could I afford to run it?) would mean taking my driving license again as I haven't driven since we left England ! It takes a very long time to pass it in France and it is very expensive too (think thousands of Euros). So really, I'm putting that on the side for now but I'm a bit worried about it in the future, especially as I live on top of a hill !! xx

    1. Sounds like putting it on the side for now is the best decision for you right now. Living on the seaside sounds so nice and I love seeing the pictures you post on your blog. You live in a beautiful place and walking anywhere there would be an adventure just to see the beautiful sites.

  6. Thanks for sharing all of these tips, Belinda! They will all come in handy for those who have new cars. I'm glad that you really know how to maintain and take good care of your car. Given that, I'm sure it still looks brand new up until now. :)

    Abraham Yates @ Apache Oil Company


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