Last time, we looked at that rarest of automotive breeds, the cars that reached one million miles on the same engine. What quickly became apparent is that getting to a million miles isn’t all about buying the right marque. That’s not to say that some brands aren’t consistently more reliable than others – it’s just that there are plenty of other factors in the mix.
This time, we’ll look at what you can do to get your car closer to the million mile club… or at least help it to live a lot longer.
Off we go!
Before you buy your million-miler
Even if you’re the best owner in the world, some cars just won’t make it to seven digits. If you want to get there, you have to start off with the right car.
- Do your homework on problem models
If you’re chasing super high mileage, your choice of individual model might be more important than your choice of marque. Even great manufacturers don’t get it right all the time, and it’s worthwhile avoiding those particular models known to have serious issues.
For example, Mazda generally do well in reliability stakes, but the quirky 2003 RX-8 was notorious for its unreliable rotary engine, which often lost compression before 100,000 miles. Of course, if you’re buying from new, it’s harder to know about longer-term reliability issues, which may take some time to emerge.
- Investigate history and overall condition
If you’re not buying from new, another crucial factor influencing your car’s longevity is how well it’s been maintained so far.
The most straightforward way of knowing whether it’s been looked after is by choosing a car with a full service history, with no gaps. If the car’s been maintained by a main dealer or an independent specialist, so much the better.
Of course, plenty of people maintain their own vehicles without taking them to the garage… but the stamp in the service book means that you know it’s been serviced as claimed.
As for the car’s condition, clued-up buyers will already know what to look for. But if that’s not you, professional vehicle inspections are a godsend. They’re available from many companies and motoring organisations such as the RAC.
- Think about previous ownership
How a car has been driven by previous owners greatly affect its chances of reaching a million. Obviously, unless the previous owners are friends or family members, you can never get a crystal clear picture of this, but there are ways of maximising your odds.
Generally speaking, cars with lower numbers of previous owners tend to fare better. This is simply because long-term owners are more invested in looking after their cars.
In addition, a car that’s been used for long distance commutes has often had an easier life than one that’s only used for the school run. This is because car engines that are used consistently for short trips spend more of their lives running before they have warmed up, which means more wear.
After you buy your million-miler
Once you’ve bought your potential million-miler, there are a host of things you can do to help it last. We’ve picked just three.
- Maintain the car thoroughly and regularly
Well, dur! But make no mistake, this is the daddy. We would bet the house that no car has reached a million miles without careful and regular maintenance.
What maintenance, exactly? Well, that’s for another article, but the basic, like oil changes, are going to be at the top. Without regular care of the lubrication system, wear of critical components speeds up exponentially.
So, unless you’re a dab hand with a spanner, you will want to be using a great garage with a stellar reputation.
- Gently does it
How much mileage you can get of a car also depends crucially on how sympathetically you drive it.
A key part of this is respecting the engine’s operating temperature. As mentioned above, mechanical components wear more quickly when they’re still cold. The main reason is that cold engine oil is sluggish and doesn’t do such a good job of protecting moving parts. This means that revving the bejesus out of your engine as soon as you pull away is a sure-fire way of shortening its lifespan, whereas going easy for the first few minutes will pay dividends.
Even when the engine’s warmed up, driving steadily and smoothly – and staying in the appropriate gear – will help to reduce stress and wear.
- Look and listen
One reason that modern engines last so much longer is because they are crammed with electronic sensors. These alert you to potential problems before they get serious. However, even modern systems have their limitations – and that’s where your own built-in apparatus comes in. If the car starts sounding, looking, or even smelling odd, something could be up. Rattling, whining, clonks, grinding and other mechanical noises need investigating further – because million-mile owners always nip problems in the bud.
Of course, it’s also possible to drive yourself crazy listening out for unusual sounds, but we never said that the road to a million miles would be easy!
So, you want help making your car last longer?
If you do, and you’re in South Wales, give us a call. We can’t guarantee you’ll see a million miles, but our well-trained, experienced team can definitely help your car fulfil its potential!
The WVS blog covers a wide range of automotive topics, from the contentious to the light-hearted. We are an independent garage specialising in the VW group marques, including Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT. WVS provides services, repairs and MOTs, delivering a main dealer level of care at affordable prices. To book your vehicle in, or for any enquiries, get in touch.