We all know somebody with an older, high-mileage vehicle that just keeps on running year after year—that crazy uncle in the high-mileage ride that keeps on going strong. “What’s Uncle Fred’s secret?” you may wonder, scratching your head with one hand while holding a repair bill in the other? At its core, Uncle Fred’s 500,000-mile 1972 Datsun 610 is no different a vehicle than a two-year-old hulk that barely cleared 65,000 miles before it got hooked up to the wrecker truck, never to be seen again. While the short-lived heap has since been crushed, melted down, and built into another car, Uncle Fred keeps on trucking.
The secret is that there is no real secret to getting a vehicle to last a long time. The difference is maintenance. Regular fluid checks and an almost pious dedication to scheduled lubrication will keep the powertrain going strong. What kind of oil, brake fluid, and grease used is just as important as when it is changed. The best oil in the world will do your engine no good if you never change it. Cleaning and protecting the finishes of the vehicle inside and out will keep things looking good. Paint, plastic, leather, and fabric need help to survive the constant assault of sun and elements. Utilize both of these plans together and you, like Uncle Fred, will enjoy