What’s the largest number of miles that you have ever put on a car? Was it 80,000 miles? Did you break the 100,000-mile barrier? Or did you manage to rack up 150,000 – 200,000 – or even 300,000 miles on a vehicle?
To most people, that’s extremely impressive. But Rachel Veitch of Orlando, Florida would probably say something like, "Meh."
That’s because Veitch is the proud owner of a 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente which she has driven… wait for it… 567,000 miles!!
Since Veitch bought her misty-yellow Mercury new 48 years ago, it has traveled from Pennsylvania to Texas and Michigan to California. All in all, the four-door car she nicknamed "Chariot" has traveled a distance equivalent to circling the earth 2 1/4 times. During its lifespan, the Caliente has gone through 18 batteries, eight mufflers… and three of Veitch’s husbands.
This begs the question… can your car match the mileage total achieved by Veitch’s Caliente?
If you take excellent care of your vehicle, it’s not impossible. In fact, auto experts say that many of today’s cars and trucks are engineered to travel 200,000 miles or more if properly maintained. For vehicle owners who are interested in chasing Veitch’s mark (or even the world record of over 3 million miles held by Irv Gordon and his 1966 Volvo P1800), here are a few tips on maximizing your car’s mileage:
- Never miss an oil or filter change. Most vehicle manufacturers call for oil and oil filter changes every 5,000 miles. Some auto experts say this is the single-most important maintenance task for your car.
- Read the owner’s manual. It’s not high prose, but the owner’s manual for your vehicle will tell you exactly how to care for it. It will also inform you of what all of those dashboard lights mean – and what to do if you see one illuminated.
- Keep up with scheduled maintenance. The manual will tell you how often you should rotate your tires, flush your vehicle’s fluids, check your brakes, and have many other automotive components inspected or replaced. Falling behind on this timetable can diminish the life of your car drastically.
- Check tire pressure consistently. Making sure your tires are properly inflated is one of the keys to getting the most out of each gallon of fuel. Plus, if your tires are overinflated or underinflated, your car’s performance will suffer and you increase the odds of getting into an accident, thus increasing your auto insurance premiums.
- Find a trusted mechanic. Whether it’s the dealership you purchased the vehicle from or the neighborhood garage, try to stick with a single shop for your vehicle’s repairs. Having a regular mechanic will help you stay on track with your scheduled maintenance. A good mechanic is honest, takes the time to explain problems to you, and uses top-quality replacement parts.
- Pay attention to your car. Don’t ignore a funny sound you hear as you’re driving. Find out what a particular dashboard light means. If you see something under your hood that’s different from the last time you looked there, make a mental note of it. These could be early warning signs of a mechanical problem.