Not long ago, a car registering 100,000 miles on the odometer would have been considered well past its prime—and well deserving of a trade in. These days, however, it is not uncommon to see cars pushing on to 150,000 and even 200,000 miles with barely a stutter.

This feat is only achievable with proper care and attention from the owner. Here are some handy tips to help you beat the car payments and squeeze every last bit of value out of your aging car.

Follow the maintenance schedule


via Flickr by trenttsd

A maintenance timetable minimizes breakdowns and helps make sure your vehicle is kept in peak condition. The prescribed maintenance schedule usually includes things like an oil change and a check of the brakes and power steering fluid levels. These should be carried out at certain mileage intervals.

Some car owners have the knowledge, skill, and time to carry out this work themselves. For most people, though, a trip to a mechanic or dealership service department will be necessary. Whatever the case, your aging car will thank you for it.

Give the cooling system some love

High pressure fluids, which exceed 240 degrees Fahrenheit, are constantly blasted through the coolant hoses within your vehicle. The water pumps are also subjected to a similar kind of torture. As a result, the cooling system is prone to failure in aging cars. If proper care is not taken, this failure is almost guaranteed to happen without warning and at the most inconvenient of times.

Most manufacturers recommend changing the hoses every four years, although more modern vehicles have hoses that are made out of durable materials that last a little longer. If you are not sure when the hoses were last changed, it is probably wise to get them replaced now.

Keep the braking system youthful

A long-lasting vehicle needs a braking system that can continuously perform its job mile after mile. To do this, you need to keep the system young by completely replacing (flushing) the brake fluid every couple of years. At the same time, it is also worth checking the brake lines, drums, and rotors.

A well-maintained braking system will have clear or amber colored fluid flowing out when bled. Dark black, rust, and rubber-filled fluid is a sure signal that the system needs immediate attention and your priority should be a complete brake overhaul.

Give the vehicle regular exercise


via Flickr by Dennis Wong

Just like the human body, cars need regular exercise to stay in good condition well into their old age. Of course, this does not mean you need to get your aging car a gym membership. Older cars get their exercise when you open up the throttle on the highway.

Regularly taking your car out on a 50 to 60 miles per hour highway sprint after warming up the engine will help to prevent the car’s mechanics from going stale. Additionally, this exercise is likely to bring any underlying engine problems to light.

As your car ages, it will need a little more attention than usual. However, with regular care and attention, you should expect it to keep going long after most vehicles have retired to the scrapyard.