High Mileage Vehicle Maintenance Checklist

Keep Your Old Car Running Smoothly

Close-up of young man checking oil level of car with dipstick
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Driving a vehicle with over 100,000 miles on it, and determined to keep it going for another 100,000 miles or more? As long as you stay on top of all the recommended maintenance tasks, you shouldn't have any problem making that happen.

Since your high-mileage vehicle probably isn't under warranty any longer, that means it's now up to you to remember what needs to be done when; and admittedly, it can be a little confusing to know what to inspect or replace at which milestone. Some maintenance tasks need to be performed every so many miles, while others need to be performed monthly or yearly. But don't let that overwhelm you. We've put together a high-mileage vehicle maintenance checklist to help you keep up with everything. Just stick to these recommendations to avoid costly repairs and keep your car running safely and reliably. Here are the things that you need to do to greatly extend the life of your vehicle. 

  • ​Monthly (or More Often)
  • Check the tire pressure
  • Check the oil level (synthetic, high-mileage oil is recommended)
  • Check the coolant level
  • Clean the backup camera lens

Every 3,000 Miles

  • Change the oil, and replace the oil filter (newer cars can often go a year between oil changes. Check your owner's manual to see what's recommended for your car)
  • Check the washer fluid level
  • Add fuel injector cleaner to fuel

Every Six Months

  • Check the power steering fluid level
  • Wax the car to extend the life of the paint and to prevent rust

Every 5,000 Miles

  • Adjust the clutch, if your vehicle has a manual transmission (some are self-adjusting)

Every 10,000 Miles

  • Inspect the belts
  • Rotate the tires

Every Year

  • Inspect the brakes
  • Inspect the hoses and clamps
  • Clean the battery connections
  • Check the brake fluid level
  • Check the manual transmission fluid (if your car has a manual transmission)
  • Check the coolant strength
  • Back-flush the radiator from the engine side with a garden hose
  • Rinse off the air conditioner condenser
  • Buff the plastic headlight assembly, if dull, to maintain good visibility
  • Replace cabin air filter (you may need to do this more often, if you drive a lot—every 15,000 miles is a good rule of thumb. Older vehicles may not have cabin filters)

Every 30,000 Miles

  • Replace the spark plugs. Some are designed to last up to 100,000 miles, so check to see what kind you have, and when they'll be due for a change
  • Replace the distributor cap and rotor (if applicable)
  • Inspect the spark plug wires (if applicable)
  • Change the transmission fluid
  • Replace the oxygen sensors (for vehicles manufactured late 1970's to early 1990's)
  • Inspect the shocks for leaks, and perform bounce test
  • Replace the PCV valve
  • Clean the throttle body

Every Two Years

  • Flush the coolant system
  • Check the battery electrolyte level

Every 40,000 Miles

  • Replace the fuel filter

Every 60,000 Miles

  • Replace the air filter
  • Change the automatic transmission fluid (if you drive an automatic)
  • Inspect the brakes
  • Inspect the accessory drive belts
  • Replace the timing belt (if your vehicle has a timing chain, it doesn't need to be replaced, unless there's a problem with it)
  • Have the front end alignment inspected and checked

Every 80,000 Miles

  • Inspect the U-joints

Every 100,000 Miles

  • Replace the oxygen sensors (for vehicles manufactured after mid-1990's)
  • Replace the rear axle lubricant

As-Needed Maintenance

  • Have the alignment adjusted. This can help extend the life of your tires.

Consult Your Owner's Manual

Use the maintenance schedule outlined here as a starting point, but know that it's also a good idea to consult the owner's manual for each of your vehicles to see what the manufacturer recommends. As a rule, newer cars tend to require less frequent maintenance, while older cars tend to require more. It's also worth noting that the technology in newer and older cars is quite a bit different, so you may find that some of these maintenance items don't pertain to your situation. Customize this maintenance list to your needs. Then, use it to stay on top of all the things that you need to do to keep your vehicles performing smoothly for many years to come. 

Not sure how to tackle one of these tasks? Then, it may be best to leave it to a professional.

Use this car maintenance log to keep up with all the work you've done to your vehicles. You may find it helpful to keep a separate log for each vehicle that you own.