Mileage is only half of the story

STANDING START - Lord Seno (The Freeman) - November 30, 2020 - 12:00am

We always want our things to last longer than it should. In fact, I would rather spend more to get that value in a product that I want. And if you own a car, chances are you’re hoping to use it longer than it should last. In the Philippines, where the average age of cars on the road is maybe more than a decade, it isn’t really hard to see that we run vehicles till they are practically unusable.

When it comes to getting more life from your vehicle, the number on the odometer is usually the first thing ownerscheck. There is a common perception that a vehicle’s mileage is the best measure of reliability. But there’s more to the story.

A car’s life isn’t determined by kilometers driven.

Mileage is just one indicator of a vehicle condition. Theoretically, a vehicle that has covered more kilometers has more wear and tear, but a car with 60,000 kilometers on the odometer can easily be in worse shape than one with 100,000. 

But have you ever wondered why cars that haven’t been used that much also break down? Well, one is that Mechanical and Electronic parts that don’t get regular use can become brittle and break more easily. And a low-mileage car that hasn’t had regular maintenance can also see problems down the line. I once fixed a 6-year old car with only 10,000 kilometers on the ODO but cracked a radiator already. This was because it was underused. Overall, a high-mileage vehicle that is driven frequently and has been very well-maintained will stay fresh given the proper TLC.

At one time, 100,000km+ mileage was considered a long life for a vehicle. Today, that same distance is considered mid-life for most cars. Well-known reliable makers and models regularly roll through 150,000km to 200,000km.  Updated technology has also led cars to run more reliably and, when properly maintained, can go years without requiring major repairs or replacements. Since today’s cars last longer, mileage is a less reliable factor of remaining life.

Maintenance is king.  Regular maintenance is the key to keeping a vehicle running well…and there is no secret to that. It’s all in the manual. Check your owner’s manual for a suggested maintenance schedule and stick to it.

Proper upkeep isn’t just regular oil changes and timely preventive checks though.  Regular general body and underbody car washing will also preserve the car’s finish as well as it’s structural integrity. You also need to pay attention to the quality of consumables and parts that you use for the car. Maintaining these details goes a long way toward keeping a vehicle in great shape.  

Always consider product quality when using parts and consumables. Let’s take for example engine oil. A fully synthetic oil does a better job keeping parts moving smoothly and will often let you do longer change oil intervals. Or even just the gas that we put. Regular gasoline is cheaper but will not have the detergent that can keep deposits from building and clogging your engine or the additives that can help burn the gasoline more efficiently.

Bottom line is mileage is only one indicator of a vehicle’s health. Maintaining a strict maintenance schedule and driving your car regularly will help keep your vehicle on the road for hundreds of thousands of kilometers and many years to come. 

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