High-milage car care


#1

I have a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier (bought new) with 159,000 miles on it. I will probably put another 40K or so on it this year. Any specific maintenance needed or suggested to make sure that it continues to run well with all these miles?


#2

These are good little cars if they are looked after. You want to make sure the timing belt has been replaced if your model has one. The cooling system should be flushed and new coolant put in every 50,000 miles or so. Regular oil and filter changes every 5000 miles would be good for your driving style. I would have the transmission fluid and filter changed as well. DO NOT GO FOR A TRANSMISSION FLUSH! A flush is a bad idea, especially for an older car.

Also, have the brakes and CV joints checked.

In other words, if I was buying your car without any history, I would need to to these things to ensure I could get another 40,000 miles out of it.


#3

Follow the recommended services in the owner’s manual, based on the mileage you drive. I don’t do anything else special for my high mileage vehicles.


#4

you have to watch out for items that are missing from the owner’s manual, due to marketing or legal pressure. For example, by the manual, I never have to change transmission fluid or radiator coolant! (03 Passat) And I don’t think the timing belt is mentioned either.


#5

Nothing you can do at this point will be any kind of guaranty. Nothing you don’t do will make it quit running. It may not have a timing belt. In which case, do nothing about it. Now is a great time to buy a new car. The prices look good now compared to Summer.


#6
I believe the Passat does include radiator fluid.  I am not sure about the timing belt, if it is not an interference engine I don't think they list it and I doubt if they list the transmission fluid as most if not all VW don't show any maintenance for an automatic transmission.  In any case listed or not, changing all three is a good idea.  The transmission is a little tricky as I don't believe they have a drain plug, but it can be done.

#7

No, even the service manager says not to change the anti-freeze, although I plan to do so at 60k, with the tranny fluid and maybe timing belt. (V6). Gates lists the timing belt as interference, replace at 105k. I’ll double check on the anti-freeze.

Although for the same engine, same belt, 99 model, they say 75k. 98 model is 90k. Go figure.


#8

Thanks, folks, all great ideas! In other words, no special treatment, just continue factory-recommended maintenance.
I think this car has a regular (?) timing chain rather than a belt. I’ve been driving for over 40 years and I’ve been stranded way out of town on two occasions with broken timing belts; never with a broken timing chain.
Cavaliers seem to have issues with brakes. I’ve replaced shoes and pads a couple of times and rotors once. Needs more new brakes again now. When I did a lot of freeway driving I changed oil every 6K-7K miles; when most driving was around town, about every 3K miles.
I’ve thought about a new car, but I’ve just about got this one paid off, and I need the respite from car payments for a while.
Jim.