CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

High Mileage Repairs

I have kept my 1998 minivan repaired and serviced and it runs great at 240K miles. However, the fuel pump, alternator, and radiator fan motor have never been replaced and still seem to be running great. Should I replace them just because they have high miles on them? Don’t want to be left on the side of the interstate.

They all may make another 240K miles. This are parts you don’t want to be pro-active about.

And, the replacement parts might fail after 10 miles…

As mentioned, these are true “run-to-failure” items. Their failure will not cause a catastrophy or other failures, so just drive until they need to be replaced.

On my original 1965 Dodge Dart, the radiator, the fan motor and the fuel pump were all original when the car was scrapped at 13 years with many thousands of miles on it.

Any of those three could leave you stranded or in trouble at any time so it’s up to you about the peace of mind issue.

Personally, I believe in being bit pro-active and not being left stranded.
At that mileage, the fuel pump is likely on its last leg and could go anytime so that would be a definite replacement.

Just because they’re original, and they have 11 years/240K miles on them, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re at death’s door. If they still do the job they’re designed to do, I’d leave them alone. Part of the thing about working on older cars is that, sometimes, a second problem is created in the process of fixing the first one.

That said, there’s no harm in proactively replacing these things if that’s what you want to do. The alternator and fan motor are relatively easy to change out; the fuel pump, not so much because the fuel tank has to come out to access it. The pump I’d leave alone until you really need to mess with it because of the work involved; the others, replace at your convenience.

I wouldn’t touch a thing.

There is no way to predict when, or if, a given component will fail. You can spend money replacing these things if you want to, but I’d wait until they show some sign of impending failure.

At 240K miles I’d be disinclined to spend too much money on this vehicle. Drive it as long as you can, and then let it go.

The issue here is that the OP states they don’t want to be left on the side of the interstate. A fuel pump with a quarter of a million miles is subject to failing tomorrow with not an inking of a problem beforehand.

At least with an alternator or fan motor one can probably make it a few miles further (alternator) or quite a ways (fan motor). In regards to the latter, and with the A/C off, it’s possible to drive hundreds of miles with no problems.

Rather than replacing these parts get AAA or some other road service policy. The things that should be replaced to prevent breakdowns are hoses, drive belts, keeping your fluids up to proper levels.

A radiator fan won’t leave you stranded. Just keep the car moving and the passing air will cool the radiator enough to keep you going. When an alternator fails a warning light comes on and you have a bit of time to run on the battery before you stop completely. A fuel pump is a “you never know” kind of thing.

A newer van with less miles might breakdown too. Breakdowns can happen with any car.

Well I’m going to disagree a little. I used to overhaul my alternators about every 70,000 period back when you could do it yourself. I replaced my Olds alternator at 150K because the radiator had to come out to do it and wanted to do it on my terms. So personally I’d do the alternator for sure. Its way past due. I don’t see any reason to replace the radiator fan until it fails if it ever does. I’ve never replaced one. Fuel pumps are unpredicatable. I’ve gone 300,000 or 100,000.

What about the water pump, hoses, etc. though?