My 200+K truck never breaks and I am worried

Last time it was in the shop was October '06, for new tires and front brakes. I asked them to look it over and let me know of anything that needed fixed or replaced. They said everything looked A-OK except I should have some sensor looked at because my “check engine” light has been on for about 80,000 miles.

I’m diligent about oil and coolant changes, but this truck simply just keeps on going and going and I am starting to get worried - surely there is SOMETHING that I should be replacing just for safety’s sake?

The sum total of all replaced parts, I bought the truck new in 1995. It’s got 200,250 miles on it. Nissan 2WD truck, 4 cylinder engine, manual trans. It’s a work truck, not babied:

2 alternators.

3 sets front brakes.

2 sets front shocks.

1 turn signal switch.

1 heater blower motor.

1 power steering pump.

2 major tuneups, plus some belts and hoses replaced.

That’s it, as far as I can recall, everything else is original. It has never once failed to start or died on me unexpectedly. Clutch is getting a bit weird and the AC quit working last summer. I think the front end feels a little loose, for want of a better word.

I’m planning on taking it in to a highly recommended shop to ask them to go over it and replace anything safety-related. Should I even bother, though? Maybe I should just wait until things break and go from there?

I have been assured the timing chain (belt?) will give me some warning and not be catastrophic when it fails.

It is not clear whether you are truly seeking advice or taking an opportunity to brag. Anyhoo, I suggest you replace the ball joints but otherwise I offer you my congratulations.

h this is a post on timing belts that you should read.

the last posting didn’t get you the web page…google interference engines and you will get the information you need.

Heh - I guess it does look like a brag of sorts but I really am looking for recommendations.

Ball joints, check.
And mshugna thank you for the link to interference engines, I did google that and it looks like I may be going on borrowed time in that regard!

I want this truck to keep on going as long as possible, it’s been a great little truck. What got me thinking of the safety aspect was a couple of recent calls to the car guys regarding safety issues in older vehicles when parts got worn and never replaced.

No, you should not wait until something breaks. A ball joint snapping off at 70 mph will not be a pleasant experience; it may even be your last experience.

Cash money says a good tech can find some things wrong with this truck, considering the mileage.

I should have some sensor looked at because my “check engine” light has been on for about 80,000 miles.

How do you know it is nothing more than some sensor?  

Even if 80,000 miles ago there was a sensor problem, you could have several real problems right now that could be causing expensive damage or are safety risks. 

That CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code not just their translation into English and post it back here.

Does anyone else consider replacing ball joints as “preventive maintenance?”

as JEM said. the CEL being on for 80,000 miles is a real problem.

just so you know these lights are multiple use lights. what triggered it the first time (and it stayed on) would give you NO warning if there was a second (or third or fourth) problem. the light doesn’t blink or do flips if there are more alarms. so essentially you have been running blind on alarms for 80K or so!

that is BAD

The car (OK, truck) maker has drawn up a list of things to do on a routine basis at scheduled mileages/times (in months). They are in the OWNER’S HANDBOOK, and various repair manuals. The schedules cover those things which have a mileage, and/or age limit…such as filters, fluids, spark plugs and wires, etc. Review that list and catch up on any that were “deferred”. A good mechanic can follow the scheduled maintenance list and find those things not on the list which need attention.

You seem to be the type of person that, if you didn’t have something to worry about, you would worry about not having something to worry about. This truck doesn’t owe you anything. I would have everything checked that is safety-related (brakes, steering, etc). If some major repair is required, then decide if it is worth the cost. If your mechanic checks things out and it is safe to drive, drive it and don’t worry. If it stops tomorrow, it sounds as though you have gotten your money’s worth.

My brother had two Nissan trucks when they were called Datsun. The frame finally rusted through on the first truck, but the engine was still strong. He had to search all over to find another Datsun truck with a blown engine. He swapped the engine into the second truck. When the frame on the second truck rusted through, he decided at almost 300,000 miles on the first engine that maybe it was time to upgrade.

I’m not a gambling man at all, but I would bet a 100 bucks you’ve been driving around for a while with a number of existing problems.

If the front end feels loose it should have been inspected long ago, not now. You should not wait until a ball joint breaks since that could possibly be fatal to the driver or someone else.

I agree, if you choose to drive a high mileage vehicle you need to be a fanatic about maintenance (i.e., maintain it like an aircraft or a piece of commercial equipment that you rely on to make a living). If you don’t want to deal with the hassle/expense, buy something newer. The “drive it until it breaks” approach is dangerous.