Here’s something to ask yourself next time you’re stopped at a red light: When was your car’s timing belt last changed?
Don’t worry if you don’t know — most drivers don’t — but make a mental note to ask atyour local auto repair shop. The timing belt is one of those essential engine components that should be checked periodically, and especially as the mileage creeps toward the 100,000 mark.
There was a time when most cars were worn out after 100,000 miles, but that’s not the case today. In fact, given proper maintenance, there’s no reason not to see 150,000 miles or more. But bringing up that sixth digit on the odometer is still a milestone, so why not treat it as a prompt to get some important checks made?
No. 1: The Timing Belt
This connects the crankshaft to the camshaft, and it’s usually made of rubber. Rubber ages; the belt can crack and eventually fail. When that happens, the best case scenario is that you’re stranded at the side of the road. If you’ve owned the car a while and stayed on top of the scheduled maintenance, you’ll probably know if the belt has been replaced. If not, get it checked.
No. 2: Hoses
Look under the hood and you’ll see several rubber hoses. These carry coolant from the engine to the radiator and heater. Some cars have other hoses for power steering fluid, brake fluid and even oil. Whatever goes inside, they all have one thing in common: heat and vibration leads to aging. Aging leads to cracks, and cracks lead to breakdowns.
By the time a car gets to 100,000 miles it’s probably five to 10 years old. If the hoses haven’t already been replaced, this is a good time to get them checked and maybe replaced. Auto parts like these aren’t expensive.
Item No. 3:Brake Fluid
Two interesting facts about brake fluid are that it absorbs moisture from the air, and hardly anyone ever gets it changed. But that moisture can cause rust in various parts of the braking system (bad news), and when the contaminated fluid gets hot, the water boils, and the brakes don’t work — very bad news indeed!
The answer, then, is to have the fluid checked and replaced if necessary.
No. 4: Coolant
Most people don’t realize that modern engine coolant is much more than just water and antifreeze. It’s actually a complex combination of chemicals and additives that not only take heat away but also work to reduce corrosion inside the engine. The downside, though, is that the coolant tends to break down over time and become less effective.
Solution: use the 100,000 mile mark as a prompt to have the coolant condition checked.
Item No. 5:Transmission Fluid
Now, opinions do vary on this. Some mechanics say that if a transmission is working well, leave it alone. Others take the view that 100,000 miles is a good point at which to at least inspect the fluid for particles or debris. Ask a vehicle repair technician if this is something they’d recommend for your car.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of things to check, and manufacturers have recommendations specific to their vehicles, but there’s an important underlying message: The 100,000 mile mark is a great prompt to carry out some important inspections.