8 Car Maintenance To-Dos at 200,000 Miles

The average car on the road in the U.S. is nearly 12 years old, and the average owner puts on about 13,500 miles per year. If you’re one of these frugal folks – congratulations. But a vehicle that has accumulated 200,000 miles is going to have a few battle scars. Here, we offer several 200,000-mile car maintenance to-dos to help keep your four-wheeled warrior humming along.

mechanic hand crescent wrench fist

1) Seek out seals

Time takes its toll on all of us. Your vehicle’s axle, driveshaft and other seals are no exception.

Seals are out-of-sight, out-of-mind, meaning we don’t think of them until we notice a small transmission fluid or gear lube stain on the garage floor. Eventually, that small stain grows into a big problem.

Replace seals before they leak to help avoid a mess on your garage floor or, worse, the loss of fluid, which can lead to overheating and wear. Bad seals allow dirt and other contaminants to enter the system. Soon the fluid goes bad and can lead to expensive repairs or a breakdown.

Change power steering fluid

2) Change your power steering fluid

Power steering fluid may not appear degraded, but its anti-corrosion and anti-foam additives deplete over time.

This accelerates wear to the pump and rack. Sometimes if the fluid has degraded, you’ll hear a high-pitched whine coming from the pump.

Be proactive and change the power steering fluid. A simple but effective method is to use an extraction pump or turkey baster to remove fluid from the reservoir. Top-off the reservoir and drive for a while. Repeat the process a few times for a simple power steering fluid change.

Rust, oxidation

3) Brake fluid maintenance

Brake fluid naturally attracts moisture, which can enter the system through microscopic pores in the brake lines and through the reservoir cap. The fluid can only handle so much water before it’s compromised, which reduces its boiling point and performance. This leads to brake-line corrosion and, worse, a spongy pedal. Soft brakes are not only annoying, they’re dangerous.

A good rule of thumb is to change brake fluid every other year. It’ll help prevent the lines from corroding and ensure a safe drive.

Make sure you use a brake fluid that meets the correct DOT classification for your vehicle. Find out more about that here.

4) Clean the mass air flow (MAF) sensor

Your engine has consumed tons of air on its way to 200,000 miles. The MAF sensor measures the mass flow rate of air into the engine.

The engine’s computer uses this information to inject the correct amount of fuel into the engine to achieve optimum efficiency depending on operating conditions. Over time, the sensor can become dirty and provide false readings. Common symptoms of a dirty MAF sensor include reduced fuel economy and a rough idle.

Clean the MAF sensor with a cleaning product specifically designed for the task. Not every cleaning product out there is meant for MAF sensors, so read the label carefully.

5) Clean the fuel injectors

To reach 200,000 miles, an engine will burn 8,000-10,000 gallons of fuel. In each fuel injector, a small needle opens and closes millions of times as thousands of gallons of fuel are burned in front of it.

Plus, the fuel is sprayed through tiny openings in the injector tip. Dirty fuel and extreme heat – especially in direct-injected engines – cause carbon to build up on the injector tips. This interferes with the spray pattern, reducing power and fuel economy.

Use a good fuel additive, like AMSOIL P.i., every few thousand miles to keep the injectors clean and firing properly. You can see below how effectively AMSOIL P.i. cleans injectors and helps restore the spray pattern. This translates into maximum fuel economy and horsepower. In fact, P.i. restores up to 14% horsepower in one tank of gasoline.1

injector spray pattern

6) Assess the AC

Your air conditioning may not be what it once was due to a plugged cabin air filter (which you can find out how to change here), stuck blower doors or a weak blower motor.

Use an anemometer, which measures air speed and temperature, to find air-flow restrictions and determine if the system needs to be recharged. If you’re going to go beyond 200,000 miles, you want to be comfortable, so do a little AC maintenance.

7) Replace engine and transmission mounts

Call me Captain Obvious, but holding the engine and transmission in place is an important job.

Constant torque and vibration can cause the metal and rubber in these mounts to crack and eventually break. In general, worn mounts don’t provide much early warning, but when they go, it’s noisy, rough and potentially dangerous.

Next time you’re under your vehicle, examine the engine and transmission mounts for cracks. Replace them as needed.

8) Timing-chain tensioners

Made from composite materials and actuated by springs or hydraulic pressure, timing-chain tensioners can wear and become brittle due to the number of engine-heat cycles. Hydraulic tensioners can also wear and leak. In addition to illuminating the engine light, symptoms include noise and rough running.

As its name indicates, the timing chain controls the timing of valves and pistons. When it or the tensioners fail, the engine usually goes with it. Replace the timing belt and tensioners according to the recommendations given in your owner’s manual.

These are just a few important 200,000-mile car maintenance tips to help keep your car on the road. Let us know in the comments what you’ve done to keep your high-mileage warrior on the road.

Updated. Originally published May 22, 2018.

1Based on third-party testing in a 2016 Chevrolet* Silverado* 1500, 5.3L V-8 GDI with 100,616 miles, using one tank treated with AMSOIL P.i. Actual results may vary.


  1. You made a good point that regular assessment of the air conditioning would be a good things to include in vehicle maintenance. My uncle almost got into a heat stroke while driving his truck the other day so I think he may be having a ventilation problem. Maybe the next time he get mobile truck repairs, he should also get his air conditioning optimized.

  2. My 04 VW Passat has just achieved 200k miles, and surprisingly its still running smooth and great with light damage in the long run, still, minor costs add up. At this point I’m looking over my fluid levels, as well as maintaining a clean appearance under the hood. With everything under the hood clean, it makes it easier to find problems, and easier to fix them with clean equipment. Dirt builds up very fast over time, especially for me living in Maine, where we get crazy winters, all that salt is terrible for the underbelly. Clean, Clean, Clean.

  3. My 2009 Toyota Corolla Sport just hit over 200K. Im giving it to my daughter but want to do some special services to it, to make sure it stays in good condition for another 100K miles.

    1. My 07 Impala just hit 200K miles. A/C doesnt work and I spent over $1500 in maintance on it in 6 months since I had the car, and only drove it 12K miles

  4. It’s actually a nice and helpful piece of info. I am glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing. This is the perfect blog for anyone who wants to know about this topic.

  5. A car needs maintenance after a certain time interval and everyone should be aware of some sort of basic car maintenance tricks required to keep the vehicle in working order. One should also know some of car repairing tricks which could be very helpful during an emergency situation. Besides, one should also have the ability to recognize the appearance of the abnormal sign while driving a vehicle. Ignoring such warning signs could have a significant influence on the performance of the vehicle. Recommendations given in the owners manual should be strictly followed to keep the vehicle in working order.

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