Maintaining your car when it hits the 50,000 mile mark is an important step to seeing it go to 100,000 miles and beyond. With proper maintenance done in a timely manner, a modern car should have no difficulty reaching 200,000 miles or more. The steps to be performed at 50,000 miles can be broken into two areas: inspections and preventative fluid changes.
A thorough inspection of the car's mechanical systems and components should be done.
- Measure the tread on each tire, and if it is below 3/32 of an inch, or has reached the wear bars, consider replacing the tires.
- Remove each tire and inspect the brake pads and rotors for wear.
- Using a pry bar, attempt to move the joints in the suspension; if any play is felt, the joint needs replacement.
- Inspect the engine for oil leaks, and if it is excessively dirty, consider getting it professionally steam cleaned.
- Look carefully at all coolant hoses and engine belts for any cracking or deterioration.
- Test all lights and electrical components for correct operation.
Even if your car appears to be in perfect shape, preventative maintenance is still needed at 50,000 miles.
- The brake fluid must be flushed from the reservoir and lines, the brakes bled, and the system left full of new fluid.
- The cooling system should also be flushed and refilled. If the car has no specific manufacturer's recommendations for an automatic transmission fluid replacement interval, it is recommended at the 50,000 mile mark.
- Be sure to check your owner's manual for additional steps. Performing the traditional "tune-up" is becoming out of date.
- If your car does not have platinum spark plugs, they could likely benefit from being changed. The rest of the ignition system is electronic and self-monitoring, so no adjustments are needed.
To maintain maximum value, your car's appearance must be kept up as well. Consider this a time to invest in a complete detailing job. The car should be completely cleaned and waxed, but consider taking this one step further. Have any small scratches or imperfections in the paint buffed with a polishing compound. Have any stone chips repaired before they start to rust, and fill any chips in the windshield before they turn into cracks.
By maintaining your car early in its life, you maximize your enjoyment of it now, and its value later on.