Four tips to drive cars to 200K

HOUSTON It is easy to get a car to last 200,000 miles, automotive experts said. There are four key points drivers need to remember to keep their cars on the road.

First, drivers must get the oil changed. Changing the oil of a vehicle on an average of every 3,000 miles can save a car from bigger, more expensive problems later on.

"When it gets dark, that's not a good sign," mechanic David Borski said.

"You have to maintain it, just like your body," Upland Automotive owner Shakil Shakeh said.

A regular oil change with an inspection of your car should cost $20 to $30.

Second, remember to have the transmission serviced. For most vehicles, the transmission fluid should be changed every 25,000 to 30,000 miles. Like an oil change, mechanics said this is important because transmission fluids break down, and if your engine is not properly lubricated, your transmission can go out.

"It (the transmission fluid) should have a pinkish color to it," Borski said. "When it starts to get a little brown, that means it's time to change it."

The average cost of a transmission service is $150, but for a new transmission, it could cost about $3,000.

Third, drivers should have their fuel injection systems serviced.

Every time a gas tank gets filled, the additives in the fuel you use create a gum-like build up in your fuel injector. If this doesn't get serviced, eventually your car won't start and your injector will go out. The average fuel injector is about $200.

Fourth, drivers need to change the fuel filter.

"If the fuel filter is stopped up, then you'll burn out the fuel pump," Shakeh said. "The fuel pump cannot push the fuel through that and can burn out the fuel pump."

A new fuel filter should be installed every 25,000 miles and should cost about $50. A new fuel pump could cost $700.

To keep up with your car's repairs and needed services, auto experts recommend keeping a maintenance record. If the car goes to one particular automotive shop, mechanics at that location may keep the record on file. If a driver visits multiple shops, experts recommend keeping a personal record. For those drivers who are not sure if his or her car needs a specific service, find a shop that can be trusted who could make an assessment, industry professionals said.

Should the "check engine" light come on, mechanics said they will have to use a computer to diagnose the problem. A fee will be assessed.

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