5 Main Problems With Cars Over 100,000 Miles (Explained)

Many people avoid buying cars driven past 100,000 miles because there’s a misconception that they are prone to riskier problems.

Cars produced today are designed with durable parts to last longer. The 100,000-mile mark should not be a standard yardstick to abandon a car, as you can push a car to over 200,000 miles with proper maintenance.

However, there are some main problems that pop up when a car reaches 100,000 miles. This article discusses five major problems with cars over 100,000 miles.

1. Transmission Problems

Transmission issues are the most common problem that happens when a car reaches 100,000 miles. The usual sign of a transmission failure is the difficulty of shifting to another gear.

Some automakers encourage car owners to have solid knowledge about their cars because some cars may require that you change their transmission fluid at shorter miles, particularly when comparing manual and automatic transmissions.

Most modern cars will require a transmission oil change when they reach 100,000 miles, but it is best to know what works for your vehicle to avoid a sudden transmission failure.

Automakers also advise that if your vehicle is running nice and smooth even after exceeding 100,000 miles, it is best to leave it. Changing the transmission oil on a high-mileage car can be risky when it has no obvious problems.

If it is still running using the transmission oil from the factory, it is best to leave it be. It is also pertinent to understand the signs and symptoms of a failing transmission, to make haste to replace it regardless of what mile your car has crossed. These are 9 major signs of a transmission problem:

  • Refusal to switch gears
  • Burning smell
  • Slipping gears
  • Leaking transmission fluid 
  • Grinding or shaking 
  • Car noise when the gear is in neutral 
  • Dragging clutch for manual vehicles
  • No vehicle power
  • Warning lights

2. Timing Belt Problems

A damaged timing belt is another problem that comes with cars over 100,000 miles. Sometimes it can be replaced at a lesser interval, depending on the type of car and what the vehicle manufacturer recommends.

However, timing belt issues generally show up between 60,000 miles to 100,000 miles. Also, some models come with a timing chain instead of a belt.

The main difference between them is that the timing belt is made of rubber while the timing chain is made of metal. Timing chains last longer than belts, so if your car comes with a chain, you might not have to change them so frequently. 

Before we discuss the symptoms of a failing timing belt, let’s quickly define what a timing belt is and how crucial it is for the effective running of your vehicle. 

The timing belt is like the bike chain of your vehicle that aligns all the internal moving parts. It is a rubber belt that connects and synchronizes the crankshaft and the camshaft.

This sync ensures that the engine’s intake and exhaust valves move at their set time. If the intake valves open at the wrong time, there may be excess air and fuel mixture entering the engine combustion chamber.

And if the exhaust valve opens too early, there might be power loss. Nevertheless, it is still best to know the signs and symbols that come with a timing belt failure. Below are 8 warning signs of this failure:

  • Overheating
  • Leaking oil
  • Trouble starting the vehicle
  • The car will vibrate
  • Loss of engine power 
  • Noise from the engine 
  • Noise from the belts
  • Engine light warning 

3. Water Pump Leaks

 It is possible to have a car for over 15 years and not have to replace the water pump, but it is safe to say it might have some little problems.

Water pump leaks can happen due to various factors. It might need a replacement depending on the car model, weather condition or driving pattern of the owner.

Before you continue, read here whether you can drive a car with a bad water pump.

The water pump should averagely last a long time because it is located deep under the hood of the vehicle. 

The main purpose of the water pump is to maintain the temperature of the engine. The pump takes the water from the radiator and sends it to the motor, and then back to the radiator. This keeps the engine at an optimal operating temperature, no matter the weather.

When the water pump leaks or weakens over time, it could cause an overheated engine. Asides from an overheated engine, there are some other major signs of a water pump leakage. They include:

  • Coolant leaks
  • Whining Noises
  • Overheated engine
  • Steam 
  • Rusted areas
  • The water pump’s axle loses

Related: 8 Common Problems With High Mileage Cars (Explained)

4. Engine Oil Burns More Quickly 

Once your car hits a high mileage, it is likely to run through oil faster because there’s wear on the piston rings which are responsible for sealing the combustion gases. 

The second cause of oil loss is a worn-out PCV. Positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) is the component responsible for removing harmful gases produced during combustion.

If the PCV becomes bad, it causes serious oil loss because instead of removing the harmful gases; it sucks the oil.

The third cause is a bad valve seal. Valve seals are meant to regulate oil consumption and lubricate the valve. A worn-out valve scatters the whole process and may leak oil into the engine cylinder.

Automakers claimed one way to reduce this oil burn is to consider using a high mileage oil. High mileage oil contains certain additives and seal enhancers that reduce leaks.

It allows for smooth mechanical operation and reduces friction on the metal surfaces. These additives can also cause the rings and gasket to swell and it ultimately reduces oil consumption.

Makers of high mileage oils claim the products contain detergents that remove sludges from engines.

However, a high mileage oil will not eradicate serious problems like loss of power, cylinder clap, weird noises, etc. but the oil reduces engine wear if you are using a high mileage car.

Aside from using the high mileage oil, another way to check if there’s a problem is to observe the color of the oil. A common sign that the engine oil might be leaking is if it has a black-to-brown appearance.

If it appears gritty, dirty, or smells burned, there might also be a problem under the hood.

Related: Problems With Buying High Mileage Cars (5 Common Issues)

5. Tires, Rotors and Brake Problems

You would have gone through multiple brake pads and tires before your car hits 100k miles, but you’ll need to replace them again.

Your brake pads are responsible for slowing down your vehicle. When you press the brake pedal, it squeezes the rotors and slows down the car. There are 5 signs to indicate the time for new pads:

  • Squeaking from the brakes
  • Grinding when braking
  • Takes a long to stop 
  • Warning brake pads light 
  • The brake pads appear thin

For your tires; if you have always had them rotated, they might last longer than unrotated ones. However, they will still have problems with high mileage.

If you plan to replace the tires, it is best to replace them all, and if you can’t buy the four at once, you can purchase just two. Last, there are 5 major signs that come with tire problems. They are:

  • Low air pressure
  • Low tire tread
  • Weird noises and vibrations
  • Cracked rubber
  • Bubble on the sides of the tires 

Related: Are Newer Cars With High Mileage Worth Buying? (Explained)

General Maintenance of Cars Over 100,000 Miles

There are major steps to take if you intend to keep your high-mileage car working effectively. They include:

Keep Up With the Vehicle’s Manual

Your vehicle’s manual is equipped with so many instructions on maintenance. Consult your vehicle manual as often as possible because they contain many cheat codes to improve your car’s performance.

Another good thing about consulting your manual is that the instructions are specifically designed for your vehicle’s make and model.

Have a Scheduled Routine Maintenance 

Before problems begin to pop up and frustrate you, have a routine maintenance check on your vehicle. For a frequent and short-term check-up, inspect the following:

  • Check the oil and coolant level 
  • Inspect the tire pressure and threads
  • Inspect and replace the headlights and brake lights if necessary 
  • Inspect your air filter
  • Change the engine oil 
  • Rotate the tires as often as possible 
  • Coat your vehicle.

For long-term checkups

  • Inspect and replace the transmission fluid
  • Inspect shocks and struts
  • Inspect and replace your spark plugs where necessary
  • Inspect your serpentine belt

For seasonal checkups, depending on the weather and driving behavior of the owner, inspect and replace the following:

  • Replace your windshields wiper
  • Check the battery
  • Change all the tires
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