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  • Two scenarios could happen once you max out the mileage on your vehicle. The odometer could reset to zero or it could get stuck at 999,999 miles.
  • To maintain a high-mileage car, you’ll need to regularly change its oil, top off and replace fluids, and rotate its tires, among others.
  • Driving high-mileage cars means you should expect major repairs, including engine rebuilds and other potential replacements.

Does max mileage for a car actually exist? Well, it does. But what happens to your vehicle after reaching that limit isn’t always what you think.

Max Mileage Explained

In most cases, two things could happen when a car reaches its max mileage.

The first scenario is that the odometer will reset to zero if it’s an analog type. The other thing that might happen is that the odometer could get stuck at 999,999 miles if it’s digital.

Mileage refers to the total distance a vehicle has traveled. So when the odometer is maxed out, it could mean that the vehicle has reached the end of its service life or is nearing retirement.

There are some instances where vehicles are driven past their maximum mileage. In fact, you can drive your vehicle for as long as you want, but it might need more repairs than usual because of worn-out parts.

There’s a possibility that you’ll be spending more money to keep an old car running instead of simply buying a new one or a used car with fewer miles.

The Million Miles Club

For a lot of drivers, keeping old cars until they reach the end of the line isn’t exactly practical in terms of costs. This is one of the reasons why most vehicles are sold after five years or so.

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But there are some dedicated gearheads who were able to do the unthinkable that only a number of people were able to achieve一register a million miles on their odometers.

Here are some vehicles that earned their spot on the exclusive million miles club:

  • 1966 Volvo P1800 (last known mileage: 3.25M)
  • 1976 Mercedes-Benz 240D (last known mileage: 2.85M)
  • 1979 Volvo 245 GL (last known mileage: 1.63M)
  • 1963 Plymouth Fury (last known mileage: 1.62M)
  • 1963 Volkswagen Beetle (last known mileage: 1.61M)
  • 1983 Lincoln Town Car (last known mileage: 1.3M)
  • 1991 Chevrolet C1500 Silverado (last known mileage: 1.29M)
  • 1966 Mercedes-Benz 250SE (last known mileage: 1.28M)
  • 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 Heavy Duty (last known mileage: 1.22M)
  • 2006 Ford F-250 (last known mileage: 1.2M)

Most of these vehicles have had their fair share of engine rebuilds and major repairs, which are inevitable because of how long they’ve been running.

But one thing they all have in common is that they’re well-taken care of in terms of routine maintenance. So if you’re thinking about joining the million-miles club with your daily driver, don’t skip your oil changes!

Your Guide to Maintaining a High-Mileage Car

Maintaining a high-mileage car isn’t all that different from maintaining a new one (aside from inevitable rebuilds and major repairs).

Here are a few tips on how to reach your car’s max mileage.

Get an Oil Change Regularly

Engine oil helps lubricate moving parts and cool them down, seals piston rings, neutralizes acids, and prevents rust and corrosion. Cleaning is also another property of engine oil. After some time, the oil will get contaminated, prompting you to get an oil change.

Specific oil change intervals are usually found in a vehicle’s manual, but most manufacturers recommend getting an oil change anywhere between 7,500 and 12,000 miles or every six months.

Some experts suggest shortening the intervals between oil changes, particularly every 5,000 miles.

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If your vehicle has over 75,000 miles, you might need to use a high-mileage oil.

High-mileage oils usually have esters to swell oil seals and don’t have the energy rating of conventional oils.

Top Off and Replace Fluids

Your vehicle needs a lot of fluids to function properly. These include the coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, differential fluid, power steering fluid, and hydraulic clutch fluid, among others.

All of these will need to be replaced after some time, and the intervals will also depend on the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Make sure to also check their levels regularly. If one or more of the fluid levels are alarmingly low, you might want to inspect related systems for leaks in the tanks or hoses.

Inspect Belts and Filters

Your vehicle’s cooling and charging capabilities depend on several belts and filters.

Timing belts are expected to last up to 100,000 miles before you need to replace them, but conducting regular inspections won’t hurt. Once the timing belt snaps, the engine will shut down, so be sure to replace it as soon as cracks appear.

Some engines are interference engines. If the timing belt fails on those engines, the valves will hit the pistons, resulting in major engine damage.

The drive belt or serpentine belt is another rubber component you should look out for when maintaining a high-mileage car. Unlike the timing belt, the serpentine belt has a shorter lifespan of about 50,000 miles.

The serpentine belt powers components like the A/C compressor, power steering pump, water pump, and cooling fan. Once this belt breaks, the engine can overheat and lead to a bunch of costly repair jobs.

Several hoses also link to parts like the radiator, heater, and fuel lines. Similar to the serpentine belt, these hoses might need to be replaced after 50,000 miles due to cracks, breaks, or dryness.

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Rotate Tires

Proper tire rotation helps slow down tire wear, especially on rear-wheel drive vehicles. This is because the front tires wear out faster than the rear tires as a result of cornering, stopping, and turning.

Most manufacturers recommend rotating the tires every other oil change.

Failure to rotate the tires regularly can result in tread block wear and create tire noise or roughness.

Inspect Battery Health

Battery replacement is inevitable for any vehicle because, like most parts, it doesn’t last forever.

But if you want to make the most out of your battery’s service life, make sure to clean off any corrosion or dirt on it, which usually forms around the cables and terminals.

Some batteries also have to be filled. If your vehicle has that type of battery, check for any indication of low battery fluid. If the fluid level gets too low, the battery could boil and fail prematurely.

Check the Fuel Injectors

Fuel injectors can get clogged after a while, messing up the air-fuel ratio that’s needed for efficient fuel combustion.

Fortunately, you can buy fuel injector cleaners that will help remove deposits and other contaminants.

Wrapping Up

Max mileage is a concept that applies to your vehicle’s odometer reading once it reaches the highest number possible.

However, it’s highly likely that your vehicle will still run after reaching its max mileage, but there are a few trade-offs.

Driving a high-mileage car usually means a couple of major repairs are to be expected, including engine rebuilds and other replacements.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at

Tony Harlin is a Master Gas and Diesel Diagnostic Technician with over 18 years of experience. He works full-time at a large independent automotive shop as a driveability and repair technician working on all types of vehicles with a focus on diesels. ASE certifications include A1-A9, L1 and L2, as well as X1.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication. Holiday Campaign
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