300,000 mile Corolla or Matrix my owners manual additions
1 Let's start with driving habits. Avoiding hard braking when possible, avoiding jack rabbit starts when possible, avoiding potholes when possible. Also watch your RPM although the tachometer goes to 7 or 9 thousand RPM'S 4000 is my limit and that's entering an interstate. 95% of my driving is done between 1800 and 3000 RPM great for economy and engine life. Boring yes but 300,000 miles on your car with less then one thousand dollars in additional maintenance is like getting a BOGO Car. (buy one get one free) You can go to an amusement park if you want a thrill ride.
1a Oil and filter changes at 4,000 miles never more will keep you car on the 300,000 mile longevity track. A little more conservative then Toyota's recommendations, However this is a case of hundreds saving you thousands in the long run. If your doing lots of short trips in the city or your car doing less then 500 miles a month I would seriously consider 3,000 mile oil and oil filter changes. The 3,000 mile oil change practice will result in no oil spots on the garage or the driveway and a 300,000 engine just for changing oil more frequently (that's right).(Gaskets even last longer with more frequent oil changes) I owned and drove Tractor Trailers and million million engines and drive trains are common place it's all about oil changes.
1b Tire air pressure check it once a month. Tire longevity and safety come into play here and over a lifetime it will pay off greatly. Most cars have sensors keeping watch on tire pressure for you. Some tire warnings will not reset or clear even after the tires are properly inflated. In that case look for low tire inflation warning reset in the car manual. Sometimes you will find the reset in the the glove box others require series of key turns and button presses. Check the forum and ask the question or go to you-tube lots of people have had the same problem and posted the answer on line. Tire pressures for your car are posted on the right side of the drivers doorway when you open the drivers door.
2 Buy a good service manual that covers your make and model car and familiarize yourself with both the book and the car. Think of the book as an extended owners manual. You will find manuals if your on a budget all over the net.
3 Tightening all grounds on your car. The car can be 10 years old but if you just made the purchase it's new to you. Find them in your service manual and get tightening.
4 Re-seat all fuses and relays in the numerous locations which again you will find in your newly purchased service manual. I have a computer, electronic, electricity background both theoretical and hands on. Most electrical troubles begin with loose or oxidized connections. The unseen action of the relays being activated and deactivated causes a problem called "creep" in which a relay or a fuse works it's way loose from it original secure connection. Simply press each fuse or relay down to re-seat them individually. You will be surprised at the number of loose ones you find in each panels (take 5 minutes once or twice a year and pop them all beck into place).
5 Be careful using a high pressure water wand to clean the car they can damage the paint job. Most of those roofs and hoods that have rust and clear coat damage could have been avoided by following the manufactures recommendations on wash and wax procedures. Be especially careful with high pressure wands in the engine compartments to all those electronic sensors water means trouble. I never spray my engine with water.
6 Inspect the plastic covers and replace the missing plastic push pin rivet style fasteners surrounding your cars engine, fenders where necessary. Those covers surrounding the engine being held in by these fasteners protect components from heat, rust, dirt, rain, foreign road objects and more. These push pins fall out they are cheap replace so do it before unnecessary damage occurs. With my latest purchase of a new car after pulling the protective cover above the engine I found what looked like a rodent nest nestled into the space between the intake manifold inlets of two cylinders. That was a first and I'm glad I caught it. This lead to an interesting read on car wiring harness insulation partiality composed of soy. Read about the famous car made of soy on the Internet.
7 Checking tightness. Same new car mentioned above gave me a clunk sound backing out of the driveway when the car was days old. Lucky for me I heard it and I am a curious kind of guy. I have driven for a living many years professionally and knew that clunk. It was loose lug nuts on the front left wheel. Which brings me to checking tightness. This is something I do routinely on a new purchase whether its brand new, 10 year old, car or semi truck and trailer. You will be surprised at the things you will find. The inspection is worth the effort.
8 Change the fluids a 30,000. As in transmission, cooling system, brake fluid and power steering fluid. Some manufactures recommend the same thing in their maintenance interval some don't. I find by using this practice I never had a car or truck overheat, never spin a bearing or have any kind of transmission problem. That goes for brake fluid as well. The few dollars in additional cost provides thousands of dollars in returned savings.
9 Change all your bulbs on the cars eight birthday. Next time you are out for a drive pay attention to to number of lights burned out in cars you are driving by or following. It's money well spent not having to ever think about lights. Stick with the incandescent bulbs and manufacturers recommendations on an older car because they last a long time and they are inexpensive. With the computers of todays cars and even in the older models (it is best not redesign your cars electrical system) adding 3 party led lighting unnecessarily.
10 Buy a cheap obd2 code reader. This tool will allow you to make accurate assessments of engine warning lights and put these emergencies in their proper prospective. That service manual I mentioned earlier will then become the reference which can turn a $1500 repair into a $50 repair you do yourself. These readers can be found for very little money on the Internet. If you are in a pinch places like Advanced auto or Auto zone will read your engine's trouble codes in an emergency free.
10a Here is a summary of my current cars repairs over 15 years. I have had similar results with other cars in my life which have resulted in numerous car BOGO'S.
My current car was bought new and always serviced by myself. 3000 mile oil and filter changes. 30,000 mile manual transmission oil changes and antifreeze changes were also preformed. Air Cleaner filters were changed once a year @ (15,000 miles). The car is a Florida car so lucky for me no rust. I changed the struts front and rear at 200,000 and both the VVT solenoid and it's separate filter at the same time. After having changed those items the car ran and felt like new again. Three more items I changed which were important and inexpensive were: the valve cover gasket (while putting in the second set of plugs at 200,000 plus miles), the oil pan gasket at 150,000 (oil light flickered and the strainer in the pan was partially clogged). The A/C clutch relay was changed and the A/C system now has 4,000 plus Florida hours and never a failure. If you are a D.I.Y. person these Corolla's can be more then budget friendly. Same clutch at 230,000 plus miles but I drive as if I had an egg between my feet and the pedals. (If you break the egg you have a lot to learn about safe driving). Alternator and starter were also changed at 200,000 miles just as a preventive maintenance measure as was the water pump. All told the cost of (additional) maintenance over the years has been less then the tax that would been added to a new car so I have been fortunate. The interior is still close to new looking due to regular cleaning. If I had to do it over again I would have taken better care of the exterior paint by waxing the car more often but the car just turned 16 so I can't complain about fading
Remember these are simple preventive maintenance techniques I use on my Corolla's and have been very profitable for me over a lifetime, not recommendations, they may not be for everyone. You also have to read manuals both operator and service to advance your skill level in both repair and safety techniques as part of your own training in what I call my hobby. Good luck