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RIVERTON -- Utah mechanics have stayed busy this Labor Day weekend as travelers gear up to hit the road.
If you keep maintenance up on your car and fix your hoses and belts and keep your oil changed and all your fluids changed, your car should last a long time.
But many mechanics are noticing a trend: more people are trying to keep their older cars for longer, instead of just buying a new one. It's just another effect of a down economy.
At Diagnostic Automotive in Riverton, mechanics say the days before Labor Day weekend were very busy for them. Drivers wanted to make sure their cars were in tip-top shape for a holiday road trip.
In the past, mechanics say if there were a lot of problems with a car, the driver might have decided to skip the work and the cost of repairs and buy a new car. Now, they're seeing plenty of cars with 200,000 to 300,000 miles on them.
"Used to be they'd go buy a new car, but now they're a little more thrifty I guess," says master mechanic Brian James.
James says the key to making an engine last is to get it checked out regularly. "A little maintenance goes a long way, especially now a days in the economy," he says.
Steve Cox, owner of Diagnostic Automotives, agrees. He says with regular checks and tune ups, an older, higher-mileage car can be just as good as a new one. With almost everyone looking for ways to save money, it's cheaper to maintain or fix a car than to buy a new one.
"If you keep maintenance up on your car and fix your hoses and belts and keep your oil changed and all your fluids changed, your car should last a long time," he says.
James says he's worked on a fleet of vans that gets regular maintenance and recently went past 500,000 miles on them. Cars with fewer miles but no maintenance just won't last.
"If you get them done when they're supposed to be done, it's usually not a problem," he says.
James says the cost of repairs will really pay off in the end.
"It's really about whether you want to roll the dice on getting stuck somewhere, blow a hose, could be something as simple as a coolant hose," he says.
Coolant hoses are often fairly inexpensive. They run an average of $5, as opposed to the money you would spend for a tow truck if you were to get stranded.
Mechanics recommend those preparing to hit the open road should take some time to head to their local garage and ask for a trip inspection. Normally, that inspection runs between $25 and $50, but it will give drivers the peace of mind that comes with knowing the car is prepared for the trip.