Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) represents Virginia's sprawling 1st Congressional District, meaning he does a lot of driving.
Not only does he drive across his district, which stretches from Newport News to the outskirts of Washington, DC, he commutes to the nation's capital from his home in the tiny town of Montross, Va., a distance of some 80 miles.
Last week, in his newsletter to constituents, Wittman waxed poetic about his car, a 2005 Toyota Corolla. On one particular trip home, he said, he watched as the odometer turned from 299,999 miles to 300,000. Then, he said, the odometer simply stopped.
“A trip to the mechanic told me that my odometer simply wouldn’t go any higher and that it would have to be reset back to zero,” Wittman wrote. “Despite not being able to see the 300,000-mile mark on my dashboard, I’m still satisfied to have gotten such great use out of this car.”
Last July, Wittman said his car sustained some damage in a fender bender. The other driver's insurance company classified the vehicle as “totaled.” However, Wittman wasn't prepared to part with his wheels.
Plenty of miles left
“I knew that my car had plenty of miles left to drive, and so I bought the car back from the insurance company, fixed it and put it back on the road, after ensuring it was safe,” Wittman wrote.
The Congressman then used the story as a jumping-off point to talk about problems in Congress, but the message to consumers is pretty clear. Cars manufactured over the last few years are built to go a lot farther than most consumers drive them.
Getting 200,000 miles not that uncommon now
While consumers are sometimes unfortunate enough to get stuck with a lemon, with an endless string of problems, many vehicles will go 200,000 or more miles, with proper maintenance.
In addition to checking oil frequently and replacing it every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, other regular maintenance should include maintaining proper tire pressure, maintaining adequate coolant levels, cleaning battery terminals and checking engine belts for proper tension.
Using one mechanic, who tracks the work done on your car, may also extend the life of your vehicle.
Wittman, meanwhile, says he has no plans to get rid of his Corolla anytime soon, and the car continues to provide his principal transportation as he travels to meetings across his district.