Extending The Life Of Your Car: Important Tips

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No matter how much money you save or make, people always want to ensure the maximum quality and longevity of their investments, their cars especially. How can you keep your current cars on the road for longer periods of time? It can often be as equally expensive to buy a new car every few years as it is to  repair the car that might be on its last legs.

  1. Preventative Care and Maintenance

car maintenance checklist clipboard with check boxes marked for equipments of car

Follow your dealer recommended and manufacturer recommended maintenance schedule. It goes a long way. Different manufacturers allow for different time periods between required maintenance. While it may look expensive to go about replacing your air filter, changing your oil, rotating your tires every few thousand miles, the preventative care saves you money in the long run. Do save all your service receipts not only as a reminder for your maintenance shchedule but also to keep the value of your car should you sell it.

  • Make it a priority to keep your vehicle’s fluids new and clean. For example: frequent oil changes can prevent the buildup of harmful deposits that rob fuel economy and power that also force internal components to work harder (thus a shorter life span). So be sure to good idea to check the oil every few hundred miles. If the level slowly gets lower between oil changes, you could have issues with your engine. Apply this mentality to all you vehicle’s fluids such as: brake fluid, clutch fluid and your transmission fluid.
  • Check shocks, bushings and alignment: A car with worn-out shocks, bushings and poor alignment will both drive badly and maker tires, wheel bearings, and other driveline components to wear our faster beyond noticeable surface issues like creaking, squeaking and clunking noises. A suspension refresh can give a car a second lease on life and restore driving pleasure and safety, while minimizing the need for expensive replacement parts down the line.
  • Check the Brakes: Have your brake pads checked regularly and address any excessive screeching immediately. Pads wear out faster than rotors and have a metal strip in them to warn you that they need replacement. When you hear excessive screeching under even light braking, chances are your pads have worn enough to warrant replacement.
  1. Drive Carefully

Brand new cars might have a break-in period that generally lasts for the first 1,000 miles. During that time, try not to rev the engine to redline. Light  that keeps an engine under 3,000 rpm and will helps to break in the engine gently. It is also recommended that you keep the speed to under your owner’s manual recommendation for the initial maximum speed). Since most of the wear and tear on a car occurs during the first few minutes of driving it is important to try to actively prevent long-term damage on the engine. For example, you should avoid heavy loads on the drivetrain, so do not tow or weigh down the vehicle with too heavy loads. And this is most important: DO NOT let your car idle for too long, this causes the oil pressure to drop, which means that oil won’t be sent to all parts of the engine and a lack of lubrication is the death knell for any car.

  1. Know Your Vehicle

A car is made up of thousands of interlaced mechanisms that rely on each other to get you down the road safely. A responsible owner does not need to be a “gearhead” but they should pay close attention to changes in their car’s sound/tone and driving characteristics/feel in order to be made alert to problems before they get out of hand. That can save you some serious money in repairs and keep you from getting stranded on the side of the road. It is wise to occasionally drive with the radio off and listen for odd noises. If your vehicle doesn’t have the same oomph it used to, starts sluggishly or has an odd vibration or is making a strange noises, it may be time for a trip to the mechanic. Do your best to describe what you heard or felt and which part of the vehicle it emanated from in order to accurately can save you and your mechanic time trying to run down the problem. Keeping track of your mileage (and your trip/gas mileage) also helps too. A clean, good running vehicle will return better mileage than one suffering from an ailment. It is easy to replace bits like oxygen and mass air flow sensors which can can go bad and impact the number of miles you travel per gallon of gasoline. This all saves you money in the long run. Lastly, be mindful of your area’s weather and terrain. Climate and road conditions affects your car as much as you consider how it affects yourself.

  1. Protect Your Car’s Interior

View of the interior of a modern automobile showing the dashboard

View of the interior of a modern automobile showing the dashboard

You spend all your time inside a car, and when it looks shabby it affects the way you (and your passengers) feel about your car as well as lowers the resale value. The two major culprits of a dingy cabin: the weather and you. All-weather rubber mats should be used in winter and rainy months to keep water, snow, mud and grime off the carpets – especially if you have a light-colored interior. Avoid stains on your upholstery by minimizing potentially messy eating in your car. If your car has leather surfaces, buy some leather moisturizing pads and use them regularily. This will keep your leather clean and free from cracking. In the summer, use window shades in order to avoid UV damage to the interior. A clean interior means regularly cleaning is involved, so get it detailed every monthly or every other month. You can even do this yourself by vacuuming the floors regularly and use nbso a sponge to gently wipe down the gauges, instrument panel and dashboard as these can get scratched and fade over time. A little “elbow grease” (hard work, not a real thing) goes a long way to extending the life and value of your car.

  1. Protect Your Car’s Exterior

Keeping the exterior in near-pristine condition saves money over time and keeps the resale value high. No one likes a dumpy looking car. It is amazing what an hour or two with a mobile dent removal and detail service can do to make a car look like new again. For a few hundred bucks, you can literally add thousands of dollars back into a car in trade-in/resale value and even restore your love of your car by inspiring you to keep it on the road longer. It is a lot harder to justify putting maintenance dollars into a smelly dinged up beater than a pristine example. Applying a coat or two of wax at least twice a year will keep your paint looking its best. It only takes a few hours to do, but makes a huge difference.

Minimize potential scratches by being careful with overhead cargo. And if you have a garage, use it. Garaged cars carry higher resale values and require fewer washes. Minimize parking your car on the street where it’s exposed to the elements and other less careful drivers.  If you do not have access to a garage, look into getting a car cover. They do look silly and are not as good as garages but will protect your paint and reduce the amount of time spent at the car wash. Be sure to fix small cracks in the windshield in a timely manner halting the spread out over time or better, bring your car to a windshield repair shop, where they can fix chips and cracks to maintain its structural integrity.

BONUS:  Schedule checkups twice a year with a mechanic and/or shop you trust

You may think you know your vehicle but it helps to have another opinion. A well-trained, trustworthy mechanic can spot things you might miss or diagnose a car ahead of time. Spend time scheduling a check up with a good mechanic at least two times (or more depending on what is recommended by your manufacturer and/or warranty) a year may seem obsessive, but preventative maintenance at the hands of a qualified professional is a good way to have peace of mind. Be sure to keep all the documentation in order to provide a potential buyer or insurance and/or warranty agencies with all of your service records to keep all things clear.

Sue Rogers has been working and writing for automotive industry for seven plus years and is excited to share her knowledge and experience with you.