How to Extend the Life of Your Car
Car repairs are costly. No one wants to continually reinvest in a vehicle as it breaks down — or even worse, have to frequently buy new. As a vehicle owner, you want your car to last as long as possible and get the most out of it.
Here are some tips and strategies for making your car last longer.
If you haven’t already, read the owner’s manual. There should be a recommended maintenance schedule to which to adhere. If you require flexibility, use it as a guide and note its suggestions in order to avoid costly problems and repairs. Keep in mind, however, that you will get full benefit of the manufacturer’s warranty if you follow the recommended maintenance schedule.
When it comes to operating your vehicle, drive with care and focus on safety — concern for yourself and the safety of those around you. Driving with care also extends the life of your car. It is especially essential to drive carefully during the break-in period of a new car, which is typically the first 1,000 miles. Some of those safe-driving tactics translated beyond the 1,000-mile mark can lead to an extended life for your car as well.
For example, don’t race your engine during start-up, especially if it’s cold outside. Accelerate slowly, as most potential engine wear and tear usually occurs within 20 minutes of beginning operation. Avoid potholes. Careful driving can also extend the life of your tires — through reduced speed and/or proper acceleration practices.
Check your tire treads for uneven wear on a regular basis. Getting your tires rotated regularly is important, as it will reduce any uneven wear and tear on the tread.
Buy fuel from reputable stations. Look for stations that filter gas at the pump and change the pump filters regularly. Ask the station’s owner or manager if they employ these practices — if you get the run-around, you probably should go elsewhere for gas. Omission of pump filters makes it more likely that you’ll be putting dirty fuel in your car’s tank, which is not a good thing. Some stations may improperly mix fuel and alcohol, or water down their product.
Storing your vehicle properly is essential to extending its life. This could be as simple as parking it in the shade. If you’re storing for a longer period of time, make sure the gas tank is full to prevent condensation from accumulating. Adding a fuel stabilizer may help, too. Keeping your car regularly washed and waxed is generally a good idea, but washing and waxing it before you store for a long period of time is a must.
To help preserve your vehicle’s engine, check your air filter — typically every 12,000 miles. If the air filter needs to be replaced, they are available at any reputable auto parts store. Regularly check the level of fluids in your car’s system — including antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid. Check fluids as often as you fill your gas tank — and be on the lookout for leaks. Many vehicle manufacturers recommend flushing your power steering fluid, brake fluid and anti-freeze every two years.
Other things that could help extend the life of your car include the use of floor mats to protect the carpet, as well as fixing damaged weather stripping to preserve door and window seals. Repair small windshield chips as soon as possible, as they could eventually turn in to large cracks.
Touch up any nicks or scratches on the exterior of your car sooner rather than later to help prevent rust. If you regularly haul heavy cargo, cushion the load with a blanket and use bungee cords to secure items. Lastly, tape or repair cracks in light covers to prevent water from getting in and causing greater damage over time.
By following these tips and strategies, you’ll be able to extend the life of your car, saving you money from costly repairs. With careful driving, routine servicing and diligent monitoring of fluids and filters, chances are you’ll have less to worry about when it comes to potential vehicle problems over the long run.
About the author:
Doug Climenhaga is president of SVI International, Inc. (http://www.sviinternational.com/), a leading supplier of parts for industrial lift equipment, and other repair parts including tire machine parts. With more than 20 years experience in the hydraulic and automotive lift industries, he holds two patents and has designed scores of problem-solving products.