With today’s economy, gas prices, and the cost of new vehicles, it’s a great idea to keep your car running for as long as possible. From routine maintenance to avoiding potholes and storing your car in a garage, below are 8 tips for extending the life of your car:
1) Routine maintenance
This is rule number 1! Check you vehicle’s manual for its maintenance schedule and its service and appearance care. If you don’t have a manual, then google it (2010 Toyota Camry SE manual), or you can check with the car manufacturer’s website. It’s imperative that you keep up with your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. This will help reduce the risk of major problems happening to your vehicle down the road (pun intended).
2) Don’t skip those oil changes
Don’t underestimate a $30 (or more) oil and filter change. Some mechanics will tell you that routine oil changes are probably the most important thing to do when it comes to maintaining a car. Skipping an oil change or two can cause a lot of damage to your car’s engine!
Oil is used to lubricate vital moving components in your engine. If your engine doesn’t have enough oil, or if it has old oil that begins to clump, then the lack of lubrication would cause more friction between those vital components, which would result in extreme wear on your engine. In fact, a lack of oil can cause your engine to seize. Once an engine seizes due to lack of oil, there is almost no way you can repair it.
Your oil filter is also an essential part of your engine and should be changed with every oil change. An average oil change is done on a specified mileage (usually every 3,000 miles) and/or within a certain length of time (usually every 6 months) since your last oil change. Check your vehicle’s manual to see how often you need to get oil changes, or ask a mechanic that you can trust.
3) Add those fluids
Various fluids provide lubrication, cooling, and sealing to vehicle components, so make sure that you get these fluids checked and changed on a regular basis:
- engine oil
- windshield washer fluid
- power steering fluid
- transmission fluid
- brake fluid
The best time to fill up these fluids is during your routine oil change. Good and honest repair shops don’t charge labor for filling these liquids; however, they will charge you on how much fluid they put into your vehicle.
4) Maintain your tires
You should constantly monitor the tread on your tires and check them for dry rot. The last thing you need is a blown out tire while driving. Under inflated tires also reduce their life and add extra gas mileage to your car. Have you ever tried pushing a wheelbarrow on a flat tire? You now understand how your car feels when you leave its tires under inflated.
You should also align and rotate (switching your front tires to the back and vice versa) your tires when needed. By rotating your tires, you reduce the uneven wear and tear of both the front and rear tires. The recommended rotation cycle is twice a year or every 6,000 miles. Your vehicle’s manual should tell you how often you should rotate your tires.
5) Warm up your car before you take a cruise
No one likes being late for anything, but if you take your car out for a spin before the engine has time to warm up, then you are asking for a serious breakdown (refer back to rule #2 regarding the vital role oil plays in your engine). The oil in a cooled off engine thickens, which is why you need to warm up the car to get that oil flowing! Give the engine a minute or two to warm up before you drive off, especially when it’s cold out.
6) Wash your car as needed
There’s a ton of stuff out there that can rust your car including salt, dirt, bird droppings, and other pollution. If you neglect to wash your car over time, then your car will suffer from rust damage or worse. This can occur under your car and up into your engine as well, so make sure that you get an undercarriage car wash! People that live near saltwater, get a lot of rain or snow, or park their cars outside (especially on dirt or grass) has an increased risk of getting rust damage over time. If your car has rust, then patch it up as quickly as possible before the rust spreads throughout the body or into vital components.
7) Drive safe!
I know that some people enjoy driving their car like the animated character in Speed Racer, but it’s just not good for your vehicle! The occasional NASCAR like acceleration or panic stop isn’t going to destroy your vehicle, but doing it constantly will. The same goes for shifting gears, too. Make sure that the car is completely stopped before switching gears to avoid putting stress on the transmission. You should also avoid running over anything on the road that will make your head hit the inside roof of your car like an Ice Road Trucker driving on a dirt road in spring. Try to slow down or avoid these completely: potholes, grooved pavement, speed bumps, miscellaneous objects on the road, and whatever else that might either put stress your car’s components or damage your car.
8) Store your vehicle in a garage
Mechanics can be a bit frustrated when they see a car parked outside of a driveway when they see that its owners have a garage, and who can blame them? The garage was designed to store your car, and not your tools, junk, and other miscellaneous items that you can’t find storage for. That’s what a shed is for!
Parking your car in a garage certainly has its benefits! The garage will shelter your car the same way your home shelters you. It will keep out the weather (rain, snow, sleet, hail, and harmful sun rays that can damage the paint of your car), debris from storms, and other minor hazards such as the neighbor’s kids and animals that like to crawl into your vehicle to find shelter.
In addition, parking your car in a garage also prevents theft and vandalism, especially if your garage doors have locks on them and other security measures such as motion sensors, alarms, and surveillance cameras. If you have the most expensive car on the block, and if you are parking it outside, then you are at a high risk for theft. Insurance companies don’t like that, which is why some of them offer discounts to people that store their vehicles in a locked garage.
Another reason why you should park your car in your garage is because it’s so convenient, especially if you live in an area that sees a lot of snow. I can’t tell you how often I couldn’t get into my car because of the ice and snow. I literally couldn’t open the door a few times to move it for the plows, which is why I am not liking winter anymore. This is what usually happens to me:
Plow guy: “Why aren’t you moving your car?!”
Me: “Because the door’s frozen shut!”
Plow guy: “You’re the only one that has this problem! Get a new car!”
Me: “Yeah, I’ll just do that.”
*Plow guy begins to bury my car with snow.
Me: “Thank you!”
Then I think to myself how nice it would be to have a garage that I can just walk into, open my car door, reverse out of the driveway without hitting my garage door, drive off, and watch the plow guy bury someone’s car and/or driveway in the snow!
Let’s Hear From You!
Can you think of any other ways to extend the life of your car? Do you have a garage but use it as storage? Do you wish that you had a garage? Do you get a discount for storing your car in a locked garage? Have you ever stored your car in long term storage? Which tip(s) do you think is the most important when it comes to extending the life of your car?