With the price of new and used cars skyrocketing, keeping your current vehicle running for as long as possible is worth the effort. However, taking care of your car with regular maintenance can mean some DIY work while leaving more complicated tasks to professional mechanics. And, if your car has some body damage, taking it to a reputable auto body shop to repair it correctly could help maintain its value.
If you want to learn how to extend the life of your car, here are some tips that automotive experts suggest you follow.
Follow the Owner's Manual Guidelines
All car manufacturers recommend different intervals between tune-ups and other service work, like oil changes or belt replacements. Changing fluids or parts too early is a waste of money while waiting too long can cause serious damage and costly repair to the engine, tires, or other components.
Reading the owner's manual for your vehicle will tell you exactly when to schedule visits for service, as well as indicate specific brands or types of parts or products to extend the life of your car and keep the warranty valid.
Clean the Vehicle Interior and Exterior Often
Dirt, grime, and spilled drinks or food can ruin the look of even new cars. Dirt will wear away the clear coat over your paint job, leading to fading and rust.
Make an effort to wash your vehicle whenever you see dirt and bug accumulation on the exterior, and wax when necessary to keep the surface shiny. Running your vehicle through a car wash will allow you to pay for an underbody rinse, which is the ideal way to remove road salt, grime, and road debris from the undercarriage and is another way to extend the life of your car.
Immediately spot-clean any spills or stains on the interior upholstery, carpets, and headliner. Invest in rubber floor mats if mud or snow is a part of daily life. Treat leather and plastic surfaces with a product that includes a UV protectant.
If you're a smoker, try to air out the car as much as possible and use an odor-eliminating product to keep the smell from permeating the interior.
Maintain Proper Tire Pressure
Most newer vehicles have tire pressure sensors that alert you when tires become under-inflated. Unfortunately, these sensors can be faulty, so you should manually check your tire pressure monthly to ensure you have properly inflated tires.
Driving on underinflated tires can lead to blowouts, increases fuel consumption, reduce handling and stability, and put more wear and tear on the engine and chassis. Instead, check your owner's manual or tire information for the correct pressure level, and add air as necessary if low.
Change the Oil and Other Fluids at the Recommended Intervals
One of the best tips on how to extend the life of your car is to check your oil level and other fluids regularly and have your fluids changed at the manufacturer's recommended mileage. Car engines need clean oil to run efficiently and lubricate parts, so they don't wear down as quickly.
Other fluids you must change on the recommended schedule are:
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Cooling system
Also, please make a point to replace your air filter whenever it appears dirty.
Change Driving Habits
There are many things drivers unwittingly do that cause damage to car components and lower fuel economy. If you aren't already doing the items in the list below, form new habits to extend the life of your vehicle.
Take It Easy on Short Trips - Most wear on the drive train and engine occurs in the first 10-20 minutes of driving. So it's a good idea on short trips to accelerate slowly as you drive and after braking for lights or stop signs.
Quit Idling Your Car to Warm the Engine - Many people who live in cold regions love to leave their car idling to warm the engine (and interior) up before driving. Unfortunately, the engine will not reach operating temperature when idling from a cold start, resulting in insufficient fuel consumption that contaminates the oil, deposits soot on cylinder walls, and damaged parts.
Don’t Rev Engine When Starting Vehicle - Revving a cold engine strains engine parts, leading to faster deterioration of components.
Reduce Engine and Transmission Strain - Car engines want to continually push the vehicle forward, even when you stop with your foot on the brake. Shifting your vehicle to neutral at red lights or when at a standstill for a long time will reduce strain on the transmission, brake, and engine parts.
Build a Car Care Team
Now that you know how to extend the life of your car, you need to have a trustworthy car repair service with expert mechanics to service your vehicle. A reliable service center will alert you to wear and tear they spot on other components when you bring in your car, so you can fix the issues before they become worse.
When you and your mechanic work together, you can save on major repair costs and keep your car looking sharp and running like new for many years to come!