There’s nothing like the feeling of owning a new car – or even a second-hand car that’s new to you. But unfortunately all cars will soon be headed to the big scrapyard in the sky, leaving you with no reliable way of getting around. Hopefully you’re years away from that tragic day, but no one really looks forward to the day when they’ll have to put some serious thought into getting a new car. If you’re eager to put it off as much as you can, the best thing you can do is take very good care of your vehicle.
Much like a doctor will tell you take good care of yourself if you want to live longer, you need to make sure your car is in excellent condition if you expect to be driving it for many years to come. The owner’s manual in your glove box will tell you exactly what the people who designed, engineered, and built your car recommend for prolonging the car’s life as much as you can. If the basic maintenance is too expensive for you, then you can’t afford the car in the first place and you’re better off selling it second hand.
Basic maintenance includes things like changing the oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Doing this will add 20,000 miles to your gas mileage and protect your engine. It’ll last even longer if you avoid driving it for short journeys; these can significantly shorten the life of your muffler, and the cold starts are hard on your engine, mileage, and the environment. If you give your car a little care, it will continue performing at peak condition for years to come.
Take care of your tires
Your car’s tires get rotated every time you take it in for service, or you might do it yourself if it’s off warranty. Goodyear recommends having the job done every 3,000 to 6,000 miles, but you should check your owner’s manual to see if it recommends a different number. If you’re not sure how far 3,000 to 6,000 miles is, just change them every six months to be on the safe side. Some tire companies offer free rotations every 6,000 miles for the life of the tires when you buy their products.
You also need to make sure your tires are always well-inflated; under-inflated tires can reduce the tire life by 15 percent and will slightly decrease your gas mileage, perhaps by 10 percent. If you try inserting a penny into the tread of your tire and find that the tread does not cover the face of whoever is on the coin, then you need new tires. Checking your tire pressure every other time you get fuel will reduce tire wear and keep your car going for longer. After a particularly bumpy ride, it’s never a bad idea to check if there are any holes in the tires, or that there aren’t any punctures you haven’t seen. Tires are easily replaced, but any damage to the alloys is going to be more expensive to sort out.
Remember when you first bought your car and it looked beautiful and shiny? Now, no matter how often you wash it, you can’t seem to give it that glow that it used to have. You can blame one thing for this; the sun. Sunlight will eat away paint and leave your car vulnerable to rust. If you can’t keep it in a garage, at least try to keep it out of the sun. If you’re restricted by what’s available in your neighbourhood on-street parking, then you can also protect your car by investing in some car window tinting, which will shield your car’s skin and interiors from UV rays, thus reducing sun damage and premature ageing, and prolonging the life of your car. As an added bonus, window tinting makes your car more energy efficient by keeping it cooler. This means you don’t have to rely on air conditioning.
Patching up dents
Anything that compromises the paintwork on your car is an eyesore, and it leaves the vehicle vulnerable to rust. Of course, not all rust poses an immediate problem to your car; if it’s happened as a result of a small dent in the paintwork then you can get it fixed right away with no disastrous consequences. However, if you leave the rust to fester and it spreads to the seams of the body panels, such as the inside bottom of the door, along the fenders, or if there are any areas where the metal is completely rusted through, then you should really be concerned. Corrosion on the thinner parts of the car could even create a hole in the body, which leads to serious safety issues and puts the car on the fast track to the scrapyard. Sure, some of these problem areas are fixable, but it will cost you a lot of money. If you aren’t prepared to say goodbye to your car, then make sure you always look after the paintwork.
Checking your coolant
All cars have an optimal temperature to run at, and it’s the job of the coolant system to make sure that they are always at that point. That’s why it’s important to check your water levels regularly(topping them up with antifreeze during the winter), and make sure that you investigate thoroughly if you car is running too hot. Radiators can be expensive to buy, which is why it’s important to make sure that you keep them properly functioning, so as not to compromise the health of the rest of your car’s engine.
Finally: the best way to keep your car going for as long as possible is to pay attention to any new noises, or differences in the car’s performance or fuel economy. If you notice something, take it to a mechanic, who can nip it in the bud, and keep your car in peak health!