Having a reliable car that you can depend on to take you where you need to go safely and without hassle can make a huge difference in your life. Not having to constantly worry about weird noises, or warning lights on your dash will allow you to concentrate on things that are more important to your life. After all, for most of us our car is a means of transportation, and not a passion project. You don’t want to be thinking about it every moment of your life. It is a tool that allows you to accomplish what is important to you. Here are some tips that should keep your car in tip-top shape so you can focus on what’s really important to you.
1. Buy A Vehicle Known For Dependability And Longevity
Not all cars are made equal. Some will bear the rigours of the road and stand the test of time while some will simply not. Do some homework when you come across what seems like a smoking deal. There are plenty of online forums and third-party resources where you can determine how well your prospective vehicle will hold up.
2. Find a Good Mechanic and Build a Relationship With Them
Word of mouth is often the best way to find a shop that is both honest and competent. Talk to your friends, or make a post on Facebook inquiring where others take their vehicle. When you’ve found a shop that matches that criteria, make them your go-to shop for everything from oil changes and tire rotations to any larger problems that may arise. Auto shops rely on repeat business and will appreciate your continued patronage. It will create a mutually beneficial relationship that is based on honesty and understanding.
This cannot be stressed enough. Your vehicle’s oil ensures that all the moving parts inside your engine are lubricated and cause as little friction and heat as possible. Without proper oil levels, or running your car on old or inadequate oil, you are causing damage to your engine every minute you drive it. The rule of thumb for oil changes is every 3000 miles, or twice a year, but if you do a lot of driving, you may want to get it changed more frequently.
4. Do The Recommended Service On Time Every Time
The engineers who designed and built your car laid out a very concise and easy to follow regimen on what needs to be serviced and when. It’s all in your driver’s manual. Simply identify how many miles you’ve driven and match that to the recommended service listed. Some newer cars will even have automated prompts on the dashboard information area that will remind you to get these things done.
5. Keep Up On Fluid Changes
There isn’t just oil and gas in your car. There’s also coolant, transmission, power steering, brake fluids as well. Make sure these are all in working order and replaced as recommended.
6. Change Your Filters Regularly
Your oil filter should be replaced with every oil change, but also keep in mind the age and integrity of your air and fuel filters. These ensure that a minimal amount of gunk and foreign objects make their way into the inner workings of your car.
Having your tires inflated to factory standards will keep them from wearing out too quickly. Check the pressure every so often with a tire pressure gauge. Keep in mind the changing seasons as temperature will affect the pressure. Also, have your tires rotated every 6000-8000 miles, or so. This will help evenly distribute the wear and prolong the life of your tires.
8. Stay On Top Of Repairs
If you start to notice something, whether it be a sound or a weird feeling when operating your vehicle, have it looked at immediately. It could be nothing or just a quick little fix, in which case you can continue with life with peace of mind and with a minimal hit to your bank account. However, if left undiagnosed and untreated for a long period of time, you may do extreme damage to your car and will end up paying much more to have it fixed. For example, you will be doing your car a lot of damage by operating it with worn out brake pads. WIthout these pads working properly, every time you brake metal-on-metal contact is occurring that can ruin your whole brake system. If you see your engine light get illuminated, bring it to the mechanic as soon as possible.
9. Wash Your Car Frequently
This is one of the least expensive things you can do to prolong the life of your vehicle. Tree sap and bird droppings are acidic and can eat away at your car’s exterior over time. This will lead to rust, which leads to your vehicle’s body being unroadworthy, which could lead to either costly repairs, or having your rusty old bucket of bolts being thrown in a scrap yard. Also, your car just looks better when it’s washed and you’ll feel better driving it.
10. Keep The Interior Clean
You clean your house, so you should clean your car as well, seeing as you spend a good deal of time in it. Vacuuming and shampooing the upholstery every now and then will keep dirt and bacteria from building up and causing your cabin to smell like roadkill. This goes especially for dog owners. If you do not take adequate time to clean the inside of your car you may not want to drive it before long.
11. Park It Indoors
If possible, keep your car out of the elements when not in use. Snow, salt, rain and harsh sunlight can all wreak havoc on your car’s exterior. Having a dry, temperature-regulated place to store your car will add years to its life.
12. How You Drive Matters
Treat your car well and it will treat you well in return. Accelerate smoothly, brake gradually and generally operate your vehicle in a way that doesn’t put undue stress on its components. If you are constantly jamming on the gas or the brakes, or swerving around erratically you will notice problems in your car arise sooner and more frequently. Take it easy out there.
The trick to preserving your car for as long as possible is taking care of little fixes when they come along. Spending a few bucks here and there will save you huge amounts in the long run. Having your vehicle running in tip-top shape will ensure that none of the inner components are working harder than they have to, or are being gradually damaged through use. Wear and tear is unavoidable, but having your car in a state that can endure these rigours will hopefully mean many years of reliable transportation.