Keeping your car a long time may not be your desire especially if you want a new one, but if your car is more than 10 years old, you’re in good company — the average age of all cars on the road is now 11 years old. A sour economy and high new car prices are keeping people in their vehicles longer. To maintain your vehicle’s life and to extend it the following tips can help it stay around longer.
1. Read your owner’s manual. That book found in your glove compartment and issued by the car manufacturer is known as the owner’s manual. You should familiarize yourself with it because if there is anyone that knows best how your car should work, it is the manufacturer. Review and follow maintenance guidelines to ensure that every part of your car is maintained.
2. Find a good mechanic. New cars should be maintained by your dealer’s service department. The reason for that is you have warranties that apply. Many cars now come with free maintenance for the first year or two, a cost that you do not have to bear. Your dealer’s service department is there to alert you when a service bulletin or recall notice has been issued too.
3. Baby your car. Okay, you may own a robust coupe with a powerful V-8 engine, one that is just screaming for you to lap the race track. Still, even race car drivers know how to take care of their rides, and will tend to their vehicles like offspring. Avoid jackrabbit starts and hard stops. Keep your alignment balanced and tuned. Stay up with oil changes and replace spark plugs, plug wires, air filters and other parts on time.
4. Give it the right gas. What grade of gasoline does your car take? Most cars run on regular grade gasoline, but some require that you fuel up with premium or midgrade gasoline. Your owner’s manual will point you to the right grade. Please note that if a grade is recommended, it isn’t required. You’ll simply trade down in performance slightly by using regular gasoline. Avoid no-name gasoline brands!
5. Keep your car out of the sun. Sunshine is beautiful, but not for your car’s finish or its interior. As much as its lies within your power, keep your car out of direct sunlight. Too much sun and your paint will lose its sheen, your seats will fade and your dashboard might crack. If you have a garage, then use it. If not, invest in a quality car cover to keep your car safe from all that sunshine.
6. Wash and wax with care. Regular, but not overdone washing of your car can keep it looking good from day one. Plan to wash it every few weeks, more often following an off-road adventure or after a snowstorm. Clean the trim, wipe down the lights, treat the tires and buff on occasion. Avoid terry cloth towels, use a washing mitt and make use of a microfiber towel or chamois. Use separate window towels to clean the glass.
7. Rotate your tires. Tires should be rotated at least once every 6,000 miles. Generally, that means you’ll be making the swap two times per year. Rotating your tires will extend tire life and will do a better job of protecting you while you’re on the road. Your tires should be properly inflated, undamaged and replaced when worn. Keep your brakes and suspension system in top condition too.
st system causing you a mint to replace. Unless you can do the work yourself, you may find that the repairs exceed your old vehicle’s market value.
As much as you may want to keep your car a long time, you may find it more costly to do maintenance as time goes by. Foreign makes in particular can be more costly to maintain with a blown head gasket, a slipping transmission or a damaged exhau
Matthew C. Keegan is a freelance automotive writer. Matt is also a contributing writer for Andy’s Auto Sport and affiliated websites, an aftermarket supplier of quality auto parts including Magnaflow Exhaust and H&R Springs.