When you’ve finally made the investment in a new-to-you used car, make sure you’re going to get good mileage out of the vehicle for every year of its life it has left. Buying a used car is a wise investment only when you know how to maintain the vehicle with minimal impact to your bank account. Here are five ways to make your used car last longer

1. Lighten your loads

Whether you’re a kayaking or canoeing enthusiast, are responsible for shuttling kids to soccer games, or you head off on camping ventures regularly, be careful about hauling heavy loads. Even if you’re driving an SUV or truck, overloading your vehicle with too much cargo and passengers can cause problems with suspension and traction over time. Lighten the loads whenever possible or consider attaching a trailer to your vehicle if it has towing capabilities.

2. Get on a cleaning schedule

You take care of your car to keep it looking good year round, but don’t forget to clean the inside and do deeper cleanings of the underside or engine of the car — especially if you live in a four-season area or drive over dirty and dusty roads frequently. Regularly cleaning your car can prevent corrosion, rust, and even mold buildup inside the vehicle. Consider hiring someone to clean the car regularly or make a cleaning schedule for yourself so you don’t miss the chance to clear out all the debris and buildup.

3. Always buy quality parts

Buying used car parts when your car breaks down can save you some money in the short-term, but might set you up for even more repair bills in the long-term — especially if you end up buying parts that weren’t designed for your car. Make it a priority to always buy new parts directly from the manufacturer whenever your budget allows for it so you aren’t damaging other parts of the vehicle with the new installation or need a replacement in the near future. Ideally, you’ll want to install parts with a manufacturer’s warranty so it can last through the life of your used car.

4. Don’t ignore maintenance checks

Even if you have a newer vehicle that doesn’t have a history of repair work or accidents, make sure you’re still taking your car in for maintenance checkups and inspections. Choose certified and licensed mechanics or take the car to a dealership to ensure you get all necessary repair work done by a professional and on time. Keeping up with simple tasks, like brake inspections, battery changes, fluid refills, and oil changes can prevent excessive wear and tear of your vehicle no matter how new or old it is.

5. Rotate tires regularly

This may or may not be part of your maintenance check visits so it’s important to stay on top of this essential car care task. You’ll get more life out of your tires — and your vehicle — when you keep your tires properly aligned, well-inflated, and in good shape. A quick inspection, pressure check, and tire rotation is all it takes to keep them running at their highest level of performance.

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