One of the best things a car buyer can do is perform regular vehicle upkeep and maintenance to prolong the life of their car. This article will share a few tips and tricks that can help you save money and keep your car running in top condition for years to come.
It’s not recommended to put so much wear and tear on a new car that it starts having mechanical problems and vital engine components wearing out quickly. Driving mindfully, without being hard on the car, can help prolong its life. For instance, don’t rev your engine up as you’re starting the car, especially when it’s cold out. Over time, this can start to wear out the engine.
Starting Up the Car
Most people think that starting the car and leaving it to idle and warm up is a good thing, but it’s wise to just start slowly. Don’t gun the engine. The engine will be cold, having sat for some hours, and there won’t be any oil lubricating the moving parts. After startup, the oil will start to circulate again, so give it a few seconds to do so before driving off slowly and carefully. If the vehicle has been sitting for a long time, say, over 24 hours, give it some more time when first starting up.
Also, because the most wear and tear on the engine can occur in the first few minutes of operation, you’ll want to accelerate slowly.
If you still use a physical key to start up your car, your keychain can have an effect on the ignition. If you have several other keys or other little doodads hanging on the keychain, the weight from these can affect the tumblers inside the ignition switch. This, in turn, can lead to failure of the ignition switch. Before you start up your car, take everything off the keychain except for the car’s key.
One of the worse things a car owner can do is wear out the drivetrain by towing heavy loads like trailers and loading up the trunk or the roof rack with heavy equipment. Put less strain on the engine and transmission by shifting to neutral at red lights so that the engine isn’t still working while it’s stopped.
Keep Your Tires In Mind
Careful driving and being mindful of tires can help prolong the life of your tires. Avoid running over objects, fast turns and stops, and avoid potholes as much as possible since they can damage not only the tires but the rims and the axles. It’s also important to check your tire pressure from time to time, which can be easily done with a tire gauge. These can be found at your local auto store or at a gas station. Each tire’s psi should be checked, and the proper psi number can be found in the owner’s manual, on the tire and sometimes in the driver’s side door jamb.
Pay Attention to Your Car’s Service Schedule
Every car has an owner’s manual that tells the owner exactly what to do with their car for scheduled maintenance. The manufacturer of the car knows best, and on most late-model cars, the instrument gauge cluster has all the alerts you’ll need to keep you aware of any maintenance needed, like oil life and required service tuneups. Most cars have intervals in between their service schedules, such as every 20,000 miles. Getting regular maintenance done will help keep your car tuned up and running smoothly and nip any potential problems in the bud.
It’s quick and easy to check most fluids in a car’s engine, and just about every car owner should and can learn how to do so. Fluids that can be regularly checked by a car owner and not a mechanic are oil, wiper and power steering. Brake fluid is also usually accessible in the engine. The radiator reservoir level and brake cylinder can be checked as well, and be sure to check belts and hoses for any signs of wear, holes or possible failure.
Checking the oil is important because without oil, the engine can seize. Most cars will alert you if your oil is way too low, but old cars need to be checked more often, and it’s easy to do so. To check the oil, simply get a rag and pull out the oil dipstick. Wipe the stick clean, reinsert it and then pull it out again to check the oil level.
Visit a Mechanic When Needed
If your car is making weird noises and you aren’t sure what they are, don’t hesitate to call your mechanic to get them checked out, both for your own safety and for the life of the car. While driving, it’s helpful to turn off the radio and listen for any noises that might be happening during your drive and also while idling.
Brakes are especially important to keep up with because when they go, it’s time for a whole new set. Luckily, most brakes last a while, and with good driving, the pads won’t wear out as quickly. However, if you’re hearing any squealing, scraping or grinding when applying the brakes, it might be time for new ones. It’s especially dangerous if a grinding noise is heard as this possibly means that the brake pads have gotten so low, they’re rubbing metal against metal.
Shift gears carefully and calmly, not rushed and hard. Make sure the car is always stopped before shifting and that the car is stopped before going back to forward to avoid stress on the transmission. The good news is that calm driving also improves fuel performance, which can save you money on gas. An Edmunds test on these very same tips found that fuel performance was improved with calm driving.
Accept That Things Will Break Down
It’s inevitable with cars. Things can and will break down due to wear and tear and age. So, when something does happen, just accept that it needs to be fixed and is a part of owning a car, and get it fixed by a mechanic as soon as possible to help keep your car in good shape. Waiting too long in between repairs can harm the car’s engine and other parts, so it’s good to keep it always running smoothly.
Car Storage Tips
If your car is going into storage and won’t be used for a month or more, it’s important to follow proper storage measures to prevent unnecessary damage and repairs. First, be sure to fill the gas tank to prevent condensation from accumulating in the tank. Also, add a fuel stabilizer and drive around to distribute it to the engine parts. Protect the finish by waxing and washing the car, and place a vapor barrier on the floor of the garage, if possible, before disengaging the parking brake to avoid brake corrosion.
The car can also be placed on jack stands in order to take the weight off the wheels and tires. The battery should also be disconnected and removed to keep it from draining. Plugging the tailpipe can also help prevent moist air from getting in.
Don’t Get Frustrated When Stuck
It’s always possible that you’ll get stuck in the snow or mud at some point. When this happens, many people tend to get frustrated and start revving the engine and spinning their wheels, which can wear the tires and also create heat that can damage clutches and transmissions. Also, try not to throw the car from forward to reverse repeatedly as this can also damage it. If you’re truly stuck, the best option may be to just have the car towed so that damages or big repairs aren’t incurred. Carrying traction aids inside the car, especially if you live in a snowy area that tends to get bad weather, is a good idea; try sand or cat litter.
Gas Is Important
It’s not crazy to ask about your gas at the station you frequent. Ask if the gas you’re purchasing is filtered at the pump and how regularly the pump filters are changed out. Some stations may not have pump filters, which can mean dirty gas. If you find a station you like that carries good gas that isn’t watered down in any way, it’s good to stick to it because you know you can trust them.
Following these tips and tricks can definitely help prolong the life of your car and keep it running smoothly for many years to come. Always listen to your car and give it little checks over time, and pay attention to things that might seem like they’re breaking down, even if it’s something as small as a door handle. Your car will retain more value and run for many years if proper maintenance is done.