Cars these days last longer than in the past. It’s quite normal to find 11-year old cars still road-worthy and taking their owners from Point A to Point B. And if you do a quick online search of used cars being sold in the market, you will see cars with mileage exceeding 200,000. The truth is, those cars can still be in good condition. Before buying any used car, make sure to have it checked by a mechanic.
How to Make a Car Last Forever
But if you have a car with a few hundred or thousand miles in it, you can make it last a really, really long time.
Follow the Recommended Maintenance Procedures in Your Owner’s Manual.
The company and the people who built your car may know more than a little about the operation of your car. Check the manual, and take note of the recommended maintenance per number of miles driven. If you neglect the recommended maintenance, you are courting some problems in operating your vehicle. This is especially true for cars manufactured in the past 5 years or so with electronic monitoring for most car components.
We are all busy, and the busiest people may even neglect maintenance matters, and then when the car breaks down, their schedule would go haywire because they cannot keep their appointments.
Be proactive and address the potential problems in your car long before they happen.
Check Fluids Regularly
It’s easy to check your oil. Make sure the engine is cool and that it is parked in an even pavement. Get a rag, open the hood, and pull the oil dipstick out. Wipe it clean. Put it back into its sheath, then pull it back out. This time, you will be able to see where the oil leaves a mark on the indicator. It should tell you if the oil level is low. If the oil level is within the correct levels, don’t overfill it.
Here’s another tip: it may be more expensive, but if you want to have your car for the long haul, use synthetic oil.
Other fluids you need to check include the brake fluid, the coolant/antifreeze, and power steering fluid. Do check out our post on the 5 Most Important Vehicle Checks.
Don’t floor your gas right after starting it.
Pumping your gas all the way to the floor won’t really help your engine heat up. Instead, keep the car’s rpm to the minimum and just let it run for a minute or two before driving off. This will be time enough for the oil to get pumped to all the places it needs to lubricate.
Look all over your car.
Take a look at the hood, trunk, sides, and under your car. Notice anything that might be out of the ordinary. By going around your car, you will be able to see scratches and areas where rust is starting to build up. When you look under your car, you can also see any potential leak.
Listen to Your Car Engine.
You can tell if your car is starting to come off its hinges: just make sure to listen to it–while driving and while idling. Sometimes, the noises that your car make can help you understand what needs to be replaced or repaired. Unless you’re a trained mechanic, you probably won’t know where the noises come from and what they mean. If you hear odd noises for the first time, schedule a trip to your mechanic.
Avoid Short trips.
Most Americans can’t live without their cars. That’s probably because most American cities do not have train systems and other means of efficient and reliable public transportation system. To help your car reach those high-number mileage, avoid short trips, which the AAA defines as “trips of less than five miles in normal temperatures, or less than ten miles in freezing temperatures.” With shorter trips, the car will not reach its optimal operating temperature, which means that it will not be able to burn down oil, water, and exhaust, which could lead to it becoming nasty sludge.
Drive with Care.
Driving with care does not mean driving like your grandma. Don’t go alternating between pushing the accelerator down hard and the braking hard. This practice won’t give you good mileage for your car. And it won’t be good for your car, too. Besides, drivers who act like they’re always on a race even on the interstate and in country roads tend to be involved in accidents.
Speaking of being careful, if your car is getting older, its safety features may become outdated. That means you will also need to read up on safety rules and whether your car meets them or not.
Keep it clean.
A clean car is good to look at and it inspires confidence. If you see a shabby, dust and mud-ridden car, you would expect its driver to step out looking like someone who got out of bed and forgot that they have some appointment! But a clean car evokes confidence and attention to detail.
But keeping your car clean has another important benefit, especially if you do it yourself. You will be able to notice scratches, cracks, and other small things you would otherwise miss.
Replace Some Parts.
Since your car has lots of small components. These components may break down over time. The only way to ensure the longevity of your car, you’ll need to replace them. Be prepared to replace bearings, bushing, suspension, and belts. The parts themselves are not very expensive, but labor could drive your costs up. As much as possible, try to replace them all together at the same time.
Forever might be overstating a little bit. But the point is that if you want your car to last for a long time, you need to take care of it, and set aside time and some money for maintenance procedures you need to make. Who knows, your grandchild just might be able to turn into a vintage car 20 – 30 years from now.