For most people, their car is their second most expensive possession, next to their house. So, it’s no surprise that people should take the maintenance of their vehicle very seriously.
We’ll cover 7 things you can do to make your car last longer. Hopefully by reading this, you can save yourself a lot of money and avoid unexpected repairs.
1. Change Your Oil and Filter Regularly!
First and foremost, it is a must to change your oil and filter regularly and check your oil level between oil change intervals. Oil is basically the blood to your engine. If it gets too low, it can cause the engine to start breaking down or even worse, locking up and turning your vehicle into a stationary piece of lawn furniture. It is recommended to change your oil and filter every 3,000 miles. It is relatively inexpensive and compared to the cost of a new engine, it is a no brainer to spend the twenty or thirty dollars every three months.
This video guide will show you exactly how it’s done:
Better yet, you can save even more money by purchasing the oil and filter from any auto parts store and change the fluid yourself. That way you’re saving money by not having to pay a mechanic’s labor rate and you’re learning how to maintain your car. Which is something that is very satisfying.
2. Learn About Your Vehicle!
For every vehicle ever made, there is a “Shop Manual.” This book is basically the bible to your vehicle. It will show you complex instructions on how to repair different parts of your vehicle that may go bad.
Again, it is quite a good skill to know your way around a vehicle in order to save money. Plus, if you’re able to do the repairs you may not be so quick to just brush a repair aside until you can afford to pay a mechanic. Labor rates at shops are extremely high due to their overhead.
They also mark up the price of the parts you need, sometimes double, above what you would pay if you just walked into an auto parts store and purchased them yourself.
Turning wrenches and getting a bit dirty may not be what you want to do in your down time, but compare that to a bill you would receive at a repair shop, and you’ll quickly see that it’s worth the effort of doing the repair yourself.
3. Change and Check All of Your Other Fluids
We’ve covered oil, but it is also important to change and check all of the other fluids that help keep your vehicle running smoothly.
Transmission fluid is another big one, as your transmission is another extremely expensive part of your vehicle.
If you run too low on fluid, you can cause your transmission to slip, or not shift properly, causing premature damage. If you run without the fluid, your transmission will not allow your vehicle to move.
Remember the lawn furniture a low on oil engine can create? The transmission can do the same thing. Another great way to prevent engine failure is to ensure your vehicle is equipped with the proper coolant and that it is mixed well.
Here’s a video guide:
The general rule of thumb is to use a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water. Do not use only water for a long term coolant.
While using just water, may get you out of a pinch if you notice that you’re low and no coolant is available.
However, water will not hold up under the extreme temperatures that your engine produces and it will eventually completely evaporate causing your engine to potentially overheat.
This can be very dangerous for your engine. It is recommended to change your coolant every 30,000 miles. This one shouldn’t be too hard to keep up on, because the interval is so far apart. But it’s crucial to keep your coolant level in check.
4. Listen to Your Vehicle
Another great way to extend the life of your vehicle is to, listen to it. If you hear an unusual noise, it’s worth getting an experts opinion on what it may be. A lot of a car’s components will slowly break down and cause other parts to fail, sometimes vital parts.
If you find and fix the problem as soon as possible, you greatly reduce the risk of a more expensive repair later.
5. Watch for Dashboard Signals
Your dash board is also filled with handy icons that will tell you if something is awry.
A lot of newer cars come equipped with sensors that will tell you if you are low on certain fluids or if your vehicle is due for an oil change. It’s a great accessory to pay attention to and will give you the peace of mind that your vehicle is running smoothly. The most important light to pay attention to is your “check engine” light. It will alert you when something needs immediate attention.
First of all – what is rust? Rust is basically an instance of corrosion. Iron and oxygen mix with air or water and that produces rust. Rust can corrode any iron mass and causes it to disintegrate. Corrosion can is especially likely to happen if you allow you car to gather dirt or moisture to accumulate on your car’s underbody.
Rust is a serious issue and spreads extremely fast. It shortens the lifespan of your car. So what is to be done about it? Nowadays, automakers are galvanizing steel used in cars in order to lower the risk of rusting. Galvanized steel is coated with zinc to serve as a protection from rust. Oxygen and zinc don’t react like iron and oxygen, so galvanized steel doesn’t rust as much. This process is low-cost; so many automakers are doing it.
But that doesn’t imply new cars are invincible.
If a car has been in an accident, and unprotected steel was exposed, there’s still a chance of rust occurring. If the zinc coating gets chipped, the metal beneath it is at risk of rusting. Same thing can happen if a rock-chip cuts deep enough into a car’s paint job, it can still rust. This rust occurs only on the outside of the car though, and while it’s ugly, it’s not a big deal.
Overall, rust is far less present now than it was 20 years ago, leading outlets like Consumer Reports to downplay the need for rust proofing. Still, there are some tips that every driver should consider to keep their car as rust free as possible.
Wash a car regularly, especially in the winter after you’ve been driving on salted roads. Driving over this salt could spray it deep into your car’s underbody. The easy thing to do is to wash underneath your car with a pressure washer or automated car wash.
For older cars, I recommend this video for some tips and overview of the products that can help you remove rust from your car:
7. Get a Scanner
You can buy a handheld scanner that you can plug into your vehicle and will give you a code. It only takes a few seconds to search for the code on the internet and it will give you every reason that the light may have triggered. It is usually broken down from the most common problem to the most extreme.
If you don’t want to buy a scanner, some auto part stores will scan your car for free and explain the reason for the code.
I find this one to be reliable, a little pricey perhaps, but fully featured:
If you’re on a tight budget, this can serve you well:
Hopefully, these tips will get you to pay attention to the little things that your car is trying to tell you.
A little maintenance and attention can go a long way in preventing expensive repairs.
It’s also worth getting to know how to do your own vehicle repairs.
With YouTube videos that have in depth demonstrations of basically every repair that could possibly happen to your vehicle, it’s worth at least watching a video and seeing if it’s something that you think you can handle.
If it seems to be over your head, I would not recommend attempting it, as you can cause damage to other parts if you fail to execute it correctly. However, if you are able to do your own repairs, it will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and will definitely make you appreciate your vehicles more!