Tips for Extending the Life of Your Older Vehicle
Purchasing a car is a significant investment, so it makes good sense to keep it as long as possible. Once your car or truck is older, there may be a tendency to think it isn’t necessary to be as attentive to taking care of it. In fact, the opposite is true. There are a number of ways you can extend the life of your older vehicle and keep it on the road longer.
Stay current with scheduled maintenance and handle repairs promptly
Be familiar with your owner’s manual and keep track of when recommended services are due. It may help to make a list of what is due at certain mileage markers. Staying on top of scheduled maintenance can help you avoid costly repairs and ensure you get the maximum benefit from the manufacturer’s warranties. If you notice unusual sounds or performance issues from your vehicle, have them checked out immediately. Addressing repairs on the earlier side of an issue can help save you money and fend off additional repairs.
Check fluids frequently
Get into the habit of frequently checking all your fluids, ideally on a weekly basis. It only takes about 10 minutes to check the oil, transmission, brake and power steering fluids and make sure the levels are appropriate and they look clean and light in color. Fluids with a dark, thick appearance usually indicate it is time for a change. Please note that transmission fluid levels should be checked after the car warms up. Also check the coolant levels and color, and fill or replace as necessary.
Rotate tires and check tire pressure and alignment
Taking good care of your tires can give them a longer lifespan. Keep a close eye on the tire pressure by checking it on a regular basis and make sure it stays at recommended levels. Align your car at least once a year or more often if you frequently drive over rough terrain, feel your car is pulling more to one side or if it drives unevenly.
Change your oil and filter regularly
Refer to your owner’s manual to learn the recommended mileage intervals to change your oil and filter, but get in the habit of checking the oil more frequently as your car ages. Seals are more prone to erode in older cars which can cause leaks. Older cars burn more oil which can cause sludge to build up. Select a high mileage oil with seal conditioners and change it at the lower range of the recommended mileage intervals.
Pay attention to how you drive
It is tempting to drive our cars the way we live our lives — in a hurried fashion. A more cautious, gentle approach to operating your car will actually extend its life. In cold weather, let your car warm up and then accelerate slowly. This will put less strain on your engine. Coordinate your driving destinations so you can reduce the number of trips you make, especially short trips, which can lessen the wear and tear on your car.
Keep your vehicle clean and covered
A dirty vehicle can cause rust and corrosion over time. Road salt, pollution, dirt, grime and other things resulting from harsh environments can break down the finish on your car and cause the underbody to rust and corrode components such as the brake lines. Wash your car frequently and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for using sealants. Keep your car in a garage or under a protected area as much as possible to avoid direct exposure to the elements.
Taking the time to incorporate the above simple steps into the routine care of your vehicle can make a big difference. Not only will your vehicle continue to look good, but this extra attention will help you extend its life and allow you to enjoy your investment for a longer period of time.