Regular Maintenance is the key to a Vehicle’s Long Life
A car is a significant financial investment, so it makes sense to take care of it so you can keep it on the road for many years. Thomas Torbjornsen says in his book, How to Make Your Car Last Forever, that regular maintenance is “the key to the automotive fountain of youth.” Here are pointers for staying on top of your Toyota’s maintenance and potentially driving it well over 100,000 miles.
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. Performing recommended services can help you avoid costly repairs and ensure you get the maximum benefit from warranties. If you notice unusual sounds or performance issues from your vehicle, have them checked 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 your fluids. 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 need changing. Please note that transmission fluid levels should be checked after the car warms up. Check the coolant levels and color and fill or replace, as necessary.
Change your oil and filter regularly
Refer to your owner’s manual to learn the recommended mileage intervals to change your oil and filter. This is an easy service to complete, but one that can really affect your car’s performance if it is not done on a regular basis.
Taking good care of your tires can give them a longer lifespan. Check the pressure of your tires often and make sure you keep them at recommended levels for each season. Frequently inspect your tires and make sure there is adequate tread, they are wearing evenly and there are no cuts or cupping. Rotate and balance tires when your maintenance schedule indicates it is time. Inspect your spare tire and jack to make sure they are in good condition in case you should need them. Align your car at least once a year or more often if you frequently drive over rough terrain or feel your car is pulling more to one side or the other.
There are several fluids in your Toyota that need to be flushed on a regular basis to ensure your car performs at top level: the engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid and power steering fluid. Consult your service advisor or check your maintenance manual for the recommended mileage intervals for each system flush.
There are four main filters in a car: the oil filter, fuel filter, air filter and cabin filter. These filters catch impurities and contaminants in the air, impurities in the fuel or dirt in the motor oil. The oil filter is replaced each time your oil is changed, but other filters are changed when they are dirty or during recommended services.
Visible Leak Inspection
Make it a habit to check under your hood on a regular basis and look for signs of leaks, cracked hoses or dry rot. If you find anything concerning, have it serviced immediately.
Check your brakes
Make sure brakes pads, front and back, have plenty of life left in them and your rotors do not have any grooves in them. Keep brake fluid at appropriate levels and check your emergency brake to make sure it engages and disengages without hesitation. If you hear squeaking or grinding noises when you brake, have brakes checked by a certified Toyota technician.
Check your battery
Check your battery on a regular basis. Clean the cables and connections and have the voltage tested to make sure it is working at peak levels. Pay attention if your car is slow to crank or if the dashboard lights dim when starting as these could be signs that your battery is failing.
Check wiper blades
The wiper blades are often one part of car maintenance that gets overlooked. Replace blades if they do not completely clear the windshield when it rains or the rubber looks dry, uneven, or worn.
Make sure to check exterior lights, high beam, low beam and running lights on a regular basis to make sure the bulbs are in good working order and beams are appropriately aimed. If you notice that your headlamps are cloudy when your car has some age on it, have them professionally cleaned so they will once again shine bright.
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 to reduce the number of trips you make, especially short trips, and 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. 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.
Investing time in 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.