12 January 2013
Keep Your Car Running Longer: Eight Tips to Go Farther Down the Road

Most of today’s cars have evolved into a collection of mechanical parts, computer chips and circuits, and a dashboard that looks like a plane cockpit.  These modern marvels are more interactive with drivers and pro-active when potential problems present themselves.

Today’s cars are built to last, and if you take some simple steps over the years, you could easily see the odometer roll over to 300,000 miles – and more, taking you farther down the road.  It does require a little time, and perhaps a learning curve, but over time, properly maintaining your new car can save you lots of money.

  1. Read the manual – really! It’s a big book filled with diagrams of engine bits and pictures of parts under the car – things that are boring. You probably just want to start it up and drive it. New cars have a lot of “toy value,” and we all like to play with our toys.

Find some quiet time and read the manual. You’ll have a better driving experience, know where the spare tire is, and understand the dashboard icons.  You’ll also learn how to maintain your new car for maximum performance and life expectancy. How often does the manufacturer recommend a change of oil? Coolant? What tire pressure does the manufacturer recommend? This information isn’t standard. It’s different for every car.

So have some fun cruising, but read the manual. You’ll learn a lot about your car and how to make it last longer.

  1. Change the oil regularly. *Manufacturers make different recommendations on how frequently to change the oil – a critical aspect of automobile longevity. On average, experts suggest an oil change every 3,000 miles, but Toyota recommends 5,000 miles, Honda’s manual recommends every 7,500 miles. That’s why it’s so important to read the manual. Know what your car needs, and deliver it like a loving parent. Regular oil changes will keep your car running for many years to come.
  1. Clean off brake dust. Brake dust collects on a car’s wheels, and it contains dirt, grit, road kill and other things that lower vehicle performance and shorten life span.  It’s not hard to clean it off. You can see it just by removing the wheel cover. Take a moist towel and wipe off this visible gunk that’s just inches from your brakes. It only takes a few minutes, but it can add years to the life of your car, improve braking performance, and lower the cost of brake replacements.
  1. Pump Up the Tires. You hear this one a lot, because it’s one of those little things that make a HUGE difference in vehicle performance. Buy a pressure gauge. You can get them in most large retail stores. Check the manual for recommended tire inflation levels, and keep your tires at the proper pressure. Your car will perform better. You’ll save on gas, your car will handle better, and those expensive tires will last longer when under the right amount of pressure.

Also, check tire tread depth regularly. When the tread wears thin, replace your tires based on the specs recommended in the manual. Again, go pro-active to give your car a long, long life.

  1. Fix windshield nicks. They can become cracks just going over a bump in the road.  Today, many shops can repair your windshield right in your driveway in minutes.
  1. Fix body scratches and dings. You can buff out some dings and paint over some scratches. Also, wash and wax your car a few times a year to protect the body. Those nicks and scratches are where rust and corrosion start, so stop the damage before it spreads with a coat of wax.
  1. Clean your battery. First, turn off the car. Loosen the two wires coming from the battery and remove any grease and grime from the battery cables and the two battery terminals. Reconnect the proper cable to the proper terminal and tighten securely.
  1. Make sure your car stays cool. Your radiator is filled with coolant that flows through the engine to keep it running at the proper temperature.  Keep the right level of coolant for local driving conditions, whether you live in the frigid climate of Lake Tahoe or the burning desert heat of Las Vegas.  Ask your local dealer for recommended levels for your area.

Take a preventative approach to car repairs. Don’t wait for something to go wrong, or for the “GET REPAIR NOW” dashboard light to warn you that something’s wrong. Get pro-active.  And when you find a good mechanic, stay with him or her. A good mechanic is like a good doctor or dentist. You want the best, and so does your car.

Keep your car running longer by taking care of it every day.

 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.

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