Whether you have just bought your first ever vehicle or have finally purchased your dream car, you should be prepared to care for it diligently and keep it in perfect condition.
Looking after your car is not only important to prevent it from breaking down, but is also beneficial if you plan to sell it later. This is because a well-maintained car can fetch you a much better price on the market. Think of your car as a long-term investment that allows you to benefit from it in the present and gives you the option to sell it later for cash if the need arises.
Additionally, you may also be motivated to retain the value of your car and extend its life considering that today's economy has made it particularly difficult to afford costly repairs. In order to avoid the financial shock that comes with taking your car to the mechanic and finding out that the cost of repairs is close to the actual value of the car, you should consider carrying out regular maintenance and stay consistent in your efforts to care for your car.
So if you are wondering how to extend the life of your car, you are in luck. To help you get started, we have created a comprehensive and detailed guide with all the necessary information that you will need in order to maintain and extend the life of your car.
When thinking about how to extend the life of your car, the first place you want to look at is the car's service manual. This contains all the details you need about the frequency of maintenance that the car requires and in some cases, it may also contain a maintenance schedule that you can follow in order to schedule your car service appointments for routine maintenance.
By following the instructions in the car manual, you can be guaranteed to carry out regular maintenance of your car. This will allow any issues to be discovered as soon as possible and avoid any problems, such as oil leaks and strange noises, from growing to the point that you need to foot a large bill at the mechanic. In fact, the most expensive car repairs are often the result of neglect on the part of the car owner.
So make sure that your manual is not sitting idle in the glove compartment and follow the necessary measures for preventative care by taking your car to a service center regularly. If you have a particular query about your car maintenance, you can check the nearest authorized service provider or seek help from a professional auto repair service. All these steps can also help avoid problems when selling a car in the future.
Inspect Your Tires
A great way to extend the life of your car is by paying attention to the tires. For starters, avoid running your car over curbs and avoid potholes or any sharp objects on the road. In case your car is stuck and refuses to budge, instead of running your wheels continuously forward or in reverse, you should consider calling a tow truck. This way, you avoid damaging essential components of the car and save yourself the trouble of expensive repairs.
Also, always make sure that your tire valve is shut tight on your wheels in order to avoid issues with flat tires. And remember that when you change your tires, you ask the mechanic to offer you new valves since different tires have bespoke valves designed to fit them.
Additionally, it is good practice to rotate your tires at least twice a year so that you can spread out the general wear and tear they experience, avoid any uneven wear and tear, and maximize their life. For tire rotations, always consult the car manual for specific instructions on what direction to rotate your tires. You could also consult a service technician and ask them to teach you if it's your first time.
Remember to also have your tires optimally inflated since it can significantly affect the life of your tires and can also impact the mileage and fuel efficiency. This basically involves using a tire pressure gauge every month and conducting the test on a cold tire to take a reading of the pounds per square inch of pressure. This is particularly helpful before you head out for a long trip.
Lastly, remember to replace your tires if they have lasted you for an average of 25,000 miles or have had their depth reduced by a measure of 1.5 mm. This will allow you to maintain the correct tire pressure and prevent tire failure.
Check The Fluids And Filters
It is integral to regularly check the fluid levels in your car every four months. This process includes checking the engine oil, automatic transmission fluid, brake fluids, power steering fluids, windshield washer fluid, and the coolant level. This can help you drive smoother and make it easier to change or shift gears.
For example, you can easily check the engine oil level by first turning off the car and then using a dipstick to ensure that the oil is near the maximum level mark. While you are at it, also check the color and texture of the engine oil by taking some in your hands and ensuring that it is a brown to yellow color liquid that is smooth and doesn’t contain any foreign particles.
Similarly, regularly check the oil filter during every oil change, the air filter every other month, the fuel filter once every year, and the transmission filter every two years.
Importantly, keep in mind that windshield washer fluid is not the same as water, and that water can be dangerous in cold weather as it could freeze. Another helpful tip is to avoid using brake fluid that is too old or has come into contact with air. This can potentially contaminate it and reduce its potency.
Keep Your Car Clean
A simple way how to extend the life of your car is to keep it clean and pristine. While this may be obvious, it is often overlooked as people tend to delay cleaning their car and are rarely consistent with its upkeep.
You don’t necessarily have to go to a professional car wash to have your car cleaned. With a few simple steps, it is quite doable at home. Follow the steps highlighted below to wash your car:
- Use a high-pressure hose to rid the car of dust, grime, and any other kind of dirt particles.
- Lather up your car using a car clearing shampoo or soap. Make sure to not avoid leaving the soap for too long since this can leave marks on the car.
- Rinse the car and wipe it clean with a clean cloth.
- Use car wax in small circular motions to polish the car and maintain the exterior paint job.
While this will take care of the outside body, you should also keep the interior clean. Use a handheld vacuum cleaner to clean both under and between the seats and a leather cleaner to remove any stains from leather surfaces. Additionally, use a good-quality microfiber cloth to wipe down everything else such as the steering wheel, dashboard, and door handles for scratch-free cleaning.
Store Your Car In A Garage
An often overlooked factor in caring for cars is how people store them. While it is alright to leave it out in the open for a few nights, it is generally recommended to store your car safely in a garage.
The main benefits of storing your car in a garage are that it is likely to need fewer washes and the chances of your car getting damaged or stolen are pretty low. Additionally, a garage is usually warm enough so that the oil and other fluids in your car don’t become unstable, which protects your car from extreme temperatures.
Adjust Your Driving Habits
When considering how to extend the life of your car, you can simply adjust your driving habits. Some simple steps include the following:
- Avoid pushing the accelerator and brakes at short intervals since this may cause excessive wear and tear.
- Refrain from fast turns or starting or stopping your car suddenly or rapidly.
- Avoid burning your tire rubber and revving the car engine.
- Don’t burden your car with heavy loads since this can negatively impact your engine's overall performance.
- Avoid bad roads as much as you can.
Reduce The Number Of Short Trips
A lesser known fact is how short journeys are not very conducive to increasing the life of your car. Not only are they bad for the environment, but they can also increase the wear and tear of your car and damage its performance in the long run.
The main reason is that cold engines don’t do so well as a short trip isn’t long enough for the oil to circulate through the engine to enable it to perform at the optimal temperature. Short trips can also strain your battery life, particularly if you use the air conditioning unit or have seats that are heated.
However, even if you are not going anywhere in particular, remember to start your car and drive it around the block at least once a week to maintain your battery power.
Don't Ignore The Gauges And Alerts
One of the best pieces of advice on how to extend the life of your car involves regularly checking the car gauges and keeping an eye out for any alert signs such as the check engine light. This is a good guiding tool that can allow you to stay on top of your car's internal functions as it can instantly flag any issues, which can help you avoid some of the most expensive car repairs.
Generally, you should learn how to read and understand the following dials and gauges:
- Tachometer - measures the engine’s revolutions per minute or RPM.
- Speedometer - measures the speed of the car.
- Fuel or oil pressure gauge - indicates the level of fuel in the car.
- Temperature gauge - measures the temperature of the coolant.
- Charging system gauge - monitors the electrical system of the car and the battery charge and voltage.
The Bottom Line
Maintaining your car is integral to getting the most out of it and ensuring that you extend its life to the fullest. It will also help you drive safely and prevent you from having to deal with unfortunate incidents such as a brake failure or flat tires, thereby saving you both the hassle and the cost of repairs.
Importantly, always have a few trusted mechanics you can turn to in order to get advice on your car and to routinely check it every few months. All these measures will make sure that you successfully keep your vehicle healthy and avoid the inconvenience and nuisance of costly repairs.