As cars get more and more expensive, it can be difficult to justify making a monthly vehicle payment. In addition, you may need to pay more to maintain and insure a new vehicle as modern features and materials may make repairs more expensive. With that in mind, what are some ways that you can extend the life of the vehicle that you are driving today?
Follow the Vehicle Maintenance Schedule
Cars made since 2008 have the ability to run for up to 300,000 miles if properly maintained. This means that even at 100,000 miles, you may only be at half or even one-third of your car’s useful life. Therefore, make it a point to have the engine fluid flushed and have belts changed or tightened according to what your owner’s manual recommends. According to Bob McDonald Tire & Service Network, you should also have your tires rotated and oil changed every 5,000 miles or so. Doing so keeps engine components from seizing or your tires from going flat or bald too quickly.
Make Sure to Wash Your Car Regularly
Salt and grime are the enemy of any vehicle. These materials can cause rust that may eat away at the paint that protects the metal frame. Once rust reaches the frame of the car, it could cause holes in the engine, the gas tank or in other important components. The good news is that preventing rust is as easy as washing your car regularly, which is about once a month during the summer and once or twice a month during the winter months. Of course, this depends on how often you drive your car and the type of weather conditions that you face on a regular basis.
Don’t Use Aftermarket Parts
One of the easiest ways to reduce the life of your car is to use aftermarket parts. These are either generic or knockoff parts that are not meant to fit or be used in your vehicle. Ideally, you will only use OEM parts and have them installed by a trained mechanic.
Heed Those Idiot Lights
If you see a light on your dashboard, it signifies a problem that you need to attend to right away. While that check engine light may be the result of a loose gas cap, it could also be the result of a wire that is frayed or any number of problems that could be expensive to repair.
Lights on your dashboard may also be trying to alert you to the fact that your tires are not inflated properly or that your brakes are not working correctly. As soon as you see one of these lights, take your car to a mechanic immediately. He or she can diagnose the problem and recommend any repairs that should be made.
While you may be able to drive a car that has its check engine light on, you could be doing long-term damage to the vehicle. This may result in a useful life that is months or years less than it otherwise could have been. Furthermore, even small issues with a vehicle may also reduce its trade or resale value.
Don’t Drive the Car Too Hard
Cars or trucks that are driven in a smooth manner tend to have fewer problems with the brakes, transmission and other central components. It may also provide you and your passengers with a comfortable ride to work, school or wherever else you need to go. It is also important to note that you don’t need to warm your car up in the morning or after it has been left to idle for long periods of time. Simply driving the car is enough to warm it up naturally, and leaving it to idle could damage the engine over a long enough period of time.
Extending the useful life of your vehicle could save you money both now and in the future. The money that you aren’t spending on a car payment could be put into the stock market or otherwise used to pay bills or reduce your debt. Therefore, do your best to drive it as gently as possible and maintain it in accordance with what is written in the owner’s manual.