Cars are a significant investment, and like any other investment, it’s essential to take good care of them to ensure they last as long as possible. While there are many ways to achieve this, we’ve compiled these tips for you to keep your car running like new. These tips cover a wide range of factors, from following a maintenance schedule to keeping your car clean.
1. Obtain Used Car Warranty
A used car warranty is one of the most important ways to keep your vehicle running smoothly for as long as possible. It is any protection plan that can take care of your vehicle’s repairs after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired. You can acquire extended warranties from the manufacturer, dealers, and third-party insurance providers.
This coverage ensures that you won’t have to drain your bank account for costly repairs, and the warranty will quickly pay off in case a major malfunction occurs.
2. Follow Proper Maintenance
Proper maintenance is an essential factor in your car’s lifespan. Ensure that you follow all the manufacturer’s related service intervals. This includes oil changes, tire rotations, inflation, alignment checks, brake inspections, cooling system checks, and battery maintenance. The best way to keep your engine in good condition is to follow manufacturer-recommended oil changes, as well as the correct type and viscosity of the oil.
Unfortunately, many car owners don’t maintain their vehicles properly, dramatically reducing the expected lifespan. Read the car owner’s manual to find out the best way to care for your car. Try to religiously stick to these recommendations. This will ensure that your vehicle runs like new for as long as possible.
3. Keep the Interior Clean
Even if you don’t consider yourself a clean freak, it’s important to regularly keep your car’s interior clean. Dirtier cars are likely to have both cosmetic and mechanical issues, which will decrease their lifespan. Use mild soap or all-purpose cleaner that’s suitable for your upholstery type, then use a sponge or clean rag to apply it evenly across the seat. Don’t forget about other parts of your car, like cup holders, door panels, steering wheel, dashboard, and floor mats.
4. Properly Storing Your Car During Winter
Winter is probably the most difficult season for your car’s lifespan. If you live in an area where snowfall occurs regularly during wintertime, make sure to fully prepare your vehicle—whether it’s an Audi or a Toyota—by following these steps:
- Make sure the cooling system is in good condition and filled with a proper antifreeze mixture or use a car heater to ensure the engine doesn’t get too cold.
- Change the oil.
- Install winter tires if possible. Otherwise, make sure your all-season tires have a proper amount of tread.
- Use emergency brakes if your parking brakes don’t work.
- Check the battery and make sure it has enough amperage and isn’t leaking, and if you find any issues, get a replacement for it right away.
5. Regular Paint Maintenance
If your car’s paint looks dull and faded, you need to apply some sort of paint protection. While regular waxing works great for all paint surfaces, it’s easy to neglect this. You can use many products to protect your car’s paint from UV rays, water spots, salt corrosion, acid rain, bird droppings, insects, dirt accumulation, environmental contaminants, and more.
Using a sealant for extra protection with any type of wax or polish, as well as ceramic coating, is one of the best ways to ensure your car’s paint looks great for years.
6. Take Care of the Interior
Taking care of your vehicle’s interior is just as important as maintaining its paint, so don’t neglect it. Avoid direct sunlight by covering the dashboard with a light-colored towel or some other type of material because it can damage it. Try to clean up spills immediately, and make sure you only use the recommended products for your surfaces.
Also, make sure to take care of any leather parts with a high-quality leather cleaner. Ensure that it doesn’t contain oils or other synthetic materials that can alter its original color.
7. Drive Smoothly
Driving with a heavy foot isn’t suitable for your car. Make sure to accelerate gradually and coast as much as possible when you’re driving and avoid sudden braking. Doing so will decrease the wear and tear on your brakes, clutches, drivetrain, engine, suspension system, and more. Heavy acceleration and braking also reduce your vehicle’s fuel economy, which is terrible for its performance and lifespan.
8. Inspect Your Car Regularly
Regardless of how well you take care of your car, eventually, the time will come for it to pass. However, by regularly inspecting your vehicle, you can identify any problems before they become severe and even save yourself some money in the long run. You should make sure to examine all under-body components, including the oil, brake fluid, coolant, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid levels. Check for any leaking fluids by looking around the vehicle’s exterior. Keep an eye on your tires’ tread wear indicator, which will tell you when it is time to replace them.
Before you start your vehicle up for the first time after parking it, make sure to inspect any exterior lights that are out. Check the turn signals, brake lights, headlights, and fog lights. However, don’t forget about the interior either because some problems might not be visible from the outside. Check all seat belts to ensure they’re in good condition and not torn. Inspect your airbags to also ensure they don’t have any significant issues.
You should turn the volume up on your car stereo and closely listen to all of its speakers for odd noises like popping or cracking. These sounds indicate a damaged speaker cone. Check your dashboard and find out if there are any warning lights on that you don’t remember seeing before. These can be a sign of an issue with your engine, transmission, cooling system, or other major components.
9. Carefully Pick the Routes You’re Taking
If the route you’re taking every day has a terrible surface, and you don’t have an option to take a different path, then consider changing your route. Driving over rough surfaces and potholes wears out your tires and suspension system faster. It can also damage other under-body components like your drivetrain (engine, transmission) and exhaust system.
10. Keep Your Car Covered
When you’re not using your vehicle, it is best to keep it covered with a car cover of some sort. This will protect it from dust and any other contaminants that can get on the paint and potentially cause damage over time. It will also prevent trees and other foliage from dropping debris on top of it, which can scratch the paint or even drip sap.
11. Buy High-Quality Replacement Parts
When it comes to all the components in your vehicle, you should always buy high-quality parts whenever possible. These are typically more expensive than their generic counterparts. They’re also designed to last longer and perform much better overall. Buying cheap replacement parts can end up costing you more money over time because they’re more likely to break and need replacing again quickly.
12. Remove Unnecessary Objects from the Car
It is a good idea to remove any unnecessary objects from your vehicle’s interior. Not only will doing so give you more storage space, but it will also help slightly improve your car’s fuel economy since it won’t have to carry around as much weight. In addition, having too many objects on the exterior can strain the vehicle’s body, leading to structural damage.
13. Resist the Urge to Modify Your Vehicle
There’s nothing wrong with modifying your vehicle. However, if the changes you’re going to make aren’t going to improve its performance or fuel economy in some way, then it is best not to do anything. Always think about how the modifications will affect your driving and your car’s performance.
Tuning the engine for greater power puts extra tension on other components, such as the brakes. The stiffer, more sporty suspension puts additional strain on the chassis, subframes, and bushings. Also, keep in mind that money spent on modifications is unlikely to raise the value of your vehicle. Remember that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
14. Avoid Running Low on Fuel
It goes without saying that you should always buy gasoline when your fuel gauge gets down to around the one-quarter tank mark. However, many people don’t realize just how inefficient their engine is when running on fumes. When the fuel tank is empty, your fuel pump draws on-air, debris, and sediment at the bottom of the tank. These unsuitable materials can obstruct the system and damage your pump and filters, potentially blocking fuel and making it difficult to start.
Instead of running out as soon as possible and filling it up again, try to keep a constant gas level in your tank. Sticking with regular grades of gasoline is also crucial because premium-grade fuel is formulated for engines that require it.
15. Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated
You should always keep an eye on your tire pressure to make sure it’s at the optimal level. If your tires are not properly inflated, this can lead to many problems, including premature wear and loss of fuel economy. The proper inflation rate can be found on a sticker in your vehicle’s door jamb. You can also check the owner’s manual. Gas mileage declines when tires are over-or under-inflated.
16. Warm the Engine Up Before You Drive It
It is best to let your car warm up before you drive it. This is because your vehicle’s engine and various components work more effectively when they are at their optimal temperature. Furthermore, this will help prevent damage to certain parts of the engine, leading to malfunctions or even more costly repairs down the line.
17. Check the Wiper Blades
First of all, you need to check the condition of your wiper blades. As a general rule, they should be replaced every six months. This is because, over time, they will lose their effectiveness and even fail while in use. To check if your wiper blades need to be replaced, simply wipe them across a window; if there’s any streaking or smearing, they need to be replaced.
18. Keep the Wheels Aligned
Another critical thing to watch for is wheel alignment issues. Having wheels that aren’t correctly aligned will cause accelerated tire wear and poor vehicle handling and stability. You can get your wheels aligned at a local automotive service center.
19. Check the Exhaust System
The exhaust system is designed to be robust and durable on modern vehicles. However, a few components can wear out over time, such as the gaskets, flex pipe joints, and catalytic converter. The last thing you want is for these items to fail while driving because this could lead to a dangerous situation. Before going for any long drives, it is best to have the whole system inspected.
20. Keep the Coolant in the Right Range
Many people don’t know that low coolant levels can cause overheating issues. If not addressed right away, this will lead to permanent engine damage. Thus, always keep your coolant levels in the recommended range.
The Bottom Line: Pay Attention to Your Vehicle
You should always pay attention to your vehicle. Do what is needed to keep it running for as long as possible. One of the most important things to help with this is performing regular maintenance work at a service center. These professionals have all the tools, knowledge, and skillset necessary to inspect the whole vehicle and find ways to keep it in pristine condition.