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8 Steps Towards Keeping Your Car Running Longer

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Whether you have a brand new car or one that is 10 years old, as long as you take good care of it, that car could last you for years to come. This means taking it in for routine maintenance and taking a few extra steps on your own. Extra steps which can not only help you avoid the hassle of major repairs but can also save time and money. Below are 8 steps you can take that are recommended by auto mechanics to keeping your car running longer.

car care

1. Change the Oil Regularly

This one simple step that many people neglect can make a huge difference in how well your car runs. It used to be that you were told to change your car’s oil every 3,000 miles. This is still true if you have a car that is older than 10 years or has logged a lot of miles. Newer cars can go a bit longer. How long depends on the car you have. Check your owner’s manual and stick to the schedule.

2. Check and Change All Other Fluids

Don’t just stop at the oil. While you are at it, check the levels of the other fluids as well. This includes the radiator, transmission, brakes, and even the washer fluid. All of these fluids play a major role in keeping your car running smoothly. Your car manual will explain the proper levels these fluids should have, and in many cases, it will even say it on the receptacles where you add the fluids.

3. Keep Up with Routine Maintenance

In addition to regular oil changes, all cars need yearly maintenance. Check your vehicle’s manual for a list of recommended maintenance and follow it. If your car has a “maintenance reminder”, use that as a guideline for service, but always double-check your owner’s manual – especially since some items need to be replaced based on time rather than mileage. The timing belt is one such item that needs to be replaced. I know firsthand that the damage it can cause if it breaks is much more expensive than the cost of replacing it when recommended!

4. Maintain the Brakes

Your car’s brakes have more than likely saved you from trouble on more than one occasion. So why take the chance of having them fail the next time? Many mechanics recommend checking the entire brake system annually and having the brake linings, rotors and drums checked at each oil change. It has been my experience that brake maintenance tends to be cheaper the earlier you catch it. Stay ahead of the game and make it a habit to check them at every oil change.

5. Check the Tires Regularly

Another way to keep your car running longer is to take care of your tires. Get in the habit of checking your pressure and tread and on a regular basis. To check the pressure, wait until the tires are cool, then use a pressure gauge to make sure each tire has the proper psi. You can find this either in your owner’s manual or on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb.

6. Avoid Driving Around with Excess Weight

Another way to keep your car running longer that many people don’t consider is to avoid driving around with excess weight in your vehicle. Having a trunk and backseat full of random, unnecessary stuff adds more weight to your vehicle which can put extra strain on your engine and transmission and wear out your tires faster. While it is okay to transport objects that fit in your car,  remove them once you are finished transporting them. Unless you drive a big truck and are on the road a lot, there’s really no reason to keep a lot of objects stored in your vehicle all the time.

7. When Something Goes Wrong, Fix It

If you want to keep your car running for as long as possible, avoid putting off needed repairs. Instead, have them taken care of as soon as possible. This includes small, seemingly unimportant things like torn upholstery, broken trim, or a cracked windshield. And when that maintenance required light pops on, schedule an appointment with your mechanic.

8. Find a Trustworthy Mechanic

Unfortunately, there are still many mechanics who over-charge due to consumer ignorance. So instead of going to any random mechanic, look around and try to find an honest, certified mechanic that you can trust and use him or her on a regular basis. One place to consider is the dealership where you bought your car. Many dealerships have service shops and their mechanics are often certified and very familiar with your specific make.

In addition, avoid going to different shops to have different maintenance items done. Instead, stick to the one mechanic/shop for all your needs.

Image via LatitudeLongitude via Flickr

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