Your car is more than validation for owning a drivers license. It's also a huge investment. With so much financially at stake, it's in your best interest to keep the vehicle in peak condition, getting as many miles out of it as you can.
To help your efforts, consider the following tips on how to keep your vehicle running for a long time:
- Read the car's manual. Most drivers never pull it out of the glove compartment, unless needed on where to find car jack. The manual provides vital maintenance information, including when to schedule important fluid changes.
- Change the car's oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, along with the oil filter. The oil is your vehicle's life's blood. Keeping it clean, free from dirt and grime, extends the life of the engine.
- Rotate the tires as according to the car's manual. In general, however, it's best to rotate them every 6,000 to 7,500 miles. This prevents uneven tread wear and extends the life of the tires.
- Keep the tires properly inflated to the tire's recommended air pressure. Under-inflation causes tread wear and reduces the vehicle's gas mileage.
- Park in a garage, or at the very least, under a tree in shade. Extended UV sunlight can cause the dashboard to crack and fade interior seating. If you don't have access to shade, use a sunshield over the windshield when parked.
- Flush the radiator every two years. This helps remove dirt and rust particles, extending the life of the engine and radiator.
- Change the car's air filter regularly, or when clogged with dirt. Clean air filters improve gas mileage.
- Check the timing belt often. Replace if you notice any cracks. A busted timing belt could cause a piston to destroy or crack a valve, requiring an expensive engine repair or replacement.
- Check the brake pads. Replace if they get worn down and thin. Not only does this improve the car's safety, but it also prevents damage to the rotors, which are costly to replace.
- Change the spark plugs as recommended in the car manual. Old spark plugs can hamper the engine's performance, causing slow acceleration and poor gas mileage.
- Combine errands so as to limit driving, putting less stress on the car's engine.
- Avoid mash-the-gas-pedal-to-the-floor accelerations. This saves on gas and causes less engine duress.
- Wash the vehicle regularly, removing dirt and road salt build-up. Otherwise, rusting can occur, especially along doors and on the undercarriage, diminishing the vehicle's value.
- Run the air conditioning a couple times during the winter. This prevents moving parts in the compressor from freezing and keeps the seals in good condition.
- Extend the life of the car's battery by cleaning posts and terminals.
Do you have any maintenance tips that have helped extend the life of your vehicle? Share your smarts with our online audience by leaving your wisdom in the comments section below.