Maintaining a vehicle is expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes a hassle. But keeping it running for as long as possible could end up saving you from having to buy or take a loan out for a new car. According to Car and Driver, the average lifespan of a car is 12 years or 200,000 miles. Newer cars can last longer due to improved mechanics unavailable in cars released in previous years.
To get the most life out of your car, follow our advice guide. With these tips, your car will be drivable for years to come.
Tips to Keep Your Car Running Longer
Regular maintenance is essential for a healthy car. Your owner’s manual will provide the manufacturer’s suggestions for when certain parts need to be changed or refilled. Although, the manual may not provide all the info you need. That’s why we provided some estimates for you to follow.
Regular Oil Changes
One of the purposes of engine oil is to help prevent the accumulation of dust and combustion residue. As it flows through the engine, the debris gets caught in the oil filter. Over time, the oil decreases its ability to do this properly. That’s why an oil change is necessary every once in a while.
Getting regular oil changes gives your vehicle fresh oil to keep its engine properly lubricated and clean of debris and sludge. While engine oil doesn’t prevent all engine problems, it certainly helps keep your engine healthy.
The owner’s manual will tell you how often you should schedule oil changes. But generally, you’ll want to schedule it every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Newer cars may be able to last further than this.
Follow Your Scheduled Tune-ups
Part of your car’s warranty involves getting it serviced after a certain mileage. According to Cheapism, mechanics suggest a full service in 30-60-90 intervals; this means getting a full service every 30,000 mile intervals. If your car is in good shape, you can stretch it out a few extra miles past each milestone.
A full car service consists of the following:
- Filter, fluid, and spark plug replacements
- Tire service: rotation, balancing, air pressure, alignment, etc
- Timing/serpentine belt replacement
- Oil and filter changes
- Battery inspection and cleaning
- A/C and heater servicing
Get Repairs Done Sooner Than Later
A major benefit of sticking with a servicing schedule is that the mechanic can tell you what parts need repair/replacing. You also get the chance to tell the mechanic of any concerning sounds you may have heard while driving.
When you know something is wrong, get it fixed as soon as you can. Pushing off a needed repair will be costly in the long run. Because it wouldn’t be taken care of immediately, the problem could worsen the more you drive with the issue. Or worse, a connecting part can run into issues as well. If an immediate repair isn’t possible, we recommend drastically reducing the use of your car and/or finding other means of transportation.
Use Your Garage (If You Have One)
If your place of living includes a garage, use it to protect your car. It’s a valuable investment; according to Garage Living, the average price of a new car in Canada is $38,000. Your garage offers great protection.
With your car in the garage, vandals and thieves are much less likely to try anything with your car. Additionally, parking in the garage protects your car from the harsh effects of the weather. If you live somewhere that gets hail or harsh snow, you shouldn’t park outside often.
Apply Oil on the Undercarriage
This is more useful for drivers of older cars. However, it’s also extremely messy. But doing so helps the undercarriage survive harsh winters and dirt/water from the road. There are companies that you can pay to do this for you. Prices vary by the size and complexity of your car.
Drivers of newer cars shouldn’t worry about doing this. Modern car parts are better equipped to prevent rust than older cars.
If you don’t want the messiness of oil, you could purchase a product called Waxoyl. Unlike oil, it sticks to the surface and prevents rust from expanding. You can get a DIY kit in-stores and online.
How Does Regular Maintenance Affect the Car’s Value?
Depreciation is the gradual decrease of a car’s value. According to NerdWallet, a new car can lose at least 60% of its initial value in the first five years.
Many factors contribute to car depreciation:
- Driving well over the average mileage per year (beyond 10,000-12,000 miles)
- Aftermarket modifications
- Tinted windows (it increases fear of legal issues from potential buyers)
- Pushing off repairs and routine maintenances
- Not thoroughly cleaning your car regularly
Additional Tips to Maintain Your Car’s Value
If you follow all of the previously mentioned, your car will depreciate at a slower rate. The following tips will slow the depreciation rate even further.
Get it Detailed Once or Twice a Year
Some people may think that getting your car washed versus getting it detailed is the same thing. We’re here to say it’s not. Both leave your car fresh and clean. But detailing is, as the name suggests, much more detailed.
When you have your car detailed, you’re getting its interior and exterior components restored. This includes steam-cleaning your carpet, polishing and waxing the paint, hand washing, removing scratches, and more. The goal is to get the car looking, feeling, and smelling like it was fresh from the dealership.
Experts suggest getting your car detailed every six months. But that could be more or less, depending on your driving habits. If you’re planning to sell it, get it detailed right before you announce it’s for sale. This will allow you to have a higher asking price.
Protect the Car’s Paint
To keep the shine of your car paint, wash and dry your car regularly. But be careful of the material used to wash your car. Use something gentle, like a microfiber towel and/or an automotive clay bar.
After a good rinse, apply wax or paint sealant to protect the paint from damaging UV rays.
We recommend that you park in the shade as often as you can. But if that’s not possible, invest in a quality car cover. Some key features to look for are water resistance, snug fit, and reviews saying that it doesn’t scratch the surface.
Don’t Smoke in or Near the Car
Smoking in a car is not only damaging for you and the passengers in your car, but it also harms the vehicle. The scent from second-hand smoke can linger in the car, causing it to stink. It can also cause discoloration in your interior’s fabrics.
Additionally, the pollutants can harm the A/C. The smoke can reach the duct system of your A/C, and it’s tough to remove.
If you need to smoke, do it outside and away from your vehicle. Rolling the windows down doesn’t help as much as you think it does.
Invest in Protective Products for the Interior
If you want to protect the fabric and carpeting of the interior, invest in covers. Some accessories you can look into include:
- Floor mats
- Seat covers
- Steering wheel covers
- Seat gap fillers
- Headrest covers
- Dashboard covers
Maintaining a car is a lot of hard work. But if you want to keep it running for as long as possible, or eventually sell it, these tips will keep your car in the best shape. Work hard to counter depreciation!