Making Your Car Last
Let me ask you a few questions; has your car started making
strange and/or different noises? Has it
become a little less quieter than usual?
Does it drive a little rougher than it used to? Has the engine light, or any other lights suddenly
popped on? Are you spending more and
more time and money at repair shops? Are
you tired of searching the phone book for a trustworthy repair shop? Finally,
are you willing to get your hands dirty?
If you answered “yes” to any
or all of these questions; then don’t go anywhere because we’ll show you how to
make your car last.
Contrary to popular belief, taking care of your car so that
it’ll last longer isn’t as difficult, time-consuming, or expensive as it’s made
out to be. It only becomes all of those
things when you fail to do them. There’s
only one primary thing that you have to do to extend the life and durability of
your car—stay on track with your routine maintenance. There are several key areas of routine
maintenance that you should focus on; tires, engine care, and parts.
So what exactly is routine maintenance? Routine maintenance is the mileage or
time-based intervals to have your car serviced.
Routine maintenance includes; oil changes, tire rotations, transmission
flushes, and so forth. Typically, your owner’s manual will list
the recommended mileage to have different services performed on your car.
The engine is the most important part of your car; consider
it as the ‘heart’ of your car because
all the crucial parts are connected to it; the transmission, your fuel system,
alternator, starter, wiring, cooling system, all your hoses, belts, and
pumps. There are several major
categories that fall under engine care.
If you maintain these areas and stay on schedule with your service
intervals, you should have no problems taking care of your car’s engine.
Change – Changing your oil regularly is the most effective way maintain
the life of your engine. Forget the traditional 3,000 miles/3 months rule, it
no longer applies. Today’s engines are
designed to go approximately 5,000 to 10,000 miles in between oil changes. Despite the higher cost, semi and full
synthetic oils are the best because they burn slower and have additives that
prolong the life of your car. A
semi-synthetic/high mileage oil is better for cars with 75,000 miles or more
while full synthetic oils are recommended for newer engines with 75,000 miles
Belt – Your serpentine/drivebelt will hardly ever need to be replaced. Most manufacturers recommend replacing it
approximately every 100,000, which means you may only replace it once or twice
while you own your car. The only other
time you would replace it is if it becomes severely frayed and cracked, and if
chunks are missing.
– Stay current on your flushes. Most transmissions are flushed every 30,000 to
100,000 miles, check your manual.
Radiator flushes are typically every 50,000 miles, engine flushes can
range between 20,000 to 30,000 miles, while fuel system cleanings are
approximately 60,000 to 75,000 miles.
– There’s not a known interval for replacing hoses such as your radiator hoses,
however, you typically want to replace them after swelling or if they become
dry-rotted, cracked or slit.
Tires are another essential part of your used auto. Tires have a direct effect on fuel economy,
ride comfort/discomfort, and steering and braking, as well as overall
safety. Here are the focus areas for
PSI – Having the right amount of air pressure in your tires will
increase your fuel economy, make your car’s load lighter, and give you a
smoother ride. Warmer temperatures (80° and up) automatically inflate tires 2
to 3 PSI, while cooler temperatures (40° and below) automatically deflate tires
2 to 3 PSI, so compensate and keep the proper air pressure in your tires.
Rotations – Most manufacturers recommend rotating your tires every
5,000 to 10,000 miles. Rotating tires evens out the tread wear, reduces
balding, and prolongs the life of your tires.
Alignment – If you’ve noticed your car pulls to one side, it could be
sign that you need a wheel alignment, and/or your tires are going bad.
Tires – Change your tires according to the season. In spring and
summer, you can use summer tires because their rubber has been designed to
stick to warmer surfaces, usually 80° or higher. In the winter, switch to a set (all 4 tires,
not just 2) of snow/winter tires because they’re equipped with sipes and tread
designed to cut through snow and ice, and their rubber is designed for lower
temperatures of 40° or less.
There are a few parts that it wouldn’t hurt to replace
regularly such as your fuel filter, air filter, and PCV valve. For a mechanic, the fuel filter shouldn’t take
anytime at all, and the air filter and PCV Valve you can do yourself with
practically no tools in just a few minutes.
Changing these parts will increase fuel economy and also give you a
When you are financing a used auto, it is very important to ensure that you take care of the vehicle for the length of time you will be making payments on the used car. A small monthly investment into preventative care will likely result in not only a more reliable vehicle, but also one with a higher re-sale value at the end!