How to Extend the Life of Your Vehicle

How to Extend the Life of Your Vehicle

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    A new car smell is almost irresistible, but that desire can be quenched if your finances are tight.

    It is better to buy a new car when you can afford one and extend the life of your current car by a few more years if possible.


In the meantime save up your money for a new ride and look for ways to extend the life of your current car.

1. Back to basics. It is the little things neglected that turn into big problems later on. Oil changes. Air filters. Fuel filters. Batteries, wires, spark plugs. Acquaint yourself with the owner’s manual and follow the maintenance intervals carefully. The manufacturer knows what is best for your vehicle.

2. Examine your tires. The only thing separating your car from the road are its tires. And those tires should be in good condition, rotated on a regular basis and swapped out once the tread thickness falls below 2/32 inches. Wear bars show up on tires that have worn below a safe threshold; state law requires that bald tires be replaced, what you want to do to avoid hydroplaning when road conditions are wet. If your tires are still good, keep them inflated to the levels the car manufacturer advises.

3. Follow the recalls. Consumer recalls are often top news especially when hundreds of thousands to millions of vehicles are included. But, there are countless smaller recalls that are also newsworthy — they just don’t garner the attention for the small numbers involved. If your car is recalled, the manufacturer will try to notify you directly. You can also keep tabs on recalls by visiting the NHTSA website. Respond to recalls as soon as possible and know that the manufacturer typically pays for the repairs.

4. The check engine light means something. It used to be that when the “check engine” light turned on that there was something wrong with the car’s engine. These days, it might represent any one of a whole bunch of different problems including a bad air filter, a malfunctioning oxygen sensor, even a loose gas cap. Now, if you take your car in for service every time that the light goes off, then you can expect to pay upwards of $80 for an inspection. Save time and money by investing in a code reader for about $20.

5. Baby your car. One sure way to wear out your car fast is to abuse it. Jackrabbit starts, slamming on the brakes, and other abrupt action can wear out parts faster. Extend the life of your brakes by easing down on the brake pedal. And speaking of brakes, a semi-annual check up can be wise.

6. Flush these fluids. There are certain fluids that your car takes that you may have forgotten about. Brake fluid, anti-freeze, power steering fluid and transmission fluid need to be changed, although the intervals are generally much longer than motor oil. Most fluids should be changed every two years; your transmission fluid usually lasts upward of 50,000 miles, sometimes much longer.

7. Keep it clean. Regular car washings can remove dirt and grime, keeping its finish looking great for years to come. It will also help keep corrosion from building especially when you concentrate your cleaning under the body. Wax your car at least once annually and if you live where snow or sand is common, step up your cleaning efforts.

Car Care Tips

Will you be able to extend the life of you car? Maybe. And as long as those repairs are doable as well as affordable. You may not like to spend $500 to $1,000 annually in repairs, but that cost is far cheaper than spending $25,000 to $30,000 or more on a new car.


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Categories: Autos Express

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".