A vehicle is a significant purchase. Not only does it cost money, but it requires consumer awareness and staying on top of regular maintenance. As an asset that gets you to and from your destinations, you want to optimize your car’s lifespan and overall performance.
When properly taken care of, you can increase your car’s longevity, improve its fuel economy and reduce the chances of needing a mechanic for extensive work or replacement parts. If you owe money on a car loan, you get time to pay off your debt instead of being forced to shop for another vehicle beforehand. Your car’s resale value may increase as well.
Simply put, driving a well-maintained vehicle helps save you money and can give you and your passengers peace of mind while on the road.
How to Extend the Life of Your Car
Not everyone has the financial freedom to buy a new or used car as often as they need or would like. When the time does come for a new vehicle, make sure you take steps to ensure proper upkeep. Learn how to extend the life of your car and keep it running with the following top five tips:
1. Read the Owner’s Manual.
With any car purchase, reading the manufacturer’s manual and following the recommended maintenance schedule is critical. Take a few minutes to research how your car works and make a note of the guidelines that the manufacturer lays out for you, like:
- Initial vehicle setup
- Maintenance schedule and service recommendations
- Dashboard light decodes
- Correct tire/inflation pressure levels and warning signals
- Head restraint adjustments
- Spare tire removal and jack operation
2. Stick to the Routine Maintenance Schedule.
Your vehicle’s owner’s manual provides a recommended maintenance schedule and details when you should service your car and what your certified mechanic should check. You risk invalidating your warranty by not adhering to the schedule—both the original factory warranty and any extended car warranty you purchase.
Maximizing your car’s value is possible with regular maintenance and by keeping a comprehensive car maintenance log. Routine maintenance includes:
- Changing the oil regularly
- Checking fluid levels and tire pressure
- Rotating the tires
- Replacing the air filter
- Inspecting the battery, timing belt, coolant, spark plugs, etc.
3. Investigate Strange Noises and Smells.
Always pay attention to the noises your car makes. Listen for grinding, humming, clicking, popping and squeaking sounds. The onset of a new, sudden noise may indicate brake wear or problems with your timing belt, suspension, engine, or tires. In addition, if you start to smell something strange other than a neutral scent, explore what might be causing it and contact a certified mechanic immediately.
As you work to diagnose your car’s problems, consider the following smells and their potential sources:
- Sweet scents: leaking coolant
- Sulfur or rotten eggs: car battery
- Exhaust or fuel: a hole in the exhaust system
- Burning: old brake pads or leaking fluids
- Musty, damp scent (mold): wet floor mats or the cabin air filter
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4. Avoid Unnecessary Revving.
Pressing down on the gas pedal while your vehicle is still in the park position, also known as revving the engine, will wear your engine just as much driving – even if you don’t move.
As soon as you start your vehicle, you want to keep the engine’s RPMs low and avoid any unnecessary strain by revving the engine and about 30 seconds your car should be ready to go. If it’s sat for longer than 24 hours or the temperature outside is cold, then your vehicle may need a few more seconds to warm up but will still not require the engine to be revved to function properly.
What happens if you rev your engine continually? You might:
- Cause too much stress on your engine
- Throw your connecting rod
- Seize up pistons
- Damage your clutch and flywheel
- Waste gas
5. Clean Your Vehicle.
Salt and road tar can cause your car’s paint to deteriorate and rust to form, causing damage to your car’s exterior. Washing your car regularly and adding a wax coating will create a barrier that can help protect the paint and keep your vehicle clean.
Additionally, you can keep your car’s interior looking and smelling new by:
- Cleaning the glass
- Rinsing rubber floor mats with a hose
- Vacuuming carpets and seats
- Wiping down plastic consoles
- Adding a stain protectant to fabrics
- Applying leather cleaner when applicable
While washing your car’s exterior is important, you should also pay attention to what’s going on under the hood. Over time, dirt and residue accumulate on your engine. But giving it an annual cleaning will help to:
- Remove the accumulation of dirt and residue
- Reveal leaks, cracks, or any other problems
- Prevent the buildup of combustible materials
- Remove corrosion-causing road salt and debris
- Increase your car’s resale value
Care for Your Car Now. Save Money Later.
With research and commitment, you can learn how to extend the life of your car to keep it running strong and looking sharp. But don’t overlook the value of owning breakdown coverage as well. You never know when an unexpected malfunction or repair might occur, so be proactive and start evaluating extended warranty programs before your current coverage expires. Check out our protection program reviews and top picks today.