How to Make Your Vehicle Last Longer
With the economy remaining uncertain over the short term, millions of people are tightening their fiscal belts. They’re making the choice to keep their vehicles a few more years rather than upgrading to a new model. For this reason, it’s more important than ever to take the necessary steps to make your car last longer.
To be sure, your vehicle will eventually reach the point where paying for repairs and replacement parts becomes more expensive than it’s worth. Until that time, however, ongoing maintenance is critical for ensuring your car performs efficiently. We’ll offer a few suggestions below that will help you keep your vehicle in great condition for as long as possible.
Maintain The Fluid Levels
Your engine, transmission, brake system, and power steering all depend on a healthy supply of fluids. If there is an insufficient amount, these assemblies and systems will either fail or sustain damage. Get into the habit of checking the fluid levels every two or three weeks. Doing so requires less than fifteen minutes.
To check the oil, make sure your engine is cool. Then, pop the hood, pull out the dipstick, clean it with a rag, and insert it back into its slot. Pull it out again and make sure the level is full.
You’ll need to warm the engine before checking the transmission fluid (do this by letting it idle in Park for a few minutes). If your car is front-wheel drive, you’ll see another dipstick protruding from the transaxle. Pull it out, clean it, and reinsert it into its slot. Pull it back out and check the level. Then, examine and smell it. If it looks dark or smells like burnt toast, have it changed.
Checking the brake and power steering fluid is simple. For the former, locate the master cylinder on the driver’s side near the rear of the engine. You’ll find a transparent reservoir through which you’ll be able to see the level. The reservoir that contains the power steering fluid is usually on the passenger’s side. It too, is see-through, so you’ll be able to note the level without removing the cap.
Keep these fluid levels full. It only takes a few minutes to check and replenish them. Doing so can prevent expensive damage to your engine and transmission while preserving the response of your brakes and steering.
Wait Ten Seconds After Cranking The Engine
When you turn your car off, the oil that circulates through your engine during operation drips down into the oil pan. After several hours, there is no oil left in the assembly to lubricate the moving parts. When you start your car, it takes a few seconds for the oil to move from the pan into the engine. Immediately hitting high RPMs during these few seconds is incredibly hard on the assembly. Once you turn the key and crank the engine, let it idle at low RPMs for ten seconds before putting it into gear.
Check And Trust Your Owner’s Manual
Your owner’s manual contains a service schedule based on mileage intervals. If you diligently follow this schedule in having maintenance performed and parts replaced (when needed), you’re far less likely to experience problems. Keep in mind these manuals were written by the automakers. They have a vested interested in making sure you do everything possible to keep your car in good condition.
If your owner’s manual suggest having the transmission fluid changed every 50,000 miles, do so. If your spark plugs need to be replaced every 70,000 miles, make sure it happens. If the manual recommends replacing the fuel filter every two years, have it replaced on schedule.
Keep the fluid levels replenished, allow the oil to circulate through the engine after startup, and follow your owner’s manual with regard to ongoing maintenance. If you do these things, you’ll help extend the life of your vehicle as long as possible.