Extending the life of your vehicle is a simple process, provided that you can stay diligent. Vehicle longevity went through a “dark ages” of sorts in the 1980s, but today, proper maintenance and care can help keep your car or truck running well into the 200,000 mile range.
Far too many vehicle owners believe that maintaining a car for the long-term is an expensive venture. In fact, it’s quite the contrary – it isn’t until we FAIL to maintain our vehicles that costs get out of hand.
So, for the sake of your vehicle (and your wallet), let’s run down a few practices that can help keep your vehicle running for years into the future…
This isn’t grade school and we aren’t your teacher. But, if you aren’t paying close attention to the sounds of your vehicle while driving, you could be walking into an auto repair nightmare. Many repairs will make themselves known LONG BEFORE they get expensive. So, by paying attention to the sounds of your vehicle at different times during operation, you can be sure that nothing “out of the ordinary” is going on.
You want to be careful here, too, however, as we don’t want you to become incredibly paranoid about every single sound you hear. The sound of your vehicle will change over time, as it’s just part of the aging process. But, that loud “clacking” that you hear every time you make a right turn – yeah, you’ll want to get that checked out.
Our Recommendation: The next time you accelerate from a stop, turn down the radio for a moment, just to listen to the engine. Later on in your trip, turn the radio down again to listen to your Yugo humming along at “cruising speed” on the freeway. No noticeable changes? Great! You can now get back to rocking out to the latest Justin Bieber track…or not.
Check Your Fluids!
Cars don’t have fluids because the manufacturers thought they were cool. They have fluids because your vehicle needs them to perform properly! An engine running low on oil can lead to a repair disaster of epic proportions, so take low fluid situations seriously!
By taking a few minutes to check, and ideally “top off”, the fluids under the hood, you can be sure that you are giving your engine what it needs to last you far into the future.
Our Recommendation: Open up your vehicle’s “Owner’s Manual”. We know, we know…it’s dusty and you forgot that it existed, but hey, it’s there for a reason! Get acquainted with the types of fluids your vehicle uses (not all are the same!), and keep some on hand. This way, the next time you pull up to pay far too much for a tank of gas, you can pop the hood, check the fluids, top them off as needed, and get back on the road. This 5 minute practice can save you thousands!
NOTE: If 5 minutes of your time is worth more than the thousands you can save, call me – I’ll forward a resume.
Take It Easy
Sure, you love your Ford Focus, but do you really need to “punch it” every time the light turns green? There’s a lot of wear and tear that can be prevented by simply easing back on the aggressive driving. Remember, this has nothing to do with “cruising speed”, but instead, acceleration. Also, when starting up your car in the morning, take a few minutes to let the engine warm up. You don’t have to overdo it, but honestly, a few minutes of time here can save you money. Who doesn’t love saving money?
When your vehicle has been sitting for hours, the fluids have all worked their way down into the reservoirs. To get them flowing properly, you have the let the engine warm up a bit.
Would you wake up from a 16 hour nap, skip breakfast or a bathroom visit, and head out to run a marathon? Of course not. You would eat, stretch, and let your muscles warm up…let your car do the same!
Our Recommendation: Let your engine warm up a bit before dropping into DRIVE. Once it’s run for a few minutes, go ahead and get on the road, but take it easy for another few minutes. Accelerate at a reasonable pace, and before you know it, you engine will be primed, warm, and ready to blister down the highway like any good Yugo should.
So, as you can see, taking care of your vehicle doesn’t need to involve an extensive amount of time or a large amount of money. The few minutes you spend on paying attention to your vehicle can help you save thousands over the lifetime of ownership.
When your vehicle lasts for hundreds of thousands of miles, you win. It’s that simple!
Until next time, folks…