Ways to Make Your Car Last Longer


Your vehicle is a big investment. That is why it is imperative that you understand what preventative actions you can take to keep your car or truck running longer. If you follow these tips, you will be taking a strong, proactive approach to extending your vehicle’s life. Remember, the small amount of time and money you will be spending to maintain does not compare to the large expense required to replace and repair your car.

1. Maintaining Fluids

All moving vehicle parts are made primarily of metal, and when metallic surfaces rub against one another friction and heat are byproducts. The lubricating fluids in your vehicle such as engine oil and transmission fluid keep the precision machined gears and moving parts in your drive train from wearing out due to friction. As such, it is important to keep these two types of fluids full and clean. Check your oil and transmission fluid once per month at least and be on the lookout for low levels or burnt-smelling and dirty fluid. If either fluid is dirty or burned, it must be replaced to restore friction-fighting ability. If either fluid is low, there is a leak and it must be sealed by a technician. Remember, not all leaks end up as puddles in the driveway – engine oil can blow past piston rings and into the cylinders, being burned as blue-white smoke in the exhaust.

Coolant is an antifreeze/water mixture that is circulated through the radiator, heater core and engine to dispel or make use of engine heat. If this fluid is low or improperly mixed the engine can overheat causing widespread damage or the engine block and radiator can freeze and crack in subfreezing temperatures. Leaks in this fluid can be devastating, so check this fluid at every gas fill up.

Brake fluid is also important for extending vehicle life – crashing into a barrier usually is detrimental to vehicle longevity. Brake fluid transfers hydraulic pressure from the brake pedal to the brakes, and if it is dirty or old it can cause brake failure. It is always recommended that brake maintenance be performed by a technician.

2. Driving Styles

It is no secret that driving through a pothole can cause a flat tire, bent suspension and other problems. What isn’t so evident is that the speeds and acceleration habits of drivers have an effect on vehicle life. Higher speeds, especially those sustained over a long period of time, require higher engine speeds as well as very high wheel and transmission speeds. If your car is equipped with a tachometer, it is advisable to keep the engine revolutions per minute (RPM) below 2,000. Most vehicles will reach 2,000 RPM at 70 miles per hour in fair wind and terrain conditions. Any faster and the engine is required to work harder to sustain the speed – an engine that works harder will need repairs sooner than one that is babied.

Acceleration habits are also linked to premature vehicle failure. Engine speed and car speed are two different factors that are separated by the transmission. Engines in first gear can produce enough power and heat to blow themselves up, but the gear-switching system keeps engine speeds in check while the vehicle accelerates. However, this is in vain if the driving style is such that the engine is allowed to rev up too much before a gear shift occurs. Remember the previous rule of thumb about keeping engine speed below 2,000 RPM? It applies here too – by keeping engine speeds low enough between gear shifts, both the engine and transmission will not be required to work as hard or with as much precision, leading to longer vehicle life.

3. Pay Attention

After driving a vehicle for a few months, most drivers know what “normal” sounds like. If your vehicle makes new sounds or vibrations, have it checked promptly by a technician, this may be your opportunity to repair instead of replace.

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