March 7, 2016
Seven Tips to Make Your Used Car Last Longer
In the old days, a car owner was lucky if he or she could keep a car on the road for 100,000 miles. Today the situation is different. More advanced manufacturing, fluids, and parts keep cars on the road longer than ever before. That means it’s easier to find a quality used car and make it last. But if you don’t pay attention and take care of your car it won’t last nearly as long as it should. Here are seven tips to help you keep your used car on the road longer and save money at the same time!
Perform Regular Maintenance
By far the best way to help your car last longer is simply to take better care of it. Think of car maintenance as a doctor’s appointment for your vehicle. By checking known problem areas and catching problems early, you avoid bigger bills and major problems down the line. Here are a few of the most important maintenance tasks for your used car:
- Regular oil changes
- Periodic inspections
- Tire rotations, inflations, and alignment checks
- Brake inspections
- Cooling system checks and refills
- Battery changes
Unfortunately, many people neglect these maintenance tasks or don’t do them often enough. Check your car’s owner’s manual to see the recommended service schedule and try to follow it as best you can. This will help your car last longer and perform better.
Don’t Ignore Gauges, Lights or Alerts
Most car owners have been in this situation – you start your car one morning and a strange light blinks on in the instrument cluster. If you’re like many drivers, you’ll just hope it goes away and continue on as usual. But doing this could take years off your car’s lifespan.
Every warning light and alert has a meaning. Some simply tell you to buckle your seatbelt or that you’re low on gas. Others signal major problems. There are lots of resources for finding out what these lights mean and how big a problem they are. Most times, though, your best option is to consult your owner’s manual or a trusted mechanic.
Often it’s possible to catch problems before they occur just by watching your vehicle’s gauges, too. Keep an eye on your RPMs, engine temperature, and battery charge level when you drive. These gauges can be a big signal that something is wrong before you do any damage.
Keep an Eye on Fluids and Filters
Engines are more than big blocks of metal. They’re full of sensitive and delicate moving parts, and they rely on fluids like oil, transmission fluid, and coolant to function well. If you don’t keep an eye on these fluid levels or periodically change the filters, these delicate parts could face irreparable damage.
Even if you follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your car, you should still check your oil and other fluid levels regularly on your own. It’s also a good idea to check and change your filters while you’re at it, especially your engine air filter and in-cabin air filter. Checking fluids and changing filters are very simple tasks that only take a few minutes and a little knowledge. Performing them regularly, though, can save you tons of time and money.
Inspect and Rotate Tires
A car’s wheels and tires are probably the most neglected parts of the whole vehicle. They’re also one of the most essential. Think about it – your tires are the only part of your car that hold you to the ground. Your car’s handling, acceleration, brakes, fuel mileage and ride all depend on them.
Because they’re so important, it’s a good idea to take a look at your tires every once in awhile. Look for symptoms such as low inflation pressure, uneven wear patterns, or excessive wear. These can be a signal that it’s time to rotate, align, or even change out your tires. You should also take time to keep them at the proper pressure. The right tire pressure keeps your tires in good shape longer and helps fuel economy as well.
Use the Right Parts, Fluids, and Gas
Car parts and materials are not created equal. There’s a big difference between the fuel pump or oil filters on eBay and the one at your manufacturer’s garage, for instance. Oil from the discount store isn’t the same as oil from a mechanic. Yet many drivers insist on using the cheapest available parts and materials for their cars regardless of the damage they can do.
Instead of using cheap parts and bargain-bin fluids, spring for the higher-end products. Most of the time a name-brand product will last longer than a bargain one anyway, so you’ll save money in the end. For example, high-end windshield wipers can last much longer than the cheap versions, and synthetic oil can last two or three times as long as bulk oil does.
Also, pay attention to what kind of gas your car takes. Don’t put regular gas into a sports car that wants plus or premium. The engine won’t run as well and could suffer damage or wear over time.
Adjust Your Driving Habits
Along with taking care of your car’s internals, you can make changes to yourself to help it last longer too. There are many behaviors and actions that take a toll on your car, such as:
- Driving too fast
- Rapid acceleration and braking
- Sharp cornering and swerving from lane to lane
- Taking lots of short trips (less than a mile)
- Driving off immediately after starting the engine.
In general, aggressive or rushed driving will wear your car out much faster than driving calmly. It’s also a good idea to drive less often, especially for very short trips when your engine won’t be running long.
Keep Your Car Clean and Protected
A final tip for helping your car last longer is simply to keep it clean inside and out. Take your car to the car wash every so often, and take the time to apply a coat of wax as well. This does not only make your car look better. It also keeps the paint and bodywork safe from rust and corrosion and from being clogged with dirt and grime. Vacuuming out the inside helps to remove smells and keeps your car looking better.
If you have the option, you should also park it in a garage or under a carport. This will reduce the exposure to sun, rain, and inclement weather like hail and snow. An enclosed garage is the best option as this also prevents your car from getting too hot or cold, protecting the fluids, mechanicals, and electronics in your car from premature wear.
Find a quality, reliable used car at The KEY!
Looking for a used car that will last you? Come to The KEY in Oklahoma City today to view the biggest selection of high-quality used cars in Oklahoma! We have a huge variety of cars and trucks to choose from, and they all come with a lifetime warranty included so you can be sure they’ll last many more years. Call (405) 526-7000 to learn more or view our used car inventory online to find the perfect used car for you!