10 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Vehicle

Everyone’s got a friend or relative whose car or truck seems to last forever.  For me it’s my father and future father-in-law. Both of these man know how to squeeze every last mile out of their vehicles. The common thought may be, ‘Oh it’s a Chevy, or It was built Ford tough.’ I know, it’s impressive. I decided to figure this out, and learn from the pros.  I learned that how you care for and handle your car drastically affects its life, I am talking down to how you drive, even your attitude on the road.  Here are 10 tips to keep your car, truck or van on the road for many miles and a long time.

1. Keep Your Gas Tank Full.  Gas contains sediments that are filtered by the fuel filter.  However, the lower your gas tanks gets the more concentrated the sediment becomes, increasing the risk of clogging the system.  Driving near empty also means a greater likelihood of condensation developing in the fuel system, which can cause serious damage.  Your best bet is not letting your fuel drop below a ¼ tank.

2. Regular Oil Changes.  Oil changes are an extremely important and simple way to care for your car.  Oil keeps the parts of your car lubricated, which in turn reduces friction, allowing the parts to last longer.  Over time, however, oil breaks down due to the high heat it undergoes, becoming less effective; hence the need for oil changes.

3. Start Gentle.  In the first few minutes of driving your car engine is “cold”, meaning the optimal temperature at which your car runs has not been reached and oil is thick, not lubricating as well.  Therefore, it is especially important in this time not to gun the engine or slam on the brakes.  In all seriousness, you should always ‘start gentle,’ it is best practice.

4. Wash Regularly.  Keeping your car clean is for more than superficial reasons.  Dirt and especially salt cause serious corrosion problems and the bottom of a vehicle often takes the worst hit.  Corrosion can cause serious structural damage.  Washing debris off your car can help prevent rust.  Be careful not to over wash, excess water can contribute to rust problems.

5. Let the Manual be Your Guide.  Your car manual is a wealth of information written by the foremost experts on your vehicle. It covers everything, from what pressure to keep your tires at, to the optimal fuel you should use, not to mention when and what you should have serviced.  The car manual is made with the intent of telling you how best to care for your car, so you really can’t go wrong following its advice. Gents, I too suffer from “I already know this syndrome,” but if you really should check it out.

6. Don’t Ignore Problems.  No matter how long you wish that pesky check engine light would go away, it’s not going to.  But the longer you drive with a problem, the more serious it will become and could end up costing you a lot more money.  So take your car to a qualified mechanic sooner rather than later and you’ll see a lot less of him in the long run.

7. Prevent Tire Trouble.  Keeping your tires properly inflated and rotating them on a regular basis not only helps the tires last longer but your car too.  Tires directly affect the suspension, steering, and braking of your car, so make sure yours are in tiptop shape. Be sure to check out one of our previous posts, “Road Trip!” it has a great little tid-bit on checking your tire’s wear and tear.

8. Don’t Neglect the Air Filter.  Most don’t give the air filter much thought; I know I don’t, but it’s crucial for preventing debris from getting in the engine and causing unnecessary wear.  A dirty filter does this less effectively and can also cause the fuel injector to produce an incorrect air to fuel ratio needed for the car to run.  Be sure to check on your air filter regularly, we recommend having a look when you change your oil.

9. When Possible Drive on the Expressway.  City driving usually involves short trips in stop and go traffic.  First, there’s the issue that your engine will likely never reach peak function and more wear will occur.  In addition, the jerky nature of city driving is harder on the car.  So when you have the option, pick the expressway route.  If you don’t have the option and/or live in the city, walk! It’s good for you, and your car.

10. Use the Parking Brake.  When you shift your car into park the transmission holds the car in place.  However, the transmissions true purpose is to change vehicle gears, not hold the vehicle.  That’s what the parking brake is for, and by using it you’ll save the transmission a lot of stress.  Put the parking brake in place when your foot is on the brake, before shifting into park.  Just don’t forget to release the parking brake when you’re ready to go…we have all done it, just don’t do it again.

These tips should help you drive your car for a long time to come.  Enjoy the ride!

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Mack Hanson is a professional automotive tool specialist with National Tool Warehouse and Mechanics Tools Warehouse. He writes about Auto Repair, Auto Performance, Motorcycle Performance and General Maintenance.

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