5 Easy Things You Can Do To Prolong Your Vehicle’s Life
Gas prices are climbing. So, too, are the prices of new vehicles. Even the cost of repairs has climbed steadily each year for the past decade. With the cost of car ownership rising, millions of drivers are looking for ways to save money. One of the best investments you can make is the preventative maintenance you apply to your car.
This article will describe five steps you can take today to preserve the life of your vehicle. Not only will the following measures help make your car more reliable on the road, but they’ll also reduce the amount you spend on repairs. Each is simple, easy to implement, and will help prevent your being stranded by the side of the road.
1 – Change Your Oil
Oil is the life’s blood of your car’s engine. It lubricates the moving parts, and prevents them from destroying each other as the result of constant friction. It also helps transfer heat away from the engine that might otherwise cause the assembly to seize.
Over thousands of miles, motor oil degrades from heat and contaminants. It slowly becomes thicker and loses its fluidity. When this happens, it become less capable of providing the lubrication your engine needs. Most experts suggest changing your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Ultimately, check your owner’s manual for the recommended service interval.
2 – Change Your Filters
There are three main filters in your car that need to be replaced periodically: the oil, fuel, and air filters. Each performs a similar function. The oil filter prevents dirt, metal particles, and other debris from entering the engine, and causing damage and premature wear. The fuel filter does the same job, but prevents the passage of contaminants that originate in your gas tank. The air filter prevents dust and dirt from entering the engine.
All three filters will become clogged over time. If they are not replaced, the performance of your engine will suffer. Change the oil filter when you change the oil, the fuel filter every 30,000 miles, and the air filter whenever it appears dirty.
3 – Change Your Transmission Fluid
Like motor oil, transmission fluid degrades with use. Even though some automakers claim you don’t need to change the fluid for 80,000 miles or more, plan to replace the fluid every 30,000 to 40,000 miles. It’s a small, worthwhile investment to help preserve the life of one of your car’s most expensive components (i.e. your transmission).
4 – Let Your Engine Warm Up
This deserves clarification. Decades ago, it was common for drivers to let their vehicles warm up for a few minutes following a cold start. On especially cold days, many would leave their engines idling for seven or eight minutes before shifting them into drive. Today, this is no longer necessary since your engine’s design is much more efficient. That said, you should still give it twenty to thirty seconds to warm up following a cold start.
5 – Limit Short Trips
Few people realize how punishing short trips can be on their vehicles. When driving short distances, condensation develops within the exhaust system, and never fully evaporates. This occurs frequently in the muffler. The residual moisture results in corrosion that eats through the muffler’s hull.
Short trips can also tax your fuel pump, causing it to wear – and ultimately fail – more quickly than normal. Try to limit the number and frequency of the short trips you take to avoid premature wear.
There are, of course, many other measures you should take to preserve the useful life of your car. These include checking and rotating your tires, avoiding cheap gasoline, using your brakes sparingly, and checking your belts and hoses on a regular basis. Along with the five tips above, these preventative maintenance items will help ensure your vehicle lasts as long as possible.