As of 2019, the average car age is 11.8 years. People are driving vehicles longer (source). That’s great news for everyone’s pocketbook. When people drive their cars longer, the possibility that they have a loan payment for that car goes down. During that period between making their final payment and buying a new car, they can save more money! To improve the longevity of your vehicle, you have to take care of it. In this post, we’ll go over the steps to care for an older car.
Change Fluids And Filters Regularly
There are several different types of fluids your car uses. Oil, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, etc.
It’s important to regularly change those fluids, and clean out the paths that those fluids travel in. You should change your oil and oil filter every 3,000 – 5,000 miles (depending on the car and the oil you use).
The recommendation for your transmission fluid is a full flush every 30,000 – 60,000 miles. You should flush your coolant every 30,000 miles.
Your brake fluid should get flushed every 20,000 miles. Bleed the fluid by removing the end that supplies the brakes and stomp on the brakes until nothing comes out. If the liquid coming out is an amber color, you’re good. If it comes out looking dirty, then a flush is in your best interest. (Step by step process provided by Brake Performance)
It’s also important to inspect your air filters during every oil change. You can probably go 2-3 oil changes until you have to change your air filter.
Another piece of advice I saw while doing research for this post was to use high-octane fuel once per year. High-octane gas runs hotter than normal gasoline but also has more additives and detergents that help clean out the engine.
Inflate Your Tires
It’s incredibly important that you keep your tires properly inflated. On the inside of the driver’s door, there’s a sticker that says what the desired tire pressure is for your car. The correct tire pressure will help with the handling of your vehicle and will also improve your miles per gallon (saving you money).
You should also regularly rotate your tires. How often you do this depends on the brand of tire you use, but the standard recommendation is every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
Keep It Clean
Frequent wash-and-wax of your paint job keeps the car sparkling and prevents rust. It also helps hold up the resale value for that day when you’ll finally sell the vehicle. Don’t forget the interior. Catching spills quickly, vacuuming the interior, and shampooing carpets can keep your older car looking like new.
If gauges fail, have them repaired immediately. For someone caring for an older car, checking engine gauges often is your key to successfully keeping your ride on the road.
Find A Good Mechanic
Similar to visiting a doctor for a yearly physical, you should take your car to a qualified mechanic regularly to check out and avert any potential problems. Remember the key here: the longer your older car runs, the longer you’ll avoid costly car payments.
Paying a few dollars to the right mechanic is a small price to pay to keep your vehicle healthy and avoid much more expensive new car costs.
The last piece of advice, with regard to taking care of an older car, I’ll leave you with is to replace your spark plugs. The recommendation for this is to replace every 30,000 to 90,000 miles (depending on the make and model of your car).
A bad spark plug can lead to a misfire in one of your cylinders. If you have a 6 cylinder car, but only 5 are firing, your engine is working harder than it needs to. That can lead to problems down the road.
By practicing good care for an older car, you’ll help your dollars stretch so you can use them for more important items on your agenda.
If you’d like an in-depth breakdown of repairs and costs, Edmunds has a fantastic article.
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