With the economic downturn of the last several years, more and more people are opting to fix and maintain their older cars instead of trading them in for a new set of wheels. There are even statistics to back this up. For example, Experian Automotive lists the average age of vehicles on the road today at 11 years – and that number’s on the rise. It’s important to keep in mind that older cars need a little extra maintenance and attention to keep them running properly.
How to Maintain Your Car, Especially as It Gets Up in Years:
Keep Up With Routine Maintenance
Check your owner’s manual. This should give you an idea of how often you should have basic maintenance, such as a tune up, oil change, replaced spark plugs, and so on. However, as your car gets up in years and miles, you’ll probably want to get your car into a mechanic for these routine procedures a little more often – especially during times of extreme weather. Skipping or postponing maintenance lets problems go unchecked and can cause a host of other issues.
Take Care of Your Tires
By getting your tires rotated, repaired, or replaced when they need to be replaced, your risk of being in a crash dramatically decreases. This is especially true during winter and in the rainy months. If the tread on your tires is worn down, your stopping capabilities on wet roads can be lost, no matter how new your brakes are.
It may seem like a hassle at first, but doing a quick walk-around inspection of your car will become second nature after a little while. Look at all four of your tires, make sure your lights are all operating, and check around for any other damage that might cause a problem. Check for leaks regularly. Even a little bit of leaking fluid can signal the start of a serious problem.
Take time every time you drive to turn off the radio and listen to your car in different states of running: cruising along on the freeway, parked at a stoplight, slowly driving through a neighborhood, and even traipsing over a bumpy road. If you hear anything out of the ordinary, bring your car to the mechanic. It may be a pain to do so, but getting your aging car checked out can drastically improve its life and prevent you from having to dig deep for major repairs, or for a replacement car.
Keep it Clean
Get out the hose and soap bucket. Visit your local car wash. Depending upon your region, your car may be exposed to different elements; rain, snow, ice, road salt, dust and so on. Each can have an impact on the performance of a vehicle, as well as on its exterior.
Road salt can have a dramatic impact on older vehicles if not washed frequently. Many know that road salt can cause rust. It also may impact the mechanics of your vehicle; such as the brake system, oil and transmission pans, and components that make up the suspension. It’s always important to have your vehicle washed after a snow or rain shower (rain can contain corrosives too – from pollution). Be sure to have the under carriage washed too.
If your region is prone to dust and wind, you’ll need to check (and replace) your air filters more often.