Best Car Maintenance Tips: What You Don’t Know About Your Car Can Hurt It and Your Pocket Too. 28 Auto Experts / Car Enthusiasts Reveal their Best Tips

Todd Car Maintenance

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expert car maintenance tips

28 tips from car maintenance experts

Taking care of your car is like feeding a baby. You pay close attention to what she eats and when.

Obviously it’s more to it than that. Anyway, whether you drive one or multiple cars, sports or classics and live an active lifestyle or not, these car maintenance expert tips will apply to you and your car.
Here’s the key question we have asked these men and women, who can tell from their insights how passionate they are about their car.
What is your best tip for keeping your car from becoming a junk car
The answers we have received are diverse and will give you new ideas and directions to help you better keep your car in good shape and from becoming a junk car.
A few of these answers have appeared on this thread @ Quora here which you should read if you care about more auto expert views.
Let’s start. Shall we? Here’s the first response…

Marcus RockeyMarcus Rockey

TheUsedCarGuy.co.uk // @UsedCarGuyUk

~ Publisher of The Used Car Guy a website offering specialist information, advice and support to individuals that are buying or selling a car in the UK.

With more and more drivers keeping their car until its dying days there’s some things you can do to make your little beauty last even longer.

Here’s 4 things you can do right now to show your car some love…

1. Don’t live by the sea!

How true – sea air is a cancer to your car. Why? Because salty air rusts metal 15% faster than your regular town or country air.

So if you live by the sea you can expect your little gem to rot away quite soon! Do your bug a little favor and move to the country.

2. Actually service it!

Just like us humans that need a treat every now and then, you car needs some love of its own too. Pay a couple of hundred bucks and get your car serviced every year, or at least every two years.

Fresh oil and a health check will go a long way to preserving your vehicle. Remember the old saying? Look after your car and it will look after you.

3. Park me in the garage!

Not possible for every car owner but if you have a garage make sure your car gets the benefit of it – especially in the winter months.

Statistics show that garaged cars have bodywork that lasts 5 years longer than that of cars that live outside all year round.

4. Dont’ give your car to your son or daughter!

Last but not least – Of 100 car driving parents, 76 explained that after giving their car to their son or daughter the car was smashed up within 12 months!

How terrible for your little gem. Show your car some loyalty and don’t give her away. She should be treated like an old lady, especially when she’s getting on a bit.

Adam BarreraAdam Barrera

HighMileAge.org // @HighMileAge

~ Professional automotive journalist and vehicle quality analyst. Owner Community Connection.

In this era of social commerce, it’s clear that the number one way to keep your classic or specialty car from becoming junk is to join a forum, Facebook club or online community and really dive in.

In an online community, owners motivate each other to keep classic cars on the road, sharing knowledge, swapping hard-to-find parts and working together to preserve automotive history.

That’s certainly been my experience with my 1991 Isuzu Impulse RS and Isuzone.org, our Facebook- and forum-based owner community.

Alex GoyAlex Goy

XCar.com // @A1Goy

~ Cars editor for XCAR.com. He drives fast cars and makes videos about them. Being British, he also enjoys a good cup of tea.

Drive your car.

Use it as it was intended to be used.

The worst way to have a car junk out on you is if you leave it sitting doing nothing. You should also be careful to make sure you keep it well maintained – keep an eye on your tire pressures, coolant and oil levels.

All the stuff you know you should do but can never be bothered to do. While it may seem like a pain when you’re doing it, you can help keep your car running a little better a little longer.

Don’t skimp on servicing either, what’s the point in owning the second most expensive thing you’ll ever buy and keeping it poorly maintained?

Professionals can identify problems early on or even before they start to keep your motor running smoothly.

Finally – keep your ride clean. That may sound like a silly one, but a clean car is always a good idea.

If you don’t fancy doing it yourself, there’s plenty of people who will for a small fee. Who wants to drive around in a car full of rubbish and covered in filth? I know I don’t…

Do all of the above and your wheels will be free from junking for many years to come.

Jim HolderJim Holder

WhatCar.com // @Jim_Holder

~ Editor and . Works with

Here’s the best way to keep your car in tip-top condition:

1. Regularly check all fluid levels and wear and tear parts. Replace any that are showing signs of wear.

2. Stick religiously to the service schedule, and never try and scrape a few extra miles out of a part that is worn if a failure could mean either a hefty repair bill, or worst of all, endanger you or other road users.

David BoothDavid Booth

Driving.ca // @MotorMouthNP

~ Canada’s leading autojournalist. Mechanical engineer. Wickedly fast on two wheels!

The best thing you can do to extend your entire car’s longevity is to regularly change its fluid. And by fluids, I don;t just mean engine oil (which, of course, does need regular maintenance).

Transmissions too — both manual and automatic — will last longer if their lubricating fluid is changed regularly (heavy weight gear oil for manuals, lighter ATF for the autoboxes).

Ditto for the fluid in AWD systems.

Honda AWDs, for instance, can be easily overwhelmed by heat and therefore benefit from new fluid.

Even oft-neglected fluids like brake and power steering fluid need replenishing occasionally (I know it seems too geeky for words, but following your manual’s recommended service periods is actually quite beneficial).

Whenever I try to resurrect a car that’s been sitting a while, the nightmare is seldom the engine or trannie and there fluids, but that the brake fluid has turned to a muck that is positively nightmarish to remove.

Seriously, if you want your car to last, pay attention to its liquids.

David MillerDavid Miller

TheAutoNet.com // @David_Miller11

~ Car experts / enthusiasts interviewer specialist. Regular contributor for various automotive websites, including the Sun Media Group.

Keeping your car in tiptop shape and away from a rusty mess takes time and care.

If you put in the time with the right plan, you can enjoy your ride for more than a decade or maximize your return when it’s time to move on.

The best tip I can provide is to keep the oil in your car clean and flowing. The reality is your oil is the blood of the vehicle, and when not maintained, the engine will start to suffer.

Make sure to regularly change to fresh oil every 6,000-7,000 kms, while consistently checking up on its levels from time-to-time.

Another key component to pay attention to is cleaning your car throughout the Canadian winter months.

Salt and road grime build up over time and will create rust, if not washed.

Make sure to spray your car or at least go for two car washes during the winter months.

Derek MauDerek Mau

TflCar.com // @RpmReports

~ Automotive journalist, photographer, blog editor, and interweb nerd

Best advice I have for keeping your car out of early retirement is keeping up with the maintenance and garaging it if possible.

Changing the fluids and filters at regular intervals helps with keeping contaminants out of the car’s system and extend its longevity.

Periodically getting your head underneath the hood or under the car is a good way of visually checking for worn parts, seepage around tired gaskets, and leaking hoses.

Don’t run on worn out tires since they are the only contact patches between you and the road.

Stopping distances and good all-weather performance will help avoid accidents that could lead to damage that far exceeds the value of the car.

Parking the car in the garage whenever possible or using covered car parking protects the car from the elements when not driving. The sun’s UV rays can degrade paint, upholstery, and plastics.

For car owners who have a garage, but have it filled with stuff should consider making room for their car. What is more valuable, a car that costs $20k – $50k, or boxes filled with things which haven’t been touched in years?

Dutch_MandelDutch Mandel

AutoWeek.com // @Dutch_Mandel

~ Publisher at Autoweek Media Group and The Clan of the Car

There is no salve or emollient you can rub on your car to keep it from becoming junk.

And I’d like to give you the name of the world’s best mechanic who could tune your car like a Stradivarius, but I’m keeping that for myself and my vintage Jaguar.

The answer to keeping your car from becoming junk is simple.

Passion.

Yes, passion for your car, and for the car culture, is the essential ingredient to keep rust at bay and your car from the scrap heap.

Those who have the burning joy for their cars do not see automobiles as commodities or as tools to simply take you from point-a to point-b.

In their heart the car as a cultural reference, an emotional icon, and its value is greater than the sum of its parts.

Cars needn’t be trailer queens or concours show winners to be held proudly in the hearts of enthusiasts. They must be owned and loved and tended to and nurtured.

People who care about cars, care about cars – and with their car will come care, whether they do it themselves or see to it that it is done for them.

Yes, proper care and feeding of the car will keep it happy and healthy.

But if you’re passionate about your car, you tend to it anyway…it becomes your “baby”…and there’s nothing you won’t do to make sure your car has what it – and you – need.

Erika FishErika Fish

MamasCar.BlogSpot.ro // @Car_Mama

~ Car-loving mom writing car reviews that help parents find the right vehicle for their families. Also very adept at helping car dealerships navigate the “new” digital landscape with website design, social media, and digital advertising.

It’s fairly simple: Treat your car like the important, expensive investment it is.

Wash it regularly (interior, exterior, and undercarriage);treat any rust spots and rips in upholstery ASAP; keep up with routine maintenance (like oil changes and filter changes); and don’t ignore dash lights and warnings.

A Check Engine light could be serious, or it could mean you just didn’t tighten the gas cap after your last fill up.

For cars that drive on salted roadways in the winter, be sure to wash the exterior and undercarriage every 2-4 weeks.

Treat leather and wood interiors to a nice moisturizing detail at least once every year, unless you live in a hot, dry climate where it might take more love to keep the leather from cracking.

I also think we should know a few things about our cars and how they work. Watch videos, ask questions, take a class.

Once you know about the inner workings you can do some maintenance work yourself, and find a good mechanic who will show you what their treatment plan is.

George StratonGeorge Straton

ChicagoNow.com // @GstratonDHS

~ Owner of ChicagoNow.com “Drive He Said” automotive blog  & Roadblazing.com (road trips & car news). Member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association.

A) Follow all manufacturer recommendations for service intervals and replacement parts/ fluids based on the type of vehicle use:

CAUTION: Dealership recommendations ≠ Manufacturer recommendations

e.g. Manufacturer recommends oil change at 7500 miles/ 10 months, whichever occurs earliest. Oil service is performed at dealership service department.

Mylar “Next Oil Service Reminder” is placed on upper left, inside of windshield indicating “3,000 miles or 3 months” Remove mylar sticker.

Ignore dealership recommendation. Follow manufacturer’s recommendation. Many modern vehicles include serviceable fluid/ material interval driver indicators.

B) FLUIDS:

1) Fuels: follow manufacturer RON recommendations (AKI in Europe)

NOTE: While engine management constantly monitors air-fuel mixture and can advance or retard spark timing accordingly, to avoid low octane pre-detonation, switching to a lower fuel octane than recommended will reduce maximum combustible energy, hence requiring fuel consumption.

Even if manufacturer specifications allow less than premium (91 RON octane or higher) it is recommended to fill up the tank with premium fuel at least every 6000 miles as premium fuel consists of more powerful fuel delivery system detergents, to prevent fuel injector clogging

2) Engine Oil: follow manufacturer API SAE recommendations and intervals.

Always replace oil filter at oil service.

Always follow manufacturer oil filter, housing and engine drain bolt specifications. Never over-tighten oil filter more than ¼ turn past hand snug.

NOTE: Higher viscosity (thicker) 10W and higher motor oils are being eschewed by manufacturers.

Also there is a move towards recommending full synthetic or partial synthetic motor oils for higher performance engines.

Tighter engine passage tolerances with improved metal thermal and corrosive resistance. Heat transfer is improved by lower viscosity lubricant with special less, corrosive additives.

Less engine work required to pump lower viscosity oil, single weight for multi-climate prevents user confusion as ambient temperatures have changed.

Full synthetic or part synthetic oil degrade less over time and under higher internal engine temperatures.

Many modern vehicles include engine oil life remaining by % in a driver’s multi-function display. If applicable, make certain service technicians RESET indicator upon completion of oil service.

3) Engine Coolant: Use only manufacturer approved coolants.

Follow manufacturer recommended intervals. Some manufacturers now use Lifetime engine coolant.

Otherwise, a full coolant flush is a good idea once every 4 years/ 60k miles.

WARNING: Do-It-Yourselfers are advised to keep all engine coolants out of reach of household pets and children as many contain highly toxic Ethylene Glycol.

4) Transmission & Differential Fluid: Use only manufacturer approved lubricants.

Follow manufacturer recommended intervals. Most automatic transmissions use Lifetime transmission fluid and differential lubricant.

Manual transmissions, including dual-clutch type, will require periodic differential lubricant inspection.

5) Brake Fluid: Follow manufacturer’s specifications for DOT heat rating.

Bleed brake fluid at each hardware replacement.

Replace brake fluid at every other brake hardware replacement interval.

6) Windshield/ Rear Lift/ Swing Gate/ Headlamp Washer Fluid: Check levels every 3 months bi-weekly during winter months in climates with snow and road and ice.

Refill with consumer available solvent with appropriate temperature rating. ¼ cup of 90% Isopropyl Methanol may be added to mixture where freeze protected windshield solution is not available.

C) FILTERS:

1) Air Filter: follow manufacturer’s replacement interval.

Don’t attempt to air clean, wash or oil paper air filters. If using a re-usable high-flow cloth air filter (e.g. K&N) follow filter manufacturer’s recommendations.

Visually inspect air filter every 12K miles.

Replace air filter every 24K miles, more frequently in dusty environmental conditions.

2) Cabin Air Filter: follow manufacturer’s replacement interval or at least once every 36 months/ 30K miles.

D) FRICTION HARDWARE:

1) Brakes:

a) Pads: Inspect at 36 months/ 40K miles. Some vehicles include brake pad sensors which will illuminate an instrument panel warning light when brake pad thickness is too thin.

Replace with manufacturer or OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) specification pads where possible.

Each manufacturer specifies pad friction compounds specific to the desired performance characteristics the vehicle was designed for.

Switching to a lower dusting, longer life or higher cold friction brake pad materials may result in completely different brake feel and responsiveness than is preferred or optimal.

Do-It-Yourselfers: Follow manufacturer’s recommendation for proper brake fluid bleeding.

b) Rotors: Recommended to be inspected at 60 months/ 60K miles.

Replace if possible and warranted by condition at brake pad replacement to save on labor costs.

Use only manufacturer’s or OEM high quality brake rotors. Cross drilled / slotted brake rotors are not recommended for normal street use.

2) Manual Transmission Clutch: Follow manufacturer’s replacement interval. Clutch slippage i.e. the inability to disengage the clutch to shift gears – indicates time for clutch friction material replacement.

Also a noisy or catching clutch pedal release indicates clutch throw out bearing service/ replacement.

F) RUBBER HARDWARE:

1) Wiper Blades: Inspect for cracks every 12 months.

Replace at least every 24 months.

It is recommended to replace entire frame rather than blade refills alone, as frame can corrode, impeding free movement in increasing wear on blade.

Beam style wiper blades have frame built inside of rubber blade.

NOTE: Check major OEM wiper blade manufacturer’s websites for rebates often promoted every fall into early winter. Often times rebates can reduce the replacement wiper blade cost by as much as 50%-80%.

2) Belts: Replace accessory and engine drive belts per manufacturer’s recommended intervals.

Visually inspect for cracks on ventral side of belt by twisting.

NOTE: Premature serpentine accessory belt wear may indicate a defective belt pulley/ tensioner

3) Engine Camshaft Timing Belt(s): Replace per manufacturer’s recommended interval, replacing timing belt tensioner(s) and water pump as part of service kit.

Engine timing belt cannot be externally visually inspected and may not show visible cracks prior to failure. Failure of engine timing belt in “interference piston” engine can irreparably damage engine.

4) Tires: As the only parts of any vehicle to actually contact the pavement it is recommended to [at least casually] glance at the tires each time before you drive.

Tires pick up all sorts Of road debris – i.e. glass, nails, large stones – all of which can cause a slow air pressure leak.

a) Tire Air Pressure: Check tire air pressure once every month.

Check pressure with a good quality pencil-style pressure gauge after vehicle has been parked for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.

Check against manufacturer’s recommended “Cold Temperature” air pressure settings in P.S.I. (pounds per square inch) as listed on placard inside B-pillar of driver’s door (or in Owner’s Manual).

WARNING: NEVER inflate tires to Maximum Inflation Pressure (P.S.I.) indicated on tire sidewall, except when vehicle is being stored for extended periods.

If air pressure gauge indicates “over-inflation” press tip of back of gauge tip lightly against tire air (Schroeder) valve pin to momentarily release tire air and re-check.

If gauge indicates under-inflation, drive vehicle to nearest tire shop or fuel service station with air pump, to avoid warming tires. If tires are hot from freeway speed operation, add 3-4 P.S.I. to manufacturer’s inflation recommendation.

b) Tire Wear: Visually inspect tire tread every 12 months/ 12k miles for irregular wear and the sidewall for cracks.

The U.S. Department of Transportation certifies tires for legal sale and use only 6 years from their date of manufacture. The date of manufacture is stamped into the sidewall of every tire.

A tire can lose sidewall carcass integrity just by standing still due to rubber degradation from the environment: sun, heat, cold, road salt etc.

c) Tire Replacement For safety reasons it is recommended to replace vehicle tires every 72 months, unless the vehicle has been stored indoors for an extended period.

Tire replacement may be required earlier than 72 months due to road damage or suspension component failure damage, driving induced premature tread wear, or manufacturing defect.

NOTE: OEM tire manufacturers supply their own warranties separate from the vehicle manufacturer’s warranty.

Typical tire warranties provide a pro-rated replacement of tires determined to be defective within 2/32”-inch of remaining usable tread depth as a proportion of the original tire tread depth (typically 10/32”-inch)

Some tire manufacturers also offer a defect replacement warranty based upon mileage accrued on tire from time of purchase.

Change all tires at the same time when possible.

Follow the vehicle manufacturer’s size, speed rating and load rating for replacement as posted on the driver’s door B-pillar placard and in the Vehicle Owner’s Manual.

Select a tire replacement facility that can properly speed balance the new tires and can replace Tire Pressure Monitor Sensors if necessary.

A wheel alignment is strongly recommended after tires are replaced, as worn tires may have been caused by misalignment of wheels relative to chassis.

d) Tire Rotation: Follow vehicle manufacturer’s tire rotation recommendations.

CAVEAT: more and more vehicles come equipped with assymetric tread or staggered sized tires, which may not be rotated.

E) SUSPENSION HARDWARE:

Suspension hardware should be visually inspected at each oil service.

In the event of abnormal tire tread wear, the suspension hardware should be inspected further and an alignment may be warranted to verify specifications.

The interval for wheel Damper aka “Shock Absorbers” replacement is determined by factors such as climate, road conditions, road debris and vehicle sub-frame collision damage.

Since dampers affect wheel control, a failing damper or shock absorber will adversely affect vehicle control.

Since most damper failure is not visible, it is recommended to replace all dampers (shock absorbers), with a direct OEM replacement type, at 96 months/ 90K miles or earlier.

G) IGNITION COMPONENTS:

Spark Plugs: In modern distributor-less solid-state ignition automobiles, with use of recommended fuels and following recommended lubricant service intervals, spark plugs typically will fire well into 100,000 miles.

Replace at recommended intervals with recommended spark plugs.

Do-It-Yourselfers: remove ignition modules with care using proper tools, so to avoid damaging.

An ignition spark module for each cylinder can cost well over $100!! Never exceed manufacturer’s torque specifications.

Car Surface Care Tips

A). Cleaning & Treating surfaces:

1) Rinse, then wash, then rinse with cool tap water. Avoid direct overhead sunlight. Best to wash within 3 hours after sunrise and 3 hours before sunset. Also avoid washing above 95°F and below 45°F.

Products used: Meguiar’s G7164 Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo & Conditioner and Meguiar’s X3002 Microfiber Wash Mitt, short bristle wheel brush alternative: Murphy’s Oil flax soap

2) Dry car outside quickly with clean dry terry cloth towel or chamois (synthetic also). Park car away from trees which emit sap residue.

Products used: Meguiar’s X2020 Supreme Shine Microfiber Towels

3) Wipe hard interior surfaces with clean terry cloth towel dampened with solution of lukewarm water and tablespoon of flax soap per 2 gallons of water.

Products used: Murphy’s Oil flax soap, Meguiar’s G14422 Ultimate Quik Detailer

4) Wax vehicle exterior, under cover from direct sunlight, away from trees which may release sap. Optimal application temperature range 68°F – 83°F

a) Wet clean cotton cloth and wring tightly.

Apply teaspoon of Carnauba wax to damp cloth.

Select one area of vehicle surface, approximately 1/8 of total surface. (e.g. door, hood, trunk lid, fender, quarter panel, roof, wheels, headlamp covers, bumper covers).

Apply wax liberally in circular motion, then retracing area, until a dry, powdery haze appears.

b) Allow waxed surface area to dry (about 5-10 minutes). Buff out wax dried residue with clean terry cloth in circular motion.

c) Follow above steps for each section of vehicle surface. Change to new application cloth as each starts to accumulate grime. Change buffing cloth as each becomes covered in yellow waxy residue.

Products used: Wax: Meguiar’s M26 Mirror Glaze Hi-Tech Yellow Wax; Applicator cloth: Meguiar’s X3070 Soft Foam 4″ Applicator Pads alternative: clean men’s white cotton undershirts (free from any other chemicals) for wax application Buffing cloth:

Meguiar’s X2020 Supreme Shine Microfiber Towels alternative: clean white cotton athletic stockings or small cut sections of terry cloth cotton towel

5) Sparingly apply UV light protectant to interior plastic surfaces, using clean cotton cloth.

Products used: NuVinyl protectant; Meguiar’s G4116 Natural Shine Protectant, Vinylex

6) Sparingly apply leather protectant to leather surfaces, using clean cloth. Wipe off excess.

Products used: Lexol leather protectant

7) Sparingly apply sealant/ protectant to rubber seals, using clean cotton cloth Products used: Autosol Gummi Pflege

8) Vacuum interior carpeting and upholstery:

9) Spot clean any stained carpeted or cloth upholstered areas using a solution containing one tablespoon of carpet cleaning concentrate soap available for steam carpet cleaners per one gallon of lukewarm tap water.

Rinse out with clean lukewarm tap water. Allow to dry.

Products used: Resolve spot carpet cleaner; Rug Doctor concentrate soap

AVOID application of tire shine.

Honest JohnHonest John

HonestJohn.co.uk // @_HonestJohn

SEE ALSO:   26 Auto Repair Hacks - a Blueprint for Savings

~ Provider of honest, unbiased, car/van advice for owners, buyers and sellers.

Change the oil and filter at least every 10,000 miles or every year, whichever comes first, even if the car has only done 1,000 miles in that year.

Short runs from cold when the engine never properly gets to temperature create condensation that contaminates the oil to a greater extent than regular long runs on the motorway.

Only ever use an OEM filter; never a pattern filter.

Use a well known branded oil rather than something with a strange name from the other side of the world. Check the oil level at leas weekly.

If the car is a diesel and the oil level appears to be rising, the sump oil will be contaminated with diesel from failed DPF regenerations and needs to be changed.

Jacques van HeerdenJacques van Heerden

Jacquesvh.com // @Jacquesvh

~ Entrepreneur and Investor. Founded the An1ken Group in 2007 on the premise that Any One Can be successful. Adrenaline junkie and car enthusiast.

Make sure to get your car washed and cleaned once or twice a week depending on how much you use it.

If there are any scratches or nicks, make sure the car goes in for repair as soon as possible to avoid any further damage to the body or interior.

I always make sure that I get my car waxed too for added protection.

Another tip from me is to keep the car in its current model range and to always keep it parked indoors or underground.

Jeremy BrownJeremy Brown

JeremyBrownCarGuy.com // @JB_CarGuy

~ Car guy helping people find the vehicle they want/ need.

The best tip I have for preventing any car from becoming junk, is simply maintenance.

I don’t care if you drive an Ashton Martin or a Yugo, if you don’t maintain it it WILL become junk.

When I sold cars and people asked me how to make their car last longer, my response was and is always the same: change the oil, change the oil, change the oil.

You would be amazed at how many issues can be avoided, just by simply changing the oil

If you remember to change the oil, then you will automatically check other things like air filters and tire wear. Proper rotation of tires can save you hundreds of dollars in tire wear.

Think about it if your tires wear unevenly they will wear out faster , meaning you have to replace them sooner than you should need to.

My shop charges $10 to rotate tires, just do it and save the hundreds on new ones. 

Wash your car! The better your car looks, the better you will treat it. So wash it!

It sounds simple, but subconsciously, if our car looks like a turd we will treat it like one. But, if we take care of it and it looks nice we will want to take better care of it.

So wash your car at least monthly and throw a coat of wax on it twice a year and you will be amazed how much longer you will want to keep your car running.

A car with a nice paint/wax job on it will be worth more at trade in time too.

I hope these tips help you keep your car running longer. Please feel free to comment or write back!

Jill TrottaJill Trotta

RepairPal.com // @RepairPal_Jill

~ Director, Automotive Group. Automotive Expert. ASE Certified Mechanic. Female Technician. Car Care Council Women’s Board. Consultant

I think the single biggest thing that prevents a car from becoming junk is to physically take care of your car.

Washing the exterior and keeping the interior clean make the car more comfortable and more presentable.

I could say things like change your oil, do you scheduled maintenance, keep your tires in good shape but I think people are way more like to do the basic things that need to be done if they have a sense of pride in the appearance of their vehicle, if they have spent their own time making sure it is clean, comfortable, and smells good inside.

I also think that if the vehicle doesn’t look like a piece of junk they are more likely to spend the money to fix the car if something does go wrong with it.

If it looks like a piece of junk, you are more likely to treat it like a piece of junk.

Cars that have been cared for retain their value and are more likely to attract a buyer who is willing to pay top price for a nice vehicle. 

John HammerJohn Hammer

JohnHammer.org // @JohnHammer

~ Automotive product specialist and performance driving instructor.

I find that keeping your car from becoming junk is as much a reflection of the car itself as it is on the owner.  

What I mean is that if it’s a car you don’t care about (a “daily driver / appliance” or a “winter beater” if you’re in the snow belt), then the car is simply a conveyance from point A to point B.

However, if the car is a passionate object to you, an extension of who you are as a person, then you’ll take better care of it.  

So while many experts will suggest things like “change the oil” or “keep it in the garage”, my advice for keeping your car from tuning to junk is: “Fall In Love With It!”  

Lauren FixLauren Fix

LaurenFix.com // @LaurenFix

~ Nationally recognized automotive expert and television personality

Buying a new car may not be an option, but there’s no reason why almost any late model car or truck can’t be counted on to last for 10 or more years and run reliably for well beyond 100,000 miles.

This is not as rare site as you may think and you can do it too.  

Cars are your second most expensive investment and we have to take care of that investment.

Saving a few dollars and getting the most for your money is everyone’s goal.  

Critical  Fluids:

There are 9 fluids in your car; one of theis motor oil, which helps extend the engines life.

Getting the right oil for your engine makes a HUGE difference. Use your owner’s manual to get the proper  fluids.  

Clean  the  Fuel  System:

It can restore and improve fuel economy, increase horsepower, reduce depositrelated engine knocking  and pinging and is a superior corrosion and oxidation inhibitor.  

MaxClean is a fuel system cleaner and stabilizer  that  is  safe  for  gasoline  and  diesel  vehicles.  One  (1)  bottle treats  15-­‐20  gallons.

For  around  $17  you  can  save  $100’s  by  cleaning  your  fuel  system.  

Check  the  rubber  parts:

Damaged  wiper  blades,  tires,  hoses  and  belts  can  both  leave  you  on  the  side of  the  road  and  with  a  large  maintenance  bill.  Windshield  wiper  blades  should  be  replaced  every  six months.

Spring  is  an  excellent  time  to  do  so,  especially  following  the  wear  and  tear  dished  out  by  winter  weather.

For  the  best  in  wiper  quality,  consider  TRICO  Force,  a  high-­‐performance  beam  blade  with  a  patented swept-­‐wing  spoiler  that  reduces  wind  lift.  

Easy  to  install  and  also  provides  a  flawless  wipe  and  excellent  visibility  in  all  driving  situations.  

Be  prepared  for  anything:  Car  batteries  work  harder  during  the  winter  than  any  other  season,  which means  they  are  most  likely  to  die  during  the  spring  months.

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Price:  $109.99

Most  drivers  have  no  clue  how  to  change  a  flat  tire.  The  Fix-­‐  A-­‐Flat  Ultimate  1-­‐Step brings  new-­‐car technology  to  every  car  on  the  road.

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Price $29.95

And they now make a tires sealant for bicycles so your not on the side of the road replacing a tube or a tire. Permanently seal tube punctures up to 1/8 inch for around $10.

The key is to always refer to your vehicles owners’ manual. If you don’t have one or want more details. Get a FREE Car Care Guide in English, Spanish or French at: www.carcare.org or go to Lauren Fix’s website.

Mark GreeneMark Greene

CarsYeah.com // @CarsYeahPodcast

~ Producer and host of Cars Yeah, a five-day-a-week podcast where he interviews Inspiring Automotive Enthusiasts™

First and foremost, regular maintenance is very important, whether you drive your car often or not. Fresh fuel, brake fluid, oil, and liquids are key.

Second, keep your vehicle in a garage and out of the elements.

If you don’t have a garage, invest in a quality, custom fit all-weather cover. Attach a battery tender for long periods of non-use.

Third, keep all the surfaces of your vehicle clean and protected with wax, sealants, and dressings.

Fourth and finally. Drive your vehicle. An unused vehicle that is left sitting is one of the worst things you can do to your ride.

Get the operating temperatures up an keep them there for at least 30 minutes once every few weeks!

Mark-HackingMark Hacking

MarkHacking.com // @Mark_Hacking

~ Award-winning writer, race-winning racer and rave-earning raconteur. His motto: Drive fast, take chances.

If you have an older car, learn basic maintenance yourself and have a trustworthy expert mechanic available as a back-up for when something serious happens.

If you have a new car, your only option is the trustworthy expert mechanic — new cars are too computerized and too complex for the average person to keep current on how to make repairs or, sometimes, even perform basic maintenance.

Peter HaynesPeter Haynes

TorqueAgencyGroup.com // @TorqueMan

~ Ex car journo turned PR type, occasional racer and car anorak

There are a few rules to stick to if you want to keep your car in the best possible condition.

1) Firstly, the worst thing for any car is to not use it. Cars need to be used - the mechanical components benefit from regular use and from allowing oil to circulate around the engine.

Many low mileage cars that have been stored for years suffer from major mechanical issues. Lack of use also causes rubber components like suspension bushes and even tires to deteriorate.

2) Service it! Changing the oil and filters is crucial.

Older cars need to have key suspension and chassis points greased and keep the brakes well maintained.

Basic servicing is not expensive and on many classic cars it's not complicated either.

3) Clean it! Nothing causes deterioration quicker than allowing road grime and salt to eat away at bodywork and mechanical components.

A clean car is a happy car and regular waxing of the paintwork will protect it and keep it bright and free of oxidisation.

Dirt stuck in grease eventually becomes grinding paste - so de-grease regularly and re-lubricate. Apply wax oil to the underside of the car of you live in a damp environment.

4) try and garage a car if you can - especially if the car is not used for long periods. Keep it dry and and avoid humidity if you can.

If you follow the above rules, your car will have a little by and happy life!

Petrina GentilePetrina Gentile

CTV.ca // @PetrinaGentile

~ Award-winning automotive journalist and one of the few women who covers cars in Canada.

I’d say maintenance and regular upkeep/washing is key to keeping your car from becoming junk.

Here are three tips:

1) Wash your car using the 2-bucket method. Fill one bucket with soapy water; the other with clean water.

Every time you wash, rinse your mitt in the clear water to keep debris from mixing with the clean wash soap.

Use a hose to get lots of foam in the soapy water because foam suspends dirt from your vehicle. Never wash your car in direct sunlight; always wash it in the shade.

2) Wash your tires before tackling the body of your vehicle.

Use a mitt, soap, and elbow grease to remove tough, caked-on brake dust that has accumulated in the wheels.

And be sure to use a separate wash mitt – never use the same mitt you use on your bodywork.

Finish with a shiner such as Turtle Wax ICE Premium Care Tire Shine or Wipe New Tires to keep tires looking new and to prevent them from cracking or discolouring.

3) Use proper cleaners to wash your car – dishwashing soap won’t cut it because it can attack wax and the protective layer on your vehicle.

Keep household products like Palmolive or Dawn under the kitchen sink. Instead, use high-quality products such as Sonax Gloss Shampoo or AutoGlym Bodywork Shampoo Conditioner.

Don’t use sponges from the kitchen sink, either. They’re abrasive and can damage delicate paint.

Invest in high quality mitts made of microfibre, lamb, or sheep.

Ralph MortonRalph Morton

BusinessCarManager.co.uk // @RalphMorton

SEE ALSO:   Five Must Read Books About Car Maintenance

~ Editor of Business Car Manager, an online business motoring mag

The best way to stop your car from reaching junk status is to keep it clean. Both inside and out.

Take care of it – don’t just use it as dustbin for everything you can’t be bothered to put in the bin so you drive around in a sea of debris. Keep it clean!

And don’t always take it down to the local car wash for a prep up.

Do it yourself as well – that way you will notice if there are any scratches, dings or repairs that require remedial attention, or if the tyres are worn or damaged.

Ditto the interior. Get the vacuum cleaner out and tidy it all up.

You’ll feel much better about your pride and joy that way. So keep it clean, and don’t drive a junk yard.

Rob EckausRob Eckaus

Examiner.com // @Rob_Eckaus

~ Graduate of the AMG, Audi, Exotics Racing and SRT driving schools. Western Automotive Journalists and Motor Press Guild member with hot lap and drag racing experience. 

Having owned, sold, purchased and “managed” higher mileage cars within the family the best tip in my experience to keeping a car from becoming junk is a holistic approach to maintaining the vehicle.

It first starts with appearance.

Repair bodywork, have scratches and nicks touched up or do it yourself.

If you don’t take the time to keep from water spots drying or bird droppings from baking in the sun, it just means more time later to bring the appearance back to normal.

Washing it yourself is less expensive than a car wash, but sometimes the $10 automated cycle at the local gas station or do-it-yourself spray wash works wonders.

Besides the exterior, clean the inside and out and fix those interior trim items. Major systems and components such as air conditioning, transmission, etc. must work properly.

And finally, despite being old, despite the miles, and despite the costs, stay up on the repairs and functionality.

Check engine light, vibrations, etc. will either break a sale or reduce the offer by at least a thousand dollars if not several thousands.

And sometimes, it just means taking that hit if you’re selling it because it is no longer cost effective to repair.

On a recent test drive, an otherwise good condition but older used car had a front end shimmy and vibration.

Without a mechanic’s inspection, I had to drop my offer by over one thousand dollars.

I couldn’t know if it was an alignment and balance or an entire suspension and steering rebuild needed.

While recently a when trading in a car, a broken motor mount and check engine light dropped the appraised trade-in value from $1500-$2000 to just $300 for scrap.

Ironically the $30 car wash was ten percent of the value!

Bottom line, to keep a car from becoming junk requires the two things most precious to us:

Money and time.

Cars are money pits. Beautiful, fun, glorious, practical, necessary money pits!

Ryan KartzkeRyan Kartzke

AutoAnything.com // @AutoAnything

~ Born a gearhead and currently works in the eCommerce department for AutoAnything.com

If you want to protect the resale value of your vehicle, there are two primary things you need to pay attention to: it needs to run well and it needs to look good.

To keep the vehicle running smoothly, you should strictly follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for oil changes and scheduled maintenance.

The old rule of thumb for changing your oil every 3,000 miles is good, but you might be throwing money down the drain.

On my Subaru, the recommended oil change interval was every 3,750 miles.

And on my Wrangler, every 8,000! If you are particularly hard on your vehicle (towing, racing, off-road use, etc.) then you may want to change your oil more regularly. 

But if you are a commuter, follow the KISS method and do what your vehicle manufacturer recommends.

Modern engines have come a long way, and the manufacturers generally know what’s best. Same goes for major maintenance intervals.

There are important tasks completed during those checkups, like flushing coolant, transmission fluid, changing fuel filters and more. It’s also the best time to have the vehicle inspected.

These maintenance intervals can be expensive, often $400-800 or more, but as the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

You can save money by doing the work yourself, just make sure you carefully catalog the work done, the mileage at the time of service and save the receipts to provide proof that you purchased the maintenance parts.

Work done in your garage won’t show up on a CarFax report. So if a potential buyer wants to know about the maintenance history, your detailed records will help seal the deal on that sale.

I recommend buying a 3-ring binder just for this purpose. It will keep you organized and makes it easy to review the timeline of maintenance.

Cars are often a long-term investment. I owned my Subaru for 10 years, and it still looked pretty good the day I sold it. I had a few rules which I followed to keep her looking good:

1. Whenever possible, park your car out of direct sunlight, preferably in a garage or covered parking structure. UV rays are harmful to paint, eventually causing the color to fade.

Not only will this rule protect your paint from the sun, but it will generally help keep the vehicle cleaner. This leads me to my next rule…

2. Make a cleaning schedule and stick to it. How often you need to wash your car depends on a number of factors, but figure out what’s right for you.

The most important thing you can do is quickly remove tree sap, bird poop and other road-born gunk from your paint.

These things are not just unsightly; they are often acidic and can lead to thinning of your clear coat in the affected area.

And if you live in a state that uses salt or chemicals to thaw road snow and ice, these regular washes will help keep your undercarriage from rusting out.

In addition to regular car washes, I like to use a clay bar and wax system every 6-12 months.

The clay bar will remove every imperfection on your paint, and make it feel smooth as glass. Immediately after claying the paint, use a car wax to help seal and protect the paint.

It takes some elbow grease, but the results are incredible, this is by far the best combination I’ve found to keep your vehicle looking showroom-new.

3. In older cars, I often see ripped seats and rotted out carpet.

Not only does this look terrible, but it can be expensive to fix.

These are the two interior areas that get used and abused every day.

A few simple precautions can save these areas from wear ‘n tear, and keep them looking new for years to come.

To save the floors, I highly recommend purchase a set of custom rubber floor mats

These are typically made from a thick rubber or plastic and often come with a high-walled edge which traps any mud, dirt, sand, snow and sludge that gets tracked into your car.

And that is the most important part: cheaper rubber floor mats usually have a simple tread pattern which helps contain some dirt and mud, but liquids will often overflow into the carpet when you take turn or brake for a stoplight.

The high-walled edge is the primary feature you need to look for. Husky Liners, WeatherTech and MaxLiner are great examples of high-walled floor liners, but there are lots of brands to choose from.

To save your seats, a decent set of seat covers will go a LONG way. And the great part about this, is there is a huge number of fabrics, styles and fitment levels to choose from.

If you own dogs, there are seat covers made to defend your seats from paws and pet hair.

If you have a convertible and your leather seats get scorching hot in the sun, try out a set of mesh seat covers, or maybe even sheepskin.

If you live an active lifestyle, or tote around kids from practice to practice, there are seat covers made from durable canvas, Cordura or water-resistant neoprene.

And you can even spice up your interior with a variety of styles, from Hawaiian hibiscus to your favorite flavor of camo or sports team logo.

The choices are truly endless. Seat covers have a wide price range.

Usually, the less expensive covers are universal fit, the mid-range are a semi-custom fit, and the high end covers are custom tailored to fit your exact seats.

If you just want something cheap that will protect your seats and is easy to take on/off, universal covers are a good way to go.

But if you want something that looks and feels better, a semi-custom, custom or tailed fit is a better choice.

William West HopperWilliam West Hooper

WWHopper.wix.com // @WWHopper

~ Serves on the National Board of The Mercedes-Benz Club of America and Washington Automotive Press Association. Member of the International Motor Press Association. Writes for a number of publications and Chairs MBCA’s Star Magazine Committee.

No matter what your ride is, you can keep it from being junk. It won’t happen by itself, and you will have to put some work into it along with money to keep it from being the neighborhood clunker.

Cars that we thought were junk a generation ago, are the ones bringing big dollars at the auctions today. So how to keep your car from becoming junk is pretty simple.

Basic auto maintenance – the best insurance policy or warranty you can buy. Manage the little things, before they become big things.

Keep it operating safely! Take Pride in Your Ride! No matter the age, or mileage.

Basic maintenance mean changing your oil and filter, the easiest and least expensive of maintenance items.

Changing fluids, replacing filters and little things like wiper blades will keep a car going longer and make you happier as a driver and owner.

Manage the little things, dents, dings all can be fixed before they turn into rust holes. Replace light bulbs, be it a bulb replacement or a broken light.

The little things are easy to do yourself and with a quick Google search you will bring up the parts you need on eBay motors or Rock Auto, at a fraction of the cost of from a dealer.

A safe ride will last longer too. Fix the brakes, replace worn tires, if you can’t stop, you damage your ride, and yourself. A safe car will be better for you and your pocketbook.

Take Pride by appreciating your car, wash it, vacuum the interior, you don’t live in a dirty house, why drive a dirty car. A clean car will always drive better too, if nothing more than making you will feel good about it.

Owning a car is not cheap, but the longer you own it, and the more you drive it, the less it will cost per mile.

A good rule of thumb is that when a car costs more per month to maintain that the payments on a new one would be, it is time to retire it.

And if indeed your car becomes junk, then it is gold for others, so donate it to a technical school for young mechanics to learn on, or sell it to the junk yard to be parted out for other looking to keep their own vehicles on the road.

At some point, someone will come say that this is the same car they remember as a kid, and share some great memories they had in it.

Enjoy your ride!

Tim HofstetterTim Hofstetter

TimHofstetter.com

~ Car mechanic and Software Engineer at Independent Contractor

Begin with an older car in decent condition, manufactured before 1987, and learn to take good care of all aspects of that car for yourself.

That’s the absolute best single tip that I can offer.

John GustafsonJohn Gustafson

JohnGustafson.net

~ Tesla Roadster owner. Computational scientist. Applied mathematician. Professor at NUS.

The best way to prevent a car from becoming junk is to buy the car from a manufacturer that makes longevity a priority and has evidence to prove it.

Right now, the two conventional automakers that fit that description are Toyota and Honda.

Look at the annual car issues of Consumer Reports, and in particular the tables of how many problems various models have as they age a few years (the grids of color and black dots).

There was a time when the German manufacturers made long-lasting cars, but now BMW and Mercedes have some of the lowest reliability scores.

For at least twenty years, the Japanese auto makers (and Honda and Toyota in particular) have had the highest reliability and the fewest problems as the cars age.

I recall hearing that those two makers have the most owners who keep their cars past the 100,000 mile mark, but I don’t have that reference handy.

It’s not universally true that Honda and Toyota models are long-lived, so check out the tables.

The real advice here is to use Consumer Reports when seeking a car that will probably not become junk in a few years.

This is a huge database of real information from tens of thousands of owners, not just the opinions of self-styled car experts.

On a more radical note, pure electric cars appear destined to show dramatically less depreciation than gasoline-powered cars or hybrids.

They have far fewer moving parts and almost no fluids to manage. (They still use brake fluid and windshield washer fluid, but no gasoline or oil or transmission fluid).

The Tesla models are built out of materials that do not rust… woven carbon-fiber composites for the Roadster and aluminum for the Model S.

The braking is done mostly with electromagnetic damping, so brake pads last a LONG time.

The only thing that goes bad is that the battery starts to lose capacity and eventually needs replacement, but battery lifetimes are getting much longer and the replacement batteries cheaper, so this one downside may soon disappear.

Electric motors last far longer than gasoline engines. It’s hard to wear out a magnetic field, but pretty easy to wear out a cylinder scraping against a piston over and over with slightly dirty oil in between.

So if you REALLY don’t want your car to become junk, get a pure electric vehicle, preferably one with a non-steel body.

My Tesla Roadster looks like I bought it yesterday, and I’m pretty sure I can sell it for more than I paid for it. It’s gasoline-powered equivalents from the same year are now… junk.

Karl WalterKarl Walter

Waltech.com

~ Owner, Waltech Systems, custom electronic design and manufacturing.

Here are some actual reasons I and others have junked cars, with possible ways to prevent.

Broken timing belt and bent valves.  Replace timing belt on time.

Overheated.  Fix any coolant leaks at the first indication of coolant loss.

Stop immediately if coolant is lost suddenly, do not try to make it to the off ramp. Tow it. 

Rust.  Wash the underside of the car often if the roads are salted.  Touch up any rust that appears in the paint.

Run out of oil. Fix oil leaks. Keep the crankcase breather system clean.

Dead automatic transmission.  Don’t tow stuff.

Drive so the torque converter stays locked as much as possible.  Accelerate slowly.

Buy the model with the smaller engine.  Basically do everything you can to keep the transmission cool. 

Mouse damage. Keep mouse poison in the car, trunk and under the hood while storing it.

Mold.  Store the car under a roof, and put desiccant in it.

Fire.  Keep a fire extinguisher in the car.  You might be able to put out a small fire and keep the car from burning down.

Smashed.  Don’t hit anything.

Water, battery acid, or brake fluid destroying the fuse box and wiring.  Keep an eye on these things, and stop any leakage when it happens. 

No title.  Don’t use title loan services. 

Mystery intermittent problem.  Do your homework.  Go on IATN and study all similar trouble reports.  Learn the systems involved and install monitors. Be systematic.

Stolen and stripped.

Know your car’s model and be aware if it has valuable parts.  Use extra deterrents such as alarm, or simple kill switch.  Take the rotor with you when you park it on the street.

Benji JerewBenji Jerew

JerewIndependentReasearch.com // @LoneWolffe

~ Freelance Automotive Writer. Finds Alternative Fuels Intriguing and Delicious. Ex-Toyota/Lexus Master Tech. 

There are three keys to keeping your car out of the junkyard.

1. Start with a good reliable vehicle.

Some vehicles are well-known for engine problems (Dodge Neon, you basterd (not you, the car)) rust problems (I’m looking at you 73 Dodge Dart and 2002 Toyota Tacoma) or other well-known issues.

Stay away from these to avoid excessive repair bills.

2. Maintain your ride, including all scheduled maintenance services, on time and every time.

Keep your car clean, inside, outside, underneath, etc.

3. Keep your ride in proper repair.

If you notice an unusual noise or sensation, check engine light, or see a fluid leak, have it addressed immediately, before it causes any collateral damage.

Always use parts from a respected brand, if not branded or OEM parts, and have someone competant (Choose CMAT!) keep your car in good repair, preferably the same person all the time.

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