No one – except maybe for the super-wealthy – looks forward to buying a new car.
It’s a costly and unexpected expense.
Luckily, you can buy yourself a little extra valuable time with your senior vehicle by learning how to extend the life of your car.
Sure, your friends might make fun of you for babying your beater, but they won’t be laughing when their 2008 Mazda’s transmission dies and your 1998 Toyota is still humming along.
How to Extend the Life of Your Car with Basic Car Maintenance
Following these basic steps can help you squeeze a few extra miles out of that car.
Check Your Fluids and Filters
Old cars need extra love. Keep an eye out on filters (i.e. air filters and oil filters) and these fluids every few weeks to make sure they’re not running dry (check those fluid levels!), leaking, and putting you at risk for breaking vital parts:
- Brake fluid
- Transmission fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Engine oil
- Differential fluid
- Transfer case fluid.
Get Regular Oil Changes
It seems basic, but debris-free oil is critical for lubricating your car’s engine, reducing sludge, and helping your engine run efficiently. Pay attention to your gas mileage – not time between changes. Every 3,000 miles or less for old cars is ideal.
Fix Problems Right Away
Just like a toothache, scraping together some cash for small fixes can help prevent bigger problems and costly repairs down the road. Don't make a habit of ignoring the check engine light.
Read Your Manual
Grab the owner’s manual and spend an hour or so running through it. Your manual will tell you all your car’s little secrets and maintenance schedule. Trust us, you’ll have a few ah-ha moments as you flip through.
Keep Your Tires in Top Shape
Your tires carry the weight of your car and go through plenty of wear and tear. Checking the tread and tire pressure can help you avoid fender benders and flats – especially during those sub-freezing mornings darting around potholes.
How to Extend the Life of Your Car in Winter and Summer
Temperature extremes are like kryptonite to old cars. Treat her well. Here’s how to extend the life of your vehicle when the temperature swings.
Avoid Short Trips in Freezing Temperatures
Warming up the car does more than keep your spouse happy.
When you start your car on a freezing morning, steam and condensation start to build up. If you only take a quick trip to the store and back, the water won’t have time to evaporate. Instead, it sits on various parts and leads to lovely rust.
Allowing the engine to heat up before driving also loosens up your oil and fluids so your engine runs more efficiently. Drive like a grandma until the needle raises out of the “cold” range.
Keep Your Car Sheltered from the Sun
Your friends might laugh at you, but keeping your car out of the sun, falling leaves, rain, and snow can prolong its life. Your skin doesn’t like UV damage and neither does your 2000 Honda.
Don’t Use Your Engine to Unstick Yourself from Snowbanks
Rolling your car in and out of reverse-drive or spinning your tires may seem like common sense to get out of the snow but it can wreak serious havoc on an old transmission. Instead, keep some kitty litter in your trunk to boost traction.
Run Your AC in the Winter
We’ve all been here: You turn on the AC on the first 80-degree day and it just blows balmy air in your face. You can prevent the cooling system from breaking down by running it a few times in the winter.
How to Extend the Life of Your Car with Proper Grooming
A clean car is good for more than picking up dates – it can prolong its life! Here are easy ways to extend the life of your car with a little grooming.
A bad storm and lots of autumn leaves all call for a hood-pop and engine cleaning. Piles of leaves or built-up dirt can force your engine to run hot and lead to all sorts of problems. Some animals may even move in! Make sure you keep the engine spick and span on a regular basis.
Wash That Dirt Off
Dry dusty weather and salty winter roads both warrant regular washes – especially for your car’s undercarriage. Salt especially builds up on your brakes and other vital parts which causes corrosion and damage.
How to Extend the Life of Your Car with Baby Care
With old cars, the little things truly matter. Here’s how to extend your car's life with a little love and tenderness (she’ll notice).
Ditch the Novelty Keychains
The downward pressure and swinging of a heavy keychain CAN degrade your ignition switch and steering lock, leading to starting problems.
Don’t Fill Up if You See the Gas Truck
When gas tankers fill up empty reservoirs, it can stir up debris and gunk at the bottom of the tank – which you definitely don’t want in your 1998 Ford Escort engine.
Keep Your Cargo Light
Most vehicles have weight limits. Heavy loads can take a toll and cause damage to your car. Check your manual and stay under your car’s weight limit to avoid damaging your engine or other parts.
Ready to Part with Your Junk Car? Sell It Today!
Have you squeezed every drop of life out of your old car? If it’s time to part ways, Junk Car Medics can help! We offer cash for junk cars and we process over 8,000 cars a month in major cities across the entire United States.
You’ll answer a few questions (and sometimes we ask you to snap some photos, but not always) and we’ll send you an instant offer. In most cases, we can complete the entire transaction same-day – you could have cold hard cash in your hands today!