Take a look at these top tips to extend the life of your car
1. Change oil frequently
Your dad knew that frequent oil changes were key to keeping his car on the road another year. And while owner’s manuals for today’s cars recommend increasing long intervals between oil changes, the fact remains — frequent changes flush abrasive dirt and metal particles out of the engine, prolonging its life. Most owner’s manuals recommend a more frequent interval for “severe conditions.” To maximize the life of your engine, follow the severe intervals recommendations, especially if drive regularly in stop-and-go traffic.
2. Spark plugs do need changing
The advent of electronic ignition and on-board computers has eliminated the need for regular tune-ups, but you still need to change your spark plugs. Many manufacturers recommend changing plugs every 30,000 or 40,000 miles (48,000 or 64,000 km) to ensure good fuel mileage and engine performance. Some new cars come with long-life plugs (sometimes called double platinum plugs) that can last for 100,000 miles (160,000 km). If your car isn’t so equipped, make the switch after 30,000 miles. The extra cost is only a few pounds per spark plug. While you’re at it, change your spark plug wires as well. Their typical life is 50,000 miles (80,000 km). Deteriorated wires can cause those high-tech new spark plugs to foul.
3. Don’t forget the timing belt
On many cars, it’s the belt you can’t see that is the most critical. If your manual says, as many do, that you should replace the timing belt at 50,000 miles, do it! A failed timing belt can, depending on engine type, cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your engine.
4. Have wheel alignment checked
Have your car’s wheel alignment checked every 30,000 miles, or as recommended in your owner’s manual. Also have it checked after buying new tyres. Improper tire alignment will shorten the life of your tyres as well as cause poor handling. If your steering is stiffer than normal or the vehicle pulls to one side, you probably have an alignment problem.
5. Top off your brake fluid
Check brake fluid monthly. Wipe dirt from the master cylinder lid before you open it. If you need fluid, add the type recommended by your car’s maker. Never substitute other fluids, such as transmission or power-steering fluid. And don’t use brake fluid from a previously opened container. Once exposed to air, brake fluid absorbs moisture and contaminates easily.
6. Run your AC in winter
To keep your car’s air-conditioning system fit for the next warm season, run it a few times throughout the winter. This will prevent moving parts in the compressor from seizing. Also, circulating the refrigerant will help keep the seals soft and pliant.
7. Maintain your car’s battery
Maybe the manufacturer says your battery is maintenance free, but don’t you believe it! Check your battery regularly to extend its life and avoid the hassle of being stranded with a dead battery.
8. Protect car paint from the sun
Of course, the best way to protect the paint is to park the car in a garage. If that is not possible, park in the shade or purchase a car cover. The sun’s ultraviolet rays break down paint and cause it to fade. Some car covers protect your car from more than sun, moisture, bird droppings, and dust — they also have a thin layer of cushioning that will guard against light impact, such as from a tipped bicycle or small falling tree branch.
9. Touch up nicks sooner rather than later
Paint does more than make your vehicle look great. It’s also the first line of defence against rusted body panels. Touch-up paint won’t adhere well to rust. So be sure to keep some matching touch-up paint on hand so you can touch up any minor nicks, often found around door edges, before rust has a chance to form.