Valuable Tips on How to Extend Your Car’s Life

A vehicle is a major purchase for most people so keeping your auto in top-notch condition means you can reduce the costs of repairs and you can relax because you know you can depend on your vehicle. Below are some various tips and advice that may help extend the life of your vehicle. Just a little time spent on research can save you future repairs and tons of money. You don’t need to be mechanically savvy to detect common vehicle problems. However, we do recommend finding a qualified auto repair shop to perform some of these tips if you do not have the skills, tools or time to do it yourself.

 

1. Your Vehicle Break-In Period

You spent your hard-earned money to buy your dream car, so you want to take care of it in a manner that will give you the most number of years of reliable transportation. Here are some things to keep in mind once you are the proud new owner of that car.

  • During the first 1000 miles or 1600 kilometer you should keep your speed under 55mph or 88kpm or whatever the manufacturer recommends.
  • Never let your new car idle for long periods both during the break in and throughout its life. Idling doesn’t send adequate oil through the engine.
  • During the break in avoid heavy loads, such as trailer towing, during the break in period.
  • When accelerating keep the engine below 3000 rpm for the first few hours of your driving.

2. Each Day Drive With Care

You should drive your car with care every day, not just during the break in periods.

  • During start up don’t race your car engine, especially in the cold as it adds years of wear to the engine.
  • You should not let your car idle to warm the engine. Because the engine isn’t operating at peak temperatures the fuel combustion is incomplete, causing a build up of soot on the cylinder walls, contaminate oil, and damage to other components.
  • Shifting to neutral at red lights reduces the strain on the engine.
  • When it is extremely hot or cold avoid driving at high speeds or accelerating too quickly. This behavior leads to the need for repairs more frequently.
  • You can extend your tire’s life by driving carefully. Watch for posted speed limits and comply. Avoid fast starts, turns, and stops. Do not burn rubber, avoid hitting curbs and avoid potholes.

3. When You are Stuck Take it Easy

When one gets stuck the first action is to rock the car by throwing into reveres then forward repeatedly, as well a spinning the tires. These acts are okay for a very short period of time, but if you are really stuck call a tow truck because the damage you can do will far exceed what the cost of tow truck will be.

4. Go Light With Your Keys

Does your keychain look like it could be used as an anchor? All those keys hanging off the ignition put unnecessary strain on the ignition, which can lead to the wear of the ignition tumblers. It’s best if you can keep your ignition key separate, or at the very least make sure to keep the weight on your keychain down.

5. Take the Time to Find the Best Car Insurer

No matter how careful you are disaster can strike whether it’s in the form of an accident, break in, or wind storm. It’s important that you know you have insurance with a reputable provider that’s quick to settle your claim. Make sure the insurer has a good reputation for claim payout and that they are known for being fair.

6. Preserving Your Car During Storage

If you are going to store your car for a month or longer, it’s important that you prevent unnecessary repairs and damage from occurring.

  • Top off the gas tank to reduce/prevent condensation from being able to accumulate in the gas tank. Add a fuel stabilizer, then drive around the block to distribute it through the engine components.
  • To protect the car wash and wax before storing.
  • Place a 4-mil polyethylene drop cloth on the floor to act as a vapor barrier.
  • Disengage your parking brake to aid in reducing corrosion.
  • Put your car on jack stands. This will take off weight of the wheels and tires.
  • Disconnect and remove the battery. You can place the battery on a trickle charger, or you can periodically drain the battery, with a small light bulb, and then use a low volt charger to recharge it.
  • Use a rag to plug the tailpipe to prevent moist air.

Your Car Interior

 

Your car’s interior needs special attention to stay looking as good as it did the day it came off the assembly line.

  • Park in the Shade – A garage always offers the best place to park your car, but when a garage isn’t available you can minimize damage from UV sunlight and heat by parking in the shade. If there isn’t any shade available of if you are getting too many bird droppings from parking under the tree, invest in a car shade to maximize your protection. This will also keep your car cooler.
  • Clean the Interior – Regularly wipe down the interior every time you wash your car. Dirt particles, spilled liquids such as soda pop , and abrasive liquids can be corrosive and cause damage. You can clean using a mild detergent and water. You should also vacuum each time. You should wipe the dust from the lenses of the dash gauges. Don’t apply too much pressure or it will scratch them.
  • Use Floor Mats – Floor mats can protect your vehicle’s carpeting especially during the winter when there is slush, salt, and even mud. The waffle style mats don’t slip and they are easy to vacuum and wash off.

7. Preserve Your Door and Window Seals

First clean with soap and water, then use a rubber protectant like Armor All ® or a silicone based product on the weather stripping on the windows and doors to keep them conditioned and stop them from drying out. You should never use a product that is oil based such as WD-40®, which can damage your rubber.

If your weather stripping is allowing water to leak into the interior it’s time to have it replaced or repaired. Most small leaks can be fixed with brush on seam sealer. Repair torn section with a special rubber caulking that can be purchased at most auto parts stores.

8. Stop Leather from Drying and Cracking

Leather interiors are rich and durable if they are maintained properly, but when neglected they quickly become cracked and unappealing. Leather becomes soiled over time. You should use a leather cleaner to remove dirt and the follow that with a leather protectant that will resist stains, and keep your leather soft and supple. It will also make it easier to clean in the future.

9. Caring for Upholstery

If you have an upholstered interior any home upholstery cleaner or car upholstery cleaner can be used. You won’t need much as you don’t want to actually soak the fabric. Apply then wipe off with a clean cloth. If the fabric has a nap use a brush to lift the texture back up.Applying a fabric protector such as Scotchgard ™ will help the upholstery to resist dirt and reduce stains. It will also make it easier to clean the next time. Before you apply a fabric protector you should clean the fabric.

To reduce staining from children riding in baby seats take a towel and place it under the car seat or you can use a piece of heavy upholstery plastic. This will save on your seat becoming permanently damaged from food and/or liquid spills.

Your Car’s Exterior

 
  • Protect Car Paint From the Sun – When your paint looks good your vehicle looks good but when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays it can begin to break the paint down and cause it to fade. A garage is your first line of defense but most of us don’t have a garage. The next best thing is to use a car cover, which can protect it from all of the elements.

10 . Washing Your Car

Washing your car makes it look nice, but it has a much more important function removing dirt and debris that can scratch your paints surface. You should also wash your vehicle during the winter months so the sand, road salt, and slush is removed before it can damage your paint finish. It’s easiest if you can visit a car wash but it can be done at a home with a bucket of warm water as long as the temperature is above zero. Use a mild soap designed for washing your car. At least a few times a year you should use tire and rim cleaner.

11. Waxing Protects Your Car

Wax is important to your car’s paint. It not only makes the paint look new it also slows down oxidation and it creates a barrier that protects your paint from pollution, sap, bird droppings, etc. Here’s what to do to get the best protection:

  • While liquid waxes may be tempting because you can get a nice shiny car with a lot less work, the bottom line is that paste wax is stronger, harder, and lasts much longer. Look for a past that’s high in carnauba wax.
  • Next using a sponge apply a very thin coat of wax to the paint. Make sure it’s even, and don’t apply too thick (a common mistake). If you apply it too thick it’s really hard to remove all of the residue.
  • A soft cloth works best to remove the dry wax. It won’t scratch the paint.
  • Because the wax on the hood wears away.

12. Put a New Skin on Your Car

Paint is vulnerable but there is a way to protect the areas that tend to see the most stone chips using a self-adhesive urethane film. These urethane films are best applied professionally; however, if you are handy at this type of thing you can give it a try yourself. 3M™ and Scotchgard™ both make a product. Once it’s applied to the vehicle you can wash and wax as normal.

13. Touch up Nicks

Even when we are ultra careful nicks occur to our paint. Touch-up paint is available and for newer vehicles it’s pretty easy to match up colors. Use touch up paint to touch up nicks before the rust can begin to rust.

14. Quick Repair for Light Covers

If you find yourself with a cracked turn signal or taillight cover you can replace the entire You can use tape to do the repair, which will hold you over until you can properly repair it. You must use the orange or red tape that is made for this. Others will not adhere.

15. Changing Bulbs Properly

When you are changing burnt out bulbs, clean away dirt. If the socket has become corroded use a small wire brush or steel wool to clean away corrosion. Then wipe away the debris and install the replacement bulb.

16. Preparing Small Chips in the Windshield

Rock chips or cracks in the windshield can impede visibility and when left unattended they tend to get much larger when temperatures change. It’s a lot cheaper to stop into the windshield repair shop and have a chip or crack repaired, which restores the original integrity of the glass and keeps visibility clear.

17. When Hauling on the Roof

You might be tempted to overload your roof. Check your owner’s manual for your vehicles specifications. It’s usually somewhere between 150 to 200 lb. or 68 to 90 kg. What does that mean in items? That’s about eighteen 8’ 2x4’s or three ¾” sheets of plywood. To protect the roof you can place a piece of cardboard or a blanket down. You can also invest in a set of luggage racks.

18. Secure Your Load

Always make sure your load is secured to protect your car’s paint from being scratched or dented. It pays to buy the proper bicycle, cargo, or luggage racks. You can also use cargo straps and place a blanket first to protect the vehicle surface.

19. Inspect your Wheel Well Splashguards

Splashguards are designed to keep water and slush from splashing up into the engine compartment doing damage to electrical components. For the most part these splashguards are quite flimsy and are often torn off without the driver being aware. You should check these guards on a regular basis and if loose refasten or replace.

Tires, Wheels, and Brakes

 

20. Check for Uneven Tire Wear

When tire inflation is maintained and you still suffer from uneven wear, it may indicate you need a wheel alignment. It can also indicate you have been improperly using your brakes, shock problems, internal tire damage, worn bushings, or a bent wheel.

21. Check Tire Tread

Different countries have different requirements pertaining to tread. In North America all tires sold must have “wear bars” molded into the tires. This makes it easy to know when tires must be legally replaced. The general rule of thumb is that when the tread is worn down to 1 1/16” or 1.5mm the tires need to be replaced.

22. Keep Caps on Valves

One small piece can cause so much grief. When the valve cap goes missing it can lead to a slow leak. These caps stop moisture and dirt from getting in. Check your valve caps often and make sure they are not damaged or missing. When you have tires replaced ask the shop to ensure the tires have new valves.

23. Keep Tires Properly Inflated

Make sure your tires are properly inflated. When tires are under-inflated it causes excessive heat and stress that can result in tire failure. To get the most life out of your tires, invest in a pressure gauge so that you can check your tires regularly. Once a month is recommended, but during hot weather it should be more often. For an accurate reading check when vehicle has been driven less than one mile and when the tires are cold. Inflate according to manufacturer’s recommendations.

24. Do the Wet Thumb Test

When you are using a service station air pump before you put the air into your tire, depress the inflator valve pin with your thumbnail. You are checking for moisture. If your thumb becomes wet go into service station and let the staff know the tank needs to be drained. Find a different service station. Why is this so important? Well because if that moisture gets trapped in the tire it can lead to variations in the tire pressure and it can also corrode rims.

25. Rotate Your Tires

Regular tire rotation aids in tires wearing evenly and it will lead to the maximum tire life. Your first rotation is very important. Your owner’s manual will provide you with a rotation period and pattern. If you aren’t able to locate this schedule then rotate your tires every 6000 to 7500 miles or 9700 to 12000km.

26. Temperature and Tire Inflation

Temperature affects tire pressure. When the temperatures drop or soar your tire pressure decreases. When tires are underinflated they can wear and faster and result in poor driving.

27. Using Wheel Cleaner

Your wheels take a beating contacting with the road. Combine that with brake dust and you’ve got some tough stains to remove. Regular car wash soap just can’t remove this grime and grit. You need to use a cleaner that is specifically designed for stains. There are different wheel cleaner formulas for different wheel finishes such as chrome and aluminum. You can also add a layer of protection by using wheel polish on metal wheels, and wax on painted wheels.

28. Always Lubricate Your Lug Nuts

If you don’t occasionally lubricate your lug nuts they will seize to the studs as a result of corrosion. Repairs can be costly and if you have a flat tire you could find yourself in need of a tow. Each time you rotate your tires it’s a good idea to use an anti seize lubricant, which you can buy at your local automotive store. Use a wire brush to clean the studs then wipe the lubricant on. It’s formulated to stop lug nuts from seizing while at the same time stops them from working their way off while you are driving. If you do find yourself with a seized lug nut try spraying Liquid Wrench or WD-40 on the affected lug nut. Wait 10 to 30 minutes for it to penetrate. Then use your ratchet to remove the lug nut.

29. Stop the Loss of Hubcaps

How often have you been driving down the road, only to be passed by one of your hubcaps. Hubcaps become damaged, work themselves loose, or not reinstalled properly and can then dislodge themselves from your car. They can be expensive to replace. You can stop this from happening by:

  • Newer plastic hubcaps are held in place by a retaining wire ring that you snap into the wheel tables. Be careful not to bend or break these tables.
  • With the older metal hubcaps pry the metal clips just slightly outwards. This should take care of any issues.
  • Use a rubber mallet and tap gently as you go around the hubcap in a circular motion. Don’t hit too card because you’ll break the clips.

30. Have a Regular Wheel Alignment

Wheel alignments are important. When your wheels are not properly aligned your tires will wear out sooner, you’ll have poorer handling, and it can cause wear to the rack and pinion or other steering components. Refer to your owner’s manual for recommended schedule, otherwise at least once a year have your wheel alignment checked. If you have a 4x4 or you do a lot of off road or rough road have your wheel alignment checked more often. If your vehicle pulls to the right or left have your wheel alignment.

31. Top Off Your Brake Fluid

Each month you should check your brake fluid. Prior to opening the master cylinder lid wipe away any dusts. If you need to add fluid refer the manufacturer’s recommendations. You should never substitute fluids. For example, never use power steering fluid in place of brake fluid. Never use brake fluid that has been opened, because once it has been exposed to air it can quickly become contaminated.

32. Caring for Your Anti Lock Brakes

The anti lock brake system found in modern cars is sensitive to moisture, which can easily destroy the expensive ABS pump and cause the inside of the brake lines to rot. Since brake fluid tends to attract moisture every couple of years your brake lines should be bled. They will also be checked when you have your annual wheel alignment check. If you have a 4x4 or you spend a great deal of time off road have them checked more often.

Car Engine and Related Systems

 

33. Check Your Engine Oil

This is very important!

  • To check your oil run your car for at least 15 minutes so that the oil warms up.
  • Park the car on level ground.
  • Turn the engine off, wait 15 minutes so the oil can drain back to the oil pan.
  • Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean.
  • Reinsert it and push it all the way in.
  • Again pull the dipstick out and read the oil level.
  • It should be somewhere between the hash marks. If in the add region add oil according to your manufacturer’s specifications.

34. Change Your Oil

Today’s manufacturers recommend a longer period between oil changes, the fact remains the more often abrasive dirt and metal particles are removed from your engine the longer it will purr like a kitten. It extends your engines life. If you want to maximize your engine refer to the schedule for severe intervals in your owner’s manual. This is especially important if you drive in stop and go traffic regularly. For years it was recommended your oil be changed every 3000 miles. Those intervals are increasing but there’s no harm in sticking to the old numbers.

35. Which Oil to Use

There are a number of oils on the market. Let’s quickly review them.

  • Detergent Oil – Almost all modern multi weight oils are detergent oils, which remove soot from the internal engine parts, and then suspend those particles in the oil. These particles are too tiny to become trapped by the oil filter so they stay floating in the oil. This is what makes your oil turn darker. These particles don’t hurt your engine. However, when the oil becomes saturated it cannot continue to hold these microscopic particle. Current oil change schedules occur before this happens.
  • Oil Viscosity – The viscosity of the oil is specified using two numbers. The first number is the viscosity when the oil is cold. You will then see the letter W followed by another number. The W stands for “winter.” Most people think it stands for weight. There will then be another number, which tells you the viscosity when the oil is at operating temperature. The oil gets thicker as the number gets bigger.
  • Climate Considerations – Your owner’s manual will list which oils are acceptable to use at different temperatures. For example, if you live in a warm climate 10W30 is an acceptable alternative to 5W30. In the past there was a summer oil and a winter oil. That’s no longer the case. However, if you live in a warm climate and you are using 10W30 then make sure you switch to 5W30 for the cold season.

36. Changing the Oil Filter

When you change your oil you will also change your oil filer. The easiest is to follow what the manufacture recommends for filter, but there after also after market filers provided by companies like Valvoline, Pennzoil, Casite, Motorcraft, and many more. These filters will match to the manufacturer’s filters. Keep in mind the quality of manufacturers filters is much higher than the aftermarket filters.

There are also what are referred to as trade brand filters, which are found at many of the quick oil change places. For those who use synthetic oil premium filters are often used. They are higher priced but the benefits have been proven.

37. Changing the Fuel Filter

In recent years manufacturers have been telling us that we don’t need to change our fuel filters so often. We still recommend changing your fuel filter at least once a year. When a fuel filter gets clogged it will cause your engine to perform poorly, and it will reduce your gas mileage. It’s also a warning sign for a gas tank that’s beginning to corrode. You will see those particles in the filter.

38. Improve Gas Mileage with a Clean Air Filter

Check your air filter every couple of months and when it’s dirty replace it. Air filters are easy to change. With carbureted vehicle you just remove the big metal lid – you can’t miss it. With fuel injected cars you remove the rectangular box. Your manual will show you exactly where to find it.

39. Keep Your Transmission Healthy

It’s important to change your transmission fluid after the first 5,000 miles or 8,000 km in a new car and then after that every two years or 25,000 miles or 40,000 km.

40. Never Overfill the Crankcase

Don’t overfill your crankcase with oil, because if you do air bubbles will form in the oil and then the oil pump will not be able to function properly. This can lead to engine overheating and stress on a variety of engine components. It can also cause fouled sparkplugs.

41. Remember Your PCV Valve

The PCV valve or positive crankcase ventilation valve is part of the emissions system in older cars. The valve’s job is to re-circulate partially burned gases from the engine crankcase to the combustion chamber. It’s very important and should be changed every 30,000 miles or 48,000 km. It also help to improve gas mileage by preventing the buildup of harmful corrosion and sludge.

42. If You Tow You Want an Oil Cooler

If you use your vehicle to tow a trailer of some kind you should have an oil cooler installed. You could also install a transmission cooler. They are easy to install, cost very little, and save you huge bucks in major engine and transmission repairs.

43. New Spark Plugs Equals Better Gas Mileage

Electronic ignitions, and cars with computers on board have eliminated the need for a regular tune-up. However, it is still important to change your spark plugs regularly. Most manufacturers recommend you change your spark plugs every 30,000 to 40,000 miles or 48,000 to 64,000 km. Good spark plugs means your engine will perform better and you’ll enjoy improved gas mileage.

44. Check Your Hoses

Hoses become brittle and can break with time. When the car is shut off and has cooled, squeeze the hoses. If they are extremely stiff, make a crunch sound, are soft or sticky, have bulges, or looked collapsed in any section, it means the hose is weak and should be replaced. You should never drive with a damaged coolant hose and your engine could overheat and you could land up with a very expensive repair bill.

45. Belt Tension

You should check the tension of all your belts. You should also check for wear. You’ll find belts that run your AC compressor, power steering pump, and water pump. To check for tension press in the center of the belt where the longest exposed part is found. If you can depress the belt ½” to 1” or 13mm to 25mm, but no more, the tension is good. If not you can either take your car to auto shop for adjustment or if you are handy do it yourself. Watch for cracks and fraying, which mean you should replace the belt(s).

46. Proactive Check the Timing Belt

Your manual will tell you when you should replace the timing belt at 50,000 miles but it does vary. When a timing belt fails it can result in thousands of dollars in engine damage so it’s best to be proactive.

47. The Engine Clean

It’s a good idea to do an engine clean every couple of years. By removing all the grime and dirt it becomes much easier to see any leaks you may develop. When washing your vehicle remember to take care to not soak important engine components such as distributor caps, or electrical parts. You can cover them with plastic bags. Liquid dish soap works well to cut grease. There are also many excellent grease cutting detergents on the market.

Car Battery, AC, and Other Important Components

 

48. Turn Your AC on in Winter

If you think I’ve lost my mind I haven’t. You should turn your AC on at least a couple of times in the winter to prevent your AC compressor from seizing. Also, when the refrigerant circles it helps to keep all the hoses soft and healthy.

49. Maintaining Your Car Battery

It’s important for your car battery to be in tip top shape, and for this to happen it should have regular maintenance. Maintaining your car battery isn’t that difficult.

  • It begins with keeping your battery clean. Wipe with damp rag using a mild dish detergent.
  • Clean the batter posts or terminals – first remove the negative cable, then the positive cable. Black = negative, Red = positive. Dip a brass wire battery brush into a baking soda and water mix. Just a few tablespoons of baking soda added to a little bit of water and you’ll have the right mix.
  • Check for cracks on the battery itself. Also watch for bulging. These are signs the battery needs to be replaced.
  • Reinstall your battery cables starting with the positive.

If a battery has a vent cap you’ll want to remove it and check the electrolyte level. It needs to cover the battery’s top plates by at least a ½” or 13mm. You should not use tap water because it can contain minerals that may be damaging to your battery. Instead use distilled water.

50. How to Seal a Leaky Radiator

If you have a radiator that is leaking there are a number of radiator sealant that come in a powder or liquid form. The products circulate through the radiator and when they get to the hole the product comes in contact with air and forms a seal.

51. Dilute the Coolant

Your cooling system must include water and coolant-antifreeze. You do not use coolant undiluted. Generally the mix is a 50-50 ratio. You should also never use straight water in your radiator. Check your coolant-antifreeze at least a couple of times a month and during cold weather make sure you have adequate coverage to ensure your radiator does not freeze.

52. You Must Flush Coolant

Coolant-antifreeze loses its strength and becomes contaminated. You need to flush your system every two years for some coolants and every five years for other coolants. Read your coolant label for detailed directions. If you do not do a flush regularly you risk damaging your radiator, and clogging the heater core. You can also have the thermostat and water pump fail.

53. Never Mix Your Coolants

You must never mix coolants of different colors. If your coolant is green then don’t add pink coolant, because if you do you will land up with a thick solution of goop that can’t do its job.

54. Checking Power Steering Fluid

Every month you should check your power steering fluid once the car has warmed up. If the level is low you should have the pump and hoses inspected for any type of leak. If the power steering fluid is low you can damage the power steering pump.




There you have it. Tons of great tips to help you keep your vehicle looking and running great. These tips will leave you with time and money on your hands. Taking care of your vehicle means you can look forward to years of problem free driving. What more can you ask for? A car that’s reliable, dependable, and costs little in auto repairs is everyone’s dream car., we do recommend that when needed you bring your vehicle to a qualified auto repair shop to perform some of these maintenance tasks.

 
Categories: New Inventory