How long and how well your car lasts will depend on how well you take care of it. Maintain your set of wheels regularly to help it last well beyond the national average 11.4 years.
Maintenance acquires even more importance if you happen to own a used car. When you buy a used car from a certified re-seller you can be assured that there will not be any major mechanical glitches and you also have the benefit of time-bound warranties.
But used cars do require added attention to stay in the best shape.
A seasoned driver will know that regular and rudimentary care is all that is required to keep your car in the best condition. Here are a few tips to help you.
- Take Care of the Cooling System
There are many parts in your car that are very critical and crucial to the longevity and performance of your vehicle. The hoses that carry the coolant in your car’s engine go through a lot of wear and tear. It is important that you check on them regularly to spot trouble.
Coolant hoses, both the water pump as well as the heater hoses, need to be replaced on time. If they are neglected you can expect your vehicle to suffer a breakdown at the most inopportune moment.
Water pumps when they are in need of replacement or repair will leak a green liquid (antifreeze). You can let your car sit overnight and then check for any leaked fluid on the floor of the parking space. If you find water on the floor then there is a leak in the water pump or gasket, and antifreeze on the floor signifies a coolant leak.
Also, ensure you change the transmission fluid each time you change the coolant. Experts recommend that it is ideal to get the coolants changed every 24,000-30,000 miles. Car engines run at very high temperatures and it is very important you keep the coolant system in top condition, especially in used and old cars.
- Check Oil Regularly
This is the basic thing you need to do to maintain your car in perfect condition. Regular oil changes will keep the moving parts of the engine well-lubricated and prevent damage due to friction.
Check the oil level and top off in time. You will have to wipe the dipstick clean and dip it all the way in to get an accurate reading of the oil level. It is best to do this in the morning when the engine is settled and cool. Also ensure the car is parked on a flat surface.
You need to add in only a quart of oil each time, overdoing it will also harm the engine. Typically oil is consumed at a rate of a quart for every 1000 miles. It can be at a higher rate if your car’s engine is burning gas and along with it the oil. If you need an oil change more frequently, say at 500 miles or so, take your vehicle to a garage to check for malfunctioning.
- Change Oil and Air Filters
Car manufacturers recommend oil check at every gas fill-up, but at every other fill-up will also do just fine.
It is also recommended that you check air filters and replace them every time you change the oil.
The color and nature of the oil that drains out tells you a lot about the health of the engine. If you find that the oil is jet black in color and is peppered with white flakes, or looks curdled it means something is wrong with the engine. Chunks of metal in the drained oil also points to impending breakdown.
An easy way to clean the system is to drain the oil, replace filters and refill with synthetic oil which will help dislodge any sludge in the crankcase. Drive the car for about 100 miles and then drain the oil. Repeat for about two to three times until the oil drains out clear. If problems persist, it is time to call in a mechanic.
- Bleed the Brakes
Bleed the brakes at least once every two years. It will help keep the calipers and other parts in good condition.
Jack up the car and bleed the brakes. If the fluid runs clear and amber, it shows that the system is in good condition. If the brake fluid is dark black with pieces of rubber, then the system might be in for an overhaul.
Replace the rubber brake lines and check on of rotors to ensure that everything is in good shape.
- Keep Your Car Clean and Shiny
Wash your car regularly. If you find that water does not bead on the surface of your car, it is time to get it waxed. The paint and wax will help protect what lies beneath them, and keep away rust and corrosion.
Regular TLC will keep your used car happy, and on the road for as long as you want. This saves you plenty of cash in the long run and will help you realize a whole lot of financial goals, and maybe even go on that long-deserved vacation!
Sam Levy is the Founder of AutoSmart – a used car dealership company based in Harvey that deals with quality pre-owned vehicles. Sam and his team provide supreme customer service to their clients, and a variety of options to help them finance their dream car.