Protecting an important investment

4 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Car

by Don Elfrink

Buying a new car is a massive expense, second only to buying a home. Obviously, unless you have a serious bankroll, maximizing that investment is important. If you don't want to replace your current car as soon as it's paid off, you need to know a few things about extending your car's longevity. The longer you can keep your current vehicle, the more money you'll save. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get the most out of your car in the long run.

Oil Changes

First, make sure that you're getting your oil changed regularly. The rule of thumb is every three months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first. If you're wondering why time plays a role here, it's because conventional oil (and some synthetics) will lose their viscosity over time, even if the engine isn't used very much (viscosity is a measure of oil's ability to lubricate). You might also consider putting high quality synthetic oil in your vehicle. While these are more expensive than conventional oils, many of them can provide protection for a longer period of time, which saves you money and hassle in the long run.

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Suspension Inspections

Nothing puts a damper on driving quite so much as a blown shock or strut. While there's no surefire way to pinpoint when these suspension components are going to fail, having regular inspections will help ensure that you are aware when signs of impending failure begin to appear (fluid leaking from the top or bottom of the strut, for instance). Make sure the inspection is being conducted by a professional if you're not confident in your own skills, and ensure they're checking all the suspension components, not just the shocks and struts.

Major Services

All vehicles, regardless of make, model or type, have major services required at specific intervals. Most often, these are at 30,000-mile intervals, but it does vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. To ensure that you are able to maximize the longevity of your vehicle, don't skip these services. They're expensive, but they're important. These are the times when the most important parts of your car are serviced (think transmission, differential and the like). Some major services also include a timing belt and water pump change. Skipping this service can be detrimental. Follow your mechanic's recommendations on major services.

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Care for the Outside

While the condition of your car's exterior won't necessarily play a role in how reliable it is or how many miles you get out of the engine, it will play a role in how much you enjoy driving your car. Having a car that you're proud of will encourage you to keep it for a longer period of time. If you're driving a clunker that is dinged, nicked, scratched and dented, or the paint's oxidized to the point it comes off as powder, chances are good you're going to look to upgrade it even if it's mechanically sound.

Protecting the outside of your vehicle isn't that hard to do, but it does require that you take a proactive stance. Don't park outside if at all possible, and always wash and wax your car regularly. Take care of dings and dents as soon as possible. Use a high quality car wax and a cleanser designed specifically for washing a car (never, ever use dish soap).

With these simple tips, you should be able to maximize the longevity of your car and make the most of the investment. Above all else, be proactive with mechanical maintenance. There is nothing more important to a functional vehicle than an engine and transmission that have been kept in good condition.

Reviewed November 2017

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Don Elfrink is the owner of where he specializes in providing custom floor mats for your car or truck. Elfrink has been in the automotive industry for over 30 years.

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