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Extending the Life of your Car or Truck

Top Ten Tips to Extend the Life of Your Car

Everyone’s got a friend or relative whose car seems to last forever.  Are these people lucky or do they know a secret?  I know I want my car to last as long as possible so I took some time to figure out how.  Turns out how you care for and handle your car drastically affects its life for better or worse.  Follow this advice and your car will have a long and happy life.

1. Keep Your Gas Tank Full.  All gas contains some sediment that is filtered by the fuel filter.  However, the lower your gas tanks gets the more concentrated the sediment becomes, increasing the risk of clogging the system.  Driving near empty also means a greater likelihood of condensation developing in the fuel system, which can cause serious damage.  Don’t let your fuel drop below a ¼ tank.

2. Regular Oil ChangesOil changes are an extremely important and simple way to care for your car.  Oil keeps the parts of your car lubricated, which in turn reduces friction, allowing the parts to last longer.  Over time, however, oil breaks down due to the high heat it undergoes, becoming less effective; hence the need for oil changes.

3. Start Gentle.  In the first few minutes of driving your car engine is “cold”, meaning the optimal temperature at which your car runs has not been reached and oil is thick, not lubricating as well.  Therefore, it is especially important in this time not to gun the engine or slam on the brakes.  Of course, jackrabbit starts and stops should always be avoided, so be extra gentle starting out.

4. Wash Regularly.  Keeping your car clean is for more than superficial reasons.  Dirt and especially salt cause serious corrosion problems and the bottom of a vehicle often takes the worst hit.  Corrosion can cause serious structural damage.  Washing debris off your car can help prevent rust.  Take care not to over wash though as excess water can contribute to rust problems.

5. Let the Manual be Your Guide.  Your car manual is a wealth of information concerning the care of your car, from what pressure to keep your tires at to the optimal fuel you should use, not to mention when and what you should have serviced.  The car manual is made with the intent of telling you how best to care for your car, so you really can’t go wrong following its advice.

6. Don’t Ignore Problems.  No matter how long you wish that pesky check engine light would go away, it’s not going to.  But the longer you drive with a problem, the more serious it will become and could end up costing you a lot more money.  So take your car to a qualified mechanic sooner rather than later and you’ll see a lot less of him in the long run.

7. Prevent Tire Trouble.  Keeping your tires properly inflated and rotating them on a regular basis not only helps the tires last longer but your car too.  Tires directly affect the suspension, steering, and braking of your car, so make sure yours are in tiptop shape.

8. Don’t Neglect the Air Filter.  Most don’t give the air filter much thought; I know I don’t, but it’s crucial for preventing debris from getting in the engine and causing unnecessary wear.  A dirty filter does this less effectively and can also cause the fuel injector to produce an incorrect air to fuel ratio needed for the car to run.  Make sure to change your air filter regularly.  Consult the manual for how often.

9. When Possible Drive on the Expressway.  City driving usually involves short trips in stop and go traffic.  First, there’s the issue that your engine will likely never reach peak function and more wear will occur.  In addition, the jerky nature of city driving is harder on the car.  So when you have the option, pick the expressway route.  When city driving is a must, try walking from location to location, and save the car from a trip that’s only a few blocks.

10. Use the Parking Brake.  When you shift your car into park the transmission holds the car in place.  However, the transmissions true purpose is to change vehicle gears, not hold the vehicle.  That’s what the parking brake is for, and by using it you’ll save the transmission a lot of stress.  Put the parking brake in place when your foot is on the brake, before shifting into park.  Just don’t forget to release the parking brake when you’re ready to go.

These tips should help you drive your car for a long time to come.  Enjoy the ride!

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