Easy Ways to Keep Your Older Car in Great Shape 

These days, many people are holding onto their older cars for longer periods and shunning a visit to the new car showroom. One of the main reasons is that new cars are expensive and not everyone can afford a high monthly payment.

However, there are other things to consider before you decide to do what it takes to keep your older car on the road and running well. Sticking to a maintenance schedule and taking on the bulk of the repair bills might not be for everyone, and there is a certain level of dedication that must be present to be sure that your older car stays healthy and happy. 

If you’re weighing the pros and cons of keeping your old car or buying a new one, check out this list of easy ways to make sure that you keep your older car in great shape, allowing you to possibly save some money while doing so. 

1. Regular Maintenance 

Sticking to a maintenance schedule is crucial for any car, but it’s even more important if your car has a few birthdays under its belt. The most important aspect of a maintenance schedule is to make sure your car’s fluids are regularly changed.

Your engine’s oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and coolant are all key components that allow your engine to run properly, as are the filters that accompany them. If any of these fluids fall below required levels or become dirty your engine can suffer for it, even if you’re not driving your car. 

Consult the owner’s manual for your car to determine the recommended intervals for changing these fluids and stick to it. This is the single most important thing you can do to extend the life of your car. Other items that need to be checked and regularly maintained are belts, hoses, switches, and joints.

2. Drive With Caution 

Of course most drivers are cautious on the road, but potential hazards like fender benders aren’t necessarily what you should be looking out for. It’s your everyday, standard driving that cause the most wear and tear on your car, but there are ways to be more careful about how you drive. 

 Avoid sudden acceleration whenever possible, and the same goes for hard and fast braking, unless it’s to avoid an accident. Also try to avoid rough roads and potholes, the likes of which can cause damage to your undercarriage that might not be easily spotted. This is not to say that you have to baby your car each time you drive, but a little caution goes a long way. 

3. Wash Me 

Car WashWashing your car regularly is about much more than outward appearances; a clean car will actually last longer than one that’s coated in dirt and road grime. Your car’s paint does more than just make your car look nice; it also protects the metal underneath from rust

Additionally, if you live in a part of the world that sees a great deal of snow, which means salt on the roads, then you need to wash the undercarriage of your car too. The salt can wreak havoc on the metal in your engine and other key components of your car’s drivetrain. During the winter months make sure to thoroughly clean every part of your car at least once a month, or more often, if you drive on salty roads on a daily basis. 

4. Set up a Repair Fund 

While keeping an older car as long as possible does mean saving money, you can’t expect to go the whole time with no repair bills.  Repairs will be needed from time to time no matter how well you care for your car, so it’s wise to be prepared for that eventuality. One of the best ways to mitigate surprises is to separately put money away in a savings account that will only be used for car repairs.

It’s also wise to have a great mechanic you trust, and to consider buying used parts for car repairs. Your mechanic will likely be able to spot some issues before they become bigger problems, and by utilizing used parts and components you will save more money than if you opted for new. 

Saving money is always important, but when it comes to your vehicle, which has the potential to cost you thousands of dollars at a moment’s notice, keeping those dollars in your wallet becomes even more important. Pay more attention to how you drive, stick to a maintenance schedule like glue, keep your car clean, and make sure that you have a plan in place for the times when repairs are necessary. These steps, plus a little common sense, will have your odometer effortlessly ticking higher and higher before you know it. 

Save Money Driving – Fuel Saving Tips 26 – 30

This is a Guest Post by Todd @ Fearless Dollar — it’s part of his 5 site series on How To Save on Gas Money.

Are you driving to see family this holiday season? Taking a road trip to see the fam can be cheaper and more (or less) convenient than taking a flight.

If you haven’t noticed, in the past 10 days fuel prices have dropped 50 cents in many areas across the country. But don’t be deceived, they’re still a lot higher than they were just 5 years ago.

If you want to save money on driving, here’s our 5 site series on saving fuel. I’m posting across five websites, so make sure to check out all the tips!

Fuel Saving Driving Tips

Tips 1 – 5 Fearless Men

Tips 6 – 10 Fearless Dollar

Tips 11 – 15 AllThingsFinance.net

Tips 16 – 25 American Debt Project

Tips 25 – 30 Daily Tips Blog

What burns gas more than anything?

A. Frequent and sudden acceleration

B. Frequent and sudden braking

C. Excessive idling

These are the main reasons city driving cost so much more fuel than driving on a highway. What are the best ways to save gas?

26. Maintain your car

In every sense of that statement, utilize and maintain your car as your machine of choice. Because it is!

Maintaining your car according to its schedule will not only lengthen how long you can use it, but will help retain its fuel efficiency.

27. Know the season

Avoid prolonged warming up of engine. Aside from getting your heater blasting, modern cars don’t need more than 30-45 seconds of warm-up time.

Make sure you don’t use deep-tread tires or snow chains when you don’t need to. These will guzzle up the use of gas!

28. Buy a fuel efficient car

The next time you’re on the market for a car, keep in mind its fuel-efficiency, especially when looking at used cars. You’ll eventually resell it, and moving forward cars with poor fuel efficiency will be harder to sell.

29. Buy gasoline during the coolest part of the day

The cooler the temperature, the denser the gas. Meaning when you fill up, you’ll be getting a little bit more fuel.

30. Cut down on frequent and excessive acceleration and braking

Speeding up and then coming to quick hard stops is not only wearing on your car, but burning up fuel unnecessarily.

Checkout gas saving tips 1 – 5 on Fearless Men!

[Featured image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmogle/]

Amazing Car Maintenance Log Apps for your Phone

Periodic maintenance of your car is important for the longer life and smoother functioning of your car. However, most people tend to take their cars for granted and at times even forget about its maintenance needs. Even worse, many of us don’t even know what has to be done and when.
Worry no more – Your car maintenance log and schedule can be easily managed on your iPad, iPhone or Android phone using the following cool car maintenance app or tools.

Car Maintenance Log on your Phone?

The following phone based car maintenance log applications are our picks to save you from the headache of remembering and tracking important service dates of your vehicle along with whole lot of other requirements in the lifecycle of your vehicle.

1. Car Minder Plus for iPhone/iPad

If you are an iPhone or iPad user, the Car Minder Plus is the best application that you can buy for $2.99. Mind you, the under three bucks investment that you make on this iPhone app is worth every penny.

The following are some of the features of this wonderful Car maintenance application for iPhone.

  • Manage all types of maintenance need of your cars – supports multiple vehicles that your family own
  • Car maintenance log of repairs, fuel economy tracking, oil changes, tire rotations, periodic services are easily maintained by this app
  • It keeps track of your gas mileage much more accurately than your modern car predicts on its dashboard tools
  • Maintains the complete service history
  • The entire maintenance data can be backed up on your computer

For the entire set of features of this cool iPhone app, visit the iTunes store by clicking the screenshot below:

car maintenance log app - Car Minder Plus

2. aCar Free Android App

If you are using a Smartphone or Tablet PC powered by Android, there’s an exceptionally good and Free to download Android app aCar. For the number of features that it provides, I still can’t believe that it is a free application.

Some of the salient features of this cool car maintenance app include:

  • Track gas/oil fillups, maintenance history, gas mileage and all related expenses of your car
  • Keep track of your trips and related expenses
  • Multiple vehicle support – be it cars, trucks or motorbikes
  • Thorough statistics and amazing graphs and charts for reports
  • Multiple language support and also supports different units of measure
  • Service reminders, predictions and alerts feature
  • Automatic backup and support for Excel export, and a lot more…

You can visit the Android market place (using the link provided above) and download this Android app for your car for free.

acar for android

3. Car maintenance apps for blackberry

If you are a blackberry user, unfortunately there aren’t any great application available out there to keep track of your vehicle maintenance. You may however browse the blackberry apps for car maintenance for some of the apps that does help the cause.

There are many Car maintenance log and schedule tracking applications for desktops though that is not in the scope of this article.

Preparing your Car for a Long Road Trip: Checklist

Road trips – especially the ones with the family – are often a concern for most drivers primarily due to the fear of a possible breakdown en route. However, in reality long trips are often much easier to manage and pleasurable than your day to day drive to work or within the city commute.

The following would be the categorized long road trip checklist for your car in order to prepare the same before the travel day.

1. Fluids

Coolant: Engine coolant (or antifreeze mixture) is usually changed every 25 thousand miles or once in two or three years. However, if your last coolant change was a year or more back (or 15K miles) you might want to consider changing the coolant before a long trip to increase its effectiveness in keeping the engine under control.

Engine Oil: Check your vehicle’s engine oil level and its color to make sure that it is good enough for a few more thousand miles. If the oil is already very dark or has blackish sediments within, it is advisable to change oil before your long drive.

Wiper fluid: A lot of people don’t care about the wiper fluid. Well, if you run out of wiper fluid you could actually fill it with distilled water but it’s always good to have the viscous fluid mix as purchased from auto shops. Smoothly running wiper blades are needed for highway driving.

2. Check vital parts

Battery: Ensure that your battery is in good conditions and your vehicle cold starts in the first quick attempt itself. In addition, you might want to clean up the battery terminals with a brush and Vaseline applied on them to prevent corrosion.

Air filter: If your air filter has run 10,000 miles since last change or even close to it, consider changing your air filter before a long road trip.

Tires: Make sure that your tires have good enough grip and tread depth. A minimum tread depth for a long drive (that might include wet driving) would be 1/8th of an inch. If any of the tires doesn’t have that much depth remaining, it is time to change it. Make sure that you check your spare tire as well for good tread quality.

For long drives, you need to over inflate the tires a little more than the specified PSI rating. For example, if the recommended tire pressure is 30PSI you may consider increasing it to 32 for a long drive. Increased tire pressure would make sure that your tires don’t heat up much during long drives.

3. Spares

Spare bulbs and fuses are those additional things you need to carry depending on your vehicle model. I had the ill fate of having a blown fuse during one of my road trips that wouldn’t let me lower the power windows. Of course, this is not a high probability scenario and you may be able to fix such problems a little later.

4. Documents & Contacts

Make sure that your glove compartment contains all your valid vehicle documents or copies of the same. In addition, do not forget to carry the driving licenses of all those drivers who will be rotating during your trip.

It is also good to carry your road side assistance numbers, insurance agents contact number etc though it is far easier these days to search and find it using your smart phone.

Additional documents include a road atlas just in case you don’t have a GPS (consider one) fitted on to your vehicle.

Additional Tip: Consider becoming a AAA member, if roadside assistance is not part of your insurance plan. It can save really save you from a lot of headache in the middle of the road

5. Repair kit and Quick fixes

The following would be the typical road trip check list on top of the points mentioned above:

  • Jack and basic toolkit
  • Breakdown triangle or reflector
  • Jumper cables for jump-starting
  • Tire sealants (Use only if you can’t change the tire)
  • A flash light
  • A Swiss knife
  • Warm clothes
  • Couple of gallons of water
  • Anti-nausea pills

6. Final check up and cleanup

Finally, make sure that any major issues such as braking problem or sound from drive shaft etc are fixed before your long journey. Check your windshield wipers for proper functioning, check the tire pressures once again and you are good to go.

On the previous evening, you might want to vacuum the cabin and trunk, give it a good wash and have the gasoline tank filled.

Now you can sleep peacefully and be ready for an enjoyable drive the next day!