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
Washing 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.