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8 Tips for Getting More Life Out of your Car

Buying a car is a long-term investment, and the last thing you want to do is inadvertently lower the lifespan of your purchase by failing to give it the care and attention that it deserves. Basic car maintenance can save you a sizable amount of cash in the long-term, both in avoiding unwanted bills at the mechanics and in extending the mileage you can get out of it.

When people first think of maintenance tips, they usually imagine complicated mechanical adjustments that require a lot of equipment and tools. However, there are plenty of tried and tested improvements that you can make with barely any specialist gear.

While you’ll still need to have a professional check it occasionally, these tips will not only reduce how often you’ll need to send your car to the mechanic, but also what duties they’ll need to charge you for.

1. Keep the interior and exterior clean

Keeping the exterior of your car clean is about more than just looking good. Regular cleaning prevents grime caking up on important parts, increasing heat and adding wear and tear to your engine as well as the body. On top of this, forgetting to clean the outside of your car can lead to a dirty windshield or mirror, which can be dangerous on the road.

A clean and well-looked after interior also has many benefits, most notably maintaining the overall resale price of the vehicle. When it comes time to move on from your car, a well-maintained interior will prove to a prospective buyer that you’ve cared for your car and invested in its upkeep. Nothing looks worse and dissuades a buyer more than unkept, rotting leather and dirt-crusted footings.

2. Easy does it

If you live in a cold climate, it’s a good idea to get into your car a little early in the morning and let it run idle for a minute. Letting a car engine warm up improves the life of the engine significantly, as it allows oil circulation to begin and prevents jarring of mechanical parts without adequate lubrication.

In fact, you should generally ease a car into any tasks rather than flooring it. Accelerate in an even fashion, and brake lightly rather than slamming down. Playing it cool when operating a car has been linked to increased fuel efficiency, and will do wonders for your overall repair costs over a long period of time.

3. Change the oil regularly

Checking and changing your oil “regularly” is car maintenance 101. But what ‘regular’ means can change depending upon car model, climate, and general road conditions in the area. As a rough guide, you should be doing an oil change anywhere between every 5,000 (for adverse conditions) and 10,000 miles (for general city driving).

It’s important to use decent oil rather than some of the more caustic, cheaper brands. Quality oils lubricate the engine more efficiently, and a few of the more nasty ones can actually damage your engine. You can get a mechanic to do this for you if you’re busy, but changing your oil is actually very easy to do (and will save you a mechanic’s bill).

4. Regular tire pressure checks

The other quick, easy and compulsory service you can do yourself is a tire pressure check. Over or under inflating your tires can have dire consequences to your car’s health, safety and to your gas consumption.

Check your car’s tires with a tire pressure gauge (most gas stations have one) every couple of tank fill-ups. It’s best not to do this immediately after driving into the gas station. Instead, try to leave some time for the engine to cool down first.

The owner’s manual for your car should give you acceptable tire pressure parameters to work within. If the wheels are outside the recommended pressure range, you should fill or depress as needed immediately, or else risk a blowout.

5. Long term storage

If you are going away or planning not to drive your car for some time, keeping your car protected can add years to its life and dollars to its resale value. If you can’t keep it garaged, invest in a quality car cover to keep it protected from the elements. Failing to do so can lead to rust, weather damage, and even rodents and spiders nesting under the hood.

If you are not driving regularly, make sure to start your battery every once in awhile to keep things ticking over. If you are away, ask a friend or family member to start your car and drive it around the block every few weeks. Alternatively, you can purchase a battery tender that transfers charge to your battery and ensures it remains operational.

6. Buy some extra protection

No matter how careful you are, minor bumps and scratches are unavoidable. Buying some add-on protection such as bumper protectors and door guards can keep your car safe from small dents and scratches, ensuring your car looks brand new for as long as possible.

Theft protection, such as a steering wheel lock, is another investment that protects your car. Not only does it give you peace of mind, a clearly visible steering wheel lock deters would-be thieves and keeps your car and your belongings safe.

7. Regular service

While there are plenty of things that you can do from home, it’s important to also find a reliable mechanic that you can count on to service your car every 6 months.

Wheel alignments and engine adjustments can be hard to do on some models, and a lot of the steps undertaken during a mechanic’s service won’t be easy to replicate in a home garage. A failure to regularly check them might lead to compounding problems later on; for example, a misaligned wheel axle can lead to additional damage to your tires and chassis if left unchecked.

When looking for a mechanic, don’t necessarily go for the cheapest one that you can find. Look up reviews online, ask for recommendations, check their certifications, and only pick someone who you’re confident will do a good job. A bad service has the potential to damage your car, lower its resale value, and even put your safety at risk.

8. Save the receipt

Saving the receipt or invoice after each service is a great way to keep track of your car maintenance and make sure you get the most out of your car. If you change mechanics, a new mechanic will often want to know when it was last serviced and what works has been done on the vehicle. When it comes time to re-sell, receipts are a great way to prove that you have invested in taking care of your car. They may also come in handy for insurance and warranty purposes.