4 Step Plan To Making Your Car Last (Almost) Forever
Unfortunately, there’s no way to guarantee that your vehicle will last forever (though my father owned a few cars that I futilely hoped would die). Parts wear out, engines begin to stutter, and transmissions eventually take their last wheezing breath. But, there’s still a lot you can do to make sure your vehicle enjoys the longest life possible. If you’ve been following my column, you’ll know that I’m a big believer in preventative maintenance. A well-maintained vehicle is more likely to treat you well than a neglected one. Below, I’ll give you my 4-step plan for making sure your car lives happily and runs well for years.
Step #1: Stick To Your Owner’s Manual
It’s stunning that millions of drivers buy new vehicles, drive them home, and toss their owner’s manual in a dark corner where it’ll be forgotten. The manual lists every type of maintenance work that you need to have done. Even better, it lists exactly when the work should be performed. Most drivers ignore the manual. Yet, year and year, they’re upset when their 2-year-old vehicles begin having problems. Follow the maintenance schedule.
Step #2: Keep Fluids Replenished
Have you checked your car’s oil level lately? How about coolant and transmission fluid levels? If not, pop the hood and take a few minutes to check them. While you’re there, make sure the fluids for your brakes and steering aren’t running low. And you may as well look at the belts to check whether they’re about to die on you. It’s easy to check these things, but you probably know at least 10 people who don’t.
Step #3: Use High-Octane Gas
Okay, I realize that fuel prices have skyrocketed this past year (though, they’ve subsided a bit lately), so spending the extra money on high-octane gas won’t bring a smile to your face. That said, if you’re driving a performance car like a Boxster or 911, spending a few extra cents per gallon may go a long way in preserving your engine’s life. Automakers claim that their cars have special devices that will protect your engine from low-octane gas. Is it true? Hard to tell. But, if you’ve spent $60,000 on your car, an extra 15 cents per gallon is probably a good investment.
Step #4: Easy Does It
Unless you’re 80, you probably don’t slowly ease into your drive when the light turns green. Instead, you hit the gas to take off quickly. That’s fine. But, realize that driving like a Formula 1 competitor when you’re doing errands around town will take a toll on your engine, transmission, brake system, and clutch. If you’re hitting 7,000 RPMs before putting the clutch in every time you take off, set aside money for repairs.
There’s your 4-step plan for extending your vehicle’s life. If it sounds intuitive, that’s because it is. Most of the things that you can do to make your car last longer are easy, simple, and won’t require much time. The only step left is to take action.