How To Make Your Car Last Longer?

Ever wonder how to keep your car running smoothly for a longer time? Well, the average age at which cars end up in the scrapyard is around 14 years, even though most vehicles on the road are about eight years old.

But no need to stress – there are some easy steps you can follow to give your car the best shot at hitting its golden years. Let’s dive in!

Whether you’re in the market for a new or used car, you’re looking at spending a minimum of four digits.

Naturally, you’d like to make sure that investment goes the distance. Luckily, there are easy steps you can take to keep your car running smoothly for longer.

It’s not just about hitting 100,000 miles; it’s about stretching that journey to 200,000 miles or more, which can translate to extra years of driving and savings in your pocket.

By giving your engine regular attention, sticking to timely oil changes and essential fluid checks, and addressing wear and tear, you could see your engine go the extra mile – reaching 500,000 miles or possibly lasting indefinitely!

1. Keep it Running: Simple and Regular Checks

Boosting your car’s lifespan doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact, one of the most effective methods is also one of the simplest: regular checks.

Performing essential DIY inspections can identify issues before they turn into costly repair bills and even prevent complications from arising in the first place.

Here’s a handy checklist you can go through every two weeks to keep things in check:

  • Exteriors
  • Interiors
  • Air Conditioning
  • Brakes
  • Spark Plug (Petrol Engines Only)
  • Engine Air Filter
  • Screen Wash
  • Electrics
  • Coolant
  • Rubber (Tyres And Wiper Blades)
  • Oil
  • Fuel

2. Give Your Car The Attention It Needs: Maintenance Lights Matter

If you want your car to go the extra mile, paying heed to maintenance lights is a game-changer. Don’t dismiss that check engine light – it might be a minor issue, but getting it checked is a small step that can make a big difference.

It’s easy to overlook warning lights, especially if your car’s performance doesn’t seem affected when they come on. Yet, those new noises and unfamiliar rattles are your car’s way of signaling potential issues.

By paying attention to them, you’re essentially extending your car’s lifespan. What may sound like a minor rattle today could turn into a snapped timing belt tomorrow.

Ignoring problems flagged by your engine, braking, and power steering lights could spell trouble for your car. These lights indicate urgent faults that may lead to expensive repairs or, worse, compromise your safety on the road.

While brake and steering issues impact your control over the car, the engine light can illuminate for various reasons.

It could be as simple as a loose filler cap or as serious as a contaminated catalytic converter – both indicated by the same light. If in doubt, it’s best to have anything you’re unsure about checked promptly by the experts.

3. Pay Attention To Your Tires

how to make your car tyres last longer

Your car’s legs – the tires – play a crucial role in maintaining its structural integrity. Ensuring they are in good condition is vital.

Keep your tires inflated to the recommended pressure to avoid blowouts and uneven wear, which can compromise your car’s overall performance.

Regular tire rotation is equally important. Tires naturally wear unevenly, and neglecting rotation can significantly shorten their lifespan.

By skipping this step, you might be putting not only your wheels but the entire car at a greater risk every time you hit the road.

Learn more about tire maintenance, including how to read tire numbers, checking tread depth, and ensuring proper alignment. These simple steps can go a long way in ensuring your car’s longevity and your safety on the road.

4. Don’t Compromise on Parts

Car manufacturers invest vast amounts in research and development, covering millions of miles to ensure their vehicles are as reliable as possible. So, why jeopardize that reliability with subpar ‘pattern’ parts just to save a few pounds?

Opting for original parts can actually be a smart investment in the long run, keeping your car on the road and potentially saving you money.

This is especially crucial for classic cars, where using original parts is key to preserving and potentially increasing future value. The commitment to providing your car with the best extends to the fluids you use.

Check the recommended engine oil in the handbook and, particularly if you have a performance car requiring ‘premium’ fuel (like super unleaded), stick to it. After all, that’s what the car has been designed and developed for.

5. Preserve Your Car’s Battery Life

When your car sits idle for extended periods, the battery can degrade and lose its charge.

To prevent this, consider using a trickle charger if your car is stored in a garage for an extended time, or a battery conditioner if you notice a decrease in charge retention.

Jump-starting a car when the battery is flat not only puts extra strain on the battery but can also risk damaging the engine management system and other sensitive electronics – a double whammy of increased wear.

If a trickle charger isn’t an option, make an effort to drive your car at least once a week, especially during winter, to maintain your battery’s health. Regular use can go a long way in ensuring a longer and more reliable life for your car’s battery.

6. Keep the Tank Topped Up

Running low on petrol can spell trouble for your car’s fuel system. When you’re low on fuel, the fuel pump might start drawing in air, debris, and sediment from the bottom of the fuel tank in an attempt to keep your car running.

These unwanted materials can lead to system clogs, potentially causing corrosion in your pump and filters. In severe cases, it might block the fuel flow, leaving your car unable to start.

Diesel car owners, in particular, should exercise caution, as low fuel levels can introduce large quantities of air into the system, hindering the engine from turning over.

Maintaining higher fuel levels is a simple yet effective way to avoid costly repair bills down the road. Keeping your tank topped up ensures a smoother ride and helps extend the life of your car’s fuel system.

7. Regular Use of Air Conditioning Matters

The saying ‘use it or lose it’ holds true for your car’s air conditioning. Air-con systems tend to leak refrigerant gas over time, especially if they’re not utilized regularly.

While turning off your air conditioning may save fuel, it could result in a re-gassing bill later on (typically around £50, available at most garages and fast-fit centers).

So, it’s a good idea to let your vents blow cold air occasionally, even in winter. Regularly using your air conditioning not only keeps you cool but also helps maintain the efficiency of the system, potentially saving you from unexpected expenses down the road.

8. Steer Clear of Bad Driving Habits

Certain driving habits can take a toll on your car’s longevity. Turning at high speeds, accelerating rapidly, and braking abruptly can accelerate tire wear, leading to premature tread loss and the need for more frequent rotations.

Hard braking is not just tough on your brake pads; it can also contribute to their faster deterioration. Additionally, these bad driving habits put stress on various car components, ultimately shortening their lifespan.

While strong acceleration itself isn’t inherently harmful, consistent aggressive driving, especially when the engine is cold, can have adverse effects on engine parts.

It’s essential to recognize when your car exhibits signs that indicate the need for new brakes to address potential issues promptly.

9. Regular Fluid Checks Matter

Keeping your car’s vital fluids at the right levels is crucial for its well-being. Neglecting this aspect may lead to severe consequences. Every two weeks, take a moment to check your engine oil and car lubricants.

Open the bonnet (with your car on level ground), remove the dipstick, and wipe it with a rag before dipping it back in. When it comes out, ensure the oil level falls between the minimum and maximum markers.

For petrol engines, the oil should have a light yellowy-brown color. If it’s dark and dirty, consider replacing it. Diesel engines naturally accumulate soot, so dark-colored oil isn’t cause for alarm.

Additionally, check the coolant reservoir, topping it up with 50% distilled water and 50% antifreeze mix.

Don’t forget the windscreen washer bottle in your fortnightly inspection. Regularly tending to these fluid levels ensures your car stays healthy and performs optimally.

10. Avoid Clutch and Gearstick Habits

Resist the urge to rest your foot on the clutch pedal while driving. This habit creates unnecessary friction between the clutch release bearing and the clutch cover, leading to premature wear and tear.

Similarly, refraining from placing your hand on the gearstick between shifts is advised. This action applies pressure to internal components like the selector fork, accelerating wear on the gearbox due to increased friction.

Break these habits by getting into the routine of placing your hand on the steering wheel and finding a spot for your left foot in the footwell during driving. It’s a simple adjustment that can contribute to the longevity of your clutch and gearbox.

11. Drive Smoothly… Most Of The Time

Practice “mechanical sympathy” whenever you’re behind the wheel. Understand your car’s controls and how it works to reduce component wear and improve fuel efficiency.

Smooth handling of the steering wheel, gearbox, and pedals is crucial, coupled with looking ahead to minimize sudden braking.

Aggressive pedal use can lead to higher fuel and repair costs. Driving smoothly is not only kinder to your car and the environment but also saves you money by maintaining controlled acceleration and deceleration.

Anticipating the road ahead is key to cutting costs on your fuel bill. Adopting these driving habits keeps your car running smoothly while putting some extra pounds back in your pocket.

12. Change The Oil And Air Filter

Don’t play roulette with oil change – find the right schedule. Many stick to 3,000 miles but check your owner’s manual; most manufacturers recommend every 5,000 miles. Delaying can lead to dirty oil, risking vital engine components.

Air filters are unsung heroes. They fend off dirt and debris that can harm your engine. Change the air filter regularly – typically every 15,000 to 20,000 miles (check your manual).

It’s an easy, cost-effective way to keep your engine humming and extend its life. Learn more about car engine filters for added insight.

13. Replace Spark Plugs And Leads

As cars get more complex, DIY servicing may seem less appealing. Yet, changing spark plugs and high-tension leads is a straightforward way to boost your engine’s performance. Always check your handbook and stick to the service schedule.

When inspecting spark plugs, ensure they show no wear or deposits, no signs of melting, and sport a light brown electrode and insulator.

Poor plug condition may indicate wear or engine issues. A significant gap in a relatively new plug might suggest engine underperformance – consult your garage.

Replace leads with cracks or heavy wear. While it’s advisable to use a reputable garage, experienced folks can do it themselves following the handbook. Note: Diesel cars don’t use spark plugs.

14. Wash Your Car Frequently

Give your car a good scrub to extend its lifespan. Dirt buildup harms your car’s paint, leading to gradual destruction of the body beneath.

Allowing rust and corrosion is like inviting termites into a house – the damage can spread to crucial elements.

The frequency of car washes depends on factors like parking conditions, local weather, and your daily commute.

Assess your car’s risk and adjust accordingly. Generally, a monthly wash should suffice for most. Discover more about the ideal frequency for keeping your car clean.

15. Use Your Parking Brake

When you shift to park, a parking pawl locks the transmission – standard practice. But on inclines, this stresses the pawl, risking breakage.

To prevent mishaps, use the parking brake. It’s more secure, preventing rolling even if the pawl fails or your car gets bumped.

Skipping the parking brake can age brake cables, leading to potential snaps when needed. Always release the emergency brake before driving to avoid complications. Prioritize the parking brake for added safety and longevity.

16. Use Your Brakes To Reduce Speed Rather Than Shifting Gears Down

Avoid using engine braking – shifting gears to slow down – as it can harm your drivetrain, particularly the clutch and transmission.

This practice, especially at higher speeds or when downshifting multiple gears, may shorten your engine’s lifespan.

To safeguard your gearbox, prioritize your brake pedals when reducing speed. They are your go-to for preventing damage to the drivetrain.

Keep your transmission and clutch in good shape by relying on the brakes as your primary means of speed reduction.

17. Avoid Driving Over Potholes And Rough Tracks

Potholes and rough tracks can cause serious damage to your car. The sharp edges on poorly maintained roads may result in sidewall bulges, tread separation, and even deflated tires.

When navigating these holes, your suspension can misalign, and shocks may get damaged. Deeper potholes might scrape catalytic converters, leading to holes and a loss of power.

To minimize wear and tear, opt for smoother roads whenever possible. Avoiding potholes and bumpy tracks can help protect your suspension, tires, and exhaust system, keeping your car in better condition for the long run.

18. Resist The Temptation To Modify

Modifying your car for more power or sportier features can compromise its reliability and longevity. Tuning the engine for extra power puts added stress on various components, including brakes if you drive at higher speeds.

Stiffer suspension for a sportier feel may cause additional wear on the chassis, subframes, and bushes.

It’s essential to recognize that money invested in modifications typically won’t boost your car’s resale value; in fact, it might decrease it.

Depreciation is a significant cost in car ownership, so reducing resale value should be approached with caution. Consider the long-term impact on reliability and resale before making modifications to your car.

19. Have Your Car Rust-Proofed

While modern cars boast excellent rust resistance, vehicles from the 1990s or earlier are more susceptible to metal corrosion – the primary threat to their longevity.

Act promptly if you spot rust; don’t wait for it to worsen. Cover exposed bodywork with touch-up paint and consider professional respraying if needed.

Apply a stone-deflecting film to prevent paint damage in the first place. For added protection, opt for chassis rustproofing, filling cavities with a water-resistant waxy substance.

This proactive approach can save you money in the long run, ensuring your car remains resilient against the corrosion that could otherwise be its number-one threat.

20. Keep The Weight Down

Manufacturers strive to reduce vehicle weight for better fuel efficiency and emissions compliance. You can contribute to this effort by keeping the weight in your car to a minimum.

Carrying extra weight directly impacts fuel economy and adds stress to your tires, brakes, and suspension.

To counter this, regularly remove unnecessary items from your car. Start with the door pockets and glovebox, check under the seats for stray items, and declutter the trunk.

Keep essentials like the toolkit, jack, and locking wheel nut key on hand for emergencies. By lightening the load, you not only enhance fuel efficiency but also reduce wear and tear on vital components.

21. Keep It Covered

Despite having garages, many use them for storage rather than parking cars. However, parking your car in a garage offers several benefits.

It keeps your car dry, clean, and safe, minimizing the risks of accidental damage, vandalism, and theft. In addition, parking in a garage may lead to lower car insurance premiums.

If a garage isn’t an option, investing in a high-quality car cover is a practical alternative, especially if your car remains parked for extended periods.

Prioritize the protection of your vehicle to ensure its longevity and reduce the likelihood of damage or theft.

22. Regular Servicing Matters

Regular servicing is crucial for your car’s well-being and longevity. Service intervals, whether time-based or mileage-driven (e.g., once a year or every 10,000 miles), are specified in your handbook.

Some modern cars even have dashboard warning lights to signal when maintenance is due. Generally, budget for a ‘minor’ service annually and a ‘major’ service every two or three years.

A minor service typically involves changing the oil and oil filter, along with other necessary fluid replacements. Depending on the car and mileage, a major service may include air filter, spark plug, and cambelt replacement.

Tasks in a service range from oil and fluid checks to inspecting for leaks, assessing tire pressures and conditions, checking exhaust emissions, examining brake wear, and ensuring the proper functioning of steering, gearbox, clutch, suspension, lights, wipers, and horn.

Regular servicing is a comprehensive check to keep your car in top-notch condition.

Final Tips

Even if you’re not a car expert, periodically inspect your car for visual signs of trouble. Check tire pressure and wear, ensure all lights are working correctly, and test blinkers, headlights, and tail lights.

Pop the hood and look for cracked hoses, leaking fluids, and corrosion on metal parts. Listen to your car when idling and driving, paying attention to any unusual sounds.

Familiarizing yourself with your car helps you notice abnormalities in appearance or performance, allowing you to address issues promptly. Regular visual checks contribute to the overall health and longevity of your vehicle.

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