Your car won’t last forever, but there are ways to ensure it lasts longer than you’d expect. You don’t have to be a mechanic; you just need to learn some basic maintenance to extend your car’s life. With basic upkeep and simple fixes, you can ensure your vehicle retains its value and still runs thousands of miles into the future.
Keep It Clean
Periodic trips to the car wash are fine but give your car some TLC by washing it yourself. The soap you use for your skin or dishes is not suitable for your car—it can ruin the wax finish and even damage the paint in the long run. Use gentle multipurpose household cleaners instead. However, even these gentle cleaners may ruin your finish. Your best bet is to pick up a gallon of car shampoo at an auto parts store. Your car’s interior, including the dash, carpeting, seats, and so on, can handle most general cleaning agents, but once again, the auto store can provide specific cleaners dedicated to proper car care. Keeping your car looking new and protecting the finish can mean more money when you finally resell the vehicle.
Check the Fluid Levels
A car’s many fluids are its lifeblood. While it’s best to bring your vehicle in for periodic inspections and to top off or replace the fluids, you can monitor them yourself as well. Take your car manual out of the glove compartment and give it a read. It’ll show the location of several dipsticks under the hood and instruct you on how to read them. You might not have the facilities and tools to change your motor oil and filter or remove and clean up the transmission pan yourself, but you can easily check the levels and top them off if needed.
Inspect the Tires
Your car tires go through a lot. They seem tough enough to stand up to anything, so it’s easy to forget to watch them for wear and tear. On average, tires need to be replaced every six years, but anything can happen during that time. Buy a tire gauge and keep your tires inflated to the proper pressure. You’ll find the correct PSI on a sticker inside the driver’s side door. Underinflation risks a flat, while overinflation can lead to a blowout. Visually inspect each tire, looking for abrasions, cracks, sharp objects, and the like. Check the condition of the treads with the penny test. Turn a penny upside-down and stick it in the tread. If you can see any part of Lincoln’s forehead, it’s probably time for new tires.
Be Your Own Mechanic
You can perform certain replacements and basic maintenance to extend your car’s life. Windshield wipers are vital and need to be replaced every 6 to 12 months. They’re easy to pop off and change in your driveway or garage. Likewise, your air filter keeps your car breathing easy and is easily replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Car batteries should be changed every four years. Until then, make sure the leads are secured and free of corrosion.