A car is always a serious investment. Whether you raise money to buy one yourself or you get it as a gift, there will never be a moment when you won’t want to take perfect care of your car. From choosing the right tires to keeping it clean and parking it out of the sun, every little thing that we do with it matters in the long run.
This is especially useful when considering the fact that these vehicles are an integral part of our everyday life. We drive them to school and work, and we use them to go shopping. Depending on our job or where we live we may also use them to regularly carry heavy loads. All these activities contribute to the degradation of a car, slowly leading to breakdowns.
Some degradation is inevitable
Depending on what you use a car for, the vehicle will degrade more or less no matter how well you try to maintain it. The metal structure itself will slowly degrade over the years. The longer we use a car, the greater the chance is that microcracks will appear due to various environmental factors and the stress that is being put on its components.
This form of degradation is normal and cannot really be stopped. However, it can be slowed down or even prevented by using the vehicle sparingly and avoiding to carry large loads so that less stress will be placed on its structure.
General end of life of a vehicle
Most cars reach the end of their lives at around 250,000 – 300,000 miles. Most carmakers will specify that this is how long their vehicles are expected to run for and recommend that a new one is purchased after this limit is reached. However, there are accompanies that have “High-mileage clubs” that reward car owner who drive their vehicles for a certain number of miles.
While it is possible to maintain a vehicle so that it will run after its expected limit, the car will be more likely to break down at this point and may be far less reliable than it was originally.
The best practices for extending the life of your car
There are a few things that car owners can do in order to make sure that their vehicle not only reaches their expected limit but also surpasses it. The following tips will also keep the car at a point where fewer parts will be likely to break, making it more safer and more reliable:
- Don’t forget to change the oil – Changing the oil on a regular basis can do wonders when it comes to the long life of your car. Try to use high-quality oil whenever possible and avoid putting this task off;
- Take care of the transmission – A car’s transmission is one of the biggest factors that can either increase or reduce the vehicle’s lifespan. Over time, this system will degrade, increasing fuel consumption and decreasing the reliability of the car. An interesting fact is that most of the time, replacing the transmission of an old car can give it a second wind, prolonging its lifespan with as much as 50%;
- Replace the spark plugs – Spark plugs do not have a very long lifespan and should be replaced as they break;
These are a few of the things that you can do on the technical side of things, however, the way you use the car will also have a big effect on its lifespan. Let’s take a look at what you can do in terms of how you drive your car in order to prolong its life.
- No sudden starts or stops – While racing cars are built to handle the extreme forces that are created when starting or stopping in a couple of seconds, regular cars will degrade faster in these conditions. Try to always start and stop the car as smoothly and as slowly as possible in order to minimize the stress put on its various parts;
- Use parking brake when possible – Most drivers will keep the breaks pressed constantly when they have to stop on an incline and this can shorten their life. Make a habit out of using the parking breaks in these situations, however, keep in mind that this practice is not safe to do during the winter as the system can freeze;
- Use proper tires – The tires that you put on a car can have a huge effect on its lifespan. Always use appropriate tires for the season, and also know what size your car supports and do not try to fit bigger or smaller ones. While bigger tires may look great, they will cause your vehicle to become less stable;
- Careful where you park it – Cars are made to get us from one point to another while also keeping us sheltered from the elements. However, this does not mean that they can withstand the forces of natures indefinitely. Avoid leaving your car out in the open; increased exposure to direct sunlight will heat it and slowly damage it, as will leaving it out when it is snowing, unless you got a jump starter. There have been cases where drivers have left their vehicles near bodies of water in the winter only to find that their cars actually froze overnight;
Cleaning is vital to prolonging a car’s lifespan
Another important thing to do when it comes to taking care of your car is cleaning. Dust and mud can get everywhere in a car and, over time, it can and will damage it. Try to clean it as often as possible in order to prevent this from happening. It would be best to do this immediately after getting home, however, this depends on how dirty the car gets.
Also, do not only clean the parts that are visible. Try to get all the dirt out of the car and pay attention to hidden spaces such as the underside of the vehicle, or the many seams that can be found in the interior.