Keep Your Car Young with Preventative Maintenance
As your car gets older, preventative maintenance becomes a much more important factor than merely adhering to a standard service plan.
It also becomes more important when you take into account how much longer the average American is holding onto their cars. According to data released by IHS Automotive in 2015, the average age of all vehicles on the road in America had climbed to 11 and a half years. Backtrack to 2007, and the average age was 10 years, which demonstrates a trend since the recession of owners keeping their cars for longer.
If you have also decided to keep your current vehicle for longer than you’d ideally like to, you’d be wise to up your knowledge of general maintenance. After all, keeping your vehicle longer is about saving money, and that goal goes down the drain if a major component fails because it has not been checked. So, what should you look out for if your car has surpassed the 100 000 ‘mile’stone?
First and foremost, check your fluids
There simply isn’t a single type of automotive fluid that lasts forever, and over a long period of time, bits of dirt and debris will begin to clog the areas inside your engine and other vital mechanicals. Beyond a regular oil change (which you should do more often as your car ages), your transmission fluid, brake fluid, coolant, and power steering fluid should all be regularly checked and replaced. Where oils are concerned, get to know why amber is better than black (especially black with silvery bits floating around in it). The color and consistency of fluids can tell you a lot about the state of your car.
Timing belt and water pump
Inevitably, your timing belt will eventually break and if it does, you’re facing a steep repair bill of over $3,000. Also costly is replacing it, but this cost should be measured against the extra outlay of buying a new car and paying off higher installments and insurance associated with the latter. Water pumps are often replaced at the same time and, overall, the life of an older engine depends heavily on the cooling system, especially if you live in a very hot or cold climate. Don’t pass up this opportunity (when components are already disassembled) to have your coolant hoses replaced too.
Consult your user manual
The user’s manual contains some of the most vital information regarding the maintenance requirements of your specific car. Understanding the information in this book is a great starting point, but do bear in mind that many of the recommendations in it are suited for when the car is newer and operating optimally, not when it is much older. Consulting your mechanic – together with the guidelines in the user manual – is a good balance when it comes to caring for your older model.
What about the Germans?
If you own a German luxury car, these cars are both a blessing and a bit of a curse for long-term ownership. On the one hand, their excellent engineering means they often feel sporty, luxurious and comfortable to drive way beyond 100,000 miles. Unfortunately, this level of engineering prowess means there’s more that can go wrong – here, a German car specialist is your best bet.
Finally, your suspension, brakes, and steering system also rank highly on the ‘critical’ list – have them all checked to avoid a more catastrophic failure down the line. With the necessary precautions, there’s no reason why your older car can’t bring you many more trouble-free miles.