How old is the average car? According to a May 2023 analysis by S&P Global Mobility, the average age of cars and light trucks in the United States is 12.5 years.
Many new cars are financially dependent on buyers these days, which means drivers have to do extra work to keep older vehicles in good shape. From setting up a car cleaning schedule to regularly checking the most expensive items, use these seven tips to keep your current car in good shape.
Perform regular maintenance
One of the best ways to ensure the durability of older cars is to perform regular preventative maintenance.
Bill Snow – vice president, franchise development and operations at Rad Air Complete Car Care – said this type of maintenance includes oil and filter changes, fluid exchanges, brake pad checks and following a maintenance schedule for items that wear out over time such as shock absorbers, struts and spark plugs.
Snow recommends car owners find a mechanic they like and trust and stick with them. “Having a good relationship with your mechanic will save you money in the long run and you’ll have a vehicle that runs great,” Snow said.
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Regularly check the most expensive items
In addition to performing preventative maintenance, drivers must check the most expensive items. These include the timing belt, alternator and water pump.
Kirsten Orlowski, associate director of finance at Carvana, said the water pumps needed replacing at around 60,000 to 90,000 miles. Alternators and timing belts should be replaced at around 100,000 miles. By making sure every part is working properly, Orlowski said drivers will save money and ensure their vehicle doesn’t suffer major damage from these older parts.
Keep cars on a cleaning schedule
Drivers should regularly wash the exterior of their car and clean its interior. This will help the vehicle retain its new shine, especially for drivers who live in a four-season climate.
Orlowski recommends regularly scheduling a deep cleaning of your car. This helps keep corrosion, rust and mold buildup at bay.
Invest in high quality parts
As tempting as it may be to cut corners and buy cheap or used parts, don’t. Joe Giranda, director of sales and marketing for CFR Classic, recommends investing in high-quality parts and products for your car. This includes quality tires, brakes, filters and other components that make a big difference in the life of the car.
Not sure where to find the best parts for your car? Orlowski recommends buying them directly from reputable manufacturers. It may cost a little more, but buying direct ensures that nothing else gets damaged in the vehicle and prevents the car from needing additional repairs.
Don’t drive low on oil
What happens if you run out of oil? Giranda said it could cause serious damage to the engine and other parts of the car. Low oil levels also reduce the lubrication needed for critical components, leading to premature wear.
Don’t drive out of fuel
Just like driving with low oil, driving with low fuel can also cause problems for a car.
“The fuel pump runs on gasoline to cool down,” Giranda said. “If it gets too hot it can overheat and break down, and if it happens a little too often you can expect to see a hefty repair bill.”
Perform tire maintenance
This is an easy item for car owners to check off their list to make older vehicles last longer.
“Drivers should rotate their tires and keep them properly aligned, properly inflated and in good condition at all times,” Orlowski said. “Tyres should be rotated every 5,000 miles, and drivers should keep a pressure gauge to check when the weather changes to ensure they remain at peak performance levels.”
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