According to Motor Trend magazine, the average cost for a new car is upwards of $28,000. Gas prices and car parts costs will not be getting cheaper any time soon either. You may have determined to make your current car last as long as possible. You can reduce wear and tear on your vehicle by following these simple rules:
- Regular oil changes: The single most effective way to take care of your car is to change the oil and oil filter regularly. Most warranties require that oil be changed on a regular basis. A modern engine should last well over 200,000 miles when properly cared for. Manufacturers and oil companies usually recommend changing your oil at 3,000 to 6,000 mile intervals. Check your owner's manual to learn any specific recommendations for your car.
- Low Tire Pressure: Driving a car with improperly inflated tires wastes fuel, and it takes a toll on your tires. If you drive on under-inflated tires, you'll be riding on just the tread near the outside edges of the tires. The results are unpleasant. Your tires will wear quickly, your gas mileage will suffer, and your car's handling and braking will not be as crisp. When driving on an under-inflated tire at highway speeds, heat can build up because the sidewalls are flexing so much. This sometimes results in a blowout.
- High Tire Pressure: Operating a car with over-inflated tires isn't really much better than driving with under-inflated tires. Tires that are over-inflated can bulge outward, especially in the middle of the tread. This means that your car will ride on just the middle part of the tire tread instead of riding on the whole width of the tire tread. This causes undue tire wear, stiff handling, and poor braking performance.
- Air Filter: Air filters collect all of the dust and grit from the air entering your engine. Driving with dirty or clogged air filters will reduce your car's performance and gas mileage. If you can't remember the last time you changed your air filter, it's probably a little past time to change it. Most manufacturers recommend changing your air filter about once a year. If you live on a dirt road or similar environment, you should consider changing your air filter more frequently.
- Protect from weather: Sun, wind, and rain can wreak havoc on your car's paint job. The best way to protect your car's body is to keep it covered or under shelter when not in use. Wax your car occasionally to prevent the finish from oxidizing under the sun.
- Suspension: Abusing your car when you drive it will quickly wear on the suspension. Hard breaking and sharp corners might be fun, but they're terrible for your suspension parts.
- Minimize idling: Engines aren't designed to sit idling for extended periods of time. If you're going to be sitting for more than a minute or two, turn off the engine. Extended idling can cause a buildup to develop on the spark plugs. This buildup can cause the spark plugs to perform less efficiently, thus wasting gas. Plus, the spark plugs can become fouled much quicker if the buildup is permitted to remain.
- Frequent short trips: If you usually only drive a few blocks, try driving at least a few miles occasionally. This will help charge the battery, and it should also help burn off any moisture that can accumulate in the muffler. Cars that are only driven on short trips for extended periods of time are more likely to develop rust in the exhaust system. This usually results in holes forming in the muffler and tailpipe.