How to make your car last longer?
March 18, 2020
When the economy is in the downturn, buying a new car or truck is not always an option. If your car is paid off and you can make it last for a few more years, you can enjoy the freedom of no car payments. How do you make your car last longer?
It's not very difficult to keep your car in good shape.
Any mechanic will tell you that It's not very difficult. We all know that to keep the car running, it will need regular oil changes, maintenance services and some repairs here and there.
While most of the common repairs are not very expensive, there are three components that must be in good shape for the vehicle to last: the body/frame, the engine and the transmission.
The 4WD drivetrain is the fourth vital component.
If it's a four-wheel drive vehicle, the 4WD drivetrain is the fourth vital component. All of them are costly to repair.
If your engine runs like new, the transmission shifts smoothly, 4WD system works properly and the body/frame is not too rusted, everything else doesn't cost a lot to keep in working order. You just need to get the vehicle checked out regularly, watch out for early signs and repair minor problems before they cause major repairs.
How to keep your engine in good shape?
We are all aware of the importance of doing oil changes on time, but what else does the engine need? Many engine problems are caused by running it low on oil.
Low engine oil level.
The reason is that many modern vehicles consume engine oil between oil changes and there is no warning light that would advise us that the oil level is dropping.
To avoid this problem, check the oil level regularly and top it up as needed. Your vehicle's owner's manual has the instructions. Read more: How to check the oil level in your engine and read the dipstick
. A dirty air filter can also cause the engine to consume more oil. Changing the engine air filter is easy and won't cost a lot. Read more: How often should an engine air filter be changed?
The oil quality makes a big difference too. Synthetic oil lasts longer; especially in a turbocharged engine. If the mileage is very high, your mechanic may advise using thicker oil; for example, 5W-30 oil instead of 5W-20. Thicker oil fills larger gaps better in a worn high-mileage engine.
Another problem that can kill the engine is overheating.
Normally, the coolant level should be between Min and Max marks in the coolant expansion bottle.
The engine can overheat for many reasons including a low coolant level, bad water pump
, stuck-closed thermostat or a radiator fan that doesn't work.
The key is to watch out for leaks and keep the coolant level topped up. If the engine temperature starts rising above normal, have the engine cooling system checked out as soon as possible.
One more important part is the timing belt
; it must be replaced in regular intervals. If your engine has an old timing belt and it breaks, repairs can be very expensive. Read also: How often does a car need a tune-up?
How to prevent transmission problems?
Not surprisingly, many transmission problems are also caused by overheating. The transmission overheats when it's overloaded, for example, when towing a trailer or driving with a full load in hot weather.
The transmission can also overheat when you accelerate too hard or drive too fast.
This means, be easy on the gas pedal and consider installing an additional transmission fluid cooler if you think your transmission is going to be overloaded.
Metal shavings inside this transmission indicate that it's done and needs to be replaced or rebuilt.
Changing the transmission fluid in recommended intervals will also help. For many modern cars, car makers don't specify the intervals to change the transmission fluid, saying it's "sealed for life." The reality is that any mechanical device with moving or rotating parts wears out. Products of wear mix with the fluid, and this causes the transmission components to wear faster. If you want to keep the transmission fluid clean, visit your dealer, see if they recommend changing it; they have the right fluid and can change it even if the unit is "sealed." Read more: When you should or shouldn't change your automatic transmission fluid
. Another reason the transmission can fail is when the transmission fluid leaks out. This means that any fluid leak must be repaired before fluid loss causes problems.
How to keep the car body/frame in good shape?
This is the easiest part. Wash your car regularly and apply car wax at least once a year.
It takes no more than an hour to wax the whole car.
The car wax preserves the clearcoat or paint from fading, seals the scratches and prevents rust in places where the paint is chipped. Even premium car wax is not very expensive and it takes no more than an hour to wax the whole car when it's already clean.
If you live where road salt is used in the winter, have your car or truck rusproofed. Doing basic rustproofing in an independent shop costs from $89 to $200. Not only it preserves the underbody/frame of your vehicle, but also protects brake and fuel lines and various chassis, suspension and electrical components underneath. Read more: Should you rust proof your vehicle?
How to maintain the 4WD system?
The 4WD system has several key components such as the transfer case (unit), the rear differential and the drive (propeller) shaft.
Front-biased on-demand AWD system in a vehicle with a transversely-mounted engine.
Trucks also have a separate front differential. The front and rear differentials as well as the transfer case are filled with special fluid or gear oil. Keeping the fluid/gear oil clean and at the proper level is essential for the longevity of the component. See the photo
of a failed transfer case inside. Read: When should the transfer case oil be changed?
. In many 4WD vehicles, the drive (propeller) shaft and, in some cases, the U-joints must be lubricated regularly. For an all-wheel drive vehicle it's important to use the tires of the correct size and keep the proper air pressure in all four tires; the difference in tire pressure, or in tire tread wear will cause tires to rotate at different speeds and this adds extra load on the all-wheel drive system.
There are many ways to make other parts of your vehicle last longer. For example, to prevent damage to the struts/shock absorbers and wheel bearings, avoid potholes and drive over speed bumps at a slower speed. Rotate tires regularly. Many car makers recommend rotating tires at every oil change service. Rotating tires will make them wear more evenly and last longer. If the vehicle doesn't hold the straight line well or pulls to one side or another, the wheel alignment needs to be checked. Servicing brakes at least once a year can prevent brake calipers from sticking, seizing up and overheating and will help your brakes last longer.