If you plan to keep your vehicle for the long haul, you’re not alone. These days, more and more drivers are hanging onto their vehicles for longer periods of time. Case in point: A survey conducted by AutoMD.com found that 78 percent of consumers say owning a car for 10-plus years is an appropriate lifespan.
But cars are also lasting longer due to improved vehicle quality and new car technology. With that said, however, no driver should dismiss the importance of proper maintenance and keeping their vehicle in good condition, especially in areas of the south, where the sun, heat and humidity can put extra wear and tear on your vehicle.
Here are five car care tips to better maintain your vehicle.
1. Avoid Any Overheating
A good chunk of car maintenance is preventative, and that includes regularly checking your fluid levels (including the motor oil and coolant, as well as transmission, power steering and brake fluids) to ensure they aren’t too low. To protect your engine, you’ll want to monitor your cooling system and its working parts.
Keep in mind that a cooling system should be flushed every 30,000 to 40,000 miles. Additionally, watch out for a malfunctioning thermostat, low oil and any problems with the radiator fan, which can all cause your car to run too hot.
2. Protect the Interior and Exterior
A vehicle can take a beating as it sits under the sun. Thus, to protect the interior, use a car sun visor when you park, clean off any dust and dirt on your dash using a microfiber cloth, and apply a conditioner to leather seats to prevent cracks and tears.
Regarding your car’s exterior, routinely wash and/or wax your car to preserve its finish; in fact, waxing can protect from harmful ultraviolet rays. Additionally, make sure the air pressure in each of your four tires is at the right level, as underinflated tires on a hot pavement can lead to a blowout.
3. Pay Proper Attention to Your Tires
Speaking of tires, you’ll not only want to protect your car itself, but also your own safety with regular tire inspections. Rotating your tires every 5,000 to 7,000 miles helps balance any wear and tear. But if it’s been a while since your last tire purchase, check your tire treads or visit your mechanic to get an opinion on their condition. Rather than buy the first set of tires offered at a local retailer, do some research to find a quality product that’s the right fit and can save you money over time.
4. Evaluate Your Driving Behavior
How you let your car handle on the road can lead to increasing premature wear and repairs. In that vein, try not to repeatedly drive your car on a near-empty tank of gas, as this practice can overheat your fuel pump. Are you impatient behind the wheel? Following too closely, accelerating too fast and braking abruptly in stop-and-go traffic can put stress on your brakes.
Indeed, aggressive braking is hard on the braking components, as well as the steering and suspension systems, which can result in pricey repairs. You may also want to avoid sudden acceleration, also known as jackrabbit starts, to help preserve the condition of your engine and tires.
5. Find the Right Service
While it can be a nuisance, ensuring proper maintenance of your vehicle — this includes regular oil changes and air filter and battery replacement — shouldn’t come as a surprise. But, sometimes, finding a reputable mechanic can be a challenge. Still, you have a number of choices at your disposal, including the dealership, independent mechanics and major chain outlets; just make sure you weigh the pros and cons of these facilities before making a decision.
Maintaining your car means being proactive. Pay attention to the signals your car is giving off, and don’t wait too long to address any concerns. With a little preventative maintenance and ongoing upkeep, you’ll maximize the lifespan of your vehicle.