Buying the right car is an important financial decision. Buy a lemon and you’ll spend hundreds on repairs and maintenance fees. Buy a trusty vehicle and you’ll have few issues.
But it’s not just about finding the right car, it’s about taking care of it as well. Anyone can buy a durable Honda and run it into the ground with poor maintenance. So how do you make your car last as long as possible–without being stingy on repairs? Read on to find out.
Follow the Maintenance Schedule
The maintenance schedule on a car can seem excessively nitpicky, but following it to the letter can save you hundreds or thousands in unnecessary repairs later.
To find your car’s maintenance schedule, search online for “Your car + maintenance guide.” Car manufacturers post these online and you can easily print them out at home. The maintenance guide will say how often to get an oil change as well as other service procedures. Following this schedule will extend the life of your car.
Remember, spending more money on maintenance is the frugal way to go. It’s better to spend $30 on an oil change or tire rotation every few months than trying to save $30 and wearing out your engine or your tires.
Notice Small Changes
You’re driving to work one day when you notice a strange sound coming from your car. You don’t feel like taking it to a mechanic, so you ignore the sound. A couple weeks go by and suddenly, you hear a louder sound.
So many car repairs start out as small, inconvenient fixes that morph into something bigger. If you ignore squealing brakes, the worn brake pads could then start to wear down your rotors or calipers which turns into a much bigger repair.
It’s like ignoring a toothache that persists for a few weeks. Hoping it will go away could lead to a more expensive procedure.
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Buy Reliable Cars
It’s a fact: some cars are just made to last longer. If your goal is to make your car last longer, certain makes and models will make it easier for you. According to a 2018 Consumer Reports customer vehicle survey, the following cars made it to 200,000 miles with the least amount of problems:
- Toyota Camry
- Honda Accord
- Toyota Prius
- Honda CR-V
- Toyota Sienna
- Honda Civic
- Toyota Corolla
- Toyota 4Runner
- Toyota Highlander
- Ford F-150
If you’re in the market for a new car, consider buying one from the list above. You’ll pay less in maintenance fees and have a better chance of making it to 200,000 miles or more.
Related: How To Buy A Used Car
Find a Qualified Mechanic
A mechanic who specializes in your car’s make and model will know its quirks better than an all-around mechanic who services all cars. Search around your area for the best mechanic for your car, whether it’s a Toyota or Tesla.
A specialized mechanic will know the ins and outs of your car well and can diagnose repairs better than a general mechanic. Since I primarily drive Toyotas, I search around the area for a Toyota specialist instead of just searching for the best mechanic around.
Wash Your Car
Washing your car regularly isn’t just about keeping it shiny, but removing debris and dirt that damage the car’s exterior. Road salt is notorious for its corrosive properties so aim for regular car washes during the winter.
You can visit a local car wash or do the work yourself. Just be sure to spray underneath the car as well as on top. The rust you don’t see in the undercarriage can become a major liability, affecting the vehicle’s frame, mufflers and exhaust.
Lose Excess Weight
Did you know every car has a recommended weight limit? If your drives only include hauling yourself and a few other people, you probably never exceed the weight limit.
There’s a reason why construction workers don’t drive coupes or Priuses. They need a truck built for hauling heavy items on a regular basis. Plus, the more weight in your car, the less gas mileage you get.
Drive Your Car Regularly
Everyone assumes that the less you drive your car, the longer it’ll last. Right? Wrong.
Taking your car out often prevents engine buildup and other problems that only develop when a car doesn’t reach highway-level driving.
If you have a short commute, you’ll have to get your oil changes more frequently to compensate for the engine buildup. Go on an hour-long highway drive once a week if possible.
Use Your Senses
The best way to keep your car running as long as possible is to diagnose repairs as soon as they’re needed. For that, you need to use all your senses to stay abreast of any problems. If you smell something odd, mention it to the mechanic the next time you’re there. If something looks or feels different, describe it as best as you can.
Be as specific as you can since that’ll make it easier for the mechanic to identify what could be wrong. Remember, tending to issues quickly is cheaper than waiting for them to escalate.