Regularly scheduled maintenance and lubrication using the manufacturers recommended type and formulation of oil, grease and liquids is what will do the trick. Replacing normal wear-and-tear parts such as timing belts before they break is also a good path to follow on the road to long vehicle life. Taking good care of your vehicle can make the difference between being the proud owner of a good looking, long lasting, reliable machine, and saying goodbye to a rusty, faded-paint jalopy that fell apart or broke down long before it was designed to.
Follow the accompanying 7 handy tips for keeping your vehicle in top shape.
Check and change the oil. No single step will help an engine last more than regular oil and filter changes will. Conversely, nothing will destroy an engine faster than neglecting oil-level checks or fresh-oil changes.
Flush the cooling system and change coolant once a year. A 50/50 mix of coolant and distilled water will keep the cooling system in good shape and prevent corrosion and deposits from building up inside the cooling system.
Change out transmission and differential oils. While not requiring frequent service, these fluids must be changed according to service intervals. Always use transmission fluid or gear oil of the recommended type and viscosity.
Keep it clean. While washing the outside of the vehicle is obvious, most everything the vehicle ran over can also get stuck to the underside. Hosing off winter salt and road grime is a good idea.
Brake fluid is hygroscopic. This means it is adept at attracting moisture. Moisture causes components to corrode and fail. Replace fluid and bleed system once a year. Brake fluid is cheap. Calipers, hoses, and sensors are expensive.
Go easy during start-up. You might have heard this from someone who fires up his car and immediately floors it: “It helps warm it up.” Wrong. A cold engine — meaning one that’s been sitting for more than five hours — will have little or no oil left on the moving parts. It’s all seeped down into the oil pan. It only takes a few seconds after start-up for the oil pump to adequately lubricate an engine. During those few seconds, you should keep engine rpm down to a minimum. Give the engine at least 30 seconds before popping it in gear and driving off. Give it a little more time if it has sat for more than 24 hours.
Follow your vehicle’s service schedule: This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are still too many car owners out there who pay little or no attention to the vehicle maintenance schedule as laid out in the owner’s manual. Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, not the dealer’s. They built the car, so they ought to know what’s best for the car. Not following the maintenance schedule is particularly inexcusable in late-model cars that have oil life monitoring systems that automatically determine the best time for an oil change.
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