Buying a new car may not always be an option. It could be due to your financial status, the sentimental value of the car, or maybe you have a classic in the garage.
Regardless of your reason for keeping an old car, it needs extra care to continue running smoothly.
It helps if you have a used car warranty. Even if you have a luxury car, we have available offers on the market like the BMW extended warranty. That way, you can get it fixed when an unforeseen problem occurs. But, as they say, prevention is always better than the cure.
Keep reading for the ten tips you should not miss doing to keep your car in good working order.
Change Your Oil and Filter Regularly
Engine motor oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle. It is important to keep the engine working smoothly. If you run the car with low oil, the parts can grind at each other. That can cause regrettable damage to the engine itself.
Checking your car’s oil level is very simple:
- Open the hood.
- Look for the knob with the word Oil or a can icon.
- Pull out the knob. That is the dipstick.
- Use a clean towel or rag to wipe it clean.
- Replace the dipstick. Make sure it is all the way in.
- Pull it out again without turning it over.
- Check the end of the dipstick. There should be one or two dots. These are your indicators.
- If the oil mark is below the lower dot, you need to top up.
- A quarter of oil is enough to replenish this.
You would want to check your oil level every other time you visit the gas station.
Your oil filter also needs to be replaced regularly. Common signs that you need to do this are engine sputtering, metallic noise, and low oil pressure.
Do not wait for these signs before changing your oil filter. Depending on the car model, you should do this every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Get a more accurate idea of when to change the filter by referring to the manual.
Maintain Your Tires
Did you know that underinflated tires are 25% more likely to get into an accident? That is according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That highlights the need to keep your tires at the right pressure.
You can use the tire gauge at any gas station or get a portable tire inflator. The latter is recommended since you can use it at home or in emergencies.
Set the gauge to the required tire pressure. Plug the hose into the valve, and the machine will do the rest.
Do this for all the tires, including your spare. That ensures the spare is also ready any time you need it.
Inflate your tires every time you visit the gas station or when you feel the car is not handling right.
The correct tire pressure is indicated on your manual too. Stay within the manufacturer’s recommended range.
As far as maintaining your tires go, you also need to rotate them regularly. That prevents uneven wear on the exterior. The recommended routine depends on your car model, but generally, this is done every six months.
Check Your Brake System
Your brakes are very important, as you can imagine. You need to ensure that they are working properly. If you feel that the brakes are spongy or do not respond well, have it checked by a mechanic immediately.
Do not wait for these warning signs before doing something. Taking care of your car should be a proactive effort. Check your brake fluid levels when you get your oil changed. The hood is already open anyway.
All you have to do is locate the reservoir. For car models released during the late 80s and beyond, the reservoir would be transparent so you can see inside. There should be a line that indicates it is full. If it is lower than the line, then top it off.
For older cars, the reservoir would be metal. You will have to open the cap to look inside and check the level.
Make sure to use only the approved brake fluid for your car model.
Your brake pads also need routine checks. You can have your mechanic do this for you. If the brake pads are thin, you will need to replace them.
Take Care of the Battery
The battery of your car is responsible for powering the different techs inside. More importantly, though, it is needed to start up the engine. If the battery has low voltage, you can get stranded in a parking lot somewhere.
The testing process is easy, but you need a voltmeter or power probe.
To check the voltage:
- Turn the ignition off.
- Remove the terminal covers.
- Wipe the terminals with a clean rag.
- Connect the positive lead of the voltmeter to the positive terminal.
- Connect the negative lead of the voltmeter to the negative terminal.
Check the reading of the voltmeter or power probe. The ideal range is between 12.4 to 12.7 volts.
If the reading is below 12.2 volts, try to do a trickle charge and recheck the battery. If it stays the same, it is time to replace it.
If the reading is above 12.9 volts, it is overcharged. You can turn your high beams to discharge the battery.
Replace Belts and Hoses
The different belts and hoses in your car deteriorate as you use them. The challenge is you cannot check them visually to look for any sign.
When you bring your vehicle in for inspection with your mechanic, they will need to remove all these to get to the timing belt. Ask them to replace the belts with new ones after the inspection.
It is cheaper to have them changed regularly than wait for the problem they can cause if left unattended.
Maintain the Coolant
The primary role of the coolant is to protect the engine from high temperatures. It keeps the engine cool during summer and high temperatures. During the winter, the coolant prevents it from freezing.
The coolant also protects against corrosion and deposits from forming on the engine. Allowing that to happen can lead to performance issues.
Checking your coolant level is similar to the brake fluid. You should find a reservoir under the hood with clear markings. You do not have to remove the cap as it should have a line to use as a gauge.
Replace Your Wipers
The little things matter when taking care of an older car model, including your windshield wipers. They are an important and often neglected part of any vehicle. They allow you to see clearly by removing debris, water, and other contaminants.
It only costs about $15 to have your wipers replaced. It is generally recommended to do this every 6 to 12 months.
As part of taking care of your windshield wipers, check your washer fluid too. Most cars have an indicator on the dash if the fluid is low. But the most common way to check is to engage it. If the pressure is low, you might want to refill the washer fluid.
Check Your Steering
If there is a problem with your steering system, it will affect your ability to handle the car. It also hastens the wear on your tires. Check your power steering fluid regularly.
The most common reservoirs allow you to check the fluid the same way you do your engine oil. You remove the cap to access the dipstick and wipe it clean. Place the dipstick back inside, then pull it out. The marking will tell you if you need to refill or not.
As for your car suspension, it is best to have your mechanic check this during routine maintenance.
Keep the Exterior Clean
The most basic maintenance for any car is washing and waxing them. Doing so removes dirt and prevents buildup that can damage the exterior eventually.
Waxing is essential because it preserves the clear coat over the paint. It prevents corrosive elements like rain, snow, bird droppings, street salt, tree sap, and others from seeping into the car and causing damage inside.
If you are not sure how to wash and wax your car, you can bring it to your local car wash.
Evaluate Your Driving
You can do everything right from a maintenance point of view, but it is all for nothing if you do not drive carefully. Taking care of your car starts with how you use it. An aggressive driving style can deteriorate the different parts faster. Constant acceleration and braking can cause accelerated wear and tear on everything.
If you want your old car to last for more years, look at how you drive. Maybe you can slow down a bit or be more defensive on the road.
Improving your driving is great for your car, yourself, and the passengers. It prevents additional wear and reduces the risk of getting into an accident. There are no downsides to improving your driving.
Take good care of your car and it will return the favor in spades.