A crucial life skill is taking care of your investments, and we don’t mean stocks and bonds. When you sink money into something, it’s essential to give it the upkeep it needs so that you can make the most of the dollars you have put into it. A car is a great example. With proper maintenance, many vehicles can efficiently run for 250,000 miles or more. Here are four ways to keep your vehicle on the road.
Maintain the Appearance
A clean car looks better than a dirty one, but it lasts longer, too. Good cleaning removes abrasive dirt that can damage the clear coat and the paint beneath. Too much neglect of the finish can eventually expose bare metal, leading to unsightly and expensive corrosion. Wash the vehicle regularly with appropriate soaps, then apply automotive wax to help repel water.
Don’t forget the interior. The sun never stops shining on it, and all that UV abuse is hard on interior parts. A low volume injection molding process helps us create light, durable door panels and other vehicle components, but regular treatment with an approved protectant will further stretch their lives.
Change the Oil
This one always bears repeating. Engine oil keeps the internal parts of a motor lubricated, ensuring that their constant movement does not result in undue wear and the premature failure of the engine. The mechanical problems that can develop from lack of lubrication are not cheap fixes. They will require the engine to be disassembled or, most likely, replaced altogether.
Your owner’s manual will guide you on oil changes. It will tell you what oil weight to use, what the engine’s oil capacity is, and how frequently to change the oil. Whether you grab the tools and do it yourself or just head to a mechanic for the job, make sure you get it done.
Watch the Antifreeze
Don’t let the name fool you. Antifreeze does more than keep the engine from getting too cold. It’s also there to keep it from getting too hot. An antifreeze leak can slowly lower the coolant to a level where the engine cannot maintain a safe operating temperature, causing it to overheat and warp the head. That’s not cheap. In the wintertime, the antifreeze lines will–you guessed it–freeze, causing damage in various parts of the engine.
Make sure your antifreeze is full, but don’t open the radiator if the engine is hot. You can also buy an antifreeze tester that will use a sample from the radiator to tell you the coldest temperature your engine can tolerate. If the antifreeze is dirty, low, or does not protect a low enough temperature, talk to a mechanic about getting it flushed and refilled.
Rotate the Tires
There are plenty of jokes about the tires rotating–isn’t that what they do all the time? Of course, what we’re talking about is moving each tire to different locations on the vehicle. Turning the vehicle’s wheels while it’s in motion creates wear on the corners (shoulders) of the front tires. If they never get moved to the back, the front tires will wear out while the rear ones still look showroom-new.
The front tires will move to the rear on the same side, while the rear tires will move to the opposite side on the front. In this way, every tire spends time on every corner of the car, maximizing tire life by distributing wear evenly. Most tire companies offer free rotation every 3,000 miles or so. Take advantage of that.
Keep the Gas Above 1/4 Tank
It may sound crazy, but the fuel pump for your vehicle is located inside the gas tank. It’s a small electrical device that works hard to maintain 60psi of pressure or so. That’s more than the air pressure in your tires.
To do that, the pump has to get a little hot, and it stays cool because it’s sitting in gasoline. If you let your gauge get below 1/4 tank, the pump will run hot and eventually break down.
If you take care of your car, it will take care of you. These maintenance tips are well worth the money you’ll spend on them, and they’ll make your car a more durable investment.