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9 ways to make your car last longer

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Updated 8 Oct 2019Scott Fitzgerald
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More often than not, the purchase of a car — either new or secondhand — is a significant purchase. And not only that, they’re important for safely getting us around to do the things we need to do in day-to-day life.

So it stands to reason that we would all prefer that our cars stay reliable, and for them to stay that way for a long time.

Here’s a few things you can do to help ensure your car has a good, long life.

Take action on small issues before they become big

Is there a burning smell, a persistent noise while you drive? Do you feel a judder in the steering wheel, or your car pulls to one side?

Signs like these can indicate the beginning of an issue. Catching such things early can result in an easy, cheap fix.

Letting them go can lead to bigger problems, not only to your wallet, but also possibly to the safety of you and your passengers.

Be attuned to how your car runs,  and it will pay off in the long run.

Tyre pressure

Tyres are where the power goes to move you, as well as providing the last piece in the processes of turning and braking.

If your tyres aren’t inflated to the recommended pressure it will affect your fuel consumption, manoeuvrability, and your ability to stop the car.

If you’re not sure of what the recommended tyre pressure is, check the tyres themselves, it’s provided on the side wall of each tyre.

You can also find it on a label in the door jam of your car, or in the owner’s manual. It’s also often provided in the paperwork when you purchase new tyres. 

Oil

Oil is the lifeblood of your car’s engine. Changed regularly, as per your car’s logbook service schedule, and your engine and its parts will have the life expectations that the manufacturers find and expect from their extensive testing.

Let your oil get old, dirty, or run low, and it will result in greater friction in the moving parts of your engine, and decrease the engine’s effectiveness, and its longevity. It is important to check all fluids regularly to make sure your car is running smoothly.

Read the owners handbook

For one thing, your car’s handbook is where the servicing life of your car is laid out. The milestones are listed, as is the tasks that will be carried out at each service.

If you want to look ahead and check out how much your car service will cost, we highly recommend the car service guide page at AutoGuru.

Along with the service schedule, your owner’s handbook also has a wealth of information on the operation of your vehicle.

It might be the only place you’ll discover a feature of the vehicle that you didn’t know existed!

Fluids

We’ve already mentioned oil, but that isn’t the only fluid in your car that needs attention.

Your car also needs coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid.

Not sure where they all are, or if you can check them? The owner’s handbook is your friend in this, telling you where things are, how to check fluid levels, and what fluids you need to use. Here are 5 fluids you should check often.

Driver behaviour

Yes, you can look after your car, have all the logbook servicing done, keep the tyres perfectly inflated, look after your oil, but this could all be diminished by the way you drive. Remember, it’s not a race car, and you’re not on a track.

Smooth acceleration and braking, not throwing your car around corners, all of this goes a long way to keeping your car in optimum condition.

Sun protection

We get a lot of sun down here in Australia, and it can be pretty hot and harsh. That’s tough for humans at times, but it’s also tough on cars. Ideally when at home your car is protected by a carport or garage.

You can’t take a garage with you away from home, but you can take care where you park. Minimise the amount of time your car’s in the sun, and it’s paintwork and interior will thank you, and last longer.

A word on parking under trees. Yes, sun protection, but also the possibility of bird poo, or tree sap being dropped on your car.

If you do park under a tree, perhaps just take a look around, at other cars, or at what has dropped onto the ground. And if your car does have one of these substances dropped on it, be sure to wash it off at your earliest convenience.

Keeping it clean

Keeping your car clean not only shows that you have pride in your four-wheel friend, but it too will help your car last longer.

Outside, washing your car regularly, and giving it the occasional wax and polish, will see your car paint looking as good as new for as long as possible.

And let’s not forget your car interior! Clean and vacuum to remove dirt, dust, and grime, and clean and condition the dash and door trims to prevent cracking.

Air filter

The air filter prevents foreign bodies from entering your engine. Performing this duty, the air filter does of course clog up.

The air filter needs replacing every 20,000 km or so. It’s an easy thing to replace – again, your car’s handbook will help you locate, remove, and replace your car’s air filter.

If you don’t, again you’re increasing engine wear and tear, and diminishing your vehicle’s performance.

Conclusion

Nothing in this list replaces the need to have your car regularly serviced by a mechanic. But taking care of these things will result in less surprises at car service time, and lessen any risk of car breakdown or parts failure. 

Now, imagine a seamless segue here…

Right. AutoGuru lets you search, compare and book from over 1600 qualified mechanics across Australia. Boom!

Image credit: Rusty Holden Jason Goulding

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Written ByScott Fitzgerald

Scott has a long history of writing, producing, and curating content for the web, and has done so across a number of industries, including travel, consumer electronics, automobile, and gaming.

Prior to that he worked in book publishing, and was an editor at the Macquarie Dictionary.