According to the US Department of Transportation, our vehicles are getting older than ever before. In 1990, for example, the average car was 7.6 years old, pickups were an average of 8.5 years old, and RVs were an average of 10.4 years old. By 2009, the average car was 9.5, pickup 11.2, and RV 16. Near the end of 2016, IHS Markit reported that light vehicles in operation had reached a new high, averaging 11.6 years of age. Given that the average driver racks up 11,500 miles per year, many vehicles are averaging over 130,000 miles, some well over 200,000 miles! How can you extend the life of your vehicle?
Both inside and out, a clean car is more than just appearances. True, you’ll feel better about your car and yourself, but it also helps it to last longer. Less dust and dirt gives moisture nowhere to get ahold of your vehicle, inhibiting corrosion. Inside, less dirt and dust inhibits the growth of mold and mildew, extending the life of your car.
Vacuum and dust regularly, at least monthly, or more often in bad weather. When cleaning, use cleaners designed for the surfaces you are cleaning, such as exterior paint, glass, or vinyl, or interior carpets, leather, vinyl, or plastics. Use protectants and conditioners to extend the life of leather, vinyl, plastic, and paint.
Inside, where you can’t see it, maintenance is the single most important thing you can do to extend the life of your vehicle. Regular oil changes, every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, keep your engine lubrication system fresh and clean. Rotating tires, at the same time as the oil change, extends the life of your tires. Engine coolant, brake fluid, clutch fluid, and transmission fluid should also be checked and adjusted regularly.
Regular maintenance also gives your mechanic a chance to look over the rest of the vehicle, to catch problems before they get worse or more expensive. If you or your mechanic note a problem with your car, whether it’s a paint chip, blown bulb, cracked lens, fluid leak, or abnormal noise, have it taken care of as soon as possible. Taking care of problems right away can prevent expensive collateral damage, such as rust, traffic tickets, electrical problems, blown engines, or even accidents. Your mechanic can help you determine which repairs are the most critical and which can be delayed.
Aside from the machine, we cannot forget the driver. Driving responsibly does more than help you avoid accidents – it also helps your vehicle last longer. Moderate acceleration and deceleration extend the life of your engine, transmission, brakes, and tires. Within reason, slow down or avoid bumps and potholes, saving your tires, wheels, and suspension. If possible, park in the shade or garage, or consider a car cover to limit UV paint and upholstery damage.
While it’s true that some vehicles are being made better than before, it’s the driver than helps the vehicle last longer. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a master mechanic to help your vehicle last longer, but it certainly helps to know one, as well as keep in mind some other excellent driver habits.Tags: life of vehicle