Keep your car longer
The current recession is really causing a number people to take a hard look at their cars and how long they intend to keep them. Americans are holding on their old autos longer instead of buying new models. In 2008, the new auto market experienced a 16-year low. Used vehicles being traded in at dealerships averaged 6.3 years of age after the Wall Street meltdown in late 2008, about 6 months older than before the crisis, according to forecaster J.D. Power & Associates.
Keep your car longer
Keeping your car longer requires keeping it well maintained. Not to mention keeping good tires on it, paying for oil changes, fixing things when they break, replacing the shocks, and who knows how many windshield wiper blades. With all of the required maintenance, your car may run for 200,000 or more miles, but is it really worth the cost?
According to Consumer Reports magazine, keeping your car longer, specifically for 200,000 miles over the course of 15 years can save more money than the purchase price of the vehicle itself.
Here’s the recommendations from Consumer Reports for making your car last the long haul:
Buy cars with a high reliability rating. Both Consumer Reports and Edmunds.com provide comprehensive reliability ratings on cars. Purchasing a a car that has a high safety rating based on performance in government and insurance safety tests is also an important consideration and will go a long way to allowing you to keep your car longer.
Don’t Skimp on Maintenance
While it may seem to make financial sense to skip every other oil change, skipping even one oil change can result in engine wear. Engine wear ultimately leads to less lifetime. So keep those fluids changed, tires rotated and filters clean. One word of caution, do not rely on your local dealership of mechanic to provide maintenance intervals and recommended services. Consult your owners manual for required maintenance items. You might want to even consider changing your own oil, but take a hard look on whether changing your own oil worth the cost savings.
Pop the hood
I know, some of you are cringing at this point…trust me, it’s not that bad. Consumer Reports encourages people to open their hoods and check for any unusual sounds, sights, or even worse smells. These are generally early warning signs for potentially big problems. Look for things like cracked hoses, exposed wires, cracked belts, liquid leaks, and insure the battery is clean and the terminals aren’t corroded. For the most part your engine will be dirty, but it shouldn’t be caked in oil or have pools of anti-freeze anywhere. If you see lots of oil on the engine, under your hood, or elsewhere, you should get the vehicle serviced.
Don’t skimp on parts
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is purchasing low quality, off-brand, or even used parts. The cost of doing so could be much worse in the long run. I’m not saying that these are bad options in all cases, but just do your research. You certainly don’t want to save $100 on a part just to turn around and pay $1,000 due to the damage the failed part caused.
Keep it Clean
The best way to avoid buying that shiny new car is to clean yours. Spend an afternoon really giving it a good wash and wax. Not sure how to properly wash a car? Read my article on how to wash your car and save money. To keep costs down even further, consider using homemade car cleaning products. Clean out the inside, clean the inside, and shine the tires. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel about your car. Not to mention keeping your car clean will keep it running longer and make the paint last longer.
I currently drive a 2000 Ford Expedition with 116,000 miles. Before that I drive a 2001 Nissan Sentra with 125,000 miles. I loved both cars. Any guesses on how much longer my Expedition will go?
Do any of you drive cars with more than 100,000 miles on them? How about 200,000? What tips do you have for keeping your car running so long? Add a comment!
Photo by: streetoftrees