Car maintenance beats car replacement. Taking a proactive approach to maintenance helps your car last longer while keeping you out of the car lot as long as possible
We polled some folks at AMSOIL who take pride in their rides for car-maintenance tips to make your car last longer. Here they are.
Protect your car from the elements
Here in the frozen tundra, rust and corrosion from road salt can quickly deteriorate a vehicle’s frame and body. In nearly 30 years of driving, I’ve replaced more vehicles due to rust than all other problems combined.
For off-roaders, mud and dirt can produce similar effects.
Wash your car by hand often. This helps you find scratches or chipped paint that need repair before exposed metal begins to rust.
Pay special attention to areas around the wheels where rocks and other debris constantly fly around and ding the paint.
Apply an undercoating
Whether you live near the ocean or in areas where salt is applied to the roads in winter, corrosion can quickly attack metal.
Have an undercoat applied to your car. This will help protect your car from corroding and keep it on the road for years.
For DIYers, try AMSOIL Heavy-Duty Metal Protector as an undercoating. It’s an easy-to-use, spray-on product that protects metal surfaces exposed to the damaging effects of salt, moisture or chemical corrosion. Check out how it performs in the image above.
Wax that paint
UV rays are tough on paint.
Over time, the sun wears away the luster of your vehicle and dulls the paint.
Wax your vehicle at least once a year to keep the color brilliant and protect against rock chips in the paint.
Protect the leather
The sun also takes a toll on leather interiors.
Clean and protect leather so it’ll remain easy on your eyes and your backside.
Park in the garage
If you have a garage, use it.
Parking indoors reduces exposure to UV rays that dull and deteriorate paint and vehicle interiors. If your garage is packed with junk, this is a perfect reason to remedy that problem.
Follow the maintenance schedule
Your owner’s manual provides a recommended maintenance schedule. Follow it or the recommendations provided by the lubricant manufacturer.
Replacing components like the timing belt or plug wires according to the schedule helps prevent expensive breakdowns and frustration.
Recording car maintenance also helps increase the vehicle’s resale value.
Check the fluids often
The engine, transmission, differential and other components work best and last longest with clean, high-quality fluids.
Check fluids frequently to ensure the proper level. It gives you a chance to inspect fluid condition, too. If fluid levels drop faster than normal, it’s a sign of a mechanical problem that needs attention.
Change brake fluid
According to the AAA, brake fluid is the most overlooked car maintenance practice.
Brake fluid oxidizes and wears out, just like any other fluid. It also accumulates moisture and debris.
Change brake fluid every other year or whenever you replace the pads for long system life and reliable brake functioning and feel.
Change your air filter
This might be the easiest task to complete on the list, but it’s often overlooked.
Your engine consumes about 14 times more air than gasoline. For best performance, the air must be clean and free of dirt and other debris.
Otherwise it’ll enter the engine and wear the piston rings, bearings and other components.
Eventually, compression can suffer, reducing power, or something can fail.
Check the owner’s manual for how often to change the air filter…and follow the recommendation.
Keep it cool
Antifreeze/coolant prevents your radiator from spouting a geyser of scalding water from the radiator in the summer. And it prevents the engine from turning into a block of ice in winter.
About 40 percent of car problems can be attributed to cooling-system issues, so it pays to maintain the antifreeze/coolant.
Flush the coolant about every five years. This helps remove scale buildup and sludge or slime that may form due to fluid breaking down.
Keeping fluid passages, the heater core and the radiator clean does wonders to performance and life.
Use a high-quality antifreeze & coolant. Avoid the cheap “green” coolants found at every retailer. They rely exclusively on inorganic salts for corrosion protection, which deplete relatively quickly and lead to common problems like sludge, slime and scale.
AMSOIL Passenger Car & Light Truck Antifreeze & Coolant lasts up to five years or 150,000 miles in passenger cars and light trucks. It delivers excellent boil-over and freeze protection while fighting corrosion.
Easy car maintenance – go drive
Only using your car for short trips or letting it sit for extended periods can lead to problems.
Drive for at least an hour every month or so to bring the engine oil and other fluids up to operating temperature.
This will allow any water in the fluids to evaporate and keep the seals lubricated to help prevent leaks.
Whether you’re rocking a ’98 Corolla or a brand-new sedan, these car-maintenance tips can help you hit 200,000 miles (321,869 km) and beyond.
Originally published June 30, 2017.