Make Your Car Last – Maintenance Checklist for the Long Haul

How to Get the Most out of Your Car

When owning a vehicle you want it to last as long as possible so you don’t have to go car shopping again in a few years. Proper maintenance will ensure that you don’t spend limited time and money on your vehicle. Newer vehicles are designed to last well over 100,000 miles and over 200,000 miles in some cases as long as you take care of them according to manufacturer’s specifications. Keep these things in mind when planning your vehicle’s maintenance to allow your car to last as long as you need it to.

Regular Maintenance

Each manufacturer includes their own list of how frequently you should service certain parts of your vehicle, but there are a couple maintenance tasks that are universal.

Get an oil and filter change every 5,000 – 7,000 miles depending on your driving habits. City driving typically requires more frequent oil changes, while if you do most of your driving on the highway you can get by a little longer before a change is needed

  • Balance and rotate your tires every 5,000 miles. This allows them to last longer, wear evenly, and reduce vibrations while driving.
  • Check your brake pads every 5,000 miles for wear and replace them if necessary. Many brands of brakes offer lifetime guarantees, meaning you have no reason not to replace them as often as needed to keep the rest of your brake system in tip-top shape.
  • Check your fluids at least once a month. This includes oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and antifreeze levels. Top up anything that is low, and if something is abnormally low, check for leaks to discover where it’s going

Don’t Buy Off-Brand Parts

Purchasing generic parts to save a few dollars might seem appealing, but aren’t always the same quality as the recommended OEM parts. They don’t typically have as good of a warranty policy on parts as the ones recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. OEM parts come directly from the manufacturer and are a direct fit.

Address Problems Immediately

If your check engine light comes on, get it checked out and don’t put it off. The issue could be something minor or indicate a larger problem, which if left for too long, could damage other parts and increase the cost of your repair. If you see fluids leaking, find out what they are and fix the area it is leaking from. Running out of fluids can damage your engine or the parts the fluids are designed to lubricate and function.

Listen to your car while driving and idling. If you notice odd smells or noises, take your vehicle to get looked at by a mechanic. Remedying a problem early on prevents it from becoming a larger one that can ruin other parts and cause your repair costs to skyrocket. It can also be helpful to purchase a service manual for your car. It will give you a lot more information about your specific make and model, and give you insight into how everything works. It can also give you suggestions about what certain smells or noises could be, making it easier to diagnose by yourself or a professional mechanic.

50,000 mile Mark

Once your vehicle is up to 50,000 miles you’ll want to do a few larger maintenance tasks to compensate for the wear. You may need a coolant flush or to have your transmission fluid replaced at a shop. Inspect the hoses and belts for wear. Replace them if needed, especially if they begin making odd noises such as squealing. If you haven’t replaced your spark plugs and wires you should probably do at this time. Choose a platinum or higher-mileage rated spark plug for better performance. If you notice that your vehicle’s alignment seems to be off, take it in to get a professional alignment done. Some manufacturers recommend getting an alignment whenever you have your tires changed.

100,000 Miles

Your vehicle has made it to the 100,000-mile mark and is still going strong, barring any prior repairs you’ve done up until this point. If you didn’t replace your coolant at 50,000 miles, definitely do it now. It should also be done if you didn’t have lifetime coolant put in at 50,000 miles. It’s time to do another spark plug and wire change. This is around the mile mark when your timing belt should be replaced if it hasn’t yet along with your water pump if it is showing any signs of failing.

Caring for your car will allow it to last for thousands of miles. Regular maintenance makes the primary difference between hefty repairs and small repairs that save you in the long haul. Be vigilant and drive your vehicle for years to come.

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