While we wish our cars would last forever with little maintenance needed, there are specific steps we can take as car owners to make sure our vehicles last longer on the road.
Regular vehicle maintenance and listening to your mechanic’s and manufacturer recommendations will guarantee a long life for your car. Making these methodical choices for your vehicle will also save you money in the long run.
BestRide.com talked to two dealership experts who gave their insider tips on how to maintain your vehicle best.
“Investing in your vehicle is essential,” said Wyn Bowden, the general manager of McClinton Auto Group in Parkersburg, West Virginia. “Regular maintenance is only going to make those wear and tear items last longer. These things really do matter.”
1. Tire pressure, tire rotation, and tire alignment
You should check your tire pressure once a week and make sure it’s at the top end of the specifications on your door jam, said Derek Haddad, the fixed operations director for Sands Chevrolet in Glendale and Surprise, Arizona. For the best rule of thumb, always check your tires cold and inflate cold, not after you’ve been driving for a while, Haddad said. You should rotate your tires every 6,000 to 7,500 miles or every other oil change. “Your front tires are turning, and your back tires are not, so you don’t want unorthodox and uneven wear,” he said. “You get max tire life when you regularly rotate your tires.” Tire alignments should be completed on an annual basis. This prevents your car from pulling to one side or the other and is another way that affects wear and tear on your tires, Bowden said.
Here’s another BestRide blog on how you can extend the life of your tires.
2. Oil changes
If people changed their oil more often, they would get more longevity out of their engine. The primary purpose of engine oil is to prevent friction between metallic parts. Engine wear occurs when the engine heats up and is not properly lubricated due to old oil. Oil changes also get rid of dirt and debris, which makes your engine run slower. You should change your oil every 3,000 to 10,000 miles, depending on your vehicle. “Your engine gets a fresh drink with regular oil changes,” Bowden said. It’s also not wise to choose the cheapest place for oil changes because these shops use the cheapest oil and oil filters. “The consumer just assumes dealerships are more expensive, but oil changes are losers for us because we’re using full synthetic oil and OEM filters,” Bowden said. “We’re trying to gain a customer and keep them for life, so we want you to come to your local dealership for your oil changes.”
3. Changing your engine coolant and automatic transmission fluid
These vital engine fluids also need to be changed, although not as often as oil. How often these fluids should be changed varies by model, so check your manufacturer recommendations, but typically they should be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. Both fluids get contaminated over time and need to be changed to keep the longevity of the transmission and the engine. “You need to stay on top of it and protect your components,” Haddad said. “A little vehicle maintenance lowers your risks of failure. It’s the same basis of eating right and exercising.”
4. Vehicle’s exterior
While washing your car is a good idea, Haddad cautioned that excessively washing your vehicle is not advised. Make sure when you do wash it, you apply a wax sealant every 10 to 12 washes to guarantee the longevity of your paint. “I suggest only washing your vehicle twice a month,” he said. “If you wash your car too much and don’t wax it, you will start to wear down the exterior finish. If you don’t replenish and put sealant on your clear coat, it’s like you are sandblasting your paint.” Doing this will help with the resale value of your car.
Working with a reputable service department at your local dealership will help you keep up with these regular vehicle maintenance tips. Since every vehicle manufacturer recommends different intervals for changing fluids and other maintenance, make sure you consult your car’s manual. Bowden said that most service departments will let you know if the service needs to be completed right away or hold off until next time.
“Staying on top of this schedule is a good idea,” he said. “It will create a better-maintained vehicle, which will save you money in the long run.”
Check out our other blogs if you’d like to learn more vehicle maintenance tips, like what to expect at each milestone service appointment.