If you are trying to save money, liberating yourself from the monthly car payment is a great way to start. Paying your car off means hundreds of extra dollars in your pocket each month. When you think about it, having a paid off car is like getting a raise at work.
You can save even more money by keeping your car running like new. Many people keep buying new cars because they worry that older models will not be as reliable, but there are ways to keep your vehicle running great no matter how old it gets.
The right maintenance and a few simple changes to your driving routine can help you squeeze more miles out of your vehicle. No matter what kind of car you drive, these tips can help you keep it running for many years to come.
Regular Maintenance is the Key
No matter what kind of vehicle you own or when you bought it, the right maintenance can make all the difference. Regular oil changes and fluid checks will extend the life of your engine and prevent future problems. Keeping a close eye on the fluid levels allows you to spot leaks before they have a chance to damage your engine, transmission or radiator. Checking the tire pressure each time you get gas helps you spot alignment problems and uneven wear.
Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open
Your senses can tell you a lot about your vehicle and help you spot problems early. Do a pre-drive checklist each time you get in your car. Check the lights on the dashboard, make sure the headlights and windshield wipers are in working order and listen for any unusual noises.
Investigate any issues before you pull out of the garage. If anything seems amiss, make an appointment with a trusted mechanic and have it checked out. Spotting a problem early and dealing with it right away can save you a lot of money.
Avoid Short Trips Whenever You Can
Short jaunts are hard on your engine, so you should avoid them whenever you can. When you drive only a short distance, the engine never gets a chance to reach its optimal operating temperature. That leads to premature wear and even damage to your engine.
If your commute to work is only a few miles, try driving a little longer or taking the scenic route to the office. Make the same adjustments when you drive down the street to the grocery store or gas station. Limiting trips of 5 miles or less can extend the life of your engine and make your car last longer.
Keep Careful Records
You probably remember the last time you changed your oil, but when did you buy your last battery? Keeping careful records will make it easier to avoid problems later on. If your car has a five-year battery that is reaching the end of its life span, you can start planning fora replacement now— before you end up stranded with a car that won't start.
Keeping careful maintenance records will also help if you ever sell your car. The new owner will want to see those records and know that the car has been properly maintained. Having the records in hand can make negotiating a good sale price much easier.
Keep it Clean
Road salt and other debris can take a toll on even the most well-maintained car. If you live in a state with winter weather, you need to wash the salt residue off your vehicle as soon as the roads are passable. Running your car through the automatic car wash or spraying it down yourself can stop rust in its tracks and help you keep your car on the road longer.
It is no longer unusual for a new car to last for 100,000 miles or more, but that is just the start for some owners. Some lucky drivers have managed to rack up 200,000 or even 300,000 or more miles on their cars, and there is no reason you cannot do the same. Keeping your car for a decade or more can save you thousands of dollars—money you would otherwise have spent financing a new vehicle.