If you own a car, you’ve probably wondered how you can make it last longer.
As car enthusiasts, we want to be able to drive our vehicles for as long as possible, but we also don’t want to spend all of our money on repairs and maintenance.
Preventative maintenance is key when it comes to making your car last. It’s always a good idea to tackle issues before they occur and turn into even bigger problems.
Luckily, there are some easy ways to care for your car that can help you drive it longer, whilst saving you a lot of money in the long run.
Today, we’ll explore five easy ways that give your car the best chance of living a long and fulfilling life on the road. Let’s jump in!
1. Change engine oil regularly
Changing your engine oil and oil filter on a regular basis is the most important vehicle maintenance task that you can do.
You might be surprised at how many people overlook this simple form of vehicle maintenance.
Engine oil is vital for keeping your engine working smoothly. Running an engine without oil can have some catastrophic consequences.
Oil works as a lubricant to prevent friction, which is the leading cause of damage to an engine.
Oil also helps to clean the internal structure of your engine and carry away dirt and debris from important components.
If you don’t change your oil often enough, it won’t be able to do its job as effectively, and this will really impact the life of your engine.
Take a look in your owner’s manual for information on how often you should be changing your oil.
If you can’t find this information in your manual, try checking online for forums based on your model of car.
You might even want to change your oil and filters more often than your manufacturer recommends.
That’s fine, but there are no real benefits that come from changing it too frequently.
2. Top up and replenish fluids
Fluids are the lifeblood of your vehicle.
It’s really important to top up and replenish your coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, clutch fluid, transmission oil and differential oil (if applicable).
Fluids are designed to provide essential lubrication and cooling to different areas of your car.
Without fluids, important parts of your car would overheat and fail, leaving you stranded on the road.
It’s a good idea to consult your owner’s manual for guidance on how often to flush and change your fluids.
Certain fluids like coolant and brake fluid are supposed to be changed more often than your transmission or differential oil.
You should make it a habit to check your fluids regularly. If any of your fluid levels appear low, top it up with a manufacturer-approved replacement.
If your fluid appears dirty or black, it might be time to flush and change the fluid completely.
If you’re unable to do so yourself, let a qualified mechanic do this for you.
3. Clean your car every two weeks
Cleaning your car every two weeks is a great way to protect your paintwork and prevent rust from forming on your vehicle.
You might think this is overkill, but a clean car is a happy car.
Leaving wet mud and grime to sit and soak in wheel arches and hidden crevices is a surefire way to encourage the formation of rust on your vehicle.
While some surface rust is usually no big deal, if left to worsen it can severely weaken the structural integrity of your car.
So, every two weeks, get out there and clean your pride and joy. Follow our tips for a comprehensive fortnightly clean:
- Spray the underside of your car to dislodge any dirt and debris
- Spray and scrub the inside of your wheel arches to remove caked-on mud
- Use a special alloy wheel cleaner to remove brake dust from your wheels
- Wash your paintwork and trims with the two-bucket method (don’t use a sponge!)
- Seal the deal with a hybrid ceramic wax to protect your paint
Cleaning your car on a regular basis gets you into the mindset of caring about your car.
Taking pride in your vehicle’s appearance will bag you some great first impressions, but it also lets people know that you look after your car.
This is especially important for mechanics and inspection testers: when they see a clean vehicle, they can be confident that it has been taken care of.
4. Take your car on long drives
Taking your car on the occasional long drive helps to keep your engine running smoothly whilst keeping your battery topped up and ready to go.
It’s quite common when purchasing a new car to be anxious about driving it.
But your car was designed to be driven out on the open road – not hidden in storage and garages to prolong its life.
Keeping your car off the road can sometimes do more harm than good – engines can seize up, tires can deflate and fluids can break down.
Also, for many drivers, keeping their cars in storage is simply not an option.
If you want your vehicle to last for years to come, you should blow the cobwebs away on a regular basis with a long drive.
30 minutes or more of highway driving is enough for your car to reap the benefits.
So, unless you’re building the world’s largest pristine vintage car collection, get out there and hit the road!
5. Be a smooth operator
Driving smoothly and carefully is another easy way to prolong the life of your vehicle.
This means avoiding sudden acceleration, deceleration, crunching gears and vigorous turns.
It also means keeping away from potholes, slowing down for speedbumps and avoiding other potential hazards like ice.
Smooth driving is one of the best ways to help lengthen the lifespan of your car by lessening the stress on individual components. It also saves you fuel!
Here are a few ways that you can drive more smoothly and reduce stress on mechanical components:
- Use the throttle lightly, don’t floor it
- Don’t brake suddenly, keep an eye on the road ahead
- Change gears methodically, in a controlled manner
- Slow down when approaching speedbumps and harsh corners
- Make sure your tires are right for the weather conditions
- Try not to hit or scrape the curb
This doesn’t mean that you should never hit your car’s redline. The redline is a rev limit set by the manufacturer of your vehicle.
Hitting the redline once every few hundred miles (when the engine is warm) is actually good for your engine.
It helps to blow away carbon deposits and clear up the intake manifold and exhaust system.
Sure, your car is built to take a beating from time to time.
But if you want to extend the life of your car and save money and future headaches, show some mechanical sympathy and drive it smoothly. Your car will thank you for it!
Can a car run forever?
It depends. Luck and maintenance are the big factors in how long a car lasts.
Sometimes, no matter how much maintenance you do, a car is just destined to fail.
Other times, you can do no maintenance whatsoever and a car will last for one hundred years.
Cars are made up of thousands of pieces of metal, plastic, rubber and electrical components that must work together seamlessly.
Over time, these parts begin to wear out. Your car still works, but it starts to show signs that it’s not as reliable as it used to be.
You might start getting lower gas mileage than normal, or the interior is no longer as comfortable as it once was.
The harsh truth is that a car can never last forever with all of its original components and parts intact.
Things break and need to be replaced. You can repaint it, engine swap it, replace the transmission… but is it still the same car?
It’s a question that car enthusiasts have pondered for decades, and one that we’ll probably never have a definitive answer to.
How can I make my car last 500,000 miles?
By following the tips in this article, there’s no reason why your car shouldn’t last 500,000 miles.
If you practice preventative maintenance and drive smoothly, you’re giving your car the best possible chance of reaching the magic half a million-mile mark.
Sometimes you’ll get unlucky. Your car might have parts that have been recalled by the manufacturer or engineered ineffectively.
In such cases, you can decide whether the car is worthwhile for you to keep.
But there’s something genuinely awe-inspiring about seeing a car with 6 digits on the odometer and a clean exterior.
If not for the surprise that appears on people’s faces when you tell them the mileage, it’s the comfort of knowing that you have taken care of a machine that has travelled the equivalent of going around the world 20 times (or thereabouts).
And there you have it. Five simple ways to make your car last longer.
Here at Casual Car Guide, we love to practice preventative maintenance. We also love cleaning our cars as often as we possibly can.
This has left us with trusty machines that very rarely, if ever, break down and leave us stranded.
Have you got any tips to make a car last longer? Let us know!