You and your car have been through countless adventures together, and you'd love nothing more but to keep it going for another dozen years. The good news is that today's vehicles are manufactured to meet higher quality standards than ever, so many of them will last as long as their owners practice some smart 'senior care.' Here are three tips for keeping your elderly friend alive and well.
1. Rebuild the Engine
Many people automatically assume they have to shell out huge amounts of money for a new or gently-used car once their old car's engine is kaput. This is an understandable reaction since we tend to see the engine as the 'heart' of the car. But the truth is that you can revive your beloved vehicle -- and potentially save a lot of money -- by simply investing in an engine rebuild instead.
This type of car repair can breathe new life into your vehicle, not only restoring it to functioning condition but also giving it a dramatic boost in performance (at least compared to what you're used to). Every part exposed to wear or friction gets retooled or swapped out, leaving you with an engine that comes as close as possible to like-new condition. This makes terrific sense if the rest of your car is still working fine, but shop around for a price that represents genuine savings over buying another car.
2. Maintain Your Car 'By the Book'
A car is like a human body in one sense -- when it's young, you can get away with abusing it or neglecting it a little, but as it gets older you may need to pay more attention to its maintenance. Many people disregard the maintenance schedule listed in their user's manual because they assume they know how to take care of a vehicle or because the requirements look excessive. So they have the car looked at when something seems wrong, whenever they have a little extra money to spend or whenever they think of it. This might work with a new car for a while, but for an old car it's a recipe for disaster. Keep in mind that what worked for your previous make and model may not be the ideal routine for your current car.
Once your trusty warhorse stars creeping up toward the 100,000-mile mark, you need to consult your user's manual more closely than ever. This mileage zone typically involves the replacement of major components such as timing belt and water pump and for life-extending procedures such as transmission flushes and exhaust system work. Don't drag your feet over these services, or you may find yourself paying an even higher car repair bill after these components fail, possibly damaging other systems in the process.
3. Drive Mindfully
Just because a car is capable of screeching to a stop, flying from zero to 60 in seconds or turning on a dime, that doesn't mean you should drive it that way -- especially as the years pass. Remember that metal parts are prone to fatigue, making springs less responsive and struts or axles more likely to fail. The more sanely you operate your vehicle throughout its operational life, the more gracefully it will age and the more use you'll get out of it. for instance, you'll put less stress on your car if you take the extra care to anticipate stops and brake gradually instead of slamming the pedal.
The gentle approach extends to how you start your car. Instead of simply turning the key and hitting the accelerator, let the engine idle for up to 30 seconds before you head off. This gives the engine an opportunity to lubricate its moving parts -- a critical factor in minimizing wear and tear.
Don't say goodbye to your favorite car just because it's gotten old. Talk to your local car repair shop about what steps you can take to keep the good times rolling!