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Car Maintenance: What Makes an Automobile Last?

Many drivers are interested in getting as many miles as possible out of a vehicle. Sometimes car payments can stretch out interminably, making it necessary to keep driving a car for as long as you can. Following a manufacturer's maintenance schedule is a crucial part of extending a vehicle's life. This schedule will include both small car care tasks and the more involved ones that include component or system replacement. Generally, consumers will find that maintenance costs less than car repairs. Consequently, taking care of ongoing maintenance should be less expensive over the life of a car than it would be to pay for major repairs.

  • Keeping Your Vehicle in Shape: Consumers can perform a number of maintenance tasks that will prolong the life of a vehicle, including replacing air filters and changing motor oil.
  • Summer Driving: Getting Your Car in Shape (PDF): Warm weather can cause problems for cars. To avoid problems during the summer, check the radiator and hoses to ensure that the cooling system is working properly.
  • Winter Car Care Tips: Car batteries often become weak in cold weather, so drivers should ensure that they remain completely charged. Hoses carrying antifreeze must be leak-free, and antifreeze must be rated for temperatures of a minimum of 40 degrees below zero.
  • Auto Repair Basics: When auto repairs are necessary, consumers must educate themselves to avoid problems. Preventative maintenance is also important to avoid costly repairs. Changing the oil and checking coolant levels regularly will help maintain a vehicle.
  • Winter Safety Tips for Motorists (PDF): Tire tread and wear are important considerations for people who drive in winter weather. To ensure effective stopping in slippery conditions, brakes and pads must also be maintained properly.
  • Tips to Reducing Auto Air Pollution and Optimizing Gas Mileage: Drivers can perform some car maintenance easily to prolong automobile life. Replacing air filters prevents impurities from entering the engine.
  • Car Care (PDF): Watch the ground underneath a parked car to detect leaks. Anytime you see oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid, or brake fluid on the ground, repair the leak immediately to prevent issues from becoming more serious.
  • What You Can Do on the Road: Follow a vehicle maintenance schedule instituted by the manufacturer to ensure that the car lasts as long as possible. Regular tune-ups will make a car less expensive to run, and it will be more reliable.
  • Storm Water Pollution Prevention Tips: Car Care (PDF): When checking fluid levels, investigate issues if you need to replenish fluids frequently. Low fluid levels could indicate leaks in the system.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Drivers must perform regular checks of engine oil, power steering fluid, and transmission fluid to ensure that these fluids remain at the correct level. Manufacturers also institute a schedule for changing these fluids to maintain a vehicle.
  • Auto Repair Rights and Tips: Consumers without personal expertise in automotive repairs should not try to diagnose a car issue. Ask friends and family for recommendations for reputable mechanics.
  • Environmental Tips for Your Car: Proper tire inflation ensures that tires wear evenly, which extends their life. Keeping tires inflated at the correct pressure also helps with fuel efficiency.
  • Car-Washing and Maintenance: When performing your own vehicle maintenance, such as replacing fluids, always clean up any spills and recycle used fluids to ensure that you do not harm the environment.
  • Tire Safety: Tire manufacturers recommend specific tire pressures and load limits. Drivers must adhere to these specifications to avoid tire failure such as flat tires and uneven wear.
  • Best Practices for Driving/Commuting: Car manufacturers recommend specific motor oil grades for best performance. Using a motor oil grade other than what is recommended could reduce fuel efficiency.
  • Auto Repair: When having a car repaired, get a written estimate prior to service. Sign an authorization to proceed with the repairs, and indicate a top cost you will pay for the work. The mechanic should not exceed this cost without a secondary authorization from you.
  • Be Tire Wise (PDF): Balancing and aligning tires helps to extend the life of the tires. These tasks also help ensure driving safety.
  • Vehicle Tips, Ideas, and Solutions (PDF): When inflating tires, let some air escape from the valves, and release air from the hose before inflating tires. This helps to keep moisture from accumulating in valves.
  • Driving Smarter for Tomorrow (PDF): Car manufacturers recommend a specific fuel grade for optimal performance. Follow this recommendation to keep a vehicle running smoothly and to enhance gas mileage.
  • Top 10 Fuel-Saving Tips: A regular tuneup can make a vehicle operate better, and it can improve gas mileage. Issues with a car's oxygen sensor can be detected during a tuneup.
  • 10 Tips to Avoid Being Scammed by Unscrupulous Practices in the Used Car Industry: Odometer tampering is a prevalent scam with used cars. Consumers can detect unscrupulous sellers by checking a car carefully for signs of excessive wear and by looking for service stickers that note the accurate mileage.
  • Motor Vehicle Care and Repair Tips (PDF): Preventative maintenance is an effective way to prolong a vehicle's life. Check coolant levels and change motor oil in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.
  • Car Maintenance Tips: Typical car maintenance should include checking and refilling windshield washer fluid, transmission fluid, and engine oil. Drivers should also check all lights and test electronics to ensure that these components work correctly.
  • Car Maintenance (video): Extending the life of a car might include replacing the shocks and the exhaust system.
  • Vehicle Maintenance Myths (PDF): Some myths exist regarding vehicle maintenance. Years ago, tuneups always involved replacing filters and other components because these parts wore out quickly. Today's components often last longer, so they do not always need to be replaced when tuning up a car.
  • Pimp Your Ride: How to Make Your Bucket Car Last Through College: Drivers should check fluid levels once per week to ensure that they do not deplete, which can cause engine wear.
  • Car Care Tips (PDF): If a vehicle manufacturer does not recommend premium fuel, use a less-expensive grade. The cheaper gas should be sufficient for the car, and you will save money.
  • Driving and Maintenance: Leaks in the coolant system can lead to an overheated engine. Never ignore a check-engine or overheating light because significant engine damage could occur.
  • How Does One Store a Car for a Long Period of Time? When you will not be using a car for a period of time, store it correctly to extend its life. Inflate tires correctly, change the oil, and park the car indoors for optimal storage.
  • Keep Your Motor Running: Manufacturers provide guidelines for changing automotive fluids. Always follow these car care instructions carefully to ensure that you do not damage the car.
  • Saving Energy: Driving and Car Maintenance (PDF): If an oxygen sensor is not working properly, this can lead to poor gas mileage.
  • The Rewards of Regular Maintenance: Regular car maintenance takes time and money, but it should significantly extend the life of a vehicle.
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