5 Tips to Help Maintain an Older Car

Nowadays, a car’s life isn’t necessarily over after it reaches 100,000 miles. Many cars from reliable brands are built to last for decades, as long as you provide the necessary amount of care and maintenance.

By adhering to the following tips, you can experience the reward of owning a car long-term. Here’s how you can keep a 20-year-old car running, a 5-year-old vehicle, or any other car that’s been around the block a few times –  regardless of their launch years.

1. Conduct All of the Regular Maintenance Tasks

This probably sounds like a bit of a no-brainer, but the regular maintenance tasks you perform on younger cars is equally important (if not more) with older cars. If you start skipping routine tasks simply because you think your car is getting up there in age, you can kiss its long life goodbye.

Check your car’s user manual for a list of what needs to be maintained at certain points in the car’s life. A list of these possible tasks might include:

  1. Changing the oil and oil filter on a regular basis
  2. Checking the brake fluid
  3. Rotating the tires (as recommended by the tires’ manufacturer)Replacing coolant as necessary
  4. Replacing spark plugs
  5. Maintaining proper tire inflation

2. Replace the Cabin Air Filter

You might have been told to replace the cabin air filter years ago, but most drivers scoff at the task as an unnecessary expense recommended by auto technicians. The air cabin filter circulates air in the passenger cabin of the vehicle, and after several years, it can become extremely dirty.

This is an especially common problem with older vehicles. If you haven’t replaced your cabin air filter in many years, it’s smart to go ahead and do so. Fortunately, you can probably handle the task yourself if you have even minimal experience working on cars.

Many of the replacement cabin air filters that you can find online are better than the ones new cars come with. Research the difference between “basic cabin filters” and “carbon cabin filters” to determine what your older vehicle needs. If your old car has begun to smell like exhaust fumes or foul odors, you’ll likely want a carbon cabin filter.

In terms of replacing it, this job is usually pretty quick and easy. Chances are, you can find a video on YouTube of how to do it for your particular vehicle!

3. Double Check the Engine Timing Belt 

 The timing belt connects your vehicle’s crankshaft to the camshaft. It controls the timing of the valves in an internal combustion engine. If this timing cycle gets off track, fuel may not enter the cylinder or even escape through an open exhaust valve.

If you’re worried that your engine’s power is decreasing, it could be because the valves are not fully closed during compression. That’s why it’s recommended that you replace your timing belt every 60,000 miles to 100,000 miles. Check with your owner’s manual to see what your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends.

You might have heard that you can determine if a timing belt needs to be replaced by the noise it makes, but that’s not necessarily true anymore. The best thing to do is to have an expert look at the belt to make sure that it’s still in good shape. This requires taking out parts of the engine, so it’s not necessarily something you want to tackle on your own.

4. Drive Like Your Car Needs a Little TLC – Because It Does

Ever heard that the best thing you can do for your old car is drive it?

Well, that statement is true, to an extent. Old cars need to be routinely driven to stay in good shape, but they also need to be driven carefully to avoid putting excessive wear and tear on them.

An older car needs a little extra love and attention, especially when it comes to actually driving it. Here’s a list of things not to do when on the road if you want to avoid problems:

  1. Don’t rev your engine when starting up.
  2. Don’t accelerate quickly.
  3. Don’t hit potholes or objects on the road.
  4. Don’t shift to neutral at red lights; it puts strain on the engine and automatic transmission.
  5. Don’t warm up your engine by letting it idle.

Many of these tips apply to new vehicles, as well, but they’re especially important when you’re trying to stretch the life of a vehicle that’s already been through a lot. Driving like a racer or young teenager will certainly expedite the aging of your vehicle in any situation.

Another thing to consider when driving an old car is the weather. For example, people looking at pre-owned cars for sale in Albuquerque might have to consider how heat, dry weather, and wind will affect how they drive an older car. On the other hand, someone who lives in a Northern state would have to worry about how freezing temperatures impact the car’s functionality.

5. Don’t Do Everything on Your Own

When driving an old car, many people are reluctant to spend much money on repairs or maintenance. After all, the car probably doesn’t have that many years left in it. Why waste money to keep it running if you can get by with little professional maintenance?

Of course, there are things you can do on your own such as inflating your tires and changing windshield wipers. However, there are also certain tasks that are better left to experts if you want your vehicle to last as long as possible.

As soon as you notice something wrong with your vehicle, take it into a mechanic’s shop. According to Heath Knox, master technician at Kenny Ross Chevrolet Dealership in Pennsylvania, people who help their cars run for over 200,000 miles all have one thing in common: they address problems quickly.

“We have some customers with vehicles that have more than 200,000 or 250,000 miles,” Knox said. “If something’s broken, they fix it right away.”

In Conclusion

No car is meant to last forever, but with the proper care and maintenance, you can drive a reliable vehicle for 200,000 to 250,000 miles – maybe even more!

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