Every time you buy a car, new or already used, one of the things going through your head must be how long you can expect to be driving it. As you may already be aware, the average lifespan of vehicles in Canada is over 10 years, 11.5, to be exact (and prolonging with each passing year). However, with new materials, manufacturing processes and technologies surfacing every few years, cars are becoming increasingly more durable – you just need the will and patience to dedicate to them. That is precisely one of the reasons why some people are still driving cars they bought 20 years ago, and are not intending to stop any time soon.
But how do you get to making your car last as long as possible? Stick with us for 5 maintenance tips on doing exactly that.
1) Buy a reliable model
It’s not easy buying a car, that’s for sure. There are a lot of things to consider. But, if you’re not the kind of person who wants to deal with that particular hassle every year, for example, then you should definitely put the effort into finding a car that is already known for being reliable in the long run. Depending on where you look for information upon deciding to buy a car, and if you are willing to dig deep for information, you can find out a lot about what to look for, where is the best place to buy, how and when. (Take a look at our infographic to see how people are buying cars nowadays.)
Moreover, make sure you buy the exact vehicle model you want (or, at least, the closest to it), because that way you can ensure you are happy with it for as long as possible. It goes without saying that the car should fit your lifestyle and that you enjoy driving it. The less compromise you make on the features you want your new car to have, the longer you will keep it (in theory, at least).
Make sure it is the right color, the right package, the right option. The salesperson is there to guide you in the right direction, but it is up to you to make sure you are comfortable with the car you will be spending hard-earned money on and driving in the foreseeable future. – Ali Ghaddar, President CRS Automotive Cambridge, ON
If you are looking to buy a used car, aside from all previously said, pay special attention to any signs of damage or neglect by the previous owner. Check the doors, trunk, navigation system, stereo, radio and anything else you can think of for scratches, rattling, glitching, etc. Little things like that are what might not work properly on a used vehicle, but are not disclosed by the dealer because it doesn’t fall under the safety and industry standard requirements (Read more about buying a used luxury vehicle in one of our blog posts). Also, request the vehicle you want to buy undergo a 3rd party inspection to see if there is anything that you are missing, but that might cause you trouble once you buy the vehicle.
2) Don’t try to save on the parts
It’s always a bad idea to try to save a few Loonies on fluids, filters, tires, and any other parts you might need to replace on your car. In the long run, it certainly doesn’t pay off to damage your car by buying the wrong transmission fluid since it may lead to expensive repairs down the line, making the vehicle warranty void or affect its long-term durability and reliability. By the same token, buying parts for your car from some no-name brands are bound to wear out sooner than those that satisfy the manufacturer’s specifications.
Arguably, one of the things people try to save on the most is fuel they buy for their vehicle. Buying lower-octane gasoline can cause serious damage to the car’s engine if it REQUIRES higher-octane fuel, but if it is only RECOMMENDED, then you have some leeway since the engine-control system has sensors that will compensate for it. On the other hand, going overboard is also a mistake, since higher-octane gasoline won’t do much of anything for the vehicle’s performance, engine life or fuel economy, but will cost you more.
3) Follow the maintenance schedule
Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for your vehicle and you can do no wrong. It is meant to be your guide every service checkup your car needs in its lifetime – when to change oil and filters, when to rotate or change tires, when to replace the timing belt, etc. Missing even one oil change can cause damage to the engine and lead to premature engine wear, which reduces the durability period of your car.
If you feel like you’ve dropped the ball on car maintenance, just drive it to your trusted mechanic and let them inspect your vehicle for any issues no matter how minor you might consider them. Once you take care of those problems and give your vehicle a fresh start, begin following the schedule. It’s not as hard as it might seem. You have a dashboard full of lights that are there to help you and warn you about a problem in the making, so you should heed their little blinking warnings and drive your car to the repair shop. (Read one of our blog posts to find out which 7 dashboard lights you don’t want to ignore and why.)
4) Listen to your car
Getting to know your car’s sounds, smells and general behavior is paramount as you cannot completely rely on everything going by the schedule or being signaled via lights. Therefore, take a few minutes every now and then to open the hood and look, hear or smell for anything strange. Frays and cracks in the belt, together with cracks and bulges in hoses can definitely signal trouble. You should look for any leaks, and check the level and condition of brake and power-steering fluids, as well as coolant. For instance, gritty-feeling or burnt-smelling transmission fluid can be a sign of internal damage, so catching it early can save you money for big repairs in the future and increase the long-term reliability of your vehicle.
When on the road, listen for odd noises from your engine, suspension, and brakes. If you have any doubts about a noise, get it checked out right away by your mechanic.
5) Keep your car clean
It might sound funny, but keeping your car clean can also make it last longer. By washing and waxing it regularly (especially during winter), the car will not only look newer, but will also be a pleasant space for you to spend time in. Washing and waxing can help preserve the paint and prevent rust on the body, while vacuuming sand and dirt out of carpets and seats can minimize premature wear that leads to tears and holes.
Most importantly, while you clean your car, you will also spot small problems that you wouldn’t notice otherwise, such as scratches that need to be painted over and loose or broken parts that should be repaired or replaced.
And there it is, people!
Take good care of your car if you want it to serve you well and last longer. We are also here to provide professional assistance, so find our repair shops in Hamilton and entrust us with your car. We will take excellent care of it!