What makes a car truly splendid? Is it the purr of the engine when you start it in the morning? The thrusting power you feel when you change gears flawlessly? There are countless factors that you may find particularly appealing – a horsepower like no other, a custom colour you selected yourself – and once you find it, there’s no changing your mind.
Even if the car, to others, may be a bit of a lemon. Even if friends laugh and smirk behind your back, it’s still your vehicle. And there’s pride in that. But one of the things that makes a car worthwhile over all other factors is reliability. No matter how it runs, you want to keep it running for as long as you possibly can.
But these days, it’s difficult to come across a vehicle that can even hold on to 300,000 miles. It seems, somewhere along the way, we’ve sacrificed durability for the frills and add-ons that are so popular in recent models. We forgot about the best part: that they’ll last a long time.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. With proper care and maintenance, you can keep your car running past 500,000 miles. You just need to know what that maintenance entails.
Tips to make your car last 5,00,000 miles
Study The Owner’s Manual
In every walk of life, there’s a book someone refers to as “their Bible”. It can be related to anything; barbecuing, kayaking, golf, gambling and, of course, driving.
In this case, your Bible is your owner’s manual. Study it well, as it was compiled by experts who ran extensive and exhaustive tests on your automobile to concoct the best practices for proper care and maintenance.
The manual contains most of the crucial information you need to know about your car, including what kind of oil should go in and how to do it. You can also find information on how to properly install timing belt replacements and rotate your tires. All of this is important for the general health of your vehicle.
Furthermore, the manual will tell you when these routine services should be performed on your car, usually in a list that covers two pages.
Most drivers are aware that having the right air levels in your tires will lower the mileage of your vehicle, so it’s always good to stay on top of what should be routine.
Keep Your Car Clean
By clean, we mean both the interior and exterior of your vehicle. When you’re driving, the foreign dust and other bodies that float in the air build up on your car’s body. Not washing will cause the living particles to eat through the clearcoat. This will oxidize your paint job, leading to rust.
If you live near an ocean, it’ll likely be the salt in the air that causes it. And you’ll have to wash and wax frequently to keep the sand off your vehicle.
Once rust gets in, it spreads like a virus through the metalwork, making your frame much weaker. So always wash your car at regularly scheduled intervals.
You should always wash your car yourself whenever possible. The drive thru washes at the gas station will give your car a nice shine, but the equipment they use can easily scratch up your car’s body.
As for the interior, keeping it clean helps you psychologically, but it will also help you carry less weight.
Study The Engine As Well As You Do The Manual
If you really care about making your car last, then you probably don’t have any issues getting up close and personal with your car’s engine. In fact, it’s probably already a hobby.
Every now and then, whether you’re trying to save on costs or are in a tight spot, you’re going to have to perform a self-diagnosis on your engine when it starts causing trouble. You should have already taken the time to know and understand your engine, so you can quickly identify the problem.
You should also regularly check all the levels in your engine. Most cars today have an interface that makes this a fairly simple process, however the screen may not always be 100 percent accurate. You should try and check them manually as often as possible.
The hoses of your engine will, over time, crack and break. All rubber does. They’re fairly inexpensive to replace, however knowing when it’s time will save you a lot of trouble on the road.
When checking over your engine, squeeze the hoses to see how well they’ve held up over the years. Replacing them early won’t do any harm to your car, so it’s always best to replace if you’re unsure if they’ll last much longer.
Just as you need to know what your engine is capable of, you should also know what your engine can’t do. Knowing your engine’s limits, and never overstepping them, should prevent any unnecessary wear that comes from pushing it too hard.
While You’re at It – Always Rotate and Check Your Tires!
It may feel obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people on the road neglect to regularly check their tire pressure. Keeping the air evenly distributed will go a long way in fighting wear.
As will the rotation of your tires on schedule, which as mentioned should come listed in the manual. A properly maintained set of tires should last around six years for approximately 50,000 miles, barring any accidents or flats.
Gasoline: Only The Best
Cheap gasoline is what most of us are searching for, and we actually get infuriated when prices per barrel go up because of some catastrophe in the Panama Canal. But, as nice as it is to find the inexpensive stuff, you may be causing damage to your car over time.
One thing you should never do if you want to make your car last beyond 500,000 miles is drive on an empty tank. Gas often leaves some kind of residue in the engine. Dirt and acids usually build up, leaving deposits.
When you’re driving on empty, you’re basically forcing that residue through your engine, damaging its parts. If the injectors, pumps or seals are damaged, they’re not expensive to replace. But the overall damage done to the engine will be significant.
Whether you have a brand new car or an older model you’ve had for years, it’s always advisable to drive carefully. Driving recklessly not only puts you and your car in serious danger, but taking unnecessary risks, even though they seem safe, can result in flat tires, broken springs and much worse.
Driving with care will reduce damage done to your car by wear and tear, and that significantly lowers your mileage throughout the years. The general idea is to keep your car as pristine as the day you drove it off the lot. While that’s impossible, actions such as careful driving can prolong its lifespan and fight off wear.
You should allow your engine to rev once every few thousand miles. This stops carbon deposits from building up, which can result in misfires. This should be done only on quiet roads, when the oil is warm.
If you have a diesel engine, it’s liable to experience clogging issues later in life. To prevent this, drive down a clear, long stretch of road every few months. This should help clear your engine.
Find a Good Mechanic
It matters who is looking after your car when you’re not. Unless you went to trade school for it, there are some matters that you won’t be able to handle at home. So you’re going to need to find someone that’s not just highly recommended, but someone you can trust and work with.
Think of your mechanic as your car’s doctor. When you were searching for a doctor to treat you, you certainly didn’t go to anyone with a degree hanging on their wall. You want to inspect that degree, and ensure it’s not from some institution based in the Philippines.
Your car’s doctor should be vetted just as aggressively. More importantly, it should be someone that you regard as a nice person. There’s no need to go down to the mechanic and suffer verbal abuse just because of your lack of knowledge about automobiles.
It may take time to finally arrive at a mechanic you trust, but surely there’s someone in your neighbourhood you feel you can have a good working relationship with. The most important aspect of your mechanic should be how seriously they take their work.
When you do find the right mechanic, work out a regular schedule with him and stick to it, making all the appointments for routine inspection as well as any more labour-intensive jobs that you’ll need done along the way.
Making your car last well beyond the miles it’s expected today is kind of a lost art. But following these steps should help you in your quest to make your car go the extra mile.