Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How to Extend the Life of Your Car

man in blue coveralls and hat using computer at the front of a car, hood is open

While for many people a vehicle is a necessity, it’s not an investment. There are costs associated with vehicle ownership including:

  • Fuel fill-ups
  • Initial purchase price
  • Maintenance
  • Registration and insurance
  • Vehicle repairs

Vehicles depreciate in value over time, meaning they aren’t worth the same price you paid for the car later on. Yet maintenance and repairs are continually necessary to keep your car running well. If you want your vehicle to last as long as possible, you need to stay on top of vehicle maintenance. Here are a few ideas to extend the life of your car.

Part 1 of 4: Performing regular fluid maintenance

Many expensive repairs can be prevented by performing routine vehicle maintenance when it’s due. Follow your vehicle maintenance guide or have a knowledgeable mechanic like the ones from YourMechanic perform the maintenance for you.

Step 1: Change your engine oil on time, every time. Each manufacturer has a different requirement for oil changes.

  • If your car has an oil life monitor, change the oil before it reaches 0 percent.

  • If your engine oil should be changed at a set time or at mileage intervals such as 3 months or 3,000 miles, don’t wait beyond your interval.

  • Dirty engine oil can cause sludge deposits in the engine, overheating, blocked oil passages, and increase internal wear on metal components.

Step 2: Change your transmission fluid when it’s due. Again, follow your manufacturer’s recommendations for time and distance for this service.

  • The transmission requires much less maintenance than your engine oil, although the service is more expensive.

  • Have the transmission fluid and filter replaced when they are due to prevent premature transmission failure.

  • Old, dirty transmission fluid can cause burnt clutches, shift flares, solenoid problems, and a host of other expensive transmission problems.

Step 3: Keep your engine coolant clean and properly mixed. Most engine coolant, also known as antifreeze, has a 5-year replacement interval.

  • Flush your coolant if there are contaminants of floating particles in the fluid.

  • Test the coolant strength every season, especially before winter.

  • If the engine coolant is too weak, it can freeze and cause major damage to your engine.

  • Old coolant can corrode internal engine parts or restrict coolant flow, causing your engine to overheat.

Step 4: Change your brake fluid when required. Like any hydraulic fluid, moisture is its worst enemy.

  • Brake fluid absorbs moisture to prevent corrosion inside the brake system.

  • When your brake fluid can no longer absorb more moisture, brake parts can fail or a noticeable change in brake operation can occur, such as a spongy brake pedal.

Part 2 of 4: Performing timely vehicle repairs

Even when you maintain your vehicle as best as possible, repairs can be necessary from time to time. Components like brake parts, clutch discs, and belts can wear, or bearings and seals can fail. It can be tempting to postpone or neglect these repairs completely; however, that can greatly reduce your vehicle’s life expectancy.

Step 1: Perform engine repairs as soon as symptoms occur. If your engine fails, it’s a major repair no matter what type of vehicle you drive.

  • If you have an engine oil leak, address it quickly. Driving with low engine oil can cause engine wear, or even cause your engine to seize if it completely runs out of oil.

  • If you have engine noise, have it repaired before you break down. A breakdown is almost always more expensive than correcting the problem beforehand.

Step 2: Complete drivetrain repairs in a timely manner. That includes transmission, differential, and four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive issues.

  • Not only do repairs get more expensive because of more extensive damage, but a drivetrain failure on the road can put you in a dangerous situation.

Step 3: Keep routine repairs in check. When wearable parts are nearing the end of their usable life, have them replaced.

  • Replace tires, brakes, belts, and hoses before they completely fail. The added cost of a tow truck or emergency repair usually negates any savings you hope for by delaying the repairs.

Part 3 of 4: Keeping your vehicle clean

Mechanically, your vehicle may be perfectly fine. But body or undercarriage rot can condemn your vehicle to the scrapyard. Proper detailing and cleaning will help prevent rust and corrosion.

Step 1: Wash your car regularly. Wash your car every one to two weeks to remove grime.

  • It’s even more important in the winter when corrosive salt gets on your car.

  • Use a high-quality car wash soap if you’re washing your car by hand.

  • Automatic car washes are great for a quick clean when your car is dirty.

Step 2: Wash the undercarriage. There are nooks and crannies under your car that harbor debris and salt.

  • Use a pressure washer to remove as much buildup from your car’s undercarriage as you can.

Step 3: Keep your carpets clean and dry. Moisture in your carpets can cause corrosion and rust on your floorboards underneath.

  • In wet weather, use high-quality floor mats that trap water so it doesn’t absorb into the carpet.

  • If you see salt stains on your carpet, it’s a good idea to have your carpets shampooed. The salt can permeate down and form corrosion on the floor.

Part 4 of 4: Repairing minor body damage

Minor damage on your car can have detrimental results in the long term. Repair those minor issues that creep up to extend the life of your car.

Step 1: Touch up scratches in your paint. Scratches on metal body parts will rust eventually.

Step 2: Repair minor rust that forms on your car. Address it sooner rather than later to keep your car in good shape.

  • It can happen from a simple stone chip that gets out of hand or another seemingly harmless incident.

  • You can fix minor rust or rust holes on your own or have it done professionally. In many cases, your vehicle won’t pass a state inspection with rust holes in the body.

Whether you need routine vehicle maintenance like a brake fluid change, common repairs like a serpentine belt replacement, or more involved engine or drivetrain repairs, you can find help at YourMechanic. One of our trained mechanics will come to you and get your vehicle repaired to extend its life.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the...
P0222 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input
P0222 code definition Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input What the P0222...
P2422 OBD-II Trouble Code: Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2422 P2422 code definition Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP)...


Related questions

Q: I think my clutch or clutch master cyclinder went out

Hello - it sounds like the clutch hydraulics are not functioning properly. Check for adequate fluid level first - the clutch fluid reservoir is near the brake fluid reservoir on the firewall (driver side). If the fluid level is low,...

Q: How do you maintain the touchscreen?

While the touchscreen in your car is designed to require virtually no maintenance, a little TLC will go a long way toward keeping the screen in great shape and useful for years to come. Here’s what you should do: ...

Q: What type of oil do I use in my altima

That's a good question. I did some research and it says 0W20. However, there is a small chance that my information is incorrect. Most vehicles, especially new ones, you can find the oil type on the oil fill cap. It...