Today’s vehicles run a lot longer than they used to. It wasn’t long ago that a car with 60,000 miles on it was “getting old.” Today that is just 1/3 of the way through your average cars useful life. This is due to a ton of engineering advances and designs but the point is that cars can last a long, long time today -that is with proper maintenance! Here’s what to know:
Things you can do yourself
There are several maintenance items that you can perform yourself that will help keep your car running well.
- Change wipers when they are worn
- Vacuum the interior and keep it free of debris (keeps animals out)
- Clean up spills right away and consider a good steam cleaning occasionally
- If you have a leather interior, maintain it with a good leather conditioner (twice a year)
- Check tire pressure of all tires (including the spare) once a month
- Keep your windshield reservoir filled with window washing solution
What your mechanic will do
Your mechanic will know the maintenance schedule for the important maintenance items on your car. If you have your car repaired at an independent repair shop, you may want to keep track of maintenance items yourself.
- Change oil and oil filter routinely as per manufacturers recommendations
- Keep all fluids topped off properly
- Replace coolant and flush the coolant system at the appropriate mileage
- Replace spark plugs at the appropriate mileage
- Rotate tires as recommended by the tire manufacturer
Especially important maintenance items
We have two maintenance items here flagged as “especially important.” Both of these just require that you simply pay attention to them and take action if necessary.
#1 – Repair any paint scratches before they rust.
Paint scratches tend to appear out of nowhere. People brush up against your car in parking lots; people open doors next to you and bump your car; hail, road gravel and sand – they all contribute to paint scratches.
When scratches occur, it is quite important to get some touch up paint over them before the underlying metal starts to rust. While nothing says you can’t put any color paint on your car, it will look better with paint that matches your car’s factory color. You can get touch up paint that matches your car from various sources. For an “exact color match,” go to your car dealer. They may have to order it but it will be an exact color match. For convenient “approximate match,” go to your local auto parts store. They will have a rack of small touch-up paint bottles some of which should be very close to the color of your car.
#2 – Know when your timing belt needs changing
A critically important maintenance item involves your engine’s timing belt. The timing belt (or chain) in your car’s engine connects the crankshaft to the camshaft and it controls the timing of the valves. Timing belts are made of rubber and if they break, they can cause engine damage. Thanks to Federico Kia of Wood River, a local Kia dealer in Wood River, IL, we have the complete story: There are two types of engine designs: interference and non-interference. If you have an interference engine and the timing belt breaks, you will do massive damage to it because pistons will slam into moving pistons. Vehicles that don’t have an interference engine will not suffer any damage when a timing belt breaks. It will just stop running.
Important note: when you have your timing belt changed, ask your mechanic to: change all the accessory belts, change the water pump, and flush the cooling system too. This will save you money in the long run since your mechanic will have to remove all the accessory belts anyway to get to the timing belt. The same logic goes for the water pump. While the timing belt is being changed, the labor is already included.
Instead of buying a new car, you can keep your old car for a bit longer if you maintain it properly. Sure, there will be some repair bills along the way but that’s just part of the process. Drive that old car for a few more years and then you are good and ready for a new car.