Americans are keeping their cars longer these days. Last fall the age of the average car was approximately 5.2 years. Today, average car age is up to more than 6 years. People are hanging on to their cars longer. As the economy works to get out of this recession, new car purchases are being delayed. However, the longer you keep a car, the more potential mechanical problems you are likely to come up against. Since you may want to sell your baby at some point, keeping it in the best possible shape it vital.
Ten Tips on Keeping an Older Car
1 Know Your Manual
Yeah, an owners manual might not be the most exciting read you will ever come across, but the information inside is vital. Things like a proper maintenance schedule and little tips and tricks on what you can do to keep your car running smooth. And to keep from getting too bored pull it out and read a few pages when you are waiting for your spouse, child or a friend.
2 Have a Good Mechanic on Your Side
A good mechanic is vital. Preferably one who knows a lot about cars and one who has your best interest at heart. You can find one by:
- Getting recommendations from trusted friends and people with similar cars.
- Get someone certified by the National Institute for Automotive Services of Excellence.
- Ask the AAA for approved mechanics in your area.
- Do not choose your mechanic when you need a big repair, go there for small things like an oil change first. This allows you get a feel for the place and get to know the owner and his guys a bit.
3 Regular Maintenance
Keep your baby healthy. By keeping up with regular maintenance and fixing small problems right away you can avoid potentially big problems which will cost a lot more. Along with regular maintenance, oil changes and tune ups, also do regular tire rotations, body inspections, etc.
4 Like a Boy Scout
Always be prepared for the unexpected. Keep an emergency kit in your trunk which includes: A blanket. This can be useful if you have to lay on the ground to see a problem underneath, keep you warm if you get stuck in bad weather and in case of an accident. Use your cell phone to take pictures at the scene of an accident, to remember where you parked and to document things you want to show your mechanic. Keeping a disposable camera in your glove box will work as well.
5 Precious Fluids
Losing fluid is a good indicator that there is something wrong with your car and big problems could be just around the corner. Losing coolant could lead to overheating and subsequently maybe blowing your head gasket. Every car owner should know what to check for. If you are not sure, but think there may be leak, put a big piece of cardboard under your car. If it comes out with fluid stains, take the cardboard to your mechanic. Here are some guidelines:
- Red – transmission fluid