One thing I get asked a lot by folks who know me and my obsession or passion for cars, whatever you want to call it, is how I get my old cars running so well, and what can people do to get their current cars to stay on the road as long as possible. That’s the focus of this blog, where I’m going to share with you some of the tips and tricks to keeping a car at its peak performance and keeping it on the road as long as you want.
The first thing to keep in mind that the car is only so good as the driver. The way you drive is the way you treat your car, no matter how often you go to the garage. If you want your car to last, you should focus on improving your driving skills. The key is to drive smoothly and calmly without making sharp, jerky movements. That’s the big thing that puts wear and tear on your car, not so much the road conditions. Don’t brake suddenly when you can help it, and try to shift as cleanly as you can. It takes practice to be a better driver, so definitely put some effort into it. I would also say that the smoother you drive the more mileage you get from a tank of gas, so there’s a double financial incentive there. Your car lasts longer with fewer repairs, and it goes further on every gallon. So, first things first, drive better.
Second on my list is to be a maintenance stickler, which I know a lot of drivers aren’t. Unless you’re a mechanic or someone who fools around a lot in their garage, you probably don’t get involved with anything under the hood. But if you want to drive your car for years longer than normal, you have to stay on top of all of that stuff. It all starts with the fuel line. That’s the biggest thing that impacts performance. You should use a good fuel system cleaner to get your injectors spraying cleanly, and run a bottle through your tank every time you change your oil at the very least. Make sure you stay on top of your oil change schedule, make a calendar, and don’t miss check-ups at the garage. Fix things as soon as you can, and don’t let problems like rust or rattling parts build up. That’s how problems get bigger, is when you let them just sit there.
Ok, next is to be alert for odd noises, like rattles, clunks, thumps, anything out of the ordinary. No noise is too small to notice and mention to your mechanic. As I always say, it’s better to be a neurotic than a nincompoop, os pay attention to any strange sounds your car is making and get them fixed. Never ignore signs of trouble, like a wonky steering wheel or wobbly part, since they will always get worse the longer you go without fixing them.
To make sure you get the most out of your engine, I always let the engine warm up and ease into it before driving. Some people go overboard and idle for a few minutes, which is overkill, but especially when it’s cold you should let your engine run for at least 30 seconds or a minute before you start driving, and accelerate slowly to make sure it warms up evenly and doesn’t have a lot of pressure on it all at once. It’s the same principle as driving smoothly.
Last thing you want to do is check fluids like coolant and engine oil and check your tire pressure every week or two to make sure nothing starts going missing without you noticing. Some problems don’t start making noises until they’re really bad, and a dry fluid tank can be an important symptom you don’t want to miss. And for tires, you could have a slow flat that gets worse or blows on the highway, which is way more of a pain than tanking a minute with a pressure gauge to make sure everything’s on track. I also tell people who aren’t mechanically inclined that it’s a good call to get acquainted with how tire pressures work, so you can get the right pressure for the roads, which helps handling, which helps the car parts likewise.
Alright, that should do it for the key ones, let me know if you have any specific questions about how to make a certain part last longer, or whether repairs are worth it for your make and model. Cheers!