When they’ve just been acquired from a dealership, new vehicles usually run very smooth, the engine giving everything it has throughout the RPM range, shocks are nicely absorbed by the struts and coils wrapped into the suspension mechanism, and fuel consumption sticks to the data found on the brochure. However as years pass, cars tend to grow old just like we do; components start to gain wear and perform with reduced efficiency.
Still, in the same way we take care of our bodies in order to live past the average life expectancy number, proper maintenance can keep a vehicle rolling the tarmac for years and thousands of miles. Here are 4 key maintenance elements to consider if you want your vehicle to run more than 100,000 miles.
1. Oil, Fluids and Filters
In order to run, a car needs fuel. Also, it needs to breathe and to provide minimum friction for the inner dynamic components of the engine. That is why replacing fluids and filters and respecting maintenance intervals are a critical step in ensuring an extended lifetime for any vehicle. Normally, the only fluid that must be changed on a regular basis is motor oil. Others, such as gearbox oil, coolant or brake fluid must be refilled to their optimum level if the level drops; otherwise, there is no need to tamper with them. Don’t try to be cheap when replacing motor oil on your car! Go for a product that matches settings written in your car’s service manual. Other oils may be cheaper or work better in other vehicles but may produce lower performance on yours.
Replacing motor oil means you will also have to replace the oil filter. Again, don’t try to save a few dollars by acquiring a cheaper, low quality product; you will save more on the long run with a performance oil filter. Remember that your car also owns a fuel filter, an air filter and a particle filter. Remember to replace those as well, according to the service interval mentioned in your car’s service manual.
Once you’ve ensured your car is running smooth and at full capacity thanks to its new filters and oil, it is highly recommended to make sure you can get to a full stop just as well as you can accelerate. Again, take your car’s service manual and check the indicated maintenance period regarding the vehicle’s braking system. If there’s none, make sure to check the wear level of your brake pads and replace them when they become thin. Also, after a few tens of thousands of miles, it is highly recommended to replace your brake rotors as well; they may take longer to wear but they aren’t indestructible either.
3. Timing belt
A timing belt that ruptures while the engine is running at a high RPM’s is a mechanical nightmare. If it happens, chances are your intake and exhaust valves will damage, pistons may crack and your engine may have to undergo a very expensive repair process. If your car features a chain drive, you don’t have to worry about this. Still, since there are many cars using a timing belt, replacing your old belt with a new timing belt kit on a regular basis is highly recommended. Replacement intervals differ between car brands and models, so you’ll have to look up yours in the service manual or online. The interval is measured in miles, so check your odometer from time to time.
Your car’s enhanced braking system is useless unless the vehicle has a strong grip with the ground. Given that the only elements able to provide such grip are the tires, make sure you keep an eye on their wear level. Use a cheap tread-depth gauge to measure how much tread your tires have left. A low tread increases chances of aquaplaning and tire failure. Depending on where you live, season-appropriate tires should be used; you should own a winter as well as a summer set of tires if you live in a climate with four seasons.
Finally, remember to inflate tires to the appropriate pressure mentioned by the producer. This will ensure it will use the whole treat surface and increase mileage as well as grip.