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10 Tips And Tricks For Prolonging The Lifespan Of Your Vehicle, Even If You’re On A Budget

Most drivers will say they want to make their vehicle last as long as possible, but not everyone has a set plan on how they’ll do that. Even drivers with the best intentions don’t always know how to build good habits regarding vehicle care and maintenance. We can all use some help sometimes figuring out the best ways to care for these investments on wheels. That’s really what a car is, after all—an investment in your goals, your social life, your well-being, and so much more. It gets you to work and client meetings. It gets you to that fitness class that makes you feel great and those museum outings that enrich you. So, protect it.

Whether you get your vehicle from a Chevy dealer, a Ford dealer, a Kia dealer, or another top name, many of the most tried-and-true tips and tricks for maintaining a vehicle remain the same across manufacturers. Sticking to these is essential for everyone, but maybe more so for those on a budget. Significant repairs are a nuisance to those with deep pockets, but they can be debilitating for people with tight finances. Plus, if you rely on your vehicle for income, you can’t afford to have it in the shop for more than a day or two. Here are 10 tips and tricks for prolonging the lifespan of your vehicle.

Stay On Top Of Maintenance

One of the best things you can do for your vehicle is stay on top of the routine maintenance and service schedule. If you have a new vehicle, your dealership can tell you the recommended service schedule for your vehicle. You can also find this in the vehicle manual. Even if you have a used vehicle, speak to a service center you trust. They should be able to tell you the ideal mileage milestone for different critical routine services.

Remember, when you get your vehicle serviced, the technicians replace important filters, change your oil, rotate your tires, check the engine coolant, and even top off your windshield wiper fluid. Some of these services must occur at every visit, and some only need to happen occasionally. Check your vehicle manual or speak to a technician to learn your vehicle’s ideal maintenance schedule.

Only Use It As Instructed In The Manual

Many drivers shove their vehicle manual deep in the crevices of their trunk or glove compartment the moment they receive it, never to be seen again. Don’t do that. Set aside some time to read your vehicle’s manual. In there, you’ll find important information about what you can, should, and— most importantly —shouldn’t do with your vehicle. You might just learn that your vehicle cannot accommodate snow chains or certain types of tires or isn’t made for a specific terrain.

It’s essential to know about these restrictions because if damage occurs to your vehicle as a result of you breaking the rules, your warranty or insurance might not cover it.

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Don’t Try To Replicate “Fast and the Furious” Scenes

Unless you have a vehicle and tires specifically made for performance driving, take it easy on your car. Tokyo drifting and spinning out around corners are moves best saved for the silver screen. Maneuvers like accelerating rapidly from zero and hard braking are hard on your vehicle. They can prematurely wear out your brakes and brake pads, leading you to replace these costly parts more often.

Always leave ample space between your vehicle and the one in front of you so you don’t have to brake suddenly. Slow down when you take corners. Don’t try to recreate that move you saw James Bond do.

Don’t Let It Sit Still Too Long

If you’ve ever seen a neighbor in their garage frustrated while they try to jumpstart their vehicle, they may let it sit for too long. Leaving a vehicle unused for long periods can mean a flat battery. Then, you have no choice but to jumpstart it, and that process is rough on a vehicle.

If you plan on going out of town for more than a week, leave a spare key with a neighbor or friend. Ask them to pop in once a week and take your vehicle around the block to keep the battery active.

Don’t Leave It Exposed To The Elements

If you’re like many people with a garage, you’ve turned that part of your home into an extra storage unit or maybe a gaming zone for your kids. Keep the garage for your vehicles. Leaving these parked outside exposes them to many elements that can lead to damage.

First, there are natural elements, from hail and falling branches that can smash through windows to tree sap that’s nearly impossible to get out of a paint job. Leaving a car out on the street also leaves it vulnerable to theft and vandalism, which are both costly to address. Park your vehicle in a covered, protected space.

Keep Your Gas Tank Partially Full At All Times

Everybody gets a little too busy to pull over for gas occasionally. You pass a station, but you’re cutting it close for that meeting and don’t want to pull over. However, you mustn’t let your gas tank become empty. Running on empty can cause critical components to overheat. Don’t forget that if you run out of gas somewhere remote and have to have your car towed, the towing process alone can be rough on your vehicle.

Don’t let your tank get below a quarter full. Consider scheduling a day and time once a week when you hit the gas station as a routine errand rather than leaving it for the last minute.

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Enjoy Your AC

You might try to avoid using your air conditioner to save fuel. However, never touching it can cause other issues, like leaking refrigerants. Use your AC from time to time, even in the winter, to keep it running smoothly when you really need it.

Don’t Ignore Low-Pressure Warnings

If your vehicle has a tire pressure monitor and it informs you that one of your tires is low on pressure, pull over. Add air. If the tire drops in pressure again, go to a shop and have them check for holes or other issues.

Getting a flat tire can be highly damaging to your vehicle. Most drivers don’t notice the flat immediately and wind up driving on it for a while. Driving on a flat for even a few blocks can be very hard on the wheel and internal components.

In Fact, Don’t Ignore Any Warnings

When you see those little service lights on your dashboard, speak to a mechanic. Don’t just ignore them—they aren’t there for decoration. Sometimes, you might take your car in for service, and the mechanic will tell you it was a false alarm. But the “better safe than sorry” approach to vehicle maintenance can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Put Aside Money For Service And Repairs

Even if you have warranties, consider putting aside a set amount of money each month for repairs and services. Warranties don’t always cover everything, and sometimes they come with huge co-pays or deductibles. Budgeting for repairs and maintenance each month means that when an issue arises, you don’t have to decide between caring for your vehicle that month or paying the utility bill.