Whether you buy a new or used car, there are many ways to preserve its value by keeping it running longer. The experts at Edmunds.com offer their top five tips:
- Stick to the maintenance schedule. It’s in your car’s operator’s manual, and it’s your foolproof guide for preventing expensive repairs down the road. (Many newer models also feature dashboard alerts that tell you your car is due for service soon.) Bonus tip: Need a mechanic? Ask your friends and neighbors who they use. Chances are, you’ll hear one or two names over and over with positive or even glowing reviews.
- Regularly check fluids and tire pressure. It just takes 10 minutes a week. If your oil or coolant runs too low, you might find yourself buying a new engine or a whole new car. And your car rolls with less effort on properly inflated tires—saving gas and wear-and-tear. Bonus tip: Nowadays, most gas station air pumps have built-in tire pressure gauges, eliminating guesswork when you inflate.
- Don’t gun it when you start it! If your car’s been sitting—either overnight or while you’re picking up milk—oil has flowed back into the crankcase, leaving pistons and valves largely unlubricated. When you turn the key, give your engine just enough gas to turn it over. Bonus tip: Whether it’s cargo in the trunk or racks on the roof, any weight or wind resistance you can remove from your vehicle will also take strain off its engine.
- Turn off the radio. Every thousand miles or so (more frequently with older vehicles), listen to your car, both while it’s in motion and while it’s idling. Ask your mechanic about any unfamiliar noises you hear. Bonus tip: Know the purposes of the gauges and indicator lights on your dashboard, and what to do if they’re telling you something’s wrong. Act immediately!
- Easy does it. Avoid drag-race acceleration, too much highway passing and lane-changing, and short panic stops as much as you can (you could improve your fuel economy as much as 35%!). If you have an automatic transmission, shift only when you’re at a full stop. Bonus tip: PLEASE put down the phone! As many as 25% of all accidents can be attributed to texting or other distractions. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission has observed a correlation between increased driving fatalities and increased use of phones, apps, entertainment and navigation systems while driving.
And we can’t resist the #1 tip from NPR’s “Car Talk”: Don’t drive! It sounds cheeky, but mile-for-mile, short trips put more wear and tear on vehicles than journeys of longer distance. In other words, your car would rather cruise uninterrupted than be turned on and off repeatedly as you run errands. If you can, consider walking, cycling or taking public transportation for short-distance jaunts. It’s better for your car, the environment and you!
When you’re in the market for your next vehicle, we can pre-approve your loan—giving you more bargaining power at the dealership. Learn more and apply online.