Your car is a lot like your liver – it won’t hold up too well if you keep beating the shit out of it. Luckily, keeping your car in tip-top shape so it’s still mint 20 years later is easier than the day after a bar crawl with the lads. Here’s how to keep your ride from becoming a headache.
Don’t ignore maintenance checkups
You don’t have to be an authorized auto repair shop to find how often, or in how many kilometers, your car needs specific maintenance tasks done. If your authorized repair shop is too expensive, check out some place cheaper. Listen to them carefully with a sparkle in your eye and write down everything they say – especially when you should visit next.
Do your own oil checks
You should check your oil at least once a month. Don’t even trust the check oil light – your only loyal friends in this world are your eyeballs, your dipstick, and an oil rag. They’ll tell you when there’s not enough oil. When there’s not enough oil, your engine will suffer. And when your engine suffers, well, so does your wallet.
Sweat the details – and fix them
Take care of your car and it will take care of you. This doesn’t mean you have to race to the repair shop at every odd sound from your engine, wheels, air conditioner or shocks. But say some no-good hooligans strip the rear ornament from the trunk of your station wagon. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it will become a problem if you let it. True story – the holes left behind, over the years, can fill up with snow, ice and rain and rust your trunk away from the inside.
Change the interior air filter more often than you probably do
Manufacturers’ recommendations for air filter changes are less frequent than they should be. Change it twice as often. Not only will you breathe easier, you’ll also protect those precious leather (or whatever type of) seats you’ve got. You’ll be getting way less dust on the inside of your car.
Check your tire pressure often
Same as your oil – check no less than once a month. If you have any suspicion that one of your tires is flatter than the others, head to an air pump immediately. A flat or flattening tire will lead to: a) potential chassis problems down the road; b) lower fuel efficiency; c) a car that will handle about as smoothly as a grumpy mule that doesn’t want to do as it’s told.
Take it easy when you drive
As much as you wish it were true, you are not Lewis Hamilton’s spiritual twin or the second coming of Ayrton Senna (if you are, sorry, you can skip this one). Apartment blocks, courtyards, supermarket parking lots, and even eight-lane avenues are not F1 tracks. Odds are you’re not driving a supercar either, especially if it’s that poor old nag of a van you drive at work. If your car is street legal, it will do best being driven the way it was meant to be driven – street legally.
And wash your car, too (kidding!). Wash your ride as often as you can. Waxing it is even better, but going for the nanocoating shows her you’re really in it for the long haul. It’s not just about looks – every surface of your car will wear down or rust sooner if it’s left dirty.
Keep it sheltered
The sun is your car’s enemy, so parking in a garage, or at least in the shade, is a great idea that most people ignore. Even most modern paintjobs can’t do much against long-term color fade. The sun will also gradually damage most of your interior surfaces – plastic, wood, leather or fabric (and that’s without the edge case of leaving your car out in the sun on the hottest day all summer). Don’t believe us? Ignore our advice, take a picture of your car every day for ten years, and then smack your future self in the forehead. We told you so.