Most car buyers make it a point to maintain a new car. After all, they’ve probably put a substantial downpayment on it. They need to make certain they get their money’s worth. Preventive maintenance is key for keeping your car in showroom condition.
But a secondhand car? Not so much.
But the truth is you can get just as much performance from a secondhand car as you would a new one. Sometimes even more. Keeping a used car in tip-top shape doesn’t mean constant (and expensive!) tune-ups. The right vehicle attended to with the right care should be able to last you years. Years in which you won’t even have to think of another purchase—as long as you maintain it properly.
Preventive maintenance for a used car doesn’t require much automotive know-how. And while it does require some effort on your end, it’s not quite as much as you’d think. Need some tips? Look no further.
Pay Attention To Your Owner’s Manual
Just because your car may be older than three years doesn’t mean maintenance techniques will be any less relevant. Each make will be different, with their own peculiar quirks. There’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” owner’s manual. More specifically:
- When was the last time you checked the pressure of your tires? Once a month is standard for any car, used or new.
- How often have you changed both your oil and your oil filter?
- How often should you replace your spark plugs? What about your coolant?
- Do you rotate your tires annually per the manufacturer’s suggestion?
All of these answers can be found in your owner’s manual. Take them to heart if you want to maintain your car’s life.
When To Think About Your Timing Belt
Typically, your timing belt should be changed approximately every 100,000 miles. Generally speaking, that’s an ideal rule to follow. But as we mentioned, each make and model has their own peculiarities. There’s the type of engine to consider first: an interference engine or a non-interference engine. Again, your owner’s manual will tell you which type your car has.
One of the reasons why changing your timing belt is so important is the cost of engine replacement. If a timing belt breaks at any time after 100,000 miles, not only will it damage your engine, but the cost for replacement can run you several thousand dollars. Non-interference engines, on the other hand, won’t suffer as much damage during breakage but can still prove to be a costly affair. If you do wind up needing (and again, every 100,000 miles is recommended) to change your timing belt, ask your mechanic to also change the water pump and flush the cooling system. Generally speaking, both shouldn’t cost you any additional labor and will ultimately save you time in the long run.
Use Octane Gas
Is it costly? Yes. Should you do it more than a few times a year? Probably not. In fact, you really don’t need to. But it does clean out any build-up in both your pistons and catalytic converters. Not only will it clear out your pistons and converters, it can affect the entire performance of your car, from your check engine lights to your air conditioning, believe it or not. Use it periodically to help prevent any gunk from accumulating—no more than three or four times a year should be sufficient.
Replace Your Cabin Air Filter
It comes as a surprise for many second-hand car owners, but the passenger air cabin can affect the overall performance of your car. Think of an air filter as a sieve. When dust, dirt, and debris build up, it not only works incorrectly, but particles can travel throughout your car’s entire system. Periodically changing your filter will make your A/C run more effectively and prevent build-up in your car’s system. It’s a preventive maintenance option few people consider.
Repair Scratches, Dings, And Wear Immediately
Will it affect your car’s overall performance? No. Will it go a long way in keeping your car beautiful? Absolutely. Let’s face it. Most of us are just as concerned with the appearance of our cars as we are their performance. But chips and scratches aren’t just ugly. Over time, they’ll oxidize. And your car will wind up looking at least ten years older. Remember, preventive maintenance is as much about the exterior as it is about the interior. Repairing your car’s finish is nowhere near as difficult as it sounds. All your typical scratch needs is a surfacer or sander, base paint and clear coat, and it will look brand new all over again!
Well, almost brand new.
Other Preventive Maintenance Tasks You Can Do Yourself
- Change your windshield wipers when they’re worn
- At least once a month, vacuum the interior and clean your upholstery
- Every six months, check all your lights to ensure they’re not burned out
- Always keep a spare tire in the trunk of your car!
Need more tips on how to prevent damage to your used car? Or are you just in the market for a new one? We can help. Visit us today at Carfect.