Older Car Care Tips
The average age of a vehicle is now nearly ten years old. Partly due to the tighter economy and better cars produced each year, whatever the reasons, people are trying to drive their cars for longer. Older car care and maintenance throughout the life of the vehicle is the surest way to get the most out of your money. Over time, your vehicle ages and certain maintenance items require more attention. And we will help you maintain your vehicle for the long haul.
Modern cars can definitely last beyond the 200,000 mile mark — if they are properly cared for. But this is also why older vehicles tend to require more regular maintenance than newer cars, to keep them working properly.
- Older cars get grimey. Even if you keep it shiny and clean on the outside, certain parts of the engine, suspension, and steering will have build up over time. Debris and sludge can clog different areas if you don’t keep up with the recommended service schedule. System flushes and other maintenance services can get your old, dirty engine working like new.
- Parts are worn and break. There’s a lot of plastic under the hood. But cold winter air combined with heat from the engine can make those parts brittle over time. Look at the engine for any damaged parts and get them replaced immediately. A small break could lead to an expensive repair if you don’t keep an eye on it.
- Hoses that carry engine coolant live a hard life. They’re forced to transport high-pressure fluids that can exceed a rubber-scorching 240 F. Meanwhile, the water pump gets no respect—no respect at all—even though the engine would die without it in minutes. In retaliation, these components conspire to fail on aging cars at the worst possible times and places—extremely hot or cold days in areas with poor cell coverage are among their favorites.
- Brake it, keeping the braking system youthful will help your vehicle live long and prosper. If you inherited or purchased an older car, bleed the brakes. With a helpful friend, the right tools, and a repair manual, brake bleeding is no harder than an oil change.
OIL! When you remove the engine oil-drain plug of an old car, you hope to discover a not-too-dark amber fluid. If the fluid that flows from your crankcase is jet black and contains bits of silvery flakes, you’ve got problems. A worse sign is if the oil struggles out like curdled milk. Whats worse in older car care is when the oil contains big chunks of metal, which happened to me once after the confluence of my racing and engine-building skills. Hey, I was sticking my neck out; I made the engine stick its out, too. And it died.
- Do Not Do It Yourself on everything, cars are just like people and older car care takes a village. As they age, they require more attention from specialists, especially in the regions most critical to their ongoing survival. So periodically have an independent repair shop check critical steering and suspension components. Very experienced DIYers can do this work themselves, but even experts might choose to farm it out to someone who does this work every day just for the added peace of mind. When I repacked the front wheel bearings on my race car, it hurt my lap time—I couldn’t concentrate on keeping my right foot to the floor while wondering if I’d done the job correctly.
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