3 Tips to Maintain a Used Car
The older a car gets, the more maintenance it needs. That’s the biggest reason why older vehicles depreciate in value: a new car might have all kinds of features and technology you can’t find in something a decade old, but it’s also full of parts that are less likely to break down or fall apart. Maintaining a used car is the same as maintaining a new car you’ve owned for a while, but there are some extra things you have to worry about once a vehicle is a few years old.
Check the Owner’s Manual Milestones
Every vehicle comes with a list of milestones, and when your odometer hits those numbers, it’s time to bring your car in to inspect systems, replace fluids, and possibly replace important parts like timing belts, batteries, and alternators. Although you can find guidelines online for how old you can safely let a car part get, you should follow the milestone numbers included in your owner’s manual. Every manufacturer designs and assembles their own vehicles, so they know best how long a part should last.
Don’t Wait for Something to Go Wrong
Parts only last for a certain number of miles. Once a car has been driven a certain number of miles, its parts could keep working for years and tens of thousands of miles, or it could fail within a month. Depending on the part or system that fails, you could be stuck in a parking lot or looking at smoke pouring out from under the hood.
Using a part past its mileage rating is a risk. Replacing a part early might not get you the best value from your car, but it also means not worrying about dangerous accidents or situations where the engine wears down too quickly. And as the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open
New cars run smoothly and are fairly quiet, or at least as quiet as they’re supposed to be. But the older a car gets, the more “quirks” it develops — sounds and movements that happen as parts start to fail but aren’t so far gone that you need to replace them. Although some of these noises are minor, others mean that something important in your vehicle is wearing down or failing. Learn your car’s quirks, and when something new starts up, you should take some time to figure out the cause.
Of course, maintaining a used car also means doing the same things you’d do for a new car: keep the tires inflated, change the oil regularly, replace the windshield wipers when they get old, and have someone inspect the coolant and transmission systems at least as often as the owner’s manual suggests. Owning an older car can demand more money in maintenance costs, but it doesn’t have to be a problem if you stay on top of service milestones and maintenance and pay attention to the sounds your car makes.