If you are on a tight budget, or even on an unlimited budget, you
know how important it is to make the most of what you have.
Getting More Miles Out of Your Car
The following are some tips that will help you to get more miles
out of your vehicle.
1. First, consider, does your vehicle actually have
the ability to run many miles without incurring costly
repairs? Find out by visiting a public library to consult
the frequency-of-repair information in the April magazine
issue of Consumer Reports. If your vehicle has a poor
repair history, consider buying a vehicle that has better
ratings and fuel efficiency.
If you want to extend the life of your vehicle, at the
beginning of each month, have the engine oil level
checked to make certain that it is at the full-level
mark on the dipstick. Buying two quarts of oil that
are on sale and keeping it in the trunk, will enable
you to avoid getting stuck paying three times what
the oil should cost. Be certain to only use the type
of oil and other fluids as specified in the vehicle owner's
2. Every three months (more often, however, if specified
by your vehicle owner's manual) and prior to leaving for
and upon returning from a trip, check (or have a service
station attendant check) the tire pressure and the other
fluids that include:
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Radiator coolant (check the clear plastic bottle)
- Windshield washer fluid
Why is it important to keep the fluids at their full-level
marks? The fluids lubricate moving parts to reduce fiction,
heat, and wear. Therefore, they are the single most important
factor for extending the life of a vehicle.
3. If you drive 6,000 miles or less per year, have the
engine oil and oil filter changed at the beginning of spring
and near the end of fall. If you drive 10,000 or more miles
per year, have the engine oil and oil filter changed every
3,000 to 3,500 miles or about every four months. An easy
way to remember oil changes is to mark a new calendar at
the beginning of a year with "oil change" reminders (i.e., May
and November or April, July, and October).
Service stations usually run specials on oil changes
(i.e., $10.99 - $13.99). However, make certain that the
station is reputable. Some stations have been known to
skip changing the oil or to do part of the job by changing
the oil but not the oil filter. To help make certain that the
oil filter was in fact replaced, use a black marker to put
an X on the new oil filter after an oil change. When the
next oil change has been completed, the newly installed
filter should not include an X.
4. Prior to winter, have a service station attendant check
the antifreeze in the clear plastic coolant bottle with a
hydrometer (a device that takes a sample of antifreeze and
specifies how cold the temperature can become before the
antifreeze freezes). The antifreeze should be able to withstand
(i.e., not freeze) temperatures of at least 30 degrees "below
the coldest" winter temperature.
If the antifreeze is too weak, have additional antifreeze
added to the coolant bottle. Purchase the type of antifreeze
as specified in the vehicle owner's manual (i.e., usually a
type that is suitable for "aluminum and all types of metals"
that are used today's engines). It important to avoid frozen
antifreeze because it can crack an engine's block which
could result in possibly thousands of dollars for the repair.
5. If you drive about 6,000 miles or less per year, have
the engine air filter changed once every two years. If you
drive over 10,000 miles per year, have the engine air filter
changed once a year in the spring. Many discount stores
regularly have sales on air filters.
6. In the spring and in the fall give the vehicle a thorough
wash, tar removal, and wax. When washing the vehicle
in-between the seasonal waxes, use a car wash product
that is safe for clear coat and waxed finishes.
7. Basic vehicle maintenance is an ongoing process. The
secret to making it "easy" and keeping a vehicle "looking
great" involves two components. First, maintaining regular
vehicle involvement and second, only doing a little at a time.
Each week throughout the year (in addition to the
maintenance suggested above) take about 10-15 minutes
to focus on a small aspect of the vehicle (i.e., wash the
windows-week one, vacuum the carpet-week two, Armor
All the dash and the door panels-week three, etc.). After
about three months, one of the "small jobs" will need to be
repeated. However, the vehicle will never be in rough shape.
Doing a "small but thorough" job on one specific aspect of
the vehicle each week, requires very little time or energy.
Having a vehicle that continually "looks great" makes it
The tips provided above are the most basic maintenance
requirements that will help your vehicle to run longer. Be
certain to reference the vehicle owner's manual for any
additional maintenance required on your vehicle.
Basic vehicle maintenance involves a minimal investment
of time and money, but it will provide major benefits in
vehicle performance and lower repair costs. Additionally,
your vehicle will be in better condition when it becomes
time to sell.
About The Author
Kyle Busch is the author of Drive the Best for the Price:
How to Buy a Used Automobile, Sport-Utility Vehicle, or
Minivan and Save Money. For more information about the book,
visit: www.drivethebestbook.com. The web site accepts readers' transportation questions.