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How to Extend the Life of Your Vehicle

I don't like spending money on costly vehicle repairs, and I'm sure you don't either. That's why you should tackle maintenance issues as soon as possible. Doing so will not only save you money but will extend the life of your vehicle as well. Here’s what you need to do to keep your vehicle running longer.

Lights and noises demand attention

Check-engine light, brake squealing, metal scraping — these alerts happen for a reason. When your vehicle makes strange noises it's time to take it to an auto shop. If you don't, your vehicle might as well say "Warning: catastrophic failure imminent!"

Case in point: Many years ago, I drove a 2000 Honda Accord. The check-engine light would sometimes turn on. I didn't pay it much attention since the light always turned off soon after. Nearly a year later, the timing belt snapped as I was driving. As my car slowed and I pulled over, it made a noise akin to that of a vacuum cleaner turning off. Later, I learned that the engine was destroyed. I sold the car for scrap metal and moved on. Lesson learned.

Leave “fast and furious” to the movies

Putting the pedal to the metal is called jackrabbit acceleration. Jackrabbit acceleration doesn't only waste gas, it's also bad for the drivetrain. The drivetrain is made up of the crankshaft, transmission, drive shaft, gears, and so on. Rapid acceleration puts stress on each of these components, wearing them down faster.

Hard braking is another expensive activity because it can cause vehicle brakes to overheat. When vehicle brakes overheat, they degrade faster, which means you'll have to replace them sooner. Instead, accelerate and brake slowly to keep your parts in better condition. It's not sexy to drive like a grandma. However, doing so will extend the life of your vehicle components.

Flats, patches, and spares

Imagine that one day you decide to go on a joyride. The weather is beautiful, and the windows are down. Then, out of nowhere, you begin to hear thump, thump, thump, thump. You know right away that the noise is coming from a tire, due to changes in tempo as you slow down. Your perfect day just hit a bump in the road — and it gave you a flat tire. Now what?

Properly addressing this problem will extend the life of your vehicle. If you're prepared, you might have a can of flat tire sealant. Or you may decide to replace your tire for the spare. Either way, your vehicle should be in an auto shop within a day or two. Continuously driving on a spare or patched tire will increase the chance of greater damage.

Final considerations

Different vehicles require different types of attention. Therefore, it's important to read your owner's manual to get a sense of what to expect. Doing so will allow you to extend the life of your own vehicle. Following these tips will help you avoid costly repairs or replacements. You'll be glad you did!