My guide to making cars run longer and better

For this blog, I wanted to do something a bit different than my usual rambling and storytelling. I get a fair amount of questions from readers, and a lot of you are actually wondering the same things. I thought I’d kill a few birds with one stone and start writing some advice pieces with tips for you and car info you’ll hopefully find useful. This one’s all about longevity.


That’s everyone’s main concern carwise, how to get things to last as long as they possibly can. There are a lot of different parts of your car that deteriorate, be it rust on the frame or corrosion in the engine, so it’s hard to give one answer as to what you have to do to make vehicles last longer. On that note, here are some assorted tips which are all key things you can do to improve the life expectancy of each piece.


Number one and most important is to get on a regular maintenance schedule, whether you’re a good home mechanic or you’re going to see a mechanic. You should treat your car like your teeth. You go to the dentist every 6 months or so, which is about the same amount of time you want to space out checkups for the car. It’s better to spend a few extra bucks and be proactive  than have to spend hundreds or even thousands on a sudden crisis.

Even if there’s nothing apparently wrong, you should change the oil and the filters on your car every 6 months, or depending on how many miles you drive, some other interval you decide on with your mechanic. The most important thing is to do it regularly. The filters and the oil are essential to help your car breathe and keep itself cooled off, and when you don’t clean and change them, things overheat and can get bad. Likewise, check your coolant level on the same regular basis and never let it get low, or you’re going to run into major engine problems.


The other big thing to do on a regular basis is to use a fuel injector cleaner to make sure your fuel line is working as smoothly as it can be. You’re going to want to use a can of cleaner about as often as you change your oil, more or less often depending on how high-quality your fuel source is.


One really minor detail a lot of drivers overlook is tire pressure. Your tires should always be kept at the pressure they’re rated for, or a pressure that you’ve established is appropriate for your roads and conditions. There are some good charts online if you’re not sure what that would be. In any case, checking pressure and making adjustments improves just about everything. It makes you car handle smoother, burn less fuel, and drive safer on the roads.

Probably the best thing you can do besides taking your car in for regular checkups is to do some looking around yourself. A lot of people are in too much of a hurry to get wherever they’re going to take a detailed look around their car, but being observant pays big dividends, let me tell you. Hearing a weird wobbling or thumping sound could be a ball bearing about to fail, and taking the initiative to track it down can be the difference between having a bad accident or not.