Follow the maintenance schedule in the vehicle owner’s manual and make necessary repairs promptly. If you think you’re saving money by skipping an oil change, think again. Missing even one oil change can accelerate premature engine wear and cause engine damage. The manual contains a maintenance schedule.
When it’s time for maintenance or repairs, use only parts and fluids meeting manufacturer specifications. Using the wrong type of oil or transmission fluid, for example, could result in damage leading to expensive repairs.
Problems can arise at any time and for inexplicable reasons. So it helps to get in the habit of opening the hood and looking, listening, and smelling what’s happening in your engine bay. Look for fraying or cracks in belts, and cracks or bulges in hoses. Investing in a vehicle service manual, available at car dealerships and most auto parts stores, will help show you what to look for and assist you with minor repairs.
Get out the cleaning products periodically. Regular cleaning inside and out can make the car a more pleasant place to be as you roll up the miles, and washing and waxing can help preserve the paint and keep the sheet metal below it from rusting. Vacuuming sand and dirt out of carpets and seats can minimize premature wear that leads to tears and holes.
Buy a car with a good track record. Consumer Reports offers comprehensive reliability ratings in every April Autos issue and to ConsumerReports.org subscribers. Buy a car that has performed well in government and insurance industry safety tests and has the latest safety equipment, like electronic stability control and curtain air bags. If you’re going to live with a vehicle for a long time, you will want it to provide maximum safety protection.
The emphasis here is on quality and that also means a repair shop you can trust. There are several things to look for. Starting with their guarantee, a great guarantee is an indicator that the repair shop is using quality parts and employing properly trained technicians. A great guarantee means that they are willing to stand behind their work.
If you have a relationship with a quality repair shop only go there, allowing them to get to know your vehicle is to your advantage and will usually save you money. They will know what maintenance your vehicle is in need of and a quality repair shop will not sell you something you don’t need. Going to multiple shops can cause confusion. When it comes to keeping your car a long time, value that relationship.
Reprinted from Consumer Reports