If you’re driving an older car, you have lots of company. The research firm IHS says the average age of U.S. cars on the road today is about 11-12 years.
Keeping your old car looking fresh helps it gain more character even as it gets older. You also want it to perform like it did back in the day to maintain its value and remain a safe ride. Here are three basic tips to keep you and the old gal happy together.
Prioritize Car Maintenance
Edmunds.com recommends three car maintenance areas:
- Prevent accidents. Avoid accidents by making sure major functions are in good working order. Pay particular attention to the braking and steering systems. Does it take too long to stop? Are there noises when you turn? Tire conditions provide a lot of clues. ProCarCare.com explains how to “read” tires for wear patterns and fixes.
- Prevent engine failure. Keep radiator hoses, accessory and timing belts, CV joints and fans in good condition to help the engine perform consistently.
- Provide basic maintenance on schedule. Don’t skip or skimp on changing the oil or transmission fluid. Make sure you have enough coolant. These are your car’s life support.
Outside Maintenance Makes Your Car Look Better
Maintaining your car’s exterior makes it look better and more fun to drive.
- Fix windshield chips. You may have a couple of years until inspection, but go ahead and fix that chip in the windshield, even it it’s not in your line of vision. Virtually all auto policies cover this. And there’s something about not seeing damage that makes you feel better when you’re driving.
- Get excited about new tires. Don’t look at new tires as only a cost; they’re key to bumping up car performance. New tires make your ride quieter and help save on gas. Plus, as Cars.com warns, old tires are unsafe, even if their wear looks minimal. Ten years is a tire’s maximum lifespan, regardless of garage environment, local climate and road conditions. Purchasing quality tires like Michelin for example, will also help them last longer.
- Clean your headlights. Headlights on older cars are like aging eyes: they get cloudy and look sort of like your grandpa’s cataracts. They can be a hazard as well. Restore them yourself with DIY kits. Grab Pop-Pop’s stack of Consumer Reports, and look for the February 2014 issue on headlight restoration kits. Sylvania and 3M top its list and cost less than $25.
Provide Grooming & First Aid Readiness
You buy shampoo and soap for yourself, and you’re pretty good about keeping pain reliever/hangover remedies on hand, right?
Do the same for your ride.
- Online shops like AutoGeek offer basic car cleaning kits and advice, and often throw in free samples with orders. A basic car-cleaning kit includes waterless auto wash and buffer and detail towels for the body and tires. Interior cleaning kits have special cleaners for leather or vinyl and rubber, glass cleaners and air fresheners.
- For vehicle first aid situations, Popular Mechanics recommends five tools. The LifeHammer is a Velcro-mounted mini Jaws of Life that can cut through seat belts and break windows in the event your car is overturned in an accident. The magazine also recommends a multi-use wrench, multipurpose cutting tool and a battery supercharger for roadside fixes.
This is a post by Ruth Ann Monti, who provides copywriting and content development for all things webby. Her interests include content development and SEO topics and small business issues, including technologies that support them.