How to Run an Older Car (And Out of the Shop)
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With new and used car prices still near record highs, keeping an older car running smoothly is a good way to avoid overpaying for a newer vehicle. And since the future of the auto industry and auto loan industry is still evolving, you might want to keep that high-mileage vehicle running longer than you initially thought.
For expert advice on all things vintage, Automoblog spoke to Allan Guilmart, a technician from Durham, North Carolina, certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE®). He gave us tips on how to work with your mechanic to not only keep an old car running, but also to keep it in tip-top shape and out of the repair shop.
Replacement of components on time
No matter how well you take care of your old car, some components wear out with prolonged use. And while it’s unavoidable, waiting too long to repair or replace aging or deteriorated components can put unnecessary strain on other parts of your vehicle.
Here’s what Guilmart has to say about which parts might need replacing and when:
“If your engine is driven by a timing belt, replace it – and [the] the water pump, if driven by the timing belt, is essential. This should be done according to the interval recommended by the manufacturer. A broken timing belt will cause significant and costly engine damage. The cost to repair or replace the engine can often be high enough to total an older car.
Adopt gentle driving habits
The way you drive also has a major impact on the wear and tear of your vehicle. If you want to keep an older car in good driving condition, you may need to change some of your driving habits.
“Think of your old car the same way you would your body as you age; it’s harder for you to push anything to the limit,” Guilmart says. “Don’t just start the engine and take off immediately. Give it a moment to warm up. Avoid extreme acceleration, braking and cornering as much as possible.
Take care of regular maintenance – especially oil changes
Regular maintenance is an important part of owning a car. As a car ages, keeping track of maintenance becomes even more important. According to Guilmart, there’s one thing you really need to watch out for if you want an old car to keep running well.
“Regular oil changes and periodic oil level checks are a must,” he says. “Oil doesn’t just lubricate internal engine components; it helps to keep them clean.
Establish a good relationship with your mechanic
You rely on your mechanic to provide you with honest information about your vehicle. In turn, they rely on you to take their word for it and trust their professional judgment. It takes both of you working together to give your car the best possible service.
“If a workshop takes over your old vehicle, it’s reasonable to expect good service,” says Guilmart. “Ultimately, follow your intuition. If you don’t feel good about the way the store is taking care of you or your vehicle, it might be time to go somewhere else.
Consider a warranty to cover repair costs
The older your vehicle, the more likely it is to experience mechanical breakdown and need repairs. With auto repairs being as expensive as they come – sometimes more than an older vehicle is worth – some people buy extended warranties to help cover those repair costs if they are needed.
If you decide you want a warranty to help pay for repairs and keep your vehicle longer, our list of the best extended warranty companies can help you find a deal that’s right for you.
“Extended warranties have the potential to be helpful,” says Guilmart. “I’ve seen a company fight tooth and nail to avoid covering relatively minor work. I have also seen a company easily cover a large bill without any issues. It is imperative to know the exact terms of the policy you are considering.
With proper care and maintenance, you can extend the life of your vehicle. Most modern vehicles can easily pass the 200,000 mile mark. The key to getting there, however, is to maintain yours.
Maintaining an old car in good working order is a labor of love. But it is the one that can seriously pay off financially. Treat your old friend well and he’ll be more likely to reciprocate.