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Extend Your Car’s Life From the Very Beginning

January 13th, 2014


Like dating, car shopping is an arduous, time-consuming process. Ideally you want to have minimal bouts with either in your lifetime, so from the get-go it’s wise to dedicate yourself to good relationship and car maintenance. It’s especially important to establish good maintenance practices early on, as your behavior during the “break-in” period will effect operations down the road. Good habits early on can also pave a much longer, smoother road for you to go down. But there are a few things you can do that will not only extend the life of your car (or relationship) but will also extend the amount of time you spend off of the exhausting car sales lot (or dating market). We rounded up the five most essential pieces of car maintenance advice to extend your car’s life. Consider it a handy guide for anyone who doesn’t want to go car shopping again anytime soon, as well as those good folks who are just looking to save money on future car maintenance costs.

Take it slow.
You just went shopping and bought a new car so naturally you want to test some limits. But keep in mind that going too fast during the break-in period of a car’s life (usually the first 1,000 miles) you might just be taking the fast lane back to the car lot. If you want to extend your car’s life, keep the metal off the petal and stay under 55 miles per hour. You may also want to keep hand-holding to a minimum and suggest lunch instead of dinner for the first few dates.

No baggage!
It’s always hard to get to know a car when you’re dragging a huge load of baggage behind you. Create a “no baggage” rule for the first month or two after purchasing your car. After you and your car have enough time to adjust to each other without putting heavy loads on the drive train, you can start in on the towing trailers, roof racks, and trunks packed as tightly as a winning round of Tetris–without worrying about shortening your car’s life.

Keep a journal.
Mindfulness–the key to a healthy body, a healthy relationship, and yes, even a healthy car. There’s no better way to establish a practice of mindfulness than to keep a journal of all of the events in your car’s life from the moment of purchase. Record everything from gas fill-ups to oil changes to the application of that Calvin and Hobbs decal on your rear window. Let your mechanic know about it when you take your car in to the shop (he’ll probably give you a gold star!). And since you just bought a new car, treat yourself to a nice leather-bound Molskine. Keep it in the glove compartment with a pen and all the other important stuff. Chances are that you’ll need to make some notes when you have to pull out your insurance and registration, anyway.

No idling.
If you are really concerned with extending the life of your car and want to cut down on future car maintenance costs, don’t sit around and let your car idle for long periods. That means that you should turn off your engine if you’re stuck in the drive through at Taco Bell and see no way out in the near future. When you let your car idle for long periods of time it generates oil pressure which prevents oil from flowing properly throughout the engine. Besides, hesitancy just isn’t attractive. This is true throughout the life of your car, but can be especially damaging later if done at the beginning.

Pace yourself.
Just like you shouldn’t propose marriage on a second date, accelerating too urgently within the few first hours of driving a new car will probably cause some serious problems later on. Only accelerate at a light-to-medium rate. A good rule of thumb is to keep the engine RPMs under 3,000. Just like a relationship–slow and steady wins the race.