Every driver knows the importance of and routine maintenance help keep any car ticking, and , , and as the miles add up. Usually there are that let you know something is off, but there could be things you're doing — or not doing — that will make your engine sputter to a stop.
If you're the type of driver who wants to keep your car for as long as possible, these are the four things you need to know.
Keep It Clean
Washing your car does more than make it look nice. It aids longevity by cleaning away contaminants that . Paint protects your car's body panels from the elements, but the underside has it rough as it's continually exposed to water, dirt, and grime that forms rust. That's why it's especially important to when there is salt on the road. Road salt keeps the pavement free from ice but is notorious for eating holes straight through metal parts. Most cars have drainage points so rust-causing water can drip out from the chassis, exhaust, and other hardware under your car, but that doesn't mean you don't need to every so often.
Colin Chapman, creator of the legendary Lotus sports car brand, summed up his engineering philosophy as "simplify, then add lightness." What he meant is that the less a car weighs, the . If you have kids to shuttle to school, materials to haul to a jobsite, or outdoor gear to take to the trail, you probably don't drive a lightweight sports coupe. Still, Chapman's words apply whether you have a minivan, pickup, or SUV.
The more a car weighs, the harder the engine, , and suspension have to work. While cars are designed to , over the long term any unnecessary strain will take miles off its life, so and only drive with the essentials. If nothing else, you'll get out of it.
Between breakfast, cleaning up, and checking your your online life, it's always a rush to get out the door in the morning. When you finally hop in your car, you drive off right away hoping to . However, like you, your car needs time to get ready to roll when it's been resting for a while. After a few hours of sitting, , which lubricates the parts in your engine, cools and sinks to the bottom. When you fire up your car, the oil pump through the engine, but it takes time for all the parts to get oiled up.
Driving immediately after start-up increases friction between tightly-packed engine components, wearing them out faster. Let your car idle for 30-60 seconds after you start it to allow the oil to get up to temperature and flow through the engine. Waiting a minute for this to happen prolongs your engine's lifespan, but if you absolutely must hit the road, drive gently for the first mile or two.
Most cars redline at above 6,000 RPM. But in everyday driving, it's not often that you crest even half that. Modern drivetrains are programmed to keep low in the name of efficiency, and while it's indisputable that high RPMs burn fuel faster and increase strain on components, it's actually good for the engine to run through its RPM range on occasion. This helps clean out carbon deposits that can foul the valves, , intake manifold and the itself.
Untreated carbon buildups can cause , , and require extensive work to clean. Prevent carbon gunk building up in your engine by letting it reach the redline every few hundred miles. Never do this unless the engine is fully warmed up, and you're somewhere safe, like a wide-open parking lot or onto the freeway. Yes, it will waste some gas, but it's an easy way to make your engine last longer.
Even if you take great care of your car, parts are bound to and need replacement eventually. When that happens, don't skimp on paying for a to make repairs with high-quality components. Using cheap parts or your car's maintenance needs is only going to damage it in the long run, and investing in repairs is almost always going to be less expensive than buying a new car.
If you want to make your car last longer, is a guaranteed way to do it.