15 Important Old Car Maintenance Tips
June 23rd, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
We hear so much in the media about the aging baby boomers. But now there’s a new trend: the aging beaters. For those who don’t know, a beater car is a term for an older, high mileage car that still runs well. If you want to keep your vehicle in good running condition, learning how to take care of an old car is essential.
The data show that America’s more than 220 million drivers are keeping their cars longer than they have in the past. According to a 2017 Department of Transportation survey, the age of light-duty vehicles in the U.S. increased 13 percent to an average of 10.5 years. By and large, these aging beaters are aging gracefully and enjoying a great quality of life, especially if their owners properly maintain them.
According to an Energy Information Administration spokesperson, “Overall, the aging of the vehicle fleet suggests many households have delayed purchasing a new vehicle or have instead purchased a used vehicle,” the EIA noted.
There are some good reasons behind this trend. Vehicles have been manufactured better in the past 20 years than in prior decades. And, given the cost of a new vehicle, not to mention the sales tax and insurance premiums, keeping your car longer than you had planned can save you great expense and make good sense.
But, in order to get more mileage and years out of your car, you need to know how to take care of an old car. Old car care is both art and science. It means being proactive about routine vehicle maintenance, whether you do it yourself or take your car to your local auto shop. Neglecting maintenance could lead to costly repairs, a breakdown, or even a crash.
Follow these simple old car maintenance tips and chances are that you’ll keep your car running for a long time to come. (Scroll down for tips specific to 10 year old car maintenance.)
Old car maintenance tips
1. Maintain your car’s braking system
Many owners wait until they hear disconcerting noises. Old car care requires being proactive, and not waiting around until something bad happens to your car. Have your brakes checked to ensure the brake pads don’t wear thin and that your brake fluid doesn’t run out. Leaking brake fluid usually indicates that immediate repairs are needed.
Consult your car’s owner manual for details.
2. Don’t neglect your tires
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), cars with tires that are underinflated by more than 25 percent are three times more likely to be involved in a collision. What’s more, underinflated tires cause 660 highway deaths and 33,000 injuries annually.
Have your tires rotated periodically and keep a tire gauge in your car at all times so you can check your air pressure. Ensure it is in line with your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations, which is usually between 30 and 35 PSI. Check your owner’s manual to be sure.
Taking care of your tires, like most old car maintenance tips, is also good for your bank account, because it makes your car more fuel efficient and you spend less on gas.
3. Steering system
Steering and suspension problems not only cause steering problems but they also accelerate the wear of your tires. Avoid these problems by ensuring that your steering fluid is changed and that your shocks are inspected by a professional.
4. Maintain your windshield wipers
The inability to see clearly is the cause of many accidents, and yet it only costs around $15 to have your windshield wiper blades replaced. It may seem small, but it’s very important. Learning how to take care of an old car means learning how to do the little things right.
5. Radiator hoses
Part of old car care is making sure your hoses are changed. As cars age, they usually need every hose replaced. In fact, it’s very likely that your heater hose, which transmits coolant to the radiator, has never been changed.
6. Fuel line
Aging fuel lines often crack and start leaking fuel. Neglecting to replace your fuel line runs the risk of causing a fire. Fixing a fuel line that is leaking is a routine procedure for most auto repair shops. Also, you should have your fuel filter replaced every 10,000 miles.
7. CV joints
If you have a front-wheel-drive that’s beginning to age, you might start to hear a clicking sound during sharp turns. This could indicate that your constant velocity (CV) joints should be replaced. Upon inspection, you might find that the boots are torn or even missing.
8. Engine timing belt
Check your owner’s manual to see if you have an interference engine. If you do, and your car reaches 60,000 to 100,000 miles, then you ought to have your timing belt replaced or else it could break and cause you bigger problems. Even if you do not have an interference engine, it is a good idea to have it checked when you hit that mileage milestone.
Old car care is just like taking care of ourselves as we age. You can put it off, but at a certain point you have to get checked by a doctor. The more we put it off, the greater the risk.
9. Change all belts and hoses
Belts and hoses deteriorate over time, and sometimes you can’t tell from a visual inspection. Usually when a car is serviced by a mechanic, he must remove all the belts in order to get to the timing belt, so you might as well ask him to put on all new belts. It’s an important part of old car care and it won’t break the bank, especially if they’re all taken care of together.
10. The cooling system
Make sure to keep your coolant levels full. During summer, coolant (aka, antifreeze) keeps the engine cool and during the winter it prevents it from freezing. It also prevents corrosion, foam, and deposits from forming, which would otherwise impair your car’s performance.
11. Change the water pump
A water pump is vital to your engine because it makes sure the coolant moves through the engine, so it doesn’t get overheated. It should last 60,000 to 90,000 miles, similar to a timing belt, and it’s better to have it replaced, along with your timing belt, before it fails.
12. Battery care
Inspect your battery cables and their connections and be sure to clean rust and corrosion from the battery terminals. Mixing baking soda with water, together with an anti-corrosion chemical, will do wonders.
13. Oil and filter
The oil keeps your engine lubricated; driving with low oil, no oil, or dirty oil can cause serious damage to your engine. Avoid this risk by getting your oil and filter changed every 3,000 miles, or 5,000 miles if you use synthetic oil. This is one of our old car maintenance tips that we cannot repeat enough!
14. Transmission fluid and filter
Similarly, if you have an automatic, have your transmission fluid flushed and the filter replaced.
15. Check your driving style
How to take care of an old car also includes driving it properly. Over time, a pattern of surging and then abruptly slamming on the brakes, or taking needlessly sharp turns, takes its toll on your suspension and drivetrain components. If you want your car to last and also want to avoid an accident, drive gently and safely.
Tips for 10 year old car maintenance
The average 10-year-old car would have roughly 120,000 miles on it. Most of the aforementioned tips also apply to 10-year-old vehicles. In general, 10 year old car maintenance should include checking your shocks and basically everything made of rubber: belts and rubber bushings. Replace your spark plugs. Check your tires for uneven wear and also your suspension parts. Check your brake pads, rotors, and brake lines. Replace all fluids and your fuel filter too. 10 year old car maintenance should also include a thorough cleaning of the interior, in particular the steering wheel.
Give your aging car plenty of love and attention, by following the old car maintenance tips that we just covered, and there’s no reason the two of you can’t grow old together. And besides, it’s better than shelling out money for a new or used car.
In addition to our guidelines, be sure to consult your car’s owner manual for specific instructions and a maintenance schedule.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto San Francisco – Eddy Street a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing all communities in the greater San Francisco area from Anza Vista, Downtown, Chinatown, Yerba Buena, South of Market, Western Addition, and Van Ness – Civic Center.
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