Bred, not Born: Why Driver Care is the Key to Making Your Car Last Longer
Nothing lasts forever, but some things can live on for a long time. Your car can be one of them. We stress on the word can, because the lifespan of your vehicle actually has a lot to do with you. With that said, the car you choose to drive (which we will discuss later on) has a great impact on how long it will last. But the longest lasting cars don’t necessarily come from certain brands – they last for a long time due to how their drivers maintain and use them. So if you want a vehicle that performs and stays “healthy” for years to come, you need to know how to treat it well.
What Exactly is Longevity
To put it simply, a car’s longevity refers to the amount of time it’s safely driveable. But there are several factors involved. The most basic and recognized element of car longevity is service life. Generally, we measure this by means of the car’s mileage, or here in Canada, kilometerage. You can also look at it in terms of duration (time), such as a car “that’s built to last 5 or 10 years”. But mileage/kilometerage and duration don’t always add up, because some push their cars to the extreme, and therefore, prematurely “kill” their vehicles. In addition to service life, there are other factors, such as the lifespan of individual parts within cars themselves, driver habits, geographical location, and activities the car is used for.
Giving or Taking Life Away
Comparing the livelihood of a car is very much like comparing it to that of a person’s. For example, there are some individuals who clearly have a genetic advantage, in that they’re more likely to live longer than their neighbours. In the realm of automobiles, some brands are known to build cars that are better at lasting longer than others. But that’s just an advantage. The person who treats their body badly by eating poorly, neglecting sleep and exercise, and abusing drugs or alcohol may cut their lifespan short, regardless of their “great genes”. In a similar vein, a driver who abuses or neglects their car will likely witness its end sooner than usual, even if they’re driving a superior brand.
The way you treat your car plays a major role in what it does and how long it lasts. The longest lasting cars are usually the ones that have been treated the best. Longevity is ultimately in your hands. Take good care of your car, and it’s sure to have some golden years. But how?
Taking care of the basics alone will give your ride a fighting chance at having a longer lifespan. You can handle some maintenance tasks on your own, while others require a mechanic’s touch. What matters is that they get done.
- Top up all necessary fluids (engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid – keep your engine running smoothly and avoid damage)
- Check tire pressure/keep properly inflated (prevent flats and even improve fuel economy)
- Inspect and rotate tires
- Ensure wipers and lights are working
- Inspect/replace filters and sensors (Air filter, mass air flow sensor, oxygen sensor)
- Test brakes
- Check battery and spark plugs
At times, your vehicle will need some repairs. That doesn’t mean your car is a piece of junk, it just reflects the reality no part lasts forever, and needs replacement. But your response is key. Failing to act on time when a repair is necessary will spell trouble for your vehicle. Some cars suffer major problems simply because the driver failed to address it when it was smaller.
- Take your vehicle in at the first sign of trouble
- Bring it to a licensed mechanic
- Don’t avoid because of expense
- Know what parts are best for your car
- Get second opinions
With people, beauty is only skin deep. That’s not true with cars, however, since a car with a good appearance is likely to be one that will last a long time as well. For example, rust doesn’t just look bad, it also eats away at a car’s body, which in turn weakens the body of your vehicle. In terms of selling and trade-ins, a car that looks “raggedy” (either in or out), will go for less, because it seems older than it really is. That’s why paying attention to aesthetics are important too.
- Take your car in for detailing and bodywork
- Rustproof or remove rust from your car
- Wash your car regularly and thoroughly
- Don’t leave bird droppings or tree sap on the surface
- Vacuum and shampoo the interior of your car
Handling with Care
The other component to owning a car that’s long lasting, is the way you drive it. Some cars leave this world prematurely because they are pushed to the limit by their drivers. You most likely know of a few people who wrecked their vehicles because they were too careless. But you can add time to your car’s lifespan by avoiding such behaviours.
When you see cars that are dented, scraped, and look like they were in a crash dummy test (okay, not literally), it probably projects the image of a careless driver mind. It’s ashamed to see such beautiful cars go to waste, because the owners aren’t being careful. The takeaway is for you to be the opposite. If you want to save your vehicle from costly damage, be careful with how you handle the wheel.
- Avoid speeding unnecessarily
- Beware of potholes and fissures on the road
- Practice defensive driving techniques (To avoid collisions with other cars and road obstacles)
- Brake and shift gears (for manual transmission cars) smoothly
- Don’t overload your car with weight it can’t pull or carry
The other aspect to driving a car that’s considered to be long lasting, is the choice of car itself. The reality is that some vehicles are more suited to longevity than others. However, for the person looking to buy a new car, then it would be worthwhile to look into such choices. Our next post will take a look at the cars which have been rated as the best in terms of having a long lifespan.
Long Live Your Ride
For now, what you need to remember, is that the way you treat your vehicle, ultimately decides how far it’s going to go. So what’s needed on your part is some TLC. The more attention you pay to maintenance, driving habits and overall care, you can be confident that you’ll squeeze a few more years out of your car. And of course, the opposite is also true. So do yourself and your vehicle a favour by treating it well. Not only will your car have a longer life on the road, you will be safer and spend less money on big repairs that could have been cheap if addressed sooner. Make it an all around winning situation!