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1. Have your car rust-proofed

Car-last-longer-rust Modern cars are very rust-resistant, but metal corrosion is the number-one killer of vehicles built in the 1990s or before. Once it sets in, many simply won’t be economical to repair. If you see rust spots on your car, don’t wait for them to develop – at the very least, cover the exposed bodywork with touch-up paint before getting it professionally re-sprayed Applying a stone-deflecting film to the front of your car could prevent paintwork damage in the first place. You could also have the chassis properly rust-proofed, which includes filling the cavities with a waxy substance designed to prevent water ingress. Like all the tips here, it could save you money in the long-run.

2. Resist the temptation to modify

Modifying your car is likely to make it less reliable and shorten its life. Tuning the engine for more power puts extra strain on other components, including the brakes if you drive faster as a result. Stiffer, sportier suspension also causes additional wear to the chassis, sub frames and bushes. Remember too, that money spent on modifications probably won’t increase the value of your car. Indeed, the opposite is often true. Since depreciation is frequently the biggest cost involved in running a car, reducing the resale value shouldn’t be taken lightly.

3.  Avoid driving over potholes and rough tracks

Potholes wreak havoc on your suspension, tyres and exhaust. The hard edges found on poorly-maintained roads can lead to sidewall bulges, tread separation and in some cases they can deflate tyres too. When driving over crater-like holes, suspension can become misaligned and shocks damaged. Deeper holes may even scrape catalytic converters leading to holes and a loss of power. Where possible, it’s best to take roads with smoother surfaces to avoid wear and tear.

4. Use your brakes to reduce speed rather than shifting gears down

Engine braking, or shifting gears to reduce your speed, can damage your drivetrain, especially the clutch and transmission. Using your gears to brake when travelling, especially at higher speeds, can shorten the lifespan of your engine. The damage will be even worse if you shift down multiple gears. Your brake pedals are your best friend when preventing damage to your gearbox and should be your first port of call when reducing your speed.

5. Keep your car clean

We all know people who never wash their car (and perhaps you’re one of them!), but keeping your car clean isn’t about vanity: it can significantly extend your car’s life, too. Grit gets into moving parts and the chassis, leading to accelerated wear and corrosion. Bird droppings can play havoc with paintwork, and winter road salt is especially corrosive (so make sure you know what to do when stuck behind a gritter!). Automated car washes have stiff brushes that may leave fine scratches – plus they miss bits, too. Whereas a hand wash, or DIY job is usually much more thorough. You’ll need a pre-rinse before taking on a deeper clean and remember to use a proper cleaning solution rather than washing-up liquid before drying the car with a soft chamois. A yearly polish will provide a layer of protection and prevent rust from spreading. It’s also important to keep the inside of your car clean with a microfiber cloth and to remove any dirt and crumbs from floor mats. Using a protective spray on the dashboard plastics reduces the likelihood of cracking or discoloration, while placing a sunshade in the windscreen on bright days helps too. It sounds obvious but keeping your car clean and the bodywork sound will help maintain its condition and keep its value when it comes to selling and trading up to a new vehicle.

6. Avoid resting your foot on the clutch and your hand on the gearstick car-last-longer-driving-style

Some drivers are inclined to drive with their foot resting on the clutch pedal. This pushes the clutch release bearing in contact with the clutch cover, leading to unnecessary friction. Over time, the clutch can wear out prematurely. Similarly, it’s tempting to rest your hand on your gearstick between gear changes, but this applies pressure to the selector fork and other internal parts. The added friction speeds up wear and tear on the gear box. Try to get into the habit of moving your hand onto the steering wheel and resting your left foot elsewhere in the foot well instead.

7. Don’t run low on fuel

When you run low on petrol your fuel pump will draw on air, debris and sediment found in the bottom of the fuel tank in an attempt to power your car. The unwanted materials can clog the system and eventually corrode your pump and filters, potentially blocking fuel and preventing your car from starting. Owners of diesel cars should be particularly cautious of low fuel levels as the powerful injectors in their engines draw large quantities of air into the system, which can prevent the engine turning over. Keeping fuel levels high can avoid expensive repair bills further down the road.

8. Don’t scrimp on parts

Long-lasting-car-parts Manufacturers cover millions of miles and spend billions on research and development to ensure their cars are as reliable as possible. So why put that in jeopardy with inferior-quality ‘pattern’ parts just to save a few pounds? Using original parts could actually save you money in the long-run by keeping your car on the road. And when it comes to classic cars in particular, using original parts is key to future value. Giving your car the best also applies to the fluids you use. Look up the engine oil recommended in the handbook and, especially if you have a performance car that needs ‘premium’ fuel (e.g. super unleaded), use it. That’s what the car has been designed and developed for. The RAC only uses quality parts either from the original manufacturer or equivalent replacement parts and we would recommend you do too to keep your car in the best condition and help maintain its value.

9. Check your warning lights immediately

It can be easy to ignore warning lights, especially when there doesn’t appear to be any difference in the performance of your car when they illuminate. However, leaving problems unchecked could mean a premature end for your car. Your engine, braking and power steering lights indicate some of the most urgent faults that could lead to expensive repair bills or worse, an unsafe driving situation. While brake and steering problems will reduce your control of the car, the engine light could turn on for a number of reasons. A loose filler cap or the far more concerning, contaminated catalytic converter are all flagged by the same light, and it’s best to get anything you’re unsure about checked right away by the experts. Remember, the same vigilant approach around unusual car noises will also help nip problems in the bud, and could add years to the lifespan of your car. Keep on top of what your car dashboard warning lights mean with our guide.

10. Make simple and regular checks

Car-last-longer-oil One of the most effective ways of adding to your car’s lifespan is also one of the easiest: routine checks. A list of essential DIY inspections will flag problems before they develop into a more expensive repair bill and could help you to stop complications arising in the first place. We recommend checking these as regularly as possible, perhaps every two weeks:

rubber (tyres and wiper blades)
screen wash
engine air filter
spark plug (petrol engines only)
air conditioning

Writer: Chris Burgess

Date published: 7/10/2020


Photo Credit: Green car report


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