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How to Get the Most From Your Car

Hands washing car

You likely spend a lot of time in your car, so why not treat it well? Whether you’re planning to sell it in a couple years or drive it into the ground, you can get the most out of your ride if you give it a little TLC.

The obvious services are important. Follow the recommendations in your owner’s manual for oil changes, fluid maintenance, spark plug replacement and more. Keep your tires at the proper inflation, rotate them every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, and replace them when necessary. Don’t delay tending to a check engine light or other warning light.

While these routine steps are crucial, if you really want to squeeze out the extra miles or extra dollars at trade-in, follow these four lesser known steps:

  • Keep it clean. Maintaining a detailed car is beneficial for the health of your car because it can prevent rust and corrosion. In addition to regularly washing your vehicle, park in shade when available to prevent sun damage to your paint and interior upholstery. Touch up nicks to prevent further damage. And since here along the East Coast things like dirt and salt get kicked around during the winter, consider professional rust protection, or, at the very least, be sure to wash your car (including the underside) regularly during the winter months.
  • Run your AC in the winter. Speaking of cold weather, blasting cool air in your face may be the last thing on your mind during a chilly morning. But winter use is important to prevent a dry stat in your air conditioning system when the weather warms up. During the winter months, turn on the AC a few times to circulate the refrigerant and keep the compressor healthy.
  • Don’t downshift to slow down. The real purpose of downshifting is to be in the proper gear to accelerate out of a corner. The deceleration force that downshifts does produce is hard on the transmission, clutch, and other parts. Brakes cost less to replace and are more efficient at slowing your vehicle down.
  • Change the timing belt on time. OK, so this is probably covered in your owner’s manual, but it does deserve extra attention. Often overlooked (and usually out of sight), timing belts can cause serious and costly damage when faulty. Check your owner’s manual for your recommended replacement mileage (usually between 50,000 and 75,000 miles, although some can last up to 100,000.)

It looks like a lot of work, but a little money regularly spent on car maintenance can save you from costly repairs or loss in value down the road.

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