How to make your car last longer

Helpful advice on how to make your car live longer, including basic maintenance, cleaning, rust-proofing and looking after the battery.

How to make your car last longer

A car is the second most expensive thing most of us buy or finance, after a house or flat. And just as we maintain our properties, so too should you look after your car.

Here’s how to keep your car healthy and efficient for longer.

Stick to the servicing schedule

It’s advisable to service your car every 12 months, possibly sooner if you cover lots of miles.

That doesn’t just simply mean renewing the oil, either. A service may involve replacing multiple consumables, including the oil filter, air filter, cabin filter, spark plugs (if it’s a petrol engine) and more.

Servicing an electric car is simpler – and theoretically cheaper – as they have fewer moving parts. 

Top up the fluids

You should also keep the car’s fluids topped up. From windscreen wash to engine oil, 12 months is ample time for these to run low.

Regular fluid checks are essential to help your car live longer.

How to make your car last longer

Change the filters

Filters help keep the fluids your car uses clean. Oil, air and fuel all have their own separate filters, which need to be changed at varying intervals. Oil and air filters should be changed at every annual service.

Diesel cars also use a particulate filter (DPF), which can become blocked and is expensive to replace. However, most issues can avoided by simply driving your car. Click here for advice on DPF maintenance.

Replace the spark plugs

Spark plugs are an essential part of your petrol engine, and generally should be changed at every service.

Is your car running rough? It could be the plugs. Thankfully, they’re a relatively easy job to tackle in your garage at home.

Check your tyres

Safety should be reason enough to keep your tyres in tip-top condition, but financial savings are an added incentive.

Keeping your tyres inflated to the recommended pressures will save you money at the pumps. According to Michelin, tyres under-inflated by 15psi will lead to six percent more fuel used.

How to make your car last longer

Keep your car clean

Your car might be running like a watch, but keeping it clean is also good for its health. Road grime, salt, bird mess: it all adds up to, at best, sorry-looking paint. At worst, it will cause corrosion of your car’s bodywork and internal parts.

A clean car, both inside and out, will live for longer. It could also protect you from harmful bacteria and disease.

Use your garage

The best way to protect your car from the elements is to keep it away from them. Parking overnight in the safety of a garage will offer decent protection from birds and the weather, not to mention car crime.

It will still need to be washed from time to time, though.

Kick the clutter

Weight equals excessive wear and tear. Clear the clutter out of your car and it’ll handle, stop and drive better overall. It’ll also use less fuel.

Less weight makes everything better when it comes to cars, as Lotus has been telling us for years.

How to make your car last longer

Drive smoothly

Service, clean, and keep your car safe all you want; if you don’t drive it correctly, things will go wrong.

That means avoiding hard acceleration and anticipating stops so you don’t have to slam on the brakes. Don’t rush the gears or sling the steering wheel around. That said, your engine will appreciate a zesty drive every so often.

Use your car’s equipment

Use it or lose it. What’s true of your body also applies to your car. Features like air conditioning and electric windows can seize over time. If you drive a convertible, retract its roof every so often.

If nothing else, using certain features will confirm they still work, so you can get them fixed if not.

Keep the battery healthy

Batteries are fickle devices that need to be used to stay healthy. Leave your car for a while and the battery will go flat and degrade, especially in the UK’s highly variable climate.

If you know your car will be standing for a while, buy a trickle charger to keep the battery topped up.

How to make your car last longer

Don’t scrimp on parts

You’d be upset if you got second-rate organs for a transplant because they were cheaper. So don’t cut corners on car parts.

In general, OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts are best. If you’re buying aftermarket items, do your research – and only buy from reputable brands.

Rust-proof your car

Better to prevent now than fix later. Before your car rusts away, before you’ve even washed it for the first time, it’s a good idea to get it rust-proofed.

Paint-protection wraps work well, and touch-ups of stone chips and other exposed metal will keep the orange wolf from your car door. An inspection underneath and, if necessary, a coating of underseal could be a good investment.

Don’t modify your car

The original parts that came on your car have all been tested over hundreds of thousands of miles.

If in doubt, keep things standard, or your car may suffer for it. A modified car is likely to be worth less when you sell, too.

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