1. Check out problems sooner rather than later. This is like saying "Don't let a cold turn into pneumonia." For example, a torn CV boot is a common problem and a simple repair. Delay getting it fixed, though, and you'll end up by the side of the road, unable to drive.
2. Want your car to last? Don't use it. Chances are there are plenty of times you drive when you could be walking, biking, carpooling or taking public transportation — choices that are better for the environment, your wallet and your health, too.
3. Short trips of less than 10 minutes can be particularly hard on a car, resulting in excessive wear and tear. On a short trip, the engine never has a chance to reach normal operating temperature. As a result, water that's a by-product of combustion stays inside your car's engine and exhaust. Water is one of three ingredients necessary to make rust (you've already got oxygen and metal), and rust kills.
4. Drive gently. Think of your car as your own body. What's more likely to land you in a full-body cast: a gentle walk around the park or a season of rugby? Accelerate slowly, avoid panic stops and don't rev your engine in the driveway when it's cold, before the oil is warm and freely circulating.
5. Empty your trunk. Most of us know what it feels like to be hauling a few extra pounds around the midriff. It's no different with your car — excess weight places more demands on your engine and creates suspension, braking and even exhaust problems. Check your car right now. What's in there that can come out?
Tips from Jeff Gordon, NASCAR driver:
6. Visit numerous dealers — online and in person — to compare cost, mileage and everything you are looking for in a vehicle before buying. Check used cars for signs of repainting, look in the trunk as well as under the hood for hints of excessive wear, and make sure all electronics work. While purchasing older vehicles may be less expensive in the short term, it may be worth the extra cost to go with a newer vehicle that has newer technology for better fuel efficiency — saving you far more at the fuel pump.
7. Keep your tires at recommended pressures — too low or too high can hurt your fuel mileage and budget.
8. Want to increase tread life and not replace tires as often? We inflate tires on the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy SS with nitrogen instead of air, and you can do the same in passenger vehicles. With nitrogen, the pressure inside the tire doesn't fluctuate as much in hot and cold temperatures. A more consistent pressure will lead to longer tread life. Find nitrogen dealers at getnitrogen.org.
9. Keep an eye on fuel prices at gas stations at all times, not just when your vehicle is low on fuel. If you're in an area with lower fuel costs, go ahead and fill up.
Also of Interest
- 5 ways to save on rental cars
- Check out the AARP Auto Buying program
- Find great volunteer opportunities in your community
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