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Old 01-25-2016, 07:18 AM
 
11,316 posts, read 5,846,190 times
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If you have an overhead cam interference engine with a timing belt (most 4 cylinder engines these days), pay attention to the replacement schedule for the timing belt. If it snaps, the pistons slam into the extended valves. You either have an extremely expensive repair or a totaled car depending on the value of the car and the amount of damage done. If you buy a used car and don't have the maintenance records for it, assume the timing belt has never been replaced. It's by far the most expensive single maintenance item so it's usually not done on an older car.

The "change your oil" recommendation already pointed out multiple times in this thread is by far the most important thing. Many cars also call for other fluid replacement for brake lines, transmissions, differentials, etc. Pull out the owner's manual and follow the recommended maintenance schedule.
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Old 01-25-2016, 07:38 AM
 
Location: Jamestown, NY
7,841 posts, read 6,921,489 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffD View Post
If you have an overhead cam interference engine with a timing belt (most 4 cylinder engines these days), pay attention to the replacement schedule for the timing belt. If it snaps, the pistons slam into the extended valves. You either have an extremely expensive repair or a totaled car depending on the value of the car and the amount of damage done. If you buy a used car and don't have the maintenance records for it, assume the timing belt has never been replaced. It's by far the most expensive single maintenance item so it's usually not done on an older car.

The "change your oil" recommendation already pointed out multiple times in this thread is by far the most important thing. Many cars also call for other fluid replacement for brake lines, transmissions, differentials, etc. Pull out the owner's manual and follow the recommended maintenance schedule.
This. A broken timing belt is generally terminal. Replacing the timing belt (I think it's called a serpentine by some) before it breaks will cost you some $$ ($500-$600 at a dealer) but it's NOT something that you want to leave to your cousin's boyfriend and his pal. Be sure that you have it done at a reputable shop.
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Old 01-25-2016, 07:58 AM
 
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I'm a car guy, so doing my own repairs and maintanence is something that comes easy for me. Plus I have a garage and the tools to do so.

So for me, keeping cars running well Is something that comes easy to me. Ford, Honda, Subaru, whatever...for the most part if you maintain them well, they can last a long time. And maintanence means more than just changing the oil. Coolant, power steering fluid, transmission fluids, differential fluids, brake fluids, serpentine belts, timing belts, etc etc. All that needs to be checked and replaced according to manufacturers recommended schedule.

I've got 170K miles on my daily driver Infiniti. Still drives like when it was new.
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Old 01-25-2016, 03:42 PM
 
10,148 posts, read 13,844,113 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepGoing View Post
I have a 2007 Nissan. I'm 26 and it's my first real car. I want to keep it as long as I can, especially since I'm paying off student loans.

What are simple things that help preserve the life of your car?
On Asian cars like Honda or Toyota just keep the oil changed. They can run forever. We had a Toyota that was retired with 297,000 miles. Relative has a Honda with over 240,000 miles.

You will have to have new parts like brake pads, maybe a timing belt, other belts, a/c recharge, and water pumps can go bad, etc. Shocks and struts are parts that will wear out long before the engine gives out. And manual transmissions can cause you to need a new clutch. So there will be repairs of varying cost.
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Old 01-25-2016, 06:20 PM
 
Location: trapped in the body of a dying animal
3,174 posts, read 1,349,153 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepGoing View Post
For those of you who have old cars, or those with a lot of miles, what do you do to keep your car "healthy"?

I have a 2007 Nissan. I'm 26 and it's my first real car. I want to keep it as long as I can, especially since I'm paying off student loans.

What are simple things that help preserve the life of your car? (PS, don't judge me haha. I didnt learn much about cars growing up.)
I agree with what's been posted thusfar in the thread. Keeping an older vehicle running is a great way to save $$.

The main thing I'll add to the thread is this: open the hood regularly and inspect stuff. Keep an eye out for leaks (particularly coolant leaks), frayed belts, radiator fins plugged with crud, corroded battery terminals, etc. Most cars don't die from being 'worn out'. Most die an untimely death when relatively inexpensive (and preventable) failures cascade into larger problems due to neglect. A few examples:


A coolant leak causes the vehicle to overheat. Or the coolant level isn't checked so the car is run low on coolant for years at a time gradually corroding parts and inhibiting the cooling system's ability to dissipate heat... engine overheats and dies.

A transmission fails because the filter has never been changed. Sure lots of manufacturers say that it never needs to be changed. It's a "lifetime" part. Yeah... it'll last for the "lifetime" that they want you to have the car. They want to sell you another one you know.

A fuel pump fails because the fuel filter was never replaced. These can be somewhat difficult to diagnose... you could end up with a repair bill worth more than the car if they mechanic can't figure out what's wrong and just starts replacing parts. People dump their vehicles all the time like this.

A belt breaks... water pump no longer turns... engine overheats... bye-bye engine.


The possible failure modes are endless. Point is... keep an eye on the car. Keep fluids topped off. Fix small problems before they become big problems.
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Old 01-25-2016, 06:53 PM
 
11,896 posts, read 14,364,183 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda_d View Post
This. A broken timing belt is generally terminal. Replacing the timing belt (I think it's called a serpentine by some) before it breaks will cost you some $$ ($500-$600 at a dealer) but it's NOT something that you want to leave to your cousin's boyfriend and his pal. Be sure that you have it done at a reputable shop.
Maybe get a car with a no interference engine. If it breaks it just stops running, but at least no major damage. And it is not the same as the serpentine, which serves the water pump, power steering pump and A/C compressor.
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Old 01-25-2016, 07:19 PM
 
1,213 posts, read 1,352,734 times
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I install a cheap transmission cooler that mounts on radiator. I then run a slightly cooler thermostat than the OEM. Helps keep the cooling fans off. I like to keep the temp under 190 degrees. Hot enough to go into closed loop is fine. Not too cool though. I usually change the transmission fluid and filter at least once (not a flush though) and then, in subsequent years, I will sometimes just change out the transmission fluid through the fill tube using a hand pump (and not change the filter).

I am not always on schedule for changing the oil, etc. I let them go longer than most before an oil change, but I never let them get low on oil. I don't keep records, but I kind of know where they are on maintenance. Have run a some vehicles over 200,000 miles. Have one currently with 225,000 miles. Most of the parts are original including the starter and alternator. Has original engine and transmission,etc.

On older vehicles, if there is ever any issue with the cooling system, I watch that closely and resolve it as quickly as possible.
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Old 01-25-2016, 07:26 PM
 
Location: Washington state
4,680 posts, read 2,302,044 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeepGoing View Post
Wow. I didn't know there were maintenance schedules for each type of car. But that makes sense.

Noted.
Yeah, and you really do want to follow them. I have a PT Cruiser and they note that around 100,000 miles, the timing chain and water pump should be replaced. At 103,000 miles, I called my mechanic who told me he could replace both the water pump and the timing chain for $600. There wasn't any money for this, so naturally, it wasn't done. Not even a month later the timing chain breaks. My mom had to loan me the $1000 (out in the boonies service station) to get the timing chain fixed, IF we wanted to get home that night. Lesson learned. Get the car's manual, read it, follow it, get a good mechanic, and listen to him/her.
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Old 01-26-2016, 04:15 AM
 
Location: North Idaho
20,999 posts, read 25,765,271 times
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About the oil change advice, oil change has to be done on schedule, but it is also important to use a decent quality oil. Don't put cheap oil into your car.

Also very important is to keep checking the oil level between the oil changes.

Every time you open the hood to check the oil level, you check the level of water in the radiator (usually you can do this visually by looking at the level in the over-flow bottle) and check the level of the transmission fluid, if you have a transmission fluid dipstick.
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Old 01-26-2016, 04:21 AM
 
Location: North Idaho
20,999 posts, read 25,765,271 times
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You must know what type of fluids are in your radiator and oil pan, so that if you need to top off, you use the same type of fluid. There are different grades of antifreeze and different weights and different types of motor oil. There is also synthetic motor oil.

If it is a little car, use the parking brake instead if the transmission to hold the car when you aren't using it.

If the brakes need new brake pads, there is a wear line in the brakes and the brakes will make a growly noise. That is time to have the brake pads changed before you get wear on the rotors.
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