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Old 01-29-2016, 05:44 PM
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Lot of good advice given. One thing not to overlook especially if you live in area that uses road salt is to make sure and keep car washed in the winter. Make sure car wash has a good underbody wash. A lot of people use cheapest wash and car exterior will look clean but underbody may be rusting out.
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Old 01-29-2016, 06:57 PM
Location: Paranoid State
12,685 posts, read 9,443,087 times
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Inspect your tires and brakes often. Poor tires and brakes might add to getting into a wreck that totals your car.

It is a bit beyond what most people do, but I send a sample of my used engine oil to a lab for analysis. The report from the chemical analysis tells me what is really going on, which in turn tells me if I should change my oil more or less frequently. To learn more than you would ever want to know, peruse Used Oil Analysis - Bob is the Oil Guy - Bob is the Oil Guy .
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Old 01-30-2016, 03:26 PM
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Cut the short trips. Robert Sikorsky,author of Drive It Forever claims the first 10 seconds are murder. He even advises that if a bus is available for the trip, use it. If you can get the information by phone, do so. Especially avoid short trips in cold weather, though walking even a half mile in winter is too much a sacrifice for many.
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Old 01-30-2016, 03:33 PM
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The first step is not to let it become a clunker in the first place.
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Old 01-30-2016, 03:42 PM
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I would join a model specific car forum so you can predict which components are prone to failure and how to fix them. There's a whole population out there, maybe of whom will put more miles and share their experiences with you. Aside from that, oil and filter changes are the biggest things you can do. I'd say change them every 6 months or 5K miles.

i've got 280K miles on 01 VW Golf TDI and haven't had a single unexpected problem with the car yet.
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Old 02-02-2016, 02:21 PM
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One of the key factors in keeping a vehicle up and going is regular fluids and lubricants. This is particularly true for lube oil. This is the oil in the bottom of the engine in the "Pan" that is pumped and "Splashed" up into various wear points in the engine to reduce friction. Friction, uncontrolled will kill an engine very quickly. It is astonishing how tough engines are though. I've seen them run w/o oil, amazing that they did at all, but they will not last long with out oil.

Check for the location of your oil "dip-stick", a steel measuring stick that pokes down into the pan to measure the oil depth in the bottom of the pan. The top of the stick might be colored plastic. Might say "OIL" on it or something similar. Older vehicles could just have a hook or curve or loop, with not text. Might be red. The dipstick fits down into some type of tube that extends down into the engine. Find out where your dip-stick is, check it religiously. Find out what kind of oil your vehicle takes. Always keep it topped up. That said, don't "over fill" with oil, that's not good either.

Some would argue to use a heavier "weight" oil in older vehicles. Automotive lube oil comes in "weights" 10w-30 is quite common. The grading system is somewhat complicated and you can read-up on that if you want. Basically the "W" is for Winter and the -30 is a measure of viscosity, "thickness" if you will of the oil. The higher the number the thicker the oil.

Use the manufactures recommended weight oil. If that info is lost most companies will have owners manuals available on line for free. There's a plethora of good info online. Bad too, so shop around for info don't just go with one source.

If you can't do it yourself (but it's not hard and you should learn how) have your oil and filers changed regularly. Have your oil, fuel and air filers changed. Have your belts changed. The belts are long rubber loops that run over a series of pulleys on your engine that transmit power to the steering pump (also check this fluid) the air-conditioning compressor, water pump and alternator (Electrical power generator). Some engines have a long "serpentine" belt that does it all. Other vehicles, older ones typically, have a series of belts, two three or even more that run all that gear. All the belts need to be under good tension and with no cracks or splits. Some belts are flat others have a more rounded look with three flat sides that ride in the groove of the pulley. Some belts are not too hard to get to. Others are a pain. If you not up to it take it to a shop, but do some homework so that they don't "take you for a ride" so to speak.

Back to the fluids. Keep the radiator fluid up. Use 50% water and 50% radiator fluid. This will afford you the best year round protection from freezing and boil over. Both are bad for an engine. Freezing will crack the "block" the cast iron/steel/aluminum main section of the engine. There are "Plugs" that might pop out and save it but don't bet on that.

Some vehicles have hydraulically assisted clutches. Check that reservoir. Use only the correct fluid. The brakes will have a reservoir too, check it. Power steering has a small dipstick often in the top of the pump, check it.

Well, there are many things. Watch some of the basic videos found online. Sure some are goofy but there is good info to be had in many of them!!!
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Old 02-02-2016, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by oregonwoodsmoke View Post

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

This is why my Camry won't see more than 170,000 miles on this engine. Even if the car has been consistent, keep checking it.

To the best of our knowledge, the oil filter on the Camry cross threaded and I happen to be horrible about checking my oil between changes. Then also I assumed that the car would have a "low oil" light on the dash. After all, I see the little oil can light up when I started for goodness sake. This is where reading that manual would have been a good idea.

The first warning I had that there was a problem was when the engine knock began. Instant $3600 depreciation.

The only other advice I would add is to drive it gently. Jack rabbit starts, short stops and red-lining the RPM to get around old drivers don't help cars age gracefully.
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Old 02-02-2016, 06:42 PM
Location: The analog world
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Keep it clean, keep it covered, and keep it maintained.
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Old 02-04-2016, 10:09 AM
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My mother always told me keeping a car in a garage helps immensely in adding life. I don't know if that is true or not.

I drive a 1996 Mazda. Doesn't require much to maintain but I know it won't last forever. Has been garage kept since 2008. (I pay $60/mn for the garage. It is more an urban safety thing, that is how I justify it)

Mostly it rusts and things fall off. That is how old it is. I take it to a trusted mechanic and he still breathes life into it for a few hundred dollars per year.

I drive all my cars into the ground. I've never had a car payment in my life. Good luck to ya OP.
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Old 02-04-2016, 02:53 PM
Location: Newark, NJ
458 posts, read 249,892 times
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Originally Posted by TheWayISeeThings View Post
The only other advice I would add is to drive it gently. Jack rabbit starts, short stops and red-lining the RPM to get around old drivers don't help cars age gracefully.

I'm amazed it took someone this long to point this out. How you drive a car makes a big difference. Gentle acceleration, anticipate traffic lights and traffic so you don't need to brake and then speed up again, that will do a lot.
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