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5 Essential Tips for Extending Your Used Car’s Lifespan

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5 Essential Tips for Extending Your Used Car’s Lifespan

Even an older car can be reliable if it’s been well-maintained, and treating your car right will not only save you money on repairs and greatly prolong your vehicle’s lifespan, but can even help you to reduce your environmental footprint. Research shows that a poorly maintained car can release as much as 100 times more pollution than one that has been well-kept.

So what exactly do you need to pay attention to when it comes to extending your used vehicle’s lifespan? Here are five of the most important things you should know.

1. Don’t ignore its maintenance schedule

Your vehicle’s regular maintenance schedule can be found in the owner’s manual. Following this schedule will help you keep your car running smoothly and will actually end up saving you money because you’ll be able to nip any problems in the bud.

Regular maintenance includes things like topping off or replacing fluids, changing oil, checking brake pads, suspension and steering, and replacing oil and air filters, but your manual will give you a clear overview of what needs to be done and when. If you no longer have your car’s manual, it’s usually easy enough to find it online.

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Be sure to keep records of any work you’ve had done and hang on to all your receipts in case you end up selling the car down the line. If tracking your maintenance schedule sounds like too much of a hassle, there are a number of useful (and free) apps dedicated to tracking mileage and vehicle maintenance, such as aCar or Car Maintenance Reminder.

2. Make a habit of checking your fluids

A fluid check should include a quick look at the level of your engine oil and its cleanliness, your coolant and transmission fluids, as well as your brake and power steering fluids. Ideally, you should do this every two weeks with an older used car, but no less than once a month.

You can top up your engine oil or coolant yourself, but never check coolant levels while the car is hot or running. Transmission fluid, brake fluid and power steering fluid should never be low, so if they are, you know it’s time to take your car in to a mechanic. If you’re not sure how to check the transmission fluid, brake fluid and power steering fluid, your owner’s manual should explain this in detail.

3. Drive carefully and listen for unusual noises

The way you drive also has a big impact on your vehicle’s lifespan, and things like accelerating too quickly, shifting gears carelessly or overloading your car can wear it down quickly and set you up for some expensive repairs.

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In an interview with Gumtree, British racing driver and former top-gear presenter Tiff Needell points out that the best way to minimize wear and tear while driving is to be as smooth as possible with the car’s controls and avoid rushing things by using progressive applications when steering, accelerating, braking and changing gears.

Aside from driving carefully, make a point of turning down the music and listening to your car while you drive to see if there are any unusual noises.

A ticking sound could mean a U-joint needs replacing, while a sputtering or rattling noise might indicate a hole in your exhaust system. Of course the only way to know for sure is to have your mechanic take a look, so if you do notice anything unusual when starting your engine, driving, braking or turning, try to get it checked out as soon as possible.

4. Rotate your tires and check their pressure regularly

Along with avoiding curbs and potholes and driving as smoothly as possible, checking your tire pressure regularly is the best way to extend the lifespan of your tires. Most experts recommend checking tire pressure every two weeks to prevent damage, as soft tires can quickly overheat or even blow out.

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The correct PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) should be listed on the side of the tire, but if you can’t find it there, check your owner’s manual.

Rotating your tires, which involves moving the back tires to the front of the vehicle or from one side to the other, will help you prevent uneven and premature tire wear. Although opinions vary on how frequently you should rotate them, it’s generally a good idea to do it every 6,000 to 8,000 miles.

5. Wash and wax regularly

Washing and waxing your car regularly can help prevent a buildup of dirt as well as rust and water spotting on the paint, but how often you should wash it depends a lot on the season, climate and the type of roads you drive on.

Obviously, if you drive on fairly dusty roads in warmer climates or muddy roads in wet climates you’ll end up washing your car more frequently, but even during the colder months it’s important to wash or at least rinse your car once every week or two, as salt residue from the roads can build up on its surface and undercarriage, making it more susceptible to rust damage.

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Waxing should be done at least three or four times a year, as this will help you to maintain your vehicle’s shine and color and can also help prevent small scratches.

Featured photo credit: Picjumbo.com via picjumbo.com

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Marianne Stenger

Writer, Open Colleges

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Last Updated on January 13, 2022

10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

1. Camping

A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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2. Staycation

You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

3. Island Getaway

People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

4. Fancy Resort

Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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5. Road Trip

The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

6. Charter a Boat

If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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8. Themed Retreats

There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

9. Working Honeymoon

Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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