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There’s no way around it—good cars are often expensive. They can’t really be considered an investment, since they only depreciate and you’re very unlikely to make a profit off of them. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do things to preserve the value of your car and make it last longer.

Keep It Clean

Keeping your car clean does more than just maintain its appearance. It helps it last longer too. Regularly cleaning your car helps protect it from things that can damage your paint. While that may sound like an appearance-based thing, and it is, your paint is part of what protects your car from rust. Rust can compromise your car’s structure and function. It can be difficult to get rid of once it sets in. Cleaning your car also helps prevent dirt and grit from getting into the machinery and damaging it. For best results, wash your car by hand, making sure to dry it thoroughly when you’re done. A yearly polish can help prevent water damage and prevent spreading rust. Clean the inside as well. Vacuum dirt and crumbs off the seats and carpet, dust with a microfiber cloth, and apply a protective spray to your dashboard to help prevent cracking and sun damage.

Drive Light

Cars weigh a lot. Then you add the weight of yourself, your passengers, and anything you’re hauling with you. It can add up to be quite the load. The heavier the load your car is hauling, the greater the strain on your vehicle. This speeds up the rate of wear and tear on your car’s tires, breaks, and suspension. To help it last longer, drive lightly when you can. Remove items from your car when they aren’t needed. As an added bonus, driving with lighter loads can help you improve your fuel economy, reducing the amount of money you have to spend on gas.

Drive Carefully

How you drive can impact how long your car lasts. If you’re overly aggressive with your accelerations, braking, and steering, you’ll wear your car out more quickly. While you’re at it, try to avoid driving over potholes and damaged roads. They can hurt your car’s suspension and tires. There is an exception to driving gently. It’s a good idea to rev your engine up to the red line on occasion. This helps you avoid carbon deposit buildup in your valves and intake manifold. Make sure you only do this when your oil is warm and when you’re in a place where it’s safe to do so.

Change Your Filters

Your car’s filters play a key role in keeping your car running properly. They help keep particles out of your car’s engine and the rest of its mechanisms. Over time, your filters become dirty and clogged. This can hurt your car’s performance by preventing proper air flow. You can clean and wash your filters to extend their life, but they’ll need to be replaced after a time. If you want to save some money on car maintenance, visit an auto parts store, purchase the right filters for your car, and change them out yourself. You’ll save the cost of labor and only be out the cost of parts and the time you spent to change them.

Rotate the Tires

No matter how carefully you drive, you’re constantly wearing down your tires. Depending on your car’s alignment and the load distribution in your car, you may experience uneven tire wear. If left unattended, this can be dangerous, leading to damaged tires and blowouts. You should have your tires rotated at each service to more evenly distribute wear and help the tires last longer. Make sure you check the tires and tread regularly so you catch damage sooner and can stay on top of replacing them when needed.

Replace Your Spark Plugs

While there are plenty of car maintenance tasks best left to professionals, replacing your spark plugs is another one you can do yourself. This can help preserve your engine’s performance. A spark plug in good condition should have a light brown electrode and insulator with no signs of wear, deposits, or melting. If you do notice signs of damage, change the spark out for a new one. Your owner’s manual should be able to guide you through the process. Alternatively, your mechanic can handle this maintenance task for you easily enough.

Keep Your Fluids Topped Up

Your car needs more than just fuel to run smoothly. Antifreeze, engine oil, transmission fluid, and brake and power steering fluids are some examples of essential fluids you need to keep at appropriate levels for your car to run properly. Topping off your fluids is often a standard part of having your car serviced, but this is another maintenance task you can handle yourself. Each fluid has a physical indicator either on the container or on a dipstick that indicates the appropriate level for that fluid. Especially in the case of topping up your antifreeze, it’s important that you make sure your engine is off and cool before opening your car up to add more. The contents may be somewhat pressurized, so carefully release the pressure before opening it up entirely.

Pay Attention to Warning Lights

Cars come equipped with a variety of warning lights that help alert drivers to significant problems that need prompt attention. Different lights may appear in different colors which indicate the issue’s level of severity. Blue or green lights indicate something needs attention, but not necessarily right away. Red lights, however, warrant fairly immediate attention. If your check engine light is blinking, reduce your speed immediately. It may be best to stop driving altogether just to be safe.

It’s important to do what you can to extend the life of your car. Proper care and maintenance helps protect its value for as long as possible and keep it running longer and better. There’s no denying that cars tend to be one of the more significant purchases people make. Make your car last as long as possible to get the greatest value out of that purchase.

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