Whether you just bought a used car and you are trying to make it last as long as possible or you are trying to take better care of a vehicle you already have, we all want our cars to run like they are new again. With most older vehicles getting well over 150,000 miles there is hope for your vehicle getting the most out of the years that it has left on the road.
So how exactly can you make a vehicle run like new? The answer unsurprisingly is maintenance, maintenance, maintenance! On top of maintaining the car properly, using the best parts and fluids will go a long way toward making the car last and run like new. If there is anything worn or broken it should go without saying TO FIX IT. Other than these here are ten things you can do to make that used car run like it is brand spanking new:
- If anything is broken or in rough shape, replace it!
- Change the oil and use a synthetic oil or a synthetic oil blend.
- Flush every fluid and replace.
- Replace all the filters but most importantly the fuel filter
- Replace ignition components.
- Align your wheels and get new tires.
- Replace your struts shocks and ball joints.
- Replace catalytic converter, O2 sensors and mufflers.
- Deodorize your air conditioning.
- Make the car smell new with an air freshener that mocks a new car smell.
Changing The Oil
The reason this is top of the list is because keeping your oil integrity high is vital to keeping your car running smoothly and preventing breaks in the engine compartment which can be costly. Flush your oil, replace it and change out your oil filter.
The oil is responsible for lubing up the moving parts in your engine and removing outside contaminants such as dust so that they don’t accumulate and put undue stress and resistance on the engine.
Let’s Talk What Type Of Oil:
If you have an older car, do your research on what type of oil can go into it. Opt for a full synthetic oil if your car can take it. If not go with a synthetic blend. The reason car professionals recommend a synthetic oil is because they take far longer to break down than a traditional oil. If you go with synthetic oil it is important to note that you NEED (not want) a high quality oil filter. The oil filter skims the junk out of the oil keeping the engine free of the debris it catches.
When To Replace The Oil
Now that you’ve switched the engine oil out and replaced the filter it is important to note that flushing and changing the oil and filter is something that should be done regularly! How often? Well, that depends on your vehicle and what the driving conditions are. Some cars can burn a quart of oil every 500 miles. My old Honda is certainly one of them. Regularly check and top off the oil using the dip stick under the hood of your car.
The oil in your vehicle should be replaced every 3,000 to 7,000 miles but this can vary depending on the type of oil you are using. Oil filters will also vary but a good jumping off point is around 3,000 miles and from there you can see how clogged the filter is looking and gauge when your next filter change will be necessary.
Flush Every Fluid
Yep, all of the fluids in your car should be flushed and replaced. Even the ones that you forgot about!! So what fluids exactly does your car take, and when should they be regularly replaced as a maintenance schedule?
- Engine coolant- this is the substance that removes heat from the engine and prevents overheating. Replacement schedule will vary depending on the coolant but on average every 3- 5 years
- Transmission fluid- this fluid keeps the car shifting gears smoothly. Again the timeframe will vary but on average 50,000 miles to 100,000
- Brake fluid- Get this fluid checked out at every oil change as it is essential for properly functioning brakes. Replacement should take place every 2 years.
- Power steering fluid- Essential for the car to turn with ease and without excessive force put on the steering wheel by the driver. Just keep an eye on the levels at every routine maintenance check and top off when necessary.
Replace All The Filters In Your Vehicle
Just about every vehicle has 4 main filters and they do need replacement over time. It is important to replace these filters as a jumping off point when your intention is to make a car run like new. The job of a filter is to skim out harmful additives from whatever is being filtered from air to oil to fuel. These additives if left in can cause serious damage to the vehicle if not removed therefore the filter is critical to the health of the vehicle.
The filter can be a hindrance if not replaced when necessary as filters can become clogged and reduce the volume of whatever is passing through them. Air filters that skim the air that the car uses to ignite fuel for instance will limit the power the vehicle is able to put out should they get so clogged that it limits air flow.
Filters that need replacement:
- Fuel filter- you can probably guess that this part filters out your fuel. When you fill up your car you can get outside particles floating around your tank or even have internal chipping of the tank lining itself. The filter will remove any of these contaminants before your car tries to burn them, which is great. The filter should be replaced every 20,000 to 40,000 miles.
- Oil filter- the oil filter should be replaced whenever the oil is to maintain the integrity of the new oil, so every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. An oil filter will remove particles (dirt, oxidized oil, metallic particles, paint chips, etc) from the oil as it is passed into the engine block.
- Cabin filter- the cabin filter is responsible for filtering air before it moves into the cab of your car. This is important so the driver and passengers are not inhaling dust, pollen and other junk that is kicked up as your car drives. If you want to filter out emissions and exhaust consider an activated carbon filter. Replace your cabin air filter at least every 30,000 miles.
- Air filter- This air filter is for the air that your car utilizes in the combustion process. Similarly to how you don’t want particles in the fuel for this, you don’t want unwanted airborne particles changing the efficiency in which the fuel burns. From insects to dust the air filter keeps the air clean for burning. The air filter should be replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles
Replacing Ignition Components
After you’ve replaced the filters and fluids, next consider replacing the ignition components in the vehicle. This can get expensive and aren’t always easy to repair so don’t feel like this is 100% do or die. The ignition component most important to replace is the spark plugs and their wiring. The spark plugs are responsible for igniting the fuel and if they don’t work properly you can see loss of power and generally the car not running properly. Symptoms of a bad spark plug set includes loss of power/acceleration, rough idling, engine misfires and hard starts.
Other components of the ignition system to consider replacing include
- Distributor cap, rotor and coil (if you have a distributor on your vehicle.)
- Coil packs (if you don’t have a distributor in your vehicle.)
Align Your Wheels And Get New Tires
The wheels and tires of your car are so important, both for acceleration and for deceleration (stopping is important!).
If the tires on your vehicle look to be in decent shape, don’t worry about replacing them as this can be expensive, however you should still get an alignment done. If you aren’t sure how to gauge the tread you have on your tires, grab a penny and head to your garage.
How To Tell If Your Tires Need Replacing
Proper tread should be at least 6/32 or deeper. If you have 4/32 or less you should consider replacing the tires. If you have 2/32 or less then your tires need to be replaced as soon as possible and you are endangering yourself and others on the road by driving with this little tread.
You can also use the penny method by placing a penny with Abe’s head down in the tread of your tires. If you can see the top of Abe’s head then your tread is too worn.
Maintaining Your Tires
Maintaining your tires will directly impact your handling, suspension, acceleration and braking.
Because they are such a vital component, tires should be looked over frequently. At least every 1,000 miles if not more frequently like once per week. If you have sudden temperature drops or heat waves in your area you’ll want to check out the tire pressure on the vehicle as well to ensure proper inflation and avoid uneven wear and tire cupping.
What Is An Alignment And Why Get One At All?
Wheel alignment is a maintenance or a repair item (depending who you ask) to your vehicle where a mechanic or automotive technician modifies your suspension while checking the angles of your wheels in relation to one another and to the road to ensure your vehicle is driving optimally.
Your car’s suspension consists of several parts, all of which are equally important in making sure your vehicle handles properly. They are: struts (also known as shock absorbers), steering rack and pinion, ball joints, control arms, and then the tires and wheels. In a brand new vehicle these will all be in perfect alignment with each other, but as you drive that alignment will be gradually thrown off.
The entire purpose of performing this maintenance on your vehicle is to make sure the angle measurements at which your tires sit are all equivalent, essentially that they make a rectangle. Getting your wheels aligned also ensures that the tires meet the road at an angle that wears them all relatively evenly.
This does a couple of things for you and your vehicle. First off, you will get much better gas mileage if your tires have been aligned properly. They should be pointing straight and will be centered in their wheel well after a good alignment which ensures there is no unnecessary drag from a wheel that is at an off angle.
A good alignment will also make sure that your tires are all getting worn at the same rate (or as much as possible) helping to extend the usable life of all your tires and prevent blowouts or you from having to replace one tire before the other three.
Tire alignment also impacts how smoothly your car rides. Wheel alignment reduces vibrations by keeping your car as even with the road as possible.
Replace Your Struts, Shocks And Ball Joints
If you want your car to drive like new the suspension is very important, specifically these three parts. It will be expensive, so save up and replace all three of these components at the same time. You will be AMAZED at what this does for the handling of the vehicle. Not only does this impact how safe you are driving your car, it will also make your car more fun to drive.
Among the benefits of replacing these items is the reactivity of the vehicle both in stopping and acceleration. You will also see an improvement in turning radius.
Replace Your Catalytic Converter, O2 Sensor and Muffler
.You can make the comparison of your exhaust system to the heart and arteries in your body. Over time you get build up and your vehicle has to work that much harder to get the same power out of itself. I encourage you to replace the parts of your exhaust system and to do it all at once. The result is your car will burn more efficiently, produce more power, and burn cleaner than it has in a long time
The O2 sensor is the most common reason that check engine lights go off around the country. It is responsible for telling your vehicle’s computer how oxygen dense the air that the car is taking in is, and how much of that air it needs to mix with the fuel. This happens quickly and impacts how efficiently your car burns fuel and how much power it gets out of the combustion.
By cleaning out the entirety of your exhaust system including the muffler which collects all sort of junk, you essentially are giving your car an enama. Replacing these parts can be expensive, but it will help your car run like new and it will over time save you a ton of money on gas.
So that is the jist of how you make your vehicle run like new.
Consider Deodorizing The Air Conditioning And Adding New Car Smell
You can easily have a mechanic deodorize your AC and you can also consider replicating a new car smell using wood chips and leather cuttings as well as air fresheners.
Take care of these 10 maintenance items and you’ll be asking yourself just how old your vehicle really is in no time.
- If anything is broken or in rough shape, replace it!
- Change the oil and use a synthetic oil or a synthetic oil blend
- Flush every fluid and replace
- Replace all the filters but most importantly the fuel filter
- Replace ignition components
- Align your wheels and get new tires
- Replace your struts shocks and ball joints
- Replace catalytic converter, O2 sensors and mufflers
- Deodorize your air conditioning
- Make the car smell new with an air freshener that mocks a new car smell
Want More Information?
Check out this awesome YouTube Video for more information on how you can make your car run like new, courtesy of Jacob Wilkinson.
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