Your vehicle is one of the most expensive objects you own and it loses value every year. Vehicles just about always fall in value as you “use” them for your day to day travels.
To call them an investment would be a poor choice of words unless you calculated time saving. A vehicle gets you to your destination quickly, saving your un-renewable asset called time.
Over the past 43 years of maintaining vehicles I have my own theory of how to minimize the expenses of owning a car.
This theory includes the top three reasons people buy new cars.
The first is the same reason you buy new clothes. Your old clothes are not worn out; you just need a new “fashion” statement.
The second reason for buying a new car is your old one is worn out, undependable, needs a lot of repair, has too many dents, lack of shine.
The third reason is it doesn’t fit your life style anymore, family expanding or contracting, and you need for larger or smaller vehicle.
When I buy a replacement vehicle, I spend a considerable amount of time picking it out. I do research in Consumers Reports (Thee car buying guide comes out each April) and asking people who know more than me. I buy a vehicle that I really like, good looks, is dependable, and has the accessories that I like. (I have to have heated seats, once you have them, you will never go back) I combine the emotional factors - good looks, loving the car - with the practical aspect of research. No, not all cars are created equal. Read up and check with the people at your favorite independent repair shop to get their take on the car you are looking to buy. Please, do your research.
To keep my love affair alive with my vehicle, I get my vehicle detailed every year, spending $200 to make my love shine.
Maintenance is key
Keeping your new vehicle in tiptop shape for a long time is the next hurdle to cross.
There have been articles and theories written about this. I have even heard the conspiracy theory of “planned obsolescence” by manufacturers.
Part of me agrees with this when I see 18,000 mile oil change recommendations while my businesses are replacing “slugged” engines more often than ever before.
This is where preventive maintenance comes in.
Preventive maintenance is the art of increasing your car’s life and dependability, thus decreasing the cost of ownership
So I’m going out on a limb and making recommendations on servicing. It does vary by year and brand of vehicle and the type of driving you do so check with your favorite shop or dealership to see what they recommend, too.
Oil service, should be between 5000 to 10,000 miles or at least once a year. Synthetic oil holds up longer than regular oil. Many short trips in the city that don’t warm up the engine are hard on oil, so that kind of driving would require oil changes more in the range of 5000 miles.
Schedule a coolant flush, transmission service and fuel filter, every 40,000 to 60,000 miles.
Flush brake fluid every two years, and replace air filter, every 15,000-20,000 miles. Air filters, however, are one of the most oversold items. It’s ok that a little dirt is in it. On 1998 and newer cars, a dirty air filter will NOT affect fuel mileage.
On a rear wheel drive or four wheel drive vehicle, fluids in transfer case and differential should be changed every 40,000 miles.
The word “tune up” is no longer used in the business. Spark plugs life is so different now that the manufactories’ recommendation is good. It varies from 40,000 -105,000 miles.
On top of this, the factory services should be performed.
The best way to maintain your vehicle is to use the same shop on all your maintenance and repair. This way the shop can know the vehicle’s history and make recommendations on getting the most life out of your car.
When buying a new or used vehicle, don’t choose a model for that once-a-year family gathering. Rather, make your choice based on day-to-day use.
If you research your next vehicle purchase wisely, maintain it well, keep the interior and exterior nice, the chances of a long affair with your car will increase. It is not unusual for vehicles to last 15 years and log 300,000 miles before it is time to buy another.
More preventive maintenance suggestions
Water in the wrong places in your vehicle can do incredible amount of damage to the electronics. Your newer vehicle has more electronics than most people own.
Keep water out of your vehicle by keeping the drains cleared. Keep the cowl clear of debris. The cowl is in front of your windshield under your hood. Open the hood to remove leaves and fir needles that have collected there.
If you have a sunroof, once a year, open it and take a damp cloth around the valleys that the sunroof slides in.
If you find water anywhere inside your car or trunk, get it fixed soon. Thousands of dollars could be riding on it.
Questions or comments. My email is [email protected]