Regular car maintenance: The key to extending the life of your car

Regular car maintenance is the most important part of keeping your car in good running condition. By...

Regular car maintenance is the most important part of keeping your car in good running condition. By sticking to the maintenance schedule recommended by the manufacturer, you can greatly extend the life of your car.

Fluids and filters

Keeping your fluids clean and your filters changed is important for car maintenance.

  • Oil: Change your oil and oil filter every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, or every 3 to 6 months. Keeping your oil changed on schedule increases gas mileage and protects your engine. Consider synthetic oil instead of petroleum-based oil. While it's more expensive, it can protect your engine better.
  • Air filter: Change your air filter every 12,000 miles. A dirty filter can lower gas mileage and lead to engine damage. You can also opt for high-end washable air filters, which should be cleaned and oiled regularly according to the filter manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Flush fluids every two years: Certain fluids need to be flushed every two years. Power steering, brake and antifreeze engine coolant fluids should all be flushed and changed every two years. Newer cars may have longer spans for fluid flushing, so check your manual for details. Your transmission fluid and filter will need to be changed at least every 50,000 miles. If your car is already over that mark without a change, consult your Atlanta-area automotive professional. Changing the fluid at this point may cause more damage by breaking down the gummy buildup within the transmission.
  • Fuel filter: Change your first fuel filter at 50,000 miles, and at least every 50,000 miles thereafter. Changing your fuel filter annually after that first 50,000 mile change is even better. Debris and rust can build up in the fuel tank and clog the filter sooner than every 50,000 miles, particularly after the car is about seven years old.

Operation tips

Operating your car wisely can also extend its life.

  • Avoid cold starts: Whenever possible, warm your car up for at least 30 seconds before driving, particularly if you'll need to go on a highway fairly soon. High speeds with a cold engine can put undue strain on your car. You should start driving the car slowly, and smoothly until your car reaches proper operating temperature. Also, as you speed up, release the gas to allow an automatic transmission to up shift without causing as much wear on internal clutches.
  • Drive less: Avoid short trips and drive your car less. While you need to drive your car at least once a week, less cold starts on the engine will extend your car's life. Combine short trips into one extended trip and, if you have multiple cars, choose the one that was driven most recently.

In addition to long-term maintenance, be sure to perform regular tune-ups, particularly before winter strikes to keep your car running strong during inclement weather.

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