Someone said to me the other day that I look pretty old for my age. My response corresponded to the scientifically proven fact: I am only as old as my car feels.
And my car really always is the proverbial ace up my sleeve. Not only does my car look young and fresh, it also drives like it - because I treat it right and in doing so prolong its life.
Today I am going to tell you how to keep your car in top condition for as long as possible. With these seven tips, your car will not only look like a new car to others for a long time, but even to you yourself. I worked together with the experts from carVertikal to come up with these tips.
A lot of people measure the lifespan of passenger cars in kilometres. After many years of observation, I have added another component to the mix: The number of starts. That is why I avoid short journeys whenever possible. A cold start puts strain on the engine, leads to high fuel consumption and is also bad for the environment.
It is often about details which I wasn’t even aware of before. If the engine is not left to run long enough, not all of the condensation evaporates from the system. The result is: excessive amounts of water collect in the exhaust. This leads to rust and eventually to a hole in the exhaust.
That is why I make short journeys on foot or by bike. It’s not just my car that benefits from this. It is also better for me and better for the environment.
A tip: If you have two cars, use the car you last drove for short but essential errands.
It may sound surprising now, because I just recommended driving a little less. However, you should not drive too little either. Drive your car at least once a week. The lifespan of a car is shortened if it is left standing for too long. This may for example lead to leakage of fluids or other problems may arise.
If you want to preserve the life of your car when it is left parked for a longer period of time, you should consult a mechanic beforehand. They can help prepare and protect your vehicle.
My car and I have one thing in common: if we don’t receive a certain thing constantly and in a sufficient level of quality, we go on strike. With me it’s coffee, with my car it’s the oil.
I cannot say it clearly enough: the service life of your car will be dramatically prolonged if you remember to change the oil regularly. Oil fulfils all kinds of functions in the engine. It lubricates and cools various components and therefore enables the engine to run smoothly. If you do not have the oil and the oil filter changed regularly, residues, for example from tiny particles, accumulate and absorb tiny metal chips over time. The result is: the performance of the engine is reduced and so is the average lifespan of the car.
I change the oil every 4,000 – 8,000 km or every 6 months. Ask the manufacturer which interval they recommend.
An additional tip: Don’t just pour in the new oil, but also change the oil filter or have this done in the workshop. Clean oil combined with a dirty filter is not the right way to go if you want to prolong the life of your car. After all, you wouldn’t make coffee with a used filter, would you?
Personally, I could live on coffee alone. My car couldn’t do that even with the best oil in the world: it needs various other fluids. Modern vehicles are complicated and equipped with all kinds of functions. Many of these functions are maintained by special fluids. For example, there is antifreeze, power steering fluid and brake fluid, etc.
Always make sure that your car has enough of these fluids. I check the fluid levels every time I stop to fill up. This way I can see immediately if there is a leak anywhere - and can act immediately.
A tip: Sometimes the fluid level does not change, but the colour of the fluid does. This may also be an indication that there is a problem. Antifreeze should be pink, green or yellow. If, on the other hand, it has turned brown, this is an indication of dirt particles or rust.
The manufacturers of automotive fluids like to advertise that their product is particularly special and unique. Of course, to a certain extent this is due to their advertising pitch. Nevertheless, you should take it seriously and refrain from mixing different antifreeze agents. I always buy a universal antifreeze.
Oil also lets you know when it needs to be changed by its colour. In actual fact, the fluid is relatively clear to brown in colour. If it looks whitish, it may be contaminated - for example by antifreeze or coolant. It then needs to be changed.
With gearbox fluid, I always check to see whether it looks or smells burnt. If it does, I have it flushed. Otherwise, the gearbox can be damaged - and that is very expensive and bad for the lifespan of the car.
The situation with brake pads in a car is like a trip to the dentist: I can have it easy or expensive and painful. After long and bitter resistance, I opt for the former. That is why I keep an eye on the thickness of the brake pads and don’t wait until I can see right down to the bare metal. If I didn’t do this, I would be risking damage to the brake discs or even the brake calipers. Then things become much more expensive than a brake pad ever could be! Therefore, if you want to prolong the lifespan of your car, you should regularly check the brake pads, just like I do.
Before a car reaches its average lifespan, the tyres are often worn out. You can do a lot here, too. Make sure that the tyre pressure is not too low. This can shorten tyre life by up to 15%. I always check the tyre pressure after I have filled up a couple of times and immediately reach for the air pump if necessary. A tip: Why not take this opportunity to check the tread depth too?
To increase the lifespan of my car tyres, I also regularly change the position of the tyres. This way, the tyres not only see more of the world - they also last longer! Changing them around prevents uneven wear, which is good for the lifespan of the car and the tyres. I swap the tyres twice a year or every 10,000 km. You can find out which tyre to change to which position in the vehicle manual.
It is no myth: a clean car not only looks better and maintains resale value. Regular hygiene also increases the average lifespan of the car and the nerves of orderly passengers. In winter, taking it through a car wash removes road salt from the vehicle floor and bodywork. This counteracts rust.
To increase the average lifespan of my car, I park it in the garage. It is protected from the wind and weather there as well as from the flora and the fauna. Inquisitive and greedy rodents are just as bad for the car’s service life as conifers constantly dripping resin onto it. In addition to this, a garage saves a lot of time in the winter because there is no need to scrape off the ice and the engine starts immediately.