The dream of every car owner, when they buy a new collectible vehicle, is to keep it in pristine condition for a long time so that it retains its value. Imagining that they can meet this lofty goal and actually doing so are two distinct issues. Keeping your vehicle running like new requires a lot of wisdom from fair and honest automotive service technicians. It also requires faith. Let’s discuss the elements of achieving this goal, below.
#1: Preventative Maintenance
Preventative maintenance is the secret to keeping your vehicle on the road when the rest of its kind bite the dust. As vehicles grow increasingly complex by the day, it is becoming harder and harder to keep on top of preventative maintenance.
Prepare for Model-Specific Repairs
A critical aspect of preventative maintenance is following the types of repair issues trending in your vehicle. For example, if the ABS module is failing on many vehicles of the same model, you will benefit by being prepared to recognize the symptoms. There are many such manufacturer weaknesses that are particular to a brand or production lot. As we can see from the GM ignition switch debacle, manufacturers will ignore defects for as long as possible before issuing a recall.
This means that you have to be a savvy consumer by preparing to pay out-of-pocket for issues as they come to your attention. Only a qualified independent repair shop will have the years of experience and dedication to recognize subtle performance problems with your vehicle before a failure occurs.
A reputable shop will also recommend that you replace aging parts that are worn before they fail if they are related to a critical repair. For example, if your one wheel bearing is shot and making a growling noise, it is never a good idea to wait for the others to start whining before replacement. Because bearings fail prematurely due to friction heat produced by speeding, you can suspect that your other bearings are on their way out.
Why wait for it to fail completely when you can kill two birds with one stone and save money on bundling the labor? If you make repairs piecemeal, it will no longer be cost-effective to keep your vehicle driving like new for long. Both of these repairs require putting your vehicle on the lift and a front-end alignment after the new bearing is installed. A mechanic who has a fresh memory of how he repaired one bearing will be able to replace the other bearing in half the time.
The Weak Spots
When you think about it, the rubber hoses, seals, and various gaskets on your vehicle are the weakest fault points. The average driver experiences premature failures when their vehicles age and they fail to replace these parts as they leak. Running an automatic transmission, for example, that is low on fluid will generate excess heat and burn out the clutch packs.
People forget that just a century ago, before vulcanization, rubber only held up its form as long as the temperatures remained steady. It had a habit of returning back into tree sap when it got too hot and cracking when it got cold. This is still true today to a much lesser degree. For, the molecular structures of modern rubber still start to break down after about 5-years on average. After the 5-year mark, you should annually inspect your tires for cracks and dry-rotting or replace them for peace of mind if you do lots of highway driving or racing. Various hoses, seals, o-rings in your A/C system, and other components should also be checked for rigidity, cracks, or deterioration and replaced accordingly.
The Collateral Benefits of Keeping Up Maintenance
When you properly service and repair your car before catastrophic failures, you also benefit from the diagnostic advantages. It can be perplexing or impossible to diagnose performance issues on a vehicle that has been neglected. All automobiles have a number of complex systems working in synergy. When multiple components are worn or questionable, it’s anyone’s guess what effect they are having on the overall systems. Having to go through tests of each one and guesstimate what is exactly wrong wastes time and money in any scenario.
#2: Garage Kept
You will often see ads for vehicles that have been garage kept. These vehicles are always in better shape than those that were sitting on the roads. This is because the air pollution, weather, and UV-rays of the sun can take a terrible toll on the exterior of any vehicle. If you don’t have the luxury of a garage to keep your car, you should in the very least use a car cover to keep it out of the elements.
Aside from regular oil changes with a quality synthetic fluid, it is important to use lubricants like White Lithium Grease on hinges and graphite in door locks to keep them lubricated and running smoothly.