Just invested in a brand-new or new-to-you vehicle? The costs of vehicles have been on a steep incline over the last few years, so getting the most mileage from your investment is no doubt important. Want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck? Here are 10 tips to make sure you get the most out of your vehicle.
1. Stick to the Recommended Maintenance Schedule
When you first buy a vehicle, that vehicle comes with recommendations for maintenance directly from the manufacturer. These should always be treated as hard-and-fast rules and not general suggestions. For example, if the manufacturer says your vehicle will need a transmission fluid and filter change by the time you hit 30,000 miles, get that maintenance visit scheduled before you hit that point.
2. Be Good to Your Transmission and Driveline
Your vehicle’s drivetrain (transmission and driveline) is responsible for actually making the vehicle move. So, if the drivetrain is damaged, you’re essentially out of a ride. For this reason, one of the best ways to get the most out of your vehicle is to treat the drivetrain kindly. From getting the scheduled transmission fluid and filter changes to being mindful of how you shift gears, these little things can make a huge difference.
3. Use the Fuel Your Vehicle Is Designed to Burn
The owner’s manual should give you a clear idea of what type of gasoline you should use regarding octane rating. If you drive a diesel, you’ll find guidelines on which type of fuel to use as well. While using the wrong fuel type just once may not be a big issue for most vehicles, at least when it comes to gasoline and octane minimums, making a mistake often can cause major problems.
4. Take Good Care of Your Tires
Your tires are a lot like the shoes on your feet. Just as you can cause damage to your body by wearing low-quality or worn-out shoes, you can cause damage to your vehicle with low-quality, too-worn tires. Stick with good tires with a good warranty and mileage rating, get the tires rotated regularly, and quickly step in when you see problems. Something like one worn tire could easily cause issues with alignment and undue stress on certain parts of the vehicle.
5. Keep Your Driving Habits in Check
Rapid acceleration, hard braking, sharp cornering at high speeds — these types of driving habits can lead to a long list of problems. Not only will you be replacing tires and brakes more often than necessary, but you will also be putting a lot of stress on the drivetrain.
6. Check Your Fluid Levels on a Regular Basis
A good rule of thumb is to check the fluids in your vehicle about once a month. This means checking the oil, the coolant levels, the brake fluid, and even the windshield wiper fluid. Some fluids are more important than others, of course. For example, if you’re low on antifreeze in the winter, this can wreak havoc on most motors because frozen water can lead to busted tubes and pipes.
Also, skip the dollar-store fluids and always look for products from quality brands at the parts house. What looks like an excellent way to save money can also be a one-way ticket to a mechanic.
7. Never Ignore a New Dashboard Warning Light
Vehicles have grown much more advanced over the last decade. One of the perks of technological advancements is that the average car, truck, or SUV is equipped with many more sensors that can tell you when something’s wrong.
Pay attention if you’re getting a “Check Engine” or “Maintenance Needed” alert. If you see the light come on that you don’t understand, grab your owner’s manual or swing by a parts house or mechanic to find out what’s going on. These alerts are almost always present for a good reason, and ignoring them can lead to costly repairs.
8. Always Opt for High-Quality Replacement Parts
Found a cheap aftermarket part online? It may look like a bargain, but quality means everything when it comes to replacement parts. If a low-quality part doesn’t cause direct problems, it will most likely fail and must be replaced much sooner.
9. Let Your Engine Warm Up
When you turn the ignition and fire up the engine, allow the engine to warm up briefly before kicking into gear. This helps cold, idle fluids warm up before they get pushed throughout the system and motor because you’re accelerating, shifting gears, and already in motion. Warming up is especially important in cold temperatures.
10. Take Time to Clean Your Vehicle Inside and Out
As cosmetic as it sounds, cleaning your vehicle is also an important way to protect your vehicle. This same rule applies to the interior as it does to the exterior. Something like road grime can contain dozens of hard chemicals. Treated highways in cold climates lead to an undercarriage and body covered in highly-corrosive salt.
If the vehicle’s exterior is left dirty for too long, these contaminants can easily start to take a toll on not just the appearance of the vehicle but its overall structural soundness. A soiled interior can lead to similar problems.