The world record for the highest mileage on a private vehicle is more than 3-million miles, achieved by Irving Gordon and his 1966 Volvo 1800S! That’s an average of 60,000 miles per year, well above the standard usage of 10,000 to 20,000 miles per year.
Although most of us will never come anywhere close to this type of feat, many motorists may be looking to make a longer-term investment in their vehicle, simply because they love it and want to hold onto it for the foreseeable future, or as more of a frugal measure to save on long-term costs.
Either way, the best way to ensure the longevity of your vehicle is to give it all the love and attention that it deserves. So, we’ve put together some top tips to keep your car in tiptop condition for many years to come.
Treat fluids as the lifeblood of your vehicle because they are. Failing to check and replace them on a regular basis could prove damaging in the long-term. The RAC recommends checking your engine oil every fortnight by opening the bonnet and removing the dipstick. Give it a wipe with a rag then give it a dip. When it comes back out, the oil level should be between the minimum and maximum markers.
The colour should be a light yellowy-brown colour for a petrol engine. Dark, dirty oil should be immediately replaced. Diesel engine oil accumulates soot as part of the normal combustion process, so dark-coloured oil isn’t a cause for alarm with a diesel car.
The fluid check doesn’t end at the oil, and you should regularly check the coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid and windshield wiper fluid. All low levels should be immediately replenished but it’s also important to check out the fluid composition. If they are thicker, discoloured or have developed an odour, then it’s best to replace them entirely rather than topping up.
A dirty filter can cause just as much damage to your car as low or contaminated fluids. Check your oil and air filters periodically and replace them if they are clogged and dirty. They should always be replaced as part of scheduled car servicing. But you can save some money and brush up on your handy skills by replacing them yourself.
The lifespan of the air filter can also be prolonged by washing it out and reusing it if it is still in good condition, rather than throwing it out and replacing it every time. Although saving on costs is a good idea, make sure to always use genuine parts. Investing that little extra will ensure long-term savings, as cheap, poor quality filters will not perform as specified by the manufacturer and this will require more frequent changes and may cause long-term engine damage.
Adhere to service intervals in the manufacturer’s handbook
Regular servicing is vital to keeping your car in tip-top condition and prolong its life. Service intervals are based on time or miles driven – once a year or every 10,000 miles, for example. It’s important to budget for a minor service every year. This usually includes a 30 to 40 point check, but the main activities include filter and fluid replacement and a general vehicle health check.
A major service should be budgeted for every two years or approximately 20,000 miles, and usually includes minor service activities in addition to more in-depth vehicle health checks, as well as change of spark plugs, brake fluid, suspension and fuel filters.
Regular washes and shelter from the elements
Regular washing, waxing and polishing is not only great for maintaining the aesthetics of your vehicle, it also helps prevent rust, which is a common challenge with older cars. Parking your car in a covered area will also help to keep the bodywork in better condition, and you could even benefit from a lower insurance premium.
Remember that if your car is being stored away for extended periods to save on mileage, you may be better off getting a temporary car insurance policy as opposed to annual cover. Temporary car insurance provides truly flexible fully-comprehensive cover for the time drivers actually need – from as little as 1-hour to 28-days in duration – with no long-term commitment or auto-renewals. It also does not impact other annual policies or no claims discounts, as it is a separate, standalone policy.
While keeping your car parked safely away from public roads and parking lots minimises the risk of unwanted dents and scrapes, it can also lead to a flat battery, which could leave you stranded when you do decide to go out for a spin. A jump-start may get you up-and-running, but if you do this too often you risk placing additional strain on the battery and may damage the engine management system and other delicate electronics – ultimately leading to more wear-and-tear.
A trickle charger is recommended to keep the battery topped-up if your car is stationary for extended periods. It’s also really important to keep the battery clean to prevent damage caused by corrosion. If there is corrosion, you can remove it by dipping a non-metallic brush in a mix of baking soda and water. Disconnect the cables and use a post cleaner to get rid of any additional corrosion that formed around the cables or terminals.
It may sound obvious, but cars that are driven with care last a lot longer. Avoid driving habits that put stress and strain on your vehicle, such as fast driving, heavy gear changing, hard braking and off-roading. This will help to minimise component wear and make your fuel consumption more efficient.
While sensible driving is recommended, be careful not to go too easy on your car either. For example, if you never fully rev your engine, you run the risk of carbon deposits can building up and contaminating parts like the valves and intake manifold.
With this in mind, you should rev your engine to the red line once every few hundred miles. Make sure the oil is warm and you stay within the specified speed limit. A long motorway run once a month is a good way to avoid these build-ups, plus it gives you the added advantage of scheduling regular special trips in your favourite set of wheels!