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How to make your car last longer: advice from an auto expert

Once upon a time – and not that long ago – used cars were economical and abundant. Wanted a used 1985 Escort station wagon in 1999? You’d have paid a sweet $7000 in today’s dollars. Need to upgrade a few years into the 2000s with a used Acura Integra? They averaged less than $17,000, while a brand-new Chevy Malibu was around $28,000.  

But that was then. Today, a used car averages $40,000, with a new set of wheels costing more than $66,000, according to the Price Index Report of New Vehicles by AutoTrader 

With new and used vehicle prices climbing out of reach, we asked car expert Hassan Al-Khairalla, Assistant Operations Manager at CAA North and East Ontario, how the average Canadian can make their ride last longer.  

How long can your car last when properly maintained?

Many cars can easily last 300,000 kilometres or more. My car has about 226,000 kilometres, and it’s still running strong. It all has to do with maintenance. Vehicles fail prematurely or early because they’re not maintained properly.

How do I know what to do to maintain my car?

Check your owner’s manual. It has all the services and checkups that you need to do. It also lets you know when to do them, either in a year or a kilometre interval. If you bought a used car and it doesn’t have an owner’s manual, most manufacturers have digital copies you can download.

What is the most important for vehicle maintenance?

An oil change should always be top of mind. Oil is the lifeblood of your car and keeps your engine lubricated and cool, and you want to ensure you’re changing it frequently. Most cars have indicators, but if not, your service manual usually tells you when you get your oil changed. 

What other fluids should I pay attention to?

Some common ones you should check are your transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, and windshield washer fluid. The last one you can quickly check at a gas station. 

What about belts and hoses?

Belts and hoses are essential components of your vehicle that are vital to your cooling, charging, and air conditioning systems. Belts help keep all motors running, such as your alternator. 

What are the signs belts or hoses need replacing?

You can visually inspect them to ensure they have no cracks or aren’t wearing unevenly and look for what they call glazing. Glazing is where your belt looks a bit shiny. It may look shiny because it’s starting to slip on pulleys, causing rubbing on the surface.  

You also want to look for bulges or regularities in the hose. If you ever hear weird noises from your car that you’ve never heard before, or if your vehicle behaves differently than it usually does, check it out immediately. Sometimes, issues can escalate very quickly or be dangerous. 

How important are filters?

Filters are critical. You have a couple of filters in your car, which keep out all debris from your engine. When filters get very dirty, they won’t work. So, you want to make sure you’re changing them regularly.

How do tires affect the life of my car?

Having uneven tire pressure can lead to less fuel economy because your tires work harder to rotate. It could lead to a blowout, leaving you stranded on the side of the road. Having good tire pressure helps your car and tires last longer.

How do I know when my brakes need servicing?

If your brakes start to squeak, that’s usually an indicator that they’re starting to wear out. Follow your owner’s manual, which will recommend when to change brake pads, rotors, and disks.

How important is it to rust-proof your car?

Rust is a huge issue that can cause cars to fail. There’s a lot of salt on the roads. If rust affects certain vehicle parts, it could destroy your car. So it’s vital if you have a vehicle to rust-proof it to protect it from rust in the future. You can learn more about rust-proofing in CAA Magazine. Members also save $10 on Krown® Rust Control application and up to 20% off Krown products. 

Does keeping my car clean extend its life?

In addition to the stuff that builds up in your vehicle’s interior, some chemicals could damage the interior. In addition, many things can damage your car’s paint, such as winter road salt or bird droppings.  

Make sure that your car’s interior and exterior are clean. It will extend the vehicle’s life by keeping it in good shape and potentially help the resale value. 

Any other advice?

If you don’t have a new car, get a CAA Membership that includes roadside assistance (Classic®, Plus® and Premier®). CAA Roadside Assistanceis available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can conveniently be requested online, on the CAA Mobile App, by phone or through My Account. 

If you need your car detailed or don’t have time to wait at a garage to get your car serviced – no problem. CAA Pit Crew is a convenient at-home service that comes to you. It offers various services, including CAA Mobile Tire, CAA Mobile Battery, CAA Mobile Chip Repair, CAA Mobile Auto Detailing, and CAA Mobile Oil Change. 

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