Given the current economic climate, few motorists can afford to replace their vehicles every 2 to 3 years. Therefore, we all have to take better care of our current cars. Some of the following tips may seem obvious, but, as many mechanics will tell you, owners don't always apply their common sense. And... as always, prevention is better than cure.
Read the owner’s manual!
This may seem particularly obvious, but it is clear (given the pristine condition of most owner's manuals) that those books have never opened. These thick "handbooks" are not only there to allow the manufacturer the opportunity to say "we told you so" when things go wrong, but can help you prevent some serious damage to your vehicle. From where the jack is located, to the reason for that blinking light on the dashboard, as well as important guidance on tyre pressure management etc., these books should be studied far more closely.
Keep the car clean
A clean car is not only easy on the eye, but the cleaning process removes various contaminating and corrosive substances that would otherwise damage or erode the paint finish. Start by looking at what’s recommended in the owner’s manual. It is important to use good quality cleaning materials and stay away from the roller cleaning machines at service stations because they often tend to scratch the paintwork (see the following video by ChrisFix).
Stick to the servicing schedule
Car engines are highly tuned pieces of machinery, and to keep them running at optimal performance and efficiency, you need to adhere to the manufacturer's prescribed servicing schedule. Remember to use the recommended oils and other products mentioned in this schedule. Too many owners become lax about sticking to their vehicles' prescribed servicing schedule once their cars are out of warranty. When shopping for your next car, make sure the servicing schedule is up to date and was adhered to.
For severe operating conditions, adopt shorter oil-change intervals
If you happen to drive in very dusty or hot conditions very often, or do a lot of stop-start motoring, then your vehicle is delivering "severe" service. If this is the case, you should shorten the oil-change intervals to ensure proper ongoing lubrication, thereby protecting the engine's lifespan.
Avoid full-throttle acceleration
Your car may offer exceptional performance, but using it to its maximum ability is no good for its longevity. Full-throttle acceleration, especially from a standing start, introduces shock loads and generates major stress levels throughout the drivetrain. It's not only the engine suffers in this process.
Look after the tyres
Inspect your tyres regularly for signs of uneven wear, cuts and stones lodged in the grooves. If the grooves are less than 1 mm in depth the tyres should be replaced (watch the following video by MyRide).
Brake as gently as possible under the circumstances to avoid exerting undue stress on the brakes and tyres. Emergency braking can actually flat-spot a tyre. And tyres, as you are likely to know... are very expensive to replace.
Avoid idling the engine for too long
Do not let your engine idle for any length of time while the engine is cold. This will result in unburnt fuel getting into the sump, mixing with the oil and degrading the oil’s qualities. In fact, the best possible way to ensure your car will last a long time is to use it only for long trips, but that’s not very practical. Research has shown that on a trip of ten hours the most wear takes place during the first 20 minutes while the engine temperature is below normal.
Enjoy a good run now and then
On a modern car high cruising speeds have very little effect on engine wear provided the engine is in a good state of tune and the water and oil temperatures are normal. Obviously... stay within the rules of the road.
Don't slip the clutch
Excessive clutch slippage should be avoided during acceleration and gear changes. This not only reduces clutch plate life, but the heat generated can also distort the clutch plate as well as the pressure plate.