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10 Ways to Make a Vehicle Last Twice as Long

Eighteen years ago next month, my husband and I bought a new Chevy Silverado. For 14 of those years, it was our only vehicle. Our goal from day one was to make it last longer—maybe even twice as long.

We still have it and as I write, it’s closing in on 250,000 miles—and still running great on its original front brakes.

Chevy Silverado 2002 and still running great

This truck has turned out to be really cheap transportation. And the longer we drive it, the cheaper it gets considering its per-mile cost.

Most cars and trucks are built to last far longer than we can imagine. And when all is said and done, the difference between a clunker and a cream puff is mainly the difference between how the owner has taken care of it. 

According to current auto insurance statistics, the average car’s useful life is 10 years or 100,000 miles. Practice the following and it’s reasonable to believe you can double your car’s useful life and spend less time visiting your mechanic, all the while putting off buying a replacement car. 

1. Practice preventive maintenance

Research by major car manufacturers reveals that neglect of routine service and maintenance is the number one reason for major car repairs. Routine maintenance doesn’t cost; it saves money, aggravation, frustration, and lives. Pay attention. Anticipate maintenance so you don’t have to pay for repairs.

2. Estimate, estimate, estimate!

When you have a major repair to do, get at least three estimates before you proceed, if possible. Don’t just judge by the lowest price, but judge by competence, ability, experience, equipment, and after-service care. 

3. Stick with a great mechanic

When you find a good mechanic you trust, stick with him or her even if the prices are a bit higher. All things being equal, you’ll save time, money and aggravation in the long run. Plus, your mechanic will get to know your car more intimately. 

4. Keep it clean

It’s true. A clean car lasts longer because you are routinely washing away contaminants, which cause corrosion.

5. Heed the Owner Manual

It’s your bible for making your car last longer. Read it. Know what to expect and how to head off trouble. And be sure to keep it in the vehicle. 

6. Under cover

Statistically, we know that a garaged car lasts longest, a carport is the next best, and a car cover is close behind. If you can’t garage, carport or cover your car, park under trees or any covering to protect it from the sun. 

7. Take it easy

Avoid jackrabbit starts and stops. Stop and accelerate gradually. This will save gas, and conserve wear and tear on your brake linings, transmission, and suspension. 

In extremely slow or stop-and-go traffic, don’t ride the brake pedal. This wears out your brake linings prematurely and wastes fuel. It’s best to shift into a lower gear. 

8. Keep it full-ish

Avoid running your car with the tank low on gas. Keeping the tank low increases the chance that dirt, water, and moisture will settle into your fuel system. 

One government study pointed to these top three causes of car breakdowns while on the road:  1) tire trouble 2) cooling system problems and 3) running out of gas.

9. Mind the oil 

Regular oil changes according to the manufacturer’s guidelines are the most important thing, dollar for dollar, you can do to protect your engine and make it last longer.

10. Lighten up

The more a car weighs, the harder the engine, transmission, brakes, and suspension have to work. While cars are designed to carry extra weight, over the long term any unnecessary strain will take miles off its life. Don’t use the trunk for a mobile garage. Keep it as light as possible.

 

Follow these suggestions and you can look forward to doubling your car’s useful life! 


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10 Easy Ways to Cut Your Gasoline Cost

Only a few months ago I paid $1.75 a gallon for gas in Thornton, Colo. That’s nearly a dollar cheaper than I paid this past week at the same location—$2.72 per gallon! What’s going on?

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AAA  blames the increase partially on a drop in fuel supply from oil refineries. As a reulst, experts say prices are likely to keep climbing this summer, so drivers will have to be strategic to manage their fuel costs.

To save a gallon of gas, you need to cut about 22 miles of driving from your week. Here are 10 easy ways to do that:

1. Hop on the bus, Gus

Even if you think this is not an option for you, consider public transportation. You may be surprised by all the options that you have never considered. Or carpool. Leaving the car at home and sharing your commute occasionally can help you reach your gallon-goal quickly. Sharing the ride—and expense—with another person regularly can cut your gas costs in half. Check out your carpooling opportunities at the eRide Share app, eRideShare.com.

2. Take it easy

The faster you drive, the more gas you use. If your average commute includes 20 miles of highway time and you drive it at 60 mph instead of 70 mph, it will take you only three minutes longer to get there, and you’ll save approximately 1.3 gallons of gas in a five-day workweek.

3. Trip-chain

Need to pick up a prescription, mail a package and go to the bank? Instead of spreading these tasks out over a few trips, chain them together by doing all of them at one time. Park in a central spot and walk from place to place. Read more

This is the Best Car Trash Can Ever

Wouldn’t you think that if car manufacturers can perfect self-driving cars, they could also come up with a way to conquer the car trash problem?

Inside of a car with every nook and cranny stuffed with trash

Photo Credit TheOnion.com

I’ve always thought that a built-in trash compactor would be great. Or even better, some kind of incinerator that sucks the accumulation of trash and garbage right out of the car and into a holding tank somewhere that magically converts it into purified drinking water. Or gasoline.

While waiting for that kind of invention to appear, I’ve tried plastic bags, plastic tubs, and every kind of frugal trick and tip you can imagine to handle the annoyance of car trash.

I’ve tested and tried. Some ideas are better than others, but nothing has ever proven 100% satisfactory. Until now.

Read more

How to Rid a Car of that Stinky Smell of Smoke

As you know, I travel quite a bit, which means I have the need to rent cars. Most of the time that goes well, and by “well” I mean I land a fantastic daily rate and I get to test drive a nice new car. Other times? Not so well, and now I’m talking about the stench of stale, cigarette smoke made even worse by trying to cover it up with an equally stinky floral spray.

 

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I was reminded of my last bout with car odor when I heard from EC reader Neil, who inquires, “Will Nok-Out work on removing smoke odor from a vehicle?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” and one I wish I could also offer to every car rental agency. In fact, I know of no other way to truly eliminate that odor—not cover it up with another odor—than Nok-Out.

Let’s do a quick review for what makes Nok-Out so amazing: It’s hypoallergenic, non-toxic, non-staining and non-masking which means it leaves behind only a fresh, clean smell. I can’t guarantee Neil can achieve that “new-car” smell, but I promise that if he follows the following procedures carefully, that car will be free of the lingering smell of cigarettes. Read more