Keeping A Used Car Driving Like New

Today's cars are more reliable than ever, but that doesn't mean that they are completely maintenance free. Keeping your car performing like it did the day it rolled off of the showroom floor requires staying up-to-date with a variety of routine service jobs. 

The Modern Tune Up

In the past, cars required in depth tune ups to be performed at regular intervals. This often meant dealing with complicated ignition timing procedures, idle adjustments, carburetor tuning, and other arcane rituals that are no longer relevant for modern vehicles. Today, "tuning up" a car generally means replacing a few relatively inexpensive parts and changing fluids. This may seem less exciting than the promise of restored performance that often came with old-style tune ups, but it is vital that these service tasks be carried out to keep any modern car running reliably. 

Manufacturer Maintenance Schedules

The recommended manufacturer maintenance schedule for your car should be your first stop when planning a complete service. This schedule should be somewhere in your car's manual, but maintenance schedules can usually be found online. Many manufacturers now recommend inspections at major service intervals as well. These generally include a careful examination of belts, hoses, suspension parts, and major structural components. 

Maintenance Logs

Maintenance logs are an important but often overlooked aspect of responsible car ownership. Keeping a log of maintenance and repair jobs performed on your car can help you to diagnose problems and plan future service work. Detailed maintenance logs can even increase the resale value of your car. If you don't currently keep a service log, major tune ups are a great time to start.

The Basics

Any maintenance schedule should include basic items such as engine oil changes, filter replacements, and spark plug replacement. Most of these items are cheap, so it's a good idea to simply get them out of the way if you are unsure when they were last changed. In addition to peace of mind, this provides you with a solid baseline for your own maintenance logs. Make note of the mileage and date when you perform these tasks so that you can plan ahead for future maintenance. 

Digging Deeper

Many owners stop with basic maintenance, but keeping a car driving like new over the long term usually requires more extensive service. Consider the following items when looking for ways to freshen up any car that's more than a few years old. 

  • Engine oil is only one of many fluids that your car relies on for proper operation. Contamination in power steering fluid, brake fluid, and coolant can lead to long term problems or early parts failures. All of these fluids should be replaced regularly according to your manufacturer's recommended service schedule. 

  • Many manufacturers now use a lifetime fluid for transmissions, but that doesn't mean it should never be changed. If your car's transmission is not sealed, consider having your fluid replaced at least every 100,000 miles. 

  • Shocks and struts are wear items, but they are often replaced far too late. Shocks and struts usually start to fail by 50,000 miles, and their performance may begin to degrade even earlier. Driving on these components beyond their useful service life can put stress on the rest of your suspension, potentially leading to more costly failures. 

  • Your car's suspension also includes a large number of bushings and ball joints that can wear out over time. Although these are not regular maintenance items and do not need to be replaced on a schedule, it's a good idea to have a mechanic inspect your suspension for problems whenever you have other work performed.

  • Drive belts transfer power from your car's engine to accessories such as the alternator, water pump and power steering pump. Most people ignore these items until they begin to squeal or show other obvious signs of failure, but it's a good idea to replace them as part of a regular maintenance schedule since failures have the potential to leave you stranded. If you are having this work performed by a mechanic, have the pulleys and tensioners inspected for proper operation as well.

To have your car tuned up, contact a shop like Action Muffler Radiator & Brakes.