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Keeping Your Vehicle Sharp For Ten Years

Whether it’s because of sticker-shock at the price of a new car or a newly found focus on saving rather than spending, Americans are holding onto their automobiles longer than ever.  While the average period of ownership before a trade-in used to be two to three years, a recent survey shows ten years is now the national average. 

A study conducted by AutoMD.com polled 4,000 consumers about their auto buying habits.  When the numbers were crunched, it revealed that 78% of them plan on keeping their vehicle for ten years before replacing it with a new one.  Fifteen percent say they’ll keep their car for eight to ten years, 4% for six to seven years, and 3% for three to five years. 

However long you plan on holding onto your vehicle, are some tips to keep it in tip-top shape for the duration of ownership:

1.  After you drive that new baby off the dealer’s lot, pamper it during the break-in period.  Breaking in a vehicle properly means keeping the speed to 55 mph or less for the first 1,000 miles, keeping the RPMs below 3,000 during the initial hours of driving, and avoiding carrying heavy loads or pulling a trailer.  Treating your vehicle with care during break-in means it will last longer without repairs.

2.  Save your engine while it’s warming up, especially in cold weather.  Racing your engine when you first start your car causes undue wear and tear because the oil hasn’t had a chance to circulate throughout the moving parts.

3.  Accelerate slowly when starting out to ensure the oil has had a chance to circulate throughout the drive train.

4.  As tempting as it is to start your car and go back inside to let it warm up during cold weather, it’s not a good idea.  An idling engine results in incomplete fuel combustion, which causes oil contamination, soot on your cylinder walls, and eventually, damaged auto parts.

5.  Drive steadily, without excessive breaking or rapid acceleration.  This driving style puts less wear and tear on your engine, especially during excessively cold or hot weather.

6.  Shift to neutral at red lights or when idling in traffic.  This alleviates strain on the engine.

7.  Driving with care will extend the life of your tires and suspension.  Hitting curbs, potholes and road litter causes damage that’s either immediate or appears over time.  Avoiding these obstacles saves wear and tear on your vehicle.  It saves you money, too.

8.  Follow your manufacturer’s advice on oil changes and servicing schedules.  This ensures that your vehicle stays in top notch operating condition and saves on repairs and parts replacement over time.

9.  Don’t opt for the cheapest gas if it means buying from an unknown provider who might be selling inferior fuel.  You want the cleanest gasoline from a gas station that changes the filters on its storage tanks regularly.   And never fill up while the tanker is refilling the underground storage tanks at a gas station.  The filling process stirs up sediment in the tanks, which means it ends up in your tank, clogging your fuel filters and injectors.

10.  If you’re going to store your car for a period of more than a few weeks, take steps to avoid damage.  Fill up the gas tank to prevent condensation that can cause rust.  Protect your car’s paint by washing and waxing it before storage.  Don’t leave the parking brake engaged – it causes corrosion over an extended time period.  If you live in a humid area, place a dry rag in the tailpipe to keep out moisture and reduce the risk of corrosion.

Following these tips will help your vehicle stay in great shape during your ten years of ownership, or however long you end up keeping it.