The Golden Years: Keeping The Car Running
As we here at Convoy are an automotive service and repair facility, it should come as no surprise that we believe routine maintenance is key to keeping your cherished ride running and looking its best. It also helps that this belief is corroborated by car experts everywhere, so there should be no surprise in this statement to anyone. But what, exactly, should owners of older cars in Southern California be doing whenever they have their car serviced? And what things that aren’t maintenance related can owners do on their own to ensure their car is running in tip top shape? Here are a few tips for anyone with a vehicle enjoying its “Golden Years.”
Check Your Tire Condition Yourself Regularly:
When you bring your car to Convoy Auto Repair for any service, we will inspect your tire condition for you and let you know if we see any concerns. But it’s always good to do so yourself; you should be checking every time you get into your car to make sure you don't start driving away on a flat. A simple visual check as you approach your vehicle will tell you if one side is leaning or if you got a flat overnight. Whenever you get gas, turn your front wheels to the right all the way and then the left so you can see if you are getting any uneven tire wear up front, which points to an unbalanced wheel or a vehicle in need of a front end alignment. And as for your tire tread, there are wear bar indicators in the grooves of the tire that tell you when you reach the time to replace your tire. The famed “penny test” is a good one worth doing at each fill-up: take one penny and, with Abraham Lincoln’s head pointed downwards, place it in between the tread of the tire. If the top of his hair is showing you need to go get some tires.
Change Your Oil:
This is a really obvious one, but there are still people who don't, for whatever reason (is there a rumor that cars don't need it anymore or something?), change their oil or even check it. These cars just don't last long - a simple oil change takes so little of your time and money that it's absurd to us that some drivers don't do it. If you lost your owner’s manual, just check the oil yourself - dirty oil or debris in the oil is a sure sign it needs to be changed. You can also look up your car’s service requirements via the internet or stick to the tried and true rule of thumb of every 3 months or 5,000 miles if you have a long commute (older cars will still likely need to abide by this rule). But honestly, changing your car’s oil and checking the level yourself every now and then are the smartest things any driver can do at any stage in their car's life. Engines are expensive to replace - oil is not.
Image: Rich Soublet Photography
Replace Coolant and Brake Fluid Every 2 Years:
Fluids your vehicle needs to operate optimally break down and get dirty over time and it is always a good idea to ensure your brake fluid and coolant gets flushed regularly. Some vehicles have sealed transmissions that never need fluid servicing but most older models do require transmission fluid servicing normally at around 60,000 miles. As always, consult your owner’s manual or ask a professional if your car needs it.
Replace Wiper Blades:
Wiper blades need to be supple to be effective at wicking water from your windshield - they dry out and crack more quickly in the sun and dry heat than in the rainy season. So even though we haven’t had much rain in Southern California recently and you think you don't need new blades, you could be one of the many who finds their forward vision impaired by warped or torn wiper blade inserts when a sudden downpour starts. So replace them twice a year as a precautionary measure so you are always ready for the occasional rainstorm.
Check Under Your Oil Filler Cap for Signs of Coolant and Oil Mixing:
If you remove your oil cap in your engine and find a milky white substance, take it to a professional immediately. This substance may point to leaking head gaskets which allows your oil and coolant to mix and that can be bad news for your engine. Much easier (and cheaper) to fix the head gaskets alone than have to replace your entire engine later.
Older cars have different maintenance and service requirements than most of the newer models available today. Cars are lasting longer with fewer maintenance needs, less frequent service requirements, and many can even tell you when the car is due or needs attention. The best way to keep an older car running like a youngster is to be honest with yourself about your driving habits and your car's abilities. If you pay attention to the needs of your Golden Girl, you'll be able to keep her for many years.
How is your older car running this summer? If you need a quick checkup, or just want some expert eyes on your older ride, stop by Convoy Auto Repair and we'll help you out with $50 off.