Key Tips to Keep Your Used Car Running for Years

September 10th, 2021 by

A woman is holding a set of keys at after looking at used cars for sale in Louisville.

Used cars are the best deal if you want to maximize the return on your transportation budget. This is because most motor vehicles lose up to half their value to depreciation during the first few years of ownership. If you are looking for used cars for sale in Louisville, then you can do it easily without leaving your home by visiting us at Online.cars. But after you have bought a used car, there is another great way to save money – investing in routine maintenance to keep it running as long as possible.

One thing you should keep in mind is that as vehicles age, they become more dependent on routine maintenance and servicing to keep them on the road. It kind of sounds like people as we get older, right? But if you follow these tips for keeping a used car running, you are going to get the most out of your used car, truck, or SUV. Just keep in mind that some of these you can do right at home, while others are going to require the assistance of a trained professional technician. This is especially for some systems that involve computer calibration, which is the case for newer cars with their increased use of microprocessors and semiconductors.

Windshield Wiper Fluid and Blades

Probably the easiest thing you can do to maintain your used car is to replace windshield wiper fluid as it runs out. This will make it easier to operate your car safely, especially during the colder months when things like road salt and rainwater leave streaks on your windshield. The good news is that replacing the fluid is really easy. Just open the hood of your car and locate the windshield wiper fluid reservoir. Unscrew the cap, take a funnel and pour in the windshield wiper fluid until you reach the fill line. You can find windshield wiper fluid for sale almost everywhere, including at service stations, hardware stores, and even convenience stores.

You may notice that older cars can require a little more windshield wiper fluid than newer ones. This could be due to the aging of the windshield glass, but it is more likely caused by wear on the windshield wiper blades. Most of these are made of rubber or a synthetic compound that, over time, begins to degrade, leaving streaks on your windshield. When this happens, it is a sign that they need to be replaced.

Stop by an automotive store with the make, model, and model year of your car. The clerk there will help you find the proper replacement blades. Some of the blades on older models screw in, while most newer used cars sport blades that can be popped in without needing a tool. Simply unscrew or pop out the existing blades, and then secure the new ones into place. Most packages of windshield wiper blades come with helpful instructions showing you how to do this in mere minutes right in your own driveway.

A close up shows oil being poured into an orange funnel during an oil change.

Oil Changes

Oil is a key fluid on vehicles, lubricating important parts of the powertrain and filtering debris out of the engine. It also helps reduce the heat caused by the friction of moving parts. However, over time, the oil begins to degrade, and the filter gets filled with debris. This is why you need to routinely change the oil on your used car to keep it running properly. If you fail to do this, your engine will eventually break down and seize. If this happens, you are looking at a very costly powertrain repair. Also, older cars need their engine oil changed more frequently.

If you are fairly handy, you can change the oil and oil filter yourself. If not, then a professional service technician can take care of this for you at a nominal charge. To change the oil, you first have to check the owner’s manual on your used car to find out the grade, type, and amount of oil you will need. Some used cars use standard engine oil, while others use synthetic oil, depending on the manufacturer’s preference.

You will need to start by getting your car up on blocks or jack stands so you can get it under it to inspect the undercarriage. Do not just use a jack as these are not designed to support the car’s weight by themselves, making it dangerous to go under your car. Once you have safely lifted your car, remove the car’s plastic undertray so you can access the oil pan and oil filter. Some clip on while others use bolts and screws. Keep your tools handy!

Using a flashlight, inspect for any leaks. Next, place a bucket or oil drain pan under the oil drain. Remove the drain plug and wait for the existing oil to drain out. This should appear fairly dark in color. Remove and replace the oil filter, and replace the plug. Finally, open the hood, locate the oil intake on your car’s engine, and fill it with the correct type and amount of oil. Before lowering your car down, check underneath for leaks, and use the engine’s dipstick to make sure you have the correct level of oil in your engine. Doing this on a routine basis will keep your engine running well for a good long time.

Tire Rotation and Replacement

Tires are another part of your used car that is subject to wear and tear. If you look at the tires on your used car, you may notice that the grooves on your tires are getting a little shallow. This is a problem since those grooves are designed to channel water in such a way that you get optimal traction. In addition, tires don’t wear evenly. Rear tires take the brunt of acceleration on rear-wheel drive vehicles, while front-wheel drive vehicles put more stress on the front tires. This is why tires need to be rotated and eventually replaced.

Tires are one area where you probably should leave the servicing to a trained professional. A technician at a tire dealer will be able to check to make sure there is enough tread on the tire to avoid accidents. The technician will also be able to rotate them in the proper pattern so the tires wear more evenly, which will lengthen the lifespan of the tires and provide you with better performance from your used car. Then, when the time comes, you will be able to replace all of the tires. Keep in mind that you should always equip your used car with a full set of the same type of tires to avoid any problems on the road.

A mechanic is shown working on a car during a brake pad change.

Brake Adjustments and Replacements

The brakes on your used car consist of pads and discs. The material on the brake pads wears out over time. This depends on the driver, as those who use excessive speed or “ride their brakes” put more stress on the pads. Also, your brakes require fresh brake fluid to operate at full power. You should have a trained technician check your brakes on a routine basis. If you are going to the service center for an oil change, then the technician will probably check this as part of the process. If you are changing your own oil, then you should have a technician check your brakes at least once a year. This will involve making sure there is enough pad for the brakes to function properly and checking the brake fluid level.

Other Fluids That You Will Need to Check

In addition to brake fluid, motor oil, and windshield washer fluid, there are many fluids that keep your used car running. Transmission fluid acts as a lubricant for the gears in your engine’s transmission. Just like motor oil, it can break down over time. If the transmission fluid starts to look brown or black instead of its normal bright red, then it is time for a change. Similarly, power steering fluid can also start to get low and may need to be topped up from time to time.

Finally, fresh coolant is necessary for the engine on your used car to maintain a proper temperature. You should routinely check to make sure your used car’s radiator has the proper level of coolant and the right amount of antifreeze so it can do its job, which will keep your engine running for a good long time. This is especially true during the extreme heat of summer and the colds of winter.

Routine Maintenance Is the Key

As you can see, if you want to get the most out of your used car, then it is crucial that you make sure that these routine maintenance items are always taken care of. Whether you do it yourself or visit a trained technician, routine maintenance like oil changes, windshield wiper replacement, tire rotations, brake inspections, and keeping all the fluids at the proper level will help you keep your used car running well for years to come.