Insurance Agent Scott Ehrenfeld on our team has a lot of miles on his 14-year old F-150 (255k and counting). The car still tows his boat and except for his heat not working (which is rarely an issue in Southwest Florida, but funny to see him pull up driving it on the few cold days we have), his car is in excellent working condition.
When asked what has kept his car running so long, Scott simply answers BASIC ROUTINE MAINTENANCE. Here’s a few tips for you to keep your older vehicle in great working condition like Scott.
Oil and oil filter changes
Scott states that regularly checking and changing the oil in your car or truck are the single most important thing that will help your engine last. Neglecting oil checks and changes will cause an engine to rapidly deteriorate. Also, many oil change services include oil filter changes, but just in case, it’s a good idea to check to make sure your oil filter is regularly changed, in addition to the oil. It’s a good idea to keep track of what date and at what mileage you had your last oil change, so you can determine when your car is due again. Some garages or mechanics supply stickers to remind you and some are even emailing reminders to their customers.
Change out differential oil and transmission fluid
You won’t need to do this as frequently, so check your owner’s manual or ask your mechanic what’s the best interval schedule for your vehicle.
You will need to periodically flush out the cooling system of your vehicle and add coolant at appropriate intervals.
Pay attention to the wheel bearings
Wheel bearings are the components of your car’s wheels that help reduce friction and allow the wheels to spin freely. When you get your vehicle serviced, it’s a good idea to have your wheels inspected to determine if the bearings need service. This typically includes flushing the bearings and then “repacking” them, which means adding grease to the openings between the bearings and the housing that contains them. The grease reduces friction, helping to avoid overheating that might lead to a bearing failure, which may cause issues such as your vehicle pulling to one side or a wobbly wheel.
Regularly replace the brake fluid in your car or truck. This avoids buildup of moisture and subsequently, rust and corrosion in the brake system.
Wax and wash
Protect the exterior of your car by waxing it regularly to maintain the paint job. (Some experts recommend waxing your car once every three months or so.) Keep your car clean by regularly washing it yourself or at a car wash.
Nothing fades car interiors like extended periods of time in the sun. We have a lot of sun here in Southwest Florida so avoid this by parking your vehicle in the shade and using a special UV protectant to keep plastic, leather or vinyl from drying out and cracking.
Scott says there’s no science to keeping older cars healthy: just attention and maintenance. Keep the above points in mind and remember: if you hear anything rattling, whining or scraping that shouldn’t, get your vehicle to a garage as soon as possible.