As with all aspects of life, the cost of owning a vehicle has only increased in recent years. And the initial purchase price paid is only the beginning of the expenses car owners are destined to incur. In one year, the average annual maintenance cost of a vehicle rose by $4,857; that’s not including the cost of insurance, which was recorded at an average $593 per vehicle.
Not only do car owners have to contend with the cost of maintaining their cars, but they also face the inevitable decline of depreciation. According to CarFax, your car loses 10% of its value the minute you drive it off the dealership lot. While nothing can be done to prevent this instant depreciation in value short of refusing to leave the dealers’ lot, there are a number of other steps owners of new and used cars can take to prolong the life and value of their vehicles.
- Have your oil changed regularly.
This advice isn’t news to most car owners. The question we’ve all asked at one point or other, however, is how often that change should be made. There’s no longer a clear cut answer to that question as it will depend on a number of factors. The old wisdom used to claim every 3,000 miles a car should have its old changed. With the enormous changes oil technology has seen over the last 30 years, however, changing the oil this frequently is unnecessary in nearly all new and used cars.
The best strategy is to rely on your oil life monitor. Utilized by 16 of 34 automakers in 2013, oil life monitors automatically sense when an oil change is needed. If your car isn’t equipped with a monitor, the next best strategy is to visit an auto dealer of your car’s manufacturer. The car dealer should be able to provide an estimate for your vehicle, but keep in mind it will still vary depending on the type of oil you use and driving you do. For instance, if you drive in stop and go traffic, you’re likely to need more frequent oil changes. Similarly, hauling heavy items will take a toll on the life of your oil.
- Have your belts and hoses replaced.
In 19% of vehicles inspected, at least one belt was found to be in need of replacement. A new hose was required in 17% of inspected vehicles. By replacing belts and hoses when worn, you can not only increase the longevity of your car but also save yourself from preventable breakdowns. The belts in your car should be inspected anywhere from every three years or 30,000 miles to every 100,000 miles depending on their function. The precise timing will vary as it does for oil changes. Again the best strategy for new and used cars alike is to consult your auto dealer for their recommendations.
- Apply a wax coat regularly.
Some car dealerships will offer customers an extra protection package at the time of purchase of their new or used cars. This should not be viewed as a permanent solution to protecting your car’s exterior. To protect your car’s finish from contamination and oxidation, a wax coat should be applied at least twice per year. You can either purchase wax and apply it yourself or visit a body shop where the service will be provided for you. Some car washes also offer waxing packages.
Waxing is especially important for cars which are parked outdoors. The best protection is a car cover or covered parking, but if these options aren’t available to you, ensure you wax regularly to prolong the life of your paint. Otherwise you’ll likely be paying the body shop a visit for a far more expensive service than a wax job.
All new or used cars are subject to certain costs, from the depreciation incurred when you first drive it off the lot to its periodic maintenance. While it’s impossible to avoid incurring these expenses, there are ways to prolong the life and value of your car. From regular oil changes to belt and hose inspections and waxing, these three tips will keep you and your car happy and healthy longer.