When was the last time you got your car’s oil changed?
Do you rely on that little sticker on the windshield to remind you of when you need to bring your car into the shop next? Do you do it every 3,000 or 5,000 miles, whether you think you need an oil change or not? Does your car have a little computer system to remind you once you’ve reached a certain mileage threshold of these basic maintenance tasks?
Face it – not everyone is as diligent with their car maintenance as they should be, and that could be why most cars you see on the road today are woefully in need of some TLC.
So why should you care? Money experts say that the longer you can keep your car running and operational, the more money you’ll save over time for retirement. The tipping point seems to hover around 10 years — if you can keep every car that you’ll ever own for at least 10 years before getting a new one, think of all the extra money you’ll save over continually being behind in car payments.
And for all those years that you’re not making car payments, you should be setting aside a little bit of money each month as if you DID have a car payment…. so that when it comes time to buying a new car again, you’ll have a significant amount of cash available to put down as a down payment — and you may even have enough to buy the car with cash outright and have no monthly car payment at all!
So now that you have a car (and you’ve had it for a number of years, longer than your neighbors have had theirs), what should you do to keep that car in tip-top long-lasting shape?
According to a SURVEY OF AUTO MECHANICS (sponsored by the Shell gas company, if that matters to you), there are FOUR THINGS EVERY CAR OWNER SHOULD DO to maintain their car properly:
- Change your car’s oil at the interval recommended by the manufacturer, whether it be the old-school 3,000 miles, the more reasonable 5,000 miles, or the wacky new-age guideline of 10,000 miles (or somewhere in between)
- Replace your car’s fluids regularly. And we’re talking all of them. Steering, brake, transmission, etc.
- Rotate and align your tires regularly. We like to do this at our oil change; keeps the timing in line with each other.
- Use high-quality gasoline
About the last point – the survey doesn’t actually explain what they mean by “high quality”. While sponsored by Shell, they’re promoting their own special formulation. But they don’t necessarily mean “high octane”, otherwise they would have said so. For purposes of today’s lesson, we’ll just say that Web Watch readers should buy gasoline from reputable retailers who have enough traffic to cycle through their gasoline reserves rather than some hole-in-the-wall location that may have gas that’s been sitting around for a few months and may have sediment or other impurities in the gas they provide.