Hammer Time: Longevity

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

How many of you have ever eaten horse chow? What? You don’t know what it is? Well it’s made out of four key ingredients. Oats, olive oil, honey and a bit of peanut butter added if you want extra richness. It’s the basic original granola and for the last fifteen years it has encompassed most of my breakfasts. Sounds healthy and a bit dull on paper. But it’s surprisingly good to eat.

Which brings me to a related question about our cars. What we can do to and for our own vehicles to keep them healthy and running strong?

1) Keep maintenance regular

We can go to great lengths and debate the ‘when’ until the cows come home. However this site does a great job of sorting all this out. And besides I’ve covered this before.

2) Start slow

You probably don’t like to do sprints as soon as you wake up in the morning. Depending on what you did the night before, you may have to. But it’s always better to start slow and get into your groove when you wake up.

The same is true for cars. They need to get their own oils flowing until they get warmed up. Once the coolant temp gets to its regular point you can feel free to rev away.

Then again, you may not want to practice any Baruthian thrusts if longevity is your goal . Driving slowly from stops and coasting coming to stops will save a lot of wear and tear on your car. It will also help you keep your money in mediocre investments instead of involuntarily donating it to a repair shop.

3) Buy quality

I always try to find dealer queens at the auctions. It doesn’t matter if the vehicle in question is a common Camry or a dodo like Suzuki X-90. Well maintained cars always make me money and a car with OEM dealer parts is always the easiest to finance.

But don’t go to the dealer for parts if you can help it. Simply stick with what the enthusiast forums say. The cost to buying it yourself versus going to the dealer is usually about half.

Tires should also be decided on by actual owners. A site like Tire Rack can give great insights to what’s good and what’s junk when it comes to tires.

Always pay for good tires. It saves on gas. Improves ride comfort and results in less wear on your suspension. If you want to be cheap… just buy them when they’re on sale.

4) Keep it clean!

There is a point when your automotive VIP will turn into a POS. Usually it happens soon after you stop giving a flip about how it looks. A car wash once a month and a wax once a year is all most vehicles need.

If you’re a ‘keeper’ type, you may also want to consider cleaning up the little dings and dents that have come along the way. If the paint is faded and the dents are numerous it may be worthwhile to get a $500 paint job and some PDR (paintless dent repair) for another few hundred. Most folks won’t want to do this and to be honest, I can hardly blame them. A little beater in a well kept car never hurts too much. But if you’re planning on keeping it for another ten years you should consider it.

What always adds dividends is taking care of the interior. Look at it this way. You probably spend more time sitting and looking at your car from the inside than you do from the outside.

Using vacuums and wipes is pretty straight forward. But if your seat stitching is starting to tear, see if a nearby upholstery shop can mend it. Once a seat wears beyond repair it’s usually given seat covers. If that happens buy something nice. Go on Ebay, shop around, and find a cover that can last as long as the car.

5) Enjoy the great indoors.

Do you have too much stuff in your garage? Then hold a yard sale. Use freecycle. Donate your unwanted legacies to a good cause. But keep the vehicle that cost you a healthy five figured sum inside of that garage.

Human skin doesn’t wear well in the sun. Neither do most paint polymers. You can get a car cover if you don’t have a garage but 98+% of folks who park their vehicles outside don’t ever bother with one.

If you must park outside and don’t want to deal with a cover, then just get it waxed twice a year; spring and fall. Make sure you pay extra attention to the roof, hood and top of the trunk since they get plenty of extra sun exposure.

Do all these things and your car will more than likely outlast the Euro. All the best!

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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5 of 45 comments
  • Ern35 Ern35 on Oct 08, 2011

    Excellent advice all 'round, but what many motorists seem to forget that the summer heat on an enclosed vehicle for 'hours on end' in the extreme heat of summer does indeed inflict 'cruel and unusual punishment' to the interior---upholstery, electronics et al---and my advice is this: invest in a good quality reflective windshield screen when your car is being subjected to this extreme. Here in Eastern Ontario it can be pretty hot in the summer and I hate the thought of what it must be in the U.S. Sunbelt at that time!

    • See 1 previous
    • Zarba Zarba on Oct 09, 2011

      @PrincipalDan What you can't see on my avatar is the leather gauge pod cover of my 164 curling up. When I asked the dealer, he replied (Everyone say it with me now...) "They All Do That." New TTAC Acronym: TADT

  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Oct 09, 2011

    Re: not high revving when cold. Eeek my 2011 Sentra SER tach momentarily springs all the way to the red soon as I start it... Maybe this is something to get the oil churning - I don't know. Dudes its leased and boorish who cares. On the topic of corrosion ain' t overnight summer condensation in hidden surfaces a problem?

    • LeMansteve LeMansteve on Oct 10, 2011

      Does the engine actually rev to redline, or do the needles just move to redline? For whatever reason, some cars are designed to swing all the needles up and down whenever the ignition is turned on.

  • Master Baiter Not sure why I can buy an iPhone made in China but not a car. 🤔Automotive lobby, I guess...
  • Tassos Jong-iL Mr. Healey, honesty is key and there have been several accusations about your biases towards different brands. We hope you can prove these badactors wrong and show us the proper way.
  • Redapple2 37% USA Canada content. This should pass you off ! THIRTY SEVEN.
  • Theflyersfan I guess I should have kept my first ever car which was also a 1987 Nissan. Probably could have sold it for $50,000 by now if I was living in this fantasy world where used up 37 year old Nissans sell for the same price as a new Versa. I wish a link was here so all of us can check out this treasure among junk 200SX. The only way this car is even remotely worth that kind of money is if there are illicit substances hidden somewhere in the frame that, as part of the sale, you have to drive across the border and "make a delivery." Otherwise, get that thing off of my lawn.
  • Sobro Needs moar Roots.