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Keep on Driving: Lengthen Your Vehicle’s Lifespan

With preventive maintenance and precise mechanical repairs, your vehicle can last longer than you think

An illustration of a sparkling red car being shielded from rain by a hand holding a black umbrella.

Courtesy of Mike Ellis

According to a recent study by automotive analytics firm S&P Global Mobility, the average age of vehicles in the U.S. is at a record high, at 12.5 years. In Canada, there are more than 26 million vehicles on our roads, and their average age is 11 years, with many of them lasting beyond the 300,000-kilometre mark.
 
We’re keeping our cars longer for many reasons, the major one being the expense of buying a new vehicle (the average cost of a new car in Canada is now $61,000). So how long will your vehicle last? Part of that depends on maintenance. Maximize your car’s lifespan by staying on top of these important car-care measures.
 

Follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule

Help ensure your car’s longevity with routine and preventive maintenance—including oil and transmission-fluid changes, brake-fluid flushes, coolant exchanges, tire rotations and regular inspections of brake pads, hoses, belts, spark plugs and ignition wires. 

Consider switching to high-mileage fluids once your car passes the 100,000-kilometre mark. They contain additives that can prolong the age of components prone to wear and tear, such as the engine, transmission and power steering. After about five years, expect to replace your car’s battery, timing belt, cooling and heating system hoses and rubber suspension bushings that can crack with age.

Keep your car's body in top shape

Left unchecked, minor paint chips, scratches and surface rust can compromise and weaken the vehicle’s body and frame. Regular rust-prevention treatment will help—CAA recommends Krown Rust Control. And because Canada’s roads are treated with salt and other chemicals that can damage the undercarriage, have your mechanic check for signs of rust. Wash your car regularly to remove dirt and salt from the wheel housings and door bottoms.

Adjust your driving style

Hard accelerating and braking or maintaining high speeds can stress your engine. Drive smoothly by braking and accelerating gradually, and avoid potholes. The conditions you drive in can affect how long your vehicle lasts. Driving on steep inclines can strain the powertrain, while excessive idling in traffic causes engine wear. Limit exposure to the elements by parking, whenever possible, in a garage or covered driveway.
 

Repair or replace worn parts right away

When your vehicle’s warranty expires, anticipate an average of at least $100 in monthly maintenance costs. Watch for signs that your car needs repairs—say, clunking or squeaking noises, fluids leaking or a burning smell. 

If you notice any of these signs, call your mechanic or CAA Approved Auto Repair Services facility for their expert opinion. Otherwise, the problem can lead to an expensive bill, or worse—the end of your vehicle’s lifespan. Once you’re spending more than $2,000 per year on maintenance or if a repair will cost more than your car is worth, it might be time to say goodbye.

Winter Battery Tip
It’s important to note that extreme heat can be even harder on a battery than extreme cold. And a battery weakened over the summer will cause you more grief as the weather gets colder, especially if it’s three to five years old. Get it tested and replaced if necessary.

Questions about your vehicle? 

Ask us anything. Email autoadvice@cassco.ca or call 1-866-464-6448 with questions for our experts.

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