Time to save money, with a long term focus. That is why you’re here, isn’t it? Often it is cheaper to keep our cars for as long as we can, than to get rid at the first sign of trouble. This is also generally kinder to the environment as well (depending on how well we are able to save fuel, as mentioned previously). But keeping the car long term can means reaching high mileage. Many people tend to avoid high milers as they think this means low reliability. Is this true? I’m not sure anymore. Is there anything we can do to reduce this risk of breakdown for high milers? Yes definitely.
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Adjust Our Driving Style
This is the tip that has certainly given me the most reward. We should be more considered and calm when operating the car’s controls. It also pays dividends to give the engine a chance to warm up before using full throttle. Steadiness will reduce wear on certain critical parts of the car, like the tyres, brakes or the clutch. All these are replaceable, but our aim is to save money, so we should maximise part life. As a bonus, steady driving will keep us calmer behind the wheel, and we will see a rise in fuel economy. On a trip to France with the wife, I got 42 mpg average. I wasn’t driving very slowly, just smoothly. My wife may or may not agree.
Another matter to consider is how often and how far you drive. Shorter distances journeys are not good for either engine or battery. I found this out the hard way, when my own battery gave up (admittedly after 11 years of service). Batteries use a lot of energy to start a cold engine, and only recover this energy when the car has been running for a while. The engine is relatively tight when cold, as it takes time for parts to warm up and for oil to work its way around the moving parts. A bit like me only being of any real use to anyone after I’ve had enough tea to warm my entire body.
The majority of engine wear occurs at starting and while it’s warming up. If we make sure that the engine is warm for the majority of the time, this will certainly enable the car to have a long and happy life. Taking the car out for the occasional longer drive to keep the battery topped up and the moving parts moving, has kept my car (and me) very happy.
Monitor Our Maintenance
If we want to save money long term, It is important to keep on top of maintenance. We need to make note of what needs to be changed, and how often. It also means realising that it may be cheaper overall to buy more expensive, better quality components and then replace them less often. We need to think about the cost over the full life of the car, not just the price we pay for a given service. In the next post, I will be sharing how we can save money on maintenance while not risking the reliability of the car. It can be done, and surprisingly easily.
For example, I change my oil every 7500 miles, and I use fully synthetic, for generally better and longer lasting protection. Keeping my wheels aligned is a cheap way of ensuring there isn’t any undue suspension wear. I try and do this every other year, or after I know I’ve hit a big pothole. I check my tyre pressure at least once a month, or before the start of a long journey. There will be a dedicated post all about tyres. They are that important and critical. And like a good set of footwear, they can turn a couch potato into a relatively fit young man. I believe I’m a great example of this and no mistake.
Review Our Mentality
Do we think of our cars as disposable items, or as investments for the long term? A lot of people tend to buy their cars with resale value in mind. We pick them up new, run them for a while, and then get rid of them away when the warranty runs out. When a car reaches 100,000 miles, there are some who think it’s game over and head to the scrapyard. My car is (at the time of writing) on 114,000 miles and, if anything, running better now than when I bought it. I will be surprised if it doesn’t cruise past 200,000 (If I don’t wrap it around a tree before then). As I said at the start, for the majority of us that have ‘normal’ cars, it’s cheaper to keep it going than to throw away and buy another.
When we look for cars to buy, we are more drawn towards the cars that have the fewest owners. This is because the lack of owners tells us that each owner persisted with the car. They didn’t get rid of it as soon as some work needed to be done. My car is 17 years old, and I’m only the second owner. The car has delivered me nearly 50,000 miles of mostly trouble-free driving. Of course, it needs routine work, and it doesn’t look in showroom condition anymore. But if we take care of our cars for longer, we may be surprised how long they take care of us. Which isn’t in any way cheesy at all.
So we now know that, in general, it’s cheaper to keep an old car running than to replace it. Having a long term focus means we run and maintain the car for longer. Buying a different car can sometimes mean buying into different problems. At least we know whatever issues we have in our own car and probably deal with most of them. So how can we save money on maintaining our car, while still keeping it healthy? Read on to find out.