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Thread: How to keep a car in good shape for a long time

  1. #1
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    How to keep a car in good shape for a long time

    I love my car. I enjoy driving it, and I love the story behind it--the story of how, during one of the best years of my life, I was driving home from watching my DH march with his Pipe and Drum band in the Memorial Day parade in Cranbury NJ when I made a sharp, impulsive left turn into the Toyota dealership, saw a white Prius, loaded, gave the salesman a deposit and then went on my merry way to finish packing for the family trip to Scotland the next day. That was in 2007, so the car is now 14 years old with only 139,000 miles.

    I don't like the idea of having to buy another car in my lifetime. DH thinks I'm totally unrealistic, but I'm not going to have a huge pile of cash when I retire, so I'm thinking, if I drive 8k miles a year (which has been my average over the past 3 years), I can probably get 8-10 years more out of it. At age 79, will I still be driving? Maybe, but maybe not. Maybe I'll be dead. So I want to bank on the car lasting as long as possible.

    That means I have to really put effort into maintenance. Given I live in a rugged spot for winter weather and I have no garage, what advice do you have for me in terms of extending the life of this old car for as long as possible? My first thought is undercoating, but what else?
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Senior Member KayLR's Avatar
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    Great question! Because I also love my car and do not ever want to have to buy another one.
    My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already!

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    Thought it was a great idea when I saw a neighbor who does not have a garage put rugs on the hood, roof and trunk of his car when hail was forecast. I never would have considered that.

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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    I am another that hopes to keep my car for a lot longer.

    My 2013 Prius V is my car and truck combined. I plan on keeping it for at least another 5 years. With the limited driving due to covid, it will be lasting a lot longer. It has about 147,000km = 93,000 miles. Never calculated that before so am surprised at how few actual 'miles' I have driven in over 7 years.

    I live a 15 minutes walk from the dealer that I bought it from. After being warned that the protective coating warranty for 5 years of rust resistance started to pit around then, I started undercoating in 2017 by the rust protect company that we used for decades which I will keep doing each year. I take the car in whenever due for oil changes. They do the routine scheduled maintenance checks on the usual - brakes, battery, etc but little else has been needed beyond the brakes, some new windshield wipers and an air filter. I will need new tires at some point. I did have two small dings that I had repaired before they started to rust by a local small body shop. I do have a garage which helps.

    Not sure if there is much else that you can do, Catherine, besides the scheduled maintenance except remove any salt buildup during the winter with a carwash and clean it to protect the surface. The Toyota Prius is a rugged car.
    As Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Like razz says, stick to the maintenance schedule. And keep it clean. And if you drive it on salted roads wash it frequently. Although I've read that modern car washes recycle the water so you're washing with salty water which will do you no good on the salt front. Not sure how to get around that one besides washing it at home (including the underside).

    And count me in with the "I want this car to last forever" crowd. I doubt anyone remembers but I inherited my father's car about 7 years ago. A 2002 Honda Accord that had 22,000 miles at the time. Now it's up to 55,000 miles and still runs great.* Since we live in the suburbs now I actually need it for things like going to the grocery store, but I'm still putting less than 100 miles/week on it. My goal is to hopefully get another 10 years out of it, which should be doable since it's a honda that has never dealt with snow. 100,000 miles is not a big deal for a modern honda without one of the super high tech engines that some of their cars have. At that point (ten years from now) we are planning to retire, at which point I can see myself trading it in for something electric that I'd then try to make last for the rest of my life. I've never in my life bought a car so if everything goes to plan I will probably be the only 63 year old in 2031 who is buying an electric car as his first and last car purchase...

    *One of the age related things I've noticed with my car is that the windows are getting creaky. They still all work but I need to look into whether there's some sort of elixir that I can put on the tracks to make them move easier. The rarely opened back door windows are especially prone to making loud groaning noises when I open/close them due to age and degradation of the felt/rubber tracks.

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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frugal-one View Post
    Thought it was a great idea when I saw a neighbor who does not have a garage put rugs on the hood, roof and trunk of his car when hail was forecast. I never would have considered that.
    Many moons ago (the early '80s) my aunt had to deal with hail damage to her car. The small town she lived in in western kansas had suffered a major storm with baseball sized hail. (my cousin ran out and grabbed a few pieces and stored them in the freezer, so I know that they were actually this big...) Everyone in town who didn't have their car under cover when the storm hit had a broken windshield and back window plus multiple dents all over the body of the car. At the time someone suggested using dry ice to get the dents out of the body. Apparently if the dent didn't reach the edge of the metal the cold from the dry ice would cause the metal to contract and 'fix' itself. People trying to game the insurance system would have the insurance adjuster value the cost to fix it first and then use dry ice afterwards to reduce the real cost of fixing it.

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    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Keep up with the scheduled maintenance. Do what Toyota (or whoever) specifies. I always get a hoot out of old guys who remember their ol' '69 Chevy and recommend oil changes every 3,000 miles and tire rotations for tire types that no longer exist. Cars have changed over the years. Toyota's engineers know a little about how to keep their car going.

    Make sure "lifetime fluids" really are (on my VW, "lifetime" for automatic transmission fluid is four years/60,000 miles). As long as most people keep cars, that's a "lifetime".

    One thing I'm very careful about is to not do short-hop driving if I can help it. I try to batch errands and I will even drive around for half an hour or so before my first stop. I want the car to get up to operating temperature for a bit and have time to recharge the battery. And I want the car to move. Idling a car for 15-20 minutes when it's cold out may warm up the engine but it does zero for the suspension or steering. Best to move the car gently once it's running steady. On the other hand, warmup may be different on a hybrid (have never investigated).

    There are Web forums for Priuses (Priii?); the FAQs and sticky posts on those sites typically cover known trouble spots and how you can either avoid them or address them best. Might be worth a look.
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

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    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    I am the third little old lady owner of a 2008 Toyota Corolla with 60k miles on it. It’s only needed brakes and tires. I do the routine maintenance. With my moving I will be close to many places that I go. We have been putting on about 6k miles a year. Not sure what it will be with me alone. The other car that’s now my ex’s is a 2010 Honda Accord that’s also been a great car.

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    My last 2 cars died in accidents (not serious ones for anyone other than the car. Only one did I have fault in and it was because I needed new glasses! So that's my advice - get a yearly optometry appointment, don't procrastinate it. One I was rear ended and the car was never the same after). I had them both about 10 years and bought them used when they were just a few years old, so all said they had a good run. I take them for maintenance but sometimes procrastinate it by a few months.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Yppej's Avatar
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    The guys at work are all saying electric is better as there are fewer parts to go bad, and they only need brakes and tires. This switch is increasingly being made for other things like power tools, but we need the charger grid built for vehicles. Good luck to Biden on getting this through.

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