I don’t know why the Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of these things, but this month, the federal agency reported that Americans are holding onto their cars longer than ever before.
In 2008, the average was 10.1 years. In 2012, it stretched to 11.3 years — even though household income grew from $63,091 per year to $65,596.
Perhaps one reason is that there’s no shortage of do-it-yourself repair and maintenance advice available online and over the air —from the venerable Car Talk radio program to an auto repair reality show that follows a female mechanic.
Which is wonderful. But what if you’re an idiot like me? I had my 1966 Thunderbird explode because it ran out of oil while I was tooling down the I-10 highway at 75 mph. And it’s apparently genetic: My brother drank brake fluid when he was a toddler and had to get his stomach pumped, and my father poured antifreeze into the brake reservoir.
So the chart below is really handy if you want to keep your car longer. Released yesterday by a nationwide chain called Autoparts Warehouse, it gives both time and cost estimates, along with degree of difficulty…
|DIY Tips to Extend the Life of Your Vehicle|
|Repair/Service/Driving Habit||Shop Cost||Your Cost/Time||Difficulty||Results|
|1. Avoid aggressive driving, such as jack rabbit starts, and hard braking||N/A||$0||very easy||Extends the life of the engine, transmission, suspension/tires, brakes|
|2. Avoid driving short distances and stop-and-go city traffic||N/A||$0||very easy||Extends the life of the engine, transmission, and brakes|
|3. Keep exterior paint clean with regular washing and waxing||$20-$50||$5-$10
< 1 hour
|very easy||Removes road salt, sludge, and pollution, preventing rust/corrosion|
|4. Keep interior clean and protect it by conditioning leather seats, adding seat covers and floor mats||$20-$300||$5-$10
< 1 hour
|very easy||Extends life of interior by preventing wear and tear|
|5. Rotate and keep tires properly inflated||$0-$60||$0
< 1 hour
|easy to moderate||Proven to add thousands of miles to the life of your tires|
|6. Change engine oil & filter at recommended service intervals (usually every 5,000 miles)||$30-$80||$20-$40 < 1 hour||easy to moderate||Proven to add years and thousands of miles to the life of the engine|
|7. Change engine coolant and replace thermostat||$80-$200||$25-$50 < 2 hours||moderate||Prevents overheating, extends life of engine and cooling system|
|8. Change transmission fluid & filter at service intervals (usually 30,000- 60,000 miles)||$80-$200||$40-$70 / < 2 hours||moderate||Extends life of your automobile’s transmission|
|9. Replace spark plugs, drive belts, and air filter (engine tune-up)||$100-$400||$50-$100 < 3 hours||moderate||Improves performance and mpg, adds life to engine and exhaust|
|10. Replace timing belt and water pump (60,000-100,000 miles or 10 years)||$400-$800||$100-$300 3-5 hours||advanced||Prevents overheating and potential damage to internal engine parts|
Needless to say, Autoparts Warehouse’s chart ends with this sentence: “Always consult your vehicle service manual before attempting any repair.”