You still drive it because you love it. It looks cool and it has taken good care of you, so you want to take good care of it. If you’re wondering how to care for your older vehicle, here are some things to consider.
Steering, tires, and brakes are crucial not just to your vehicle’s survival, but to yours. Get the steering and suspension checked and change or refresh steering and brake fluids regularly. Brake pads wear down—replace them every 25,000 miles. Rotate your tires every 7,500 miles and use that as an opportunity to check for wear not only on the tires but the wheels themselves. Older cars have seen their fair share of roadways and have encountered a few curbs and potholes in their time. Damaged wheels or wheel bearings could cause uneven wear on our tires, or worse, blowouts and handling problems. The WheelerShip offers replacement wheels for many older makes and models, such as Pontiac G6 wheels going back as far as 2005 models.
Don’t think that just because your tires are newer and in relatively good shape that you’re done taking care of the rubber in your vehicle. Windshield wipers and seals around windows, doors, and sunroofs can become brittle and crack as your car ages. Don’t wait until the rain is pouring through a closed sunroof to do something about the rubber seal around it.
The timing belt, that is, every 60- to 90-thousand miles. Ignore this at your peril—if your timing belt goes, your car will stop, and it might not go again. This is usually an expensive repair, but worth it if you want to keep that vintage vehicle running.
We already mentioned steering and brake fluids, but they aren’t the whole story of your car’s important fluids. It’s a no-brainer that changing the oil and oil filter regularly is essential when caring for your older vehicle. Check for oil leaks—are there spots on your garage floor or driveway? If so, something’s leaking, and if it drains out completely, you may be looking at an engine that literally grinds to a permanent halt. Replace coolant every 25,000-30,000 miles. Check all hoses for leaks and drips, and replace any worn ones, including water pump hoses and heater hoses that carry the hot coolant back to a radiator inside the car. Transmission fluid and differential oil in your older car may also need attention.
Dings and scratches that chip the paint are invitations for moisture to take up residence, and for rust to form. Take care of the paint job. Once it starts on an older car, rust spreads quickly.
Vacuum the interior and clean it with gentle cloths and cleaners. Keep it out of direct sunlight to keep it from fading or taking on a foggy look. Further, keep salt and debris off your car by washing it regularly and give it a nice coat of wax once it’s dry. Don’t forget wax for your new or replacement wheels, as well.
Thinking about how to care for your older vehicle will prod you to take care of small problems before they become big ones. You’ll need to spend some money, but if you’ll be glad you did if you want to keep driving that beloved car, safely.