4 Tips To Make Your Car Last Longer
November 25, 2015
As we all know from living in Ottawa, your car’s worst enemy is road salt because it leads to rust. It’s unfortunate that we have to use salt for winter safety, because it literally takes years off your car’s life.
As auto body professionals, we’ve tried everything over the years both on our clients cars and our own personal vehicles. Here are the things that will make your car last as long as possible. Wouldn’t you know it all comes down to...
That old saying about “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is right on the money when it comes to cars. Fixing or replacing rusted parts or body panels is expensive. Leaving it until it causes a breakdown is at best inconvenient and at worst dangerous. Taking good care of your car means you won’t have to replace it as often and it will look better during its lifetime.
Do these four things and you’ll get your money’s worth from your car.
1. Add Protective Coatings
The first step, especially if your car is new, is to create a protective barrier between your car and the elements. You can have the body of the car coated in a clear plastic film. XPEL and 3M both make good ones, and we can apply them for you to the most vulnerable panels of your car. Unlike Plasti Dip (see below), this film last for years.
You should also have the undercarriage rust proofed. We like Krown rust proofing, and we do it twice a year on our cars.
2. Get Rid of Salt ASAP
Salt that sticks causes the worst damage. In winter, have your car washed weekly. It keeps salt from settling and corroding any exposed metal
3. Take Care of Small Scratches Immediately
Even small scratches are a problem because they expose the bare metal of your car. If you see metal, coat it immediately. Even using a marker is better than nothing.
The best way to deal with scratches is to get it treated properly. We can do it for you, but if it’s really small or you’re the DIY type, you can try it yourself.
Some very shallow scratches (which means you can run your fingernail across it and not get caught) will buff out. If the scratch is deep enough, touch up paint may be required. We have also had good results using paint and/or Spray Max.
4. Regular Service Checks
Little things like oil changes and tire rotation will all add up. We also recommend regular checks of important parts like brake lines, brake shoes and pads for corrosion and wear down.
Experiments That Haven’t Worked...Yet
Ford and some of the higher end Audis, BMWs and Mercedes models have been trying out splash shields on part of the undercarriage of their cars. The idea is to protect the engine from exposure to salt with a hard plastic barrier. It’s designed to keep salt out but still allow the heat from the engine to escape from the rest of the undercarriage.
Unfortunately the results have been mixed. Because the salt is dissolved in slushy water, it always seems to work its way up under the shield. As far as we can tell it doesn’t really make a difference in our climate. There have also been lots of complaints about them breaking, hanging low and getting ripped out, etc. But we look at it as a good start, and hopefully the engineers will be able to design one that will really keep salt out. You can bet that as soon as it works we’re all buying one.
Plasti Dip is basically a spray-on protective film for your car. It works fine as a temporary measure but we have a few issues with it.
Basically it’s not very practical for our climate - we find that it starts peeling fairly quickly and has to be replaced. Also, the look is a very flat, which is really out of style. This car enthusiast had good results with it, however, so you can give it a try. It’s not a bad idea to try it if you’re going to be spending some time in rural areas with a lot of bugs, gravel roads and tree sap.
Long Term Value
Cars are expensive to buy and fix, but it’s become almost a necessity of life to own a car in these busy times. If you’re going to spend money on a car, it makes sense to take care of it. While maintenance steps take time and cost money, it really does pay off in the long run.
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