Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2020

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We all know one of the worst feelings in the world is being stranded on the side of the road with a yellow check engine light on in your dash.

While breakdowns do occur on occasion and some are unavoidable, proper maintenance can keep you off the side of the road.

You might also know that repairs can occasionally get expensive, so here are 5 ways to keep your car on the road and money in your wallet.

Follow Your Vehicle’s Maintenance Schedule

I know, this is common sense.

You take your vehicle in for an oil change every 3,000 miles.

Do you look at the rest of the maintenance book?

Spark Plugs, Transmission Fluid, Differential Fluid, and Coolant all need to be changed as well as the engine oil.

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Take 5 Minutes every time you fill up your car

When is the last time you checked your tire pressure?

You would be surprised what Cartalk.com says how dangerous low tire pressure is.

How about your oil level?

Every time you fill up your car with gas you should take 5 minutes and pop open the hood and check the dipstick.

Low oil levels can be an early sign of a leak or possibly oil consumption.

Catching these early on can save you money and be as simple as a gasket replacement instead of something costly like rebuilding an engine.

Checking your tire pressure can save you money at the pump as well as protect you from a blowout.

Keep a dirty rag and a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle at all times and check these things regularly.

Top tips to keep your car lasting 300K Miles

Check and change the oilCar Engine will last longer.
Flush the cooling system and change coolant once a yearUse distilled water. Tap water will ruin the coolant system faster.
Change out transmission oilChange out at service intervals.
Wash VehicleSalt especially will eat / ruin a nice car.
Park in the shadeSunlight will ruin the interior and paint of a vehicle.
Check / Replace brake fluidWater can get into the brake lines.
Tire PressureLow pressure means tires can be ruined faster.
Engine warm upLet your engine idle for 30 secs to a minute, then drive.
Lubricate U-jointsMoving parts need to be greased.
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Top Vehicles Last 200 to 300K Miles

1Honda Accord
2Subaru Legacy
3Honda Odyssey
4Toyota Avalon
5Nissan Maxima
6Ford Taurus
7Toyota Camry
8Honda Civic
9Acura TL
10Subaru Outback
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Turn Down Your Radio

I like Led Zeppelin just as much as the next guy, but sometimes you need to turn your radio down so you can listen to your car, its talking to you!

When taking off in the morning slow down and listen for any strange noises while idling.

Also under heavy load it is good to listen for any extra squeaks, rattles, or odd noises coming from the engine or suspension.

This can help you catch a small repair before it turns into a big one.

Do this about once every month to see if your car is trying to tell you something, if it isn’t then start blasting the tunes again!

Slow Down

We have all followed that car to work that is on the gas, then the brake, then gas, the brake.

It is not any fun to commute next to this person so do yourself and your car a favor and just slow down a little bit.

Full-throttle acceleration is harder on a vehicle than accelerating at a moderate pace.

Hard cornering will also wear out your tires and suspension prematurely.

If you drive with a little care you will return better gas mileage as well as saving hardware on your car.

Worst Things to Do Which Damage a Vehicle

Bad HabitDamage Caused
Riding the ClutchDestroy Hydraulic System
Small Amounts of Fuel to the Gas TankFuel Filter picks up sediment at the bottom of the tank.
Riding the Brakes DownhillUnnecessary Wear & Tear on brake system.
Sudden Stops Deterioration of brake pads and rotors.
Parking Brake Not in UseOn an incline without the parking break unnecessary is on the transmission.
Not Paying AttentionVehicles will make unusual noise before mechanical failure typically.
Shifting Into Reverse When Not Stopped.Transmission doing what it is not intended to do.
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Note: At times you may do any of the habits. It doesn’t mean the damage will happen. Only if you continue bad driving habits it “may” ruin the vehicle component.

Top Reasons Your Vehicle has a Breakdown

This graph illustrated the top vehicle breakdowns being a faulty battery, damaged tires, faulty alternator, starter problems, and fuel problems.


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Take a Long Drive

Short trips can be harder on your car then a longer drive according to Your Mechanic

When your car is not allowed to get up to optimum operating temperature it can cause wear on your vehicle.

While you are taking that short tips your engine cannot fully heat up, burn off carbon, and really stretch its legs.

If short trips are unavoidable for you then make sure you change your oil frequently, think every 2,000 to 3,000 miles.

This will help your engine from wearing prematurely.

Conclusion & Tips

Your vehicle is the 2nd biggest purchase you are going to make in your life.

Modern vehicles are engineered with such tight tolerances that if you maintain them properly they will stay out of the repair shop and keep you off the side of the road.

How Far Can Your Drive Your Vehicle on Empty?
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Remember, just because there isn’t a light on in your dash doesn’t mean there isn’t work that needs to be done!

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.